A NEW Conservative policy which would make it possible for parents and teachers to take over the running of small schools was influenced by a Bruton school.
In May, Annunziata Rees-Mogg the prospective MP for Somerton & Frome invited Michael Gove, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, to visit the Meadow School in Bruton. Founded in 1993 by local parents, the Meadow primary school follows the Steiner principles of education by allowing children to learn at their own speed. At present the school has a policy of parents paying what they can afford – under a Conservative government it would be able to enter the state system without compromising its teaching beliefs. The policy would be a lifeline for under-funded, over-subscribed schools such as the Meadow School.
Following his visit to Bruton, Michael Gove said, "As Conservatives, we believe that the people who care most about children, are their parents. It is crucial that they are able to choose what sort of education is appropriate for their family. Our policy would empower parents not only to have greater choice, but for the funding to follow the child, making that choice a reality. From my visit today, it is clear to me that the children at the Meadow School benefit from a very nurturing environment and whilst the education is based on alternative principles, they also end up with an impressive record of literacy and numeracy. This is just the kind of environment and parental interaction that we should be encouraging."
Announcing the new policy last week, Michael Gove admitted that it was his visit to Somerset that had persuaded him of the potential benefits of allowing parents to choose a Steiner education.
Annunziata Rees-Mogg welcomed the policy, saying, "The Meadow School provides a first class and rounded education for dozens of local children – and if it gets state funding will be able to follow its goal of not charging fees. At the same time it would enable it to expand to take in the hundreds of children currently on the waiting list. This is wonderful news for all parents."