Comparing US Charters and English Free Schools

Laura McInerney


What can England’s ‘free schools’ learn from their US counterparts? That was the central question of a feature article I wrote for yesterday’s Guardian.

It was an interesting piece to write. I was given 1700 words (that’s a lot) and, in order to get accompanying shots for the story, I headed up to a community-created charter school in St Louis which became the central story spine and gave several useful comparison points between England and the US. I also wanted to hear about the experiences of the Education Select Committee who had toured Boston and New Orleans just before Easter. Graham Stuart, the Committee Chair, was generous with his time and provided the rather brilliant analogy of Boston being a ‘free school’ town whereas New Orleans better reflects ‘converter academies’. It was a nice way of explaining a subtle difference in the two types of schools that people often miss…

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