They were the future once


The press are eager to inform us about free schools perceived to be failing. This is understandable: free schools are the flagship reform of a current government minister and their troubles make good news stories.

However there are schools across the country that are failing, many of which were once flagship examples of an altogether different vintage of government policy. Building Schools for the Future (BSF) began in 2005, and coincided with an enthusiastic revival in progressive education during the New Labour years. These were the heady days of personalisation, independent learning, multiple intelligences, SEAL, learning styles, 21st century skills and thinking hats. Many new BSF schools were built at extravagant costs to fulfil such a vision.

Here are just four examples where immensely well financed visions of progressive education have resulted in embarrassing failure.

Litherland High School

£27 million Litherland High School £27 million Litherland High School

Then: In 2011, Litherland High School reopened in…

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