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Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK


Parent defends right to choose school

Ofsted inspectors missed the point of Summerhill, says a parent

Parents should have the right to send their children to a school such as Summerhill, says a parent defending the principles of progressive education on which the school is founded.

David Ramm, who has three children at the Suffolk school, has criticised the "ridiculous antics" of the inspectors who have published a damning report on the school.

It is expected that in response to the criticisms made by the inspectors, the Department for Education will issue an ultimatum to Summerhill, warning it that it must raise its standards or face closure.

But Mr Ramm has rejected the threat as an attack on "diversity of provision in education" and his right to choose how his children should be taught. "The government should think again before removing my right to send my children to Summerhill."

"I am pleased with the education they are receiving. I believe that the inspection process is fundamentally flawed and the Ofsted report is similarly flawed.

"Many of the criticisms made in the report are invalid, unfair and entirely unnecessary. The intemperate language used in the report suggests a degree of spite."

The inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education criticised the school for allowing pupils to choose not to attend lessons, which it says was an "abrogation of educational responsibility".

But Mr Ramm argues that the inspection failed to recognise that parents had specifically chosen Summerhill for the type of education that it offered, including its unconventional approach to attendance.

"Summerhill is a community of adults and children deeply committed to equality and and democracy. Attendance at lessons is necessarily optional."

Rather than being an evaluation of standards at the school, Mr Ramm says the inspection is a "fundamental attack on the philosophy of Summerhil".

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