December 13, 2012
A flagship new free school where pupils practise transcendental meditation twice daily has been reprimanded by the government after it failed to put any of its pupils into compulsory national curriculum tests.
Pupils at Lancashire's Maharishi Free School receive what is described as a "consciousness-based" education.
The former private school became a state-funded free school last year.
The Department for Education has reminded the school of its obligations.
It said in a statement: "Pupils at the Maharishi Free School did not sit the tests this year. We have written to inform the school it must administer the tests."
The issue emerged as DfE data was published on all primary schools in England. The school appeared to have scored 0% in the English and maths tests taken by all pupils in the final year of primary school.
It will be an embarrassment for the government, which has made much of its programme to allow different interest groups to open up new schools with government funding.
The Maharishi School had been open for more than 25 years as an independent school before it became a free school in a converted barn last September.
The school said in a statement the external administration systems "did not adequately include" the school.
"The effect of this is that the school staff did not receive the required training, notice or materials to administer the assessments. Consequently the published results do not accurately reflect the true level of attainment of the pupils.
"The Maharishi Free School is now registered for all required assessments and will be fully participating in the future," it said.
But the DfE stressed that the requirement for the school to take the tests would have been part of its free school funding agreement.
The school is one of the more unusual free schools to have been approved by Education Secretary Michael Gove. There is a sister school in Suffolk, but one planned for Richmond, in south-west London, was not allowed to go ahead.
The Lancashire school pledges to develop the full potential of every student, including "their senses, mind, intellect and emotions".
A message on the school website says: "It is a wonderful place to be - a dynamic learning environment combines with a harmonious atmosphere, in which children aged from four to 16 receive the uniquely effective system of consciousness-based education.
"Creativity and intelligence are systematically developed with a few minutes of transcendental meditation at the beginning and end of the school day."