A Maharishi school trust has failed in its bid to open a new free school in Hampton.
The Maharishi Free School Richmond team lost out to St Mary’s Church, in Church Street, Hampton, which submitted a competing application to the Department for Education (DfE) for a primary school on the same site, in Oldfield Road. The Thomson House School, which applied to open in Barnes, Mortlake or East Sheen, was also among the 102 new free schools across the country that the DfE approved today.
Its proposal was for a primary school providing places for 336 children.
The Maharishi Free School Richmond team’s failed bid raises questions over Richmond Council’s long-term plan to overcome a lack of secondary school places in the borough.
The school, which would have taught pupils aged four to 18, was due to open in September next year. It proposed teaching children transcendental meditation, a technique based on the teachings of guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, as part of its curriculum.
Richard Scott, of the Maharishi Free School Richmond team, said: “On behalf of the Maharishi School team I would like to thank all the parents in Richmond who have been so supportive of our application. In fact I have always felt that these parents have been a critical part of our team.
“Today the DfE has published the list of approved free schools and I am sorry to say that Maharishi School was not on it. They have raised some points that they have asked us to work through with them before re-applying next year.
“This is certainly disappointing after all the hard work, but there is nothing that we cannot address while keeping the special quality of the Maharishi School; it does mean that we will not be in a position to open a Maharishi School in Richmond in 2013.”
Mr Scott said he had no doubt the school’s educational methods worked.
He said parents of children at a Maharishi free school in Lancashire had all said in a survey that they were happy with it. He added: “Our biggest concern is for the parents who will be disappointed by this decision and the children who would have been our pupils. I sincerely hope that they find a school for them that helps them to develop their full potential.”