Maharishi School

Maharishi School
Motto A school with a difference
Established 1986
Type Free school
Head teacher Derek Cassells[1]
Location Cobbs Brow Lane
L40 6JJ
DfE number 888/6018
DfE URN 137498 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 135[2]
Gender Coeducational
Ages 4–16

The Maharishi School (Maharishi Free School or Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment) [3][4][5] is a non-academically selective free school in Lathom, Lancashire, UK.[1][6] The school was founded in 1986 and uses "consciousness-based education" methods including Transcendental Meditation. Despite receiving criticism for teaching pseudoscience and being for "the education of the members of a religious sect", it became a flagship free school in 2011.


The school takes it name from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and utilizes an educational approach called "Consciousness-based Education". Its students learn the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) and practice it in 10-minute sessions, three times during the school day[7] Students also learn the principles of the "Science of Creative Intelligence" such as "order is present everywhere" and "the nature of life is to grow" which are said to allow the students to appreciate broader values of life and then apply them in their daily life.[8] According to school officials the program enables the students to be calmer, more focused and relaxed and improves their ability to learn.[7][9][10][11] A 1998 report by National Public Radio said the school has been ranked in the top two percent of the country's schools for the past 12 years.[12] In 2002 the Liverpool Daily Post reported that the school had 100 percent pass rate on GCSE tests in seven out of the prior 8 years.[13] In 2011 a spokesman for the Department for Education said the Maharishi School was "outstanding in almost all categories" and that the school "has a strong record of high academic achievement".[2] He cited an Ofsted report which says the school provides an "outstanding education" [2] and according to the school's web site, Ofsted reports its GCSE scores to be in the country's top 2.5 per cent.[14] The school is reported to be located "in the top 20 per cent of England’s most wealthy areas".[15] Schools with similar curriculum include the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in the Fairfield, Iowa U.S.A. and the Maharishi School in Reservoir, Australia.[16]


The school was founded in 1986 as an independent, fee-based school with 14 pupils.[8] In 2009, the student body numbered 70, ranging in age from four years to 16 and their General Certificate of Secondary Education scores were reported to be double the national average.[4]

In 2011, it was one of 24 schools that applied for and received government funding as a flagship free school.[2][17][18] At that time the school's tuition fee was GBP 7,620 for its secondary school students. According to the school's Head Teacher, Derek Cassells, free school status allows the school the potential to double its attendance while retaining its character. As of September 2011, 135 students were enrolled.[1][2] The school has applied to open two branch schools in 2014 for 11- to 18-year-old students. One would be in Woodbridge, Suffolk, near a community of TM practitioners in Rendlesham,[19][20] and the other would be at Oldfield House in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames.[21][22][23] They would expand by "one year group at a time, with 20 pupils in each year".[24][25] The Rendlesham school proposal was denied by the Department For Education in early 2012.[26]


The school's 2011 qualification for government funding was criticized by The Lancashire branch of the National Union of Teachers who called it the funding of the "education of the members of a religious sect" with links to a defunct political party. A spokesperson for the School responded to the criticism saying the school is run by an "independent charitable company" and its Consciousness Based Education approach is non-religious and has no links to any political party.[27]

Further criticism came in June 2011 from the Liberal Democrat MP for Southport, John Pugh, and the Liverpool city council leader, Joe Anderson, both of whom attacked the government for funding the Maharishi School while depriving funds from mainstream schools. Labour MP Lisa Nandy made similar complaints in August and the British Humanist Association (BHA) voiced concerns about the school's "spiritual and 'pseudoscientific' teaching".[11][14][21] The school's headmaster, Cassells, said: "We bring a balanced curriculum and all we do is introduce a few minutes of meditation three times a day".[28] A Department of Education spokesman said "the Maharishi School, like all Free Schools, will enter pupils for the same exams as other state schools" and "will be open to all pupils of any or no faith"[2]

In May 2012 a group of professors and science communicators which included Edzard Ernst wrote a letter to The Guardian calling the Maharishi school a "serious threat to education" for its teaching of pseudoscience, comparing it to the dangers of creationist schools.[29]

In December 2012, the school was reprimanded by the Department for Education for not entering any of its pupils into compulsory National Curriculum assessments. The school has responded by saying that it did not receive the appropriate materials and guidance in time to conduct the tests, but has committed to do so in the future.[30]


  1. 1 2 3 BARRETT, DAVID (January 23, 2011). "Private schools enrol in Gove's state revolution". The Sunday Telegraph. p. 2.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Byrne, Michael (September 1, 2011). "Maharishi School in Skelmersdale hits back over Free School status criticisms".
  3. Official web site, retrieved June 14 2012
  4. 1 2 Atkins, Lucy (April 14, 2009). "G2: Health: Should our schools teach children to 'dive within'?". The Guardian. p. 18.
  5. Wilson, Richard (March 16, 2008). "I want to teach the world to meditate". Sunday Times. p. 10.
  6. "Where Free Schools are located in Britain". The Telegraph, Education News. September 12, 2011.
  7. 1 2 Pattinson, Rob (September 8, 2011). "Parents back Maharishi School's move into state sector as a Free School".
  8. 1 2 Teasdale, Michelle (June 3, 2010). "Mummy, can we meditate now?". The Independent. p. 52.
  9. "Party time at Maharishi school as it celebrates 21 years at top". Liverpool Echo. January 15, 2007. p. 13.
  10. Gilbert, Francis (March 7, 2011). "New schools of thought; Alternative schools are enjoying a renaissance - but what sort of education do they offer?". The Times. London (UK). p. 10.
  11. 1 2 SCHOFIELD, KEVIN (August 29, 2011). "Free Your Mind, Kids; Pupils Meditate at one of New Schools". The Sun.
  12. Lyden, Jacki (September 12, 1998) Meditating Students, NPR Weekend All Things Considered
  13. (Jan 12, 2002) Children meditate on top class GCSEs, Daily Post (Liverpool, England)"Few schools can boast a 100pc top pass rate in GCSE exams. Fewer still have managed the feat in all but one of the last eight years."
  14. 1 2 Teed, Paul (November 19, 2011) This is Local London
  15. Newman, Cathy (September 5, 2011). "Channel 4 News FactCheck with Cathy Newman".
  16. Ryan, Denise (Oct 22, 2012)School Puts Stress On Staying Calm, retrieved Oct 27, 2012
  17. "Om Schooling;'Ridiculous' Gove Plan Sees State Fund Maharishi High" 'The Mirror' August 29, 2011.
  18. "Meditation every day at the yogi's state school" Daily Mail (London) January 31, 2011.
  19. Clark, Ross (25 March 2007). "Transcendental HABITATION ; Om sweet omas the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi inspires an estate that's aligned with the rest of the universe. It's not as nutty as it sounds...". Mail on Sunday. London (UK). p. 8.
  20. Davis, Anna (14 November 2011). "Free school to teach Beatles guru's meditation methods". London Evening Standard.
  21. 1 2 (November 21, 2011) Free Schools Malicious Rumors The Guardian Retrieved Dec 5 2011
  22. Teed, Paul (November 25, 2011) Meditation School gets warm welcome" Richmond and Twickenham Times
  23. Teed, Paul (December 20, 2011) Maharishi meeting attracts a crowd, Your Local Guardian
  24. Robinson, Craig (October 20, 2011). "Woodbridge: Free school based on teachings of The Beatles' spiritual guru could open soon". EADT.
  25. Robinson, Craig (November 20, 2011) EADT 24
  26. Robinson, Craig (February 9, 2012) Maharishi Free School Bid Set To Be Handed to Department of Education EADT24
  27. Champion News, Maharishi school hits back at Lancashire NUT criticism, David Simister, Feb 19 2011
  28. "Anger at schools cash fund". Wigan Today. September 11, 2011.
  29. Dhaliwal, Pavan; Ernst, Edzard; Colquhoun, David; Singh, Simon; et al. (12 May 2012). "Schools of pseudoscience pose a serious threat to education". The Guardian.
  30. Richardson, Hannah (13 December 2012) Maharishi free school fails to enter pupils for Sats BBC, accessed Dec 27, 2012

See also

Consciousness-Based Education

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