Anger at school’s cash fund

TWO Wigan MPs have criticised plans to have the taxpayer fund a West Lancashire school which teaches meditation.

The Maharishi School in Skelmersdale opens its doors for the new academic year as one of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s Free Schools, which have cost up to £130m.

It will be run according to the beliefs and teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who became the Beatles’ spiritual adviser, and offers meditation and yoga on the timetable.

But Labour Wigan MPs Lisa Nandy and shadow education secretary Andy Burnham believe the money would be better spent on existing schools.

Ms Nandy said: “When public money is really short it makes no sense to spend so much cash on a small number of schools,

“People will be shocked that their taxes are going on teaching transcendental meditation.

“We have one million unemployed young people in this country and the Government is spending money on teaching pupils yoga. It is completely ridiculous. The money would be much better spent on improving existing schools and building the new classrooms the government scrapped.”

Leigh MP Mr Burnham added: “I have worries that this is a gamble and I don’t see the evidence that it will automatically lead to higher standards.

“But the bigger question we need to ask is, in a time of scarce resources, is it right to have a school system where funding is given according to demand rather than need?”

But headteacher Derek Cassells said: “We applied to be part of a government initiative. Whether these MPs agree with the initiative is up to them.

“There have been almost 700 scientific research studies which testify that transcendental meditation improves wellbeing and enhances creativity and intelligence, which are things we would want to have for our children in schools. We bring a balanced curriculum and all we do is introduce a few minutes of mediation three times a day.”