RISINGHILL REVISITED The Killing of a Comprehensive School
When Risinghill, a new purpose built co-educational comprehensive school, opened in Islington, north London on 3 May 1960, no one could have imagined that it would be closed just five years later, and that a book chronicling its demise would make publishing history by becoming the UK’s first non-fiction best-seller. Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School (1968) catapulted the author, Leila Berg, to fame along with Risinghill’s progressive headmaster, Michael Duane.
Risinghill Revisited (RR), which comprises two books, lifts the lid on what really happened at the school, and in the process shines a light on the politics of an education system that was (and in the opinion of the authors still is) seriously flawed. In this first book, the authors revisit Berg’s story, using documents that were not available to Berg in 1965 to explore some of her allegations, notably that there had been a conspiracy to close the school long before it had opened.
This is a sorry tale of deceit and obfuscation, one that, in today’s test-driven society, will resonate with teachers, parents and pupils. The authors hope that RR will serve to keep the idea of a ‘child-centred’ education alive, something that Duane believed in, passionately, and fought for without much success.
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