David Hughes reports on the Maharishi School in Skelmersdale
In 1980, Maharishi inspired the establishment of projects around the world where people practising the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programme could meditate together in groups, so as to maximise the benefits for themselves and for society.
Research had convincingly demonstrated that where at least the square root of one per cent of a population practised these programmes in a group, the increased coherence generated in collective consciousness led to improvements in positive trends of life, and decreases in negative trends – including reductions in crime and even war (see Nov 22 issue).
This “Maharishi Effect,” so named as Maharishi had predicted it in the early 1960s, required, in 1980, a group of 800 TM-Sidhas to generate coherence on a national scale (being the square root of 640,000, approximately one per cent of Britain’s 60 million population).
As a result, in 1980 several hundred TM practitioners moved to Skelmersdale, Lancashire, from all over the UK and even the world, setting up businesses, buying homes, and raising their families.
To raise families, sooner or later you’re going to need a school. And for many of the young TMers who moved to Skelmersdale in the 1980s, that didn’t mean just any school. They wanted one which would incorporate Transcendental Meditation and other aspects of Maharishi’s Consciousness based Education.
So in this issue, we’re featuring arguably the most successful, and best-known, outcome of showcasing Maharishi’s knowledge in the town: The Maharishi School, a separate entity which is now a fully Government – funded Free School.
And in our *next issue (October) we’ll tell the story of TM in Skelmersdale from 1980 to the present.
Set up in the late 1980s with enthusiasm and dedication by parents who practised TM, the Maharishi School was guided with unmatched skill for over a quarter of a century by Head Teacher Derek Cassells and his gifted team of staff and helpers. Over the years, in addition to the newly arriving TMers, many hundreds of local families in Skelmersdale have learned Transcendental Meditation as a result of their children attending the school. Education Enlightenment
Combining growth of consciousness with academic results to rival the most elite private schools, the excellence of the Maharishi School has attracted worldwide attention, earned UK government financial support as a Free School, and helped to secure EU funds for projects to introduce TM into schools in five European countries, among many other achievements.
School teachers from elsewhere in the UK have visited to, as one put it, “remind myself what education can be like, and why I became a teacher.”
Dr Cassells has become a sought-after expert and worldwide conference speaker on Maharishi’s Consciousness-based Education, with his place at the helm of the Maharishi Free School being taken by the talented, dedicated and enthusiastic Lisa Edwards.
Maharishi Free School
The school now caters for 240 pupils from ages 4 to 16, and was named top secondary school in West Lancashire in 2020 by Lancashire Live’s Real Schools Guide, which assesses 51 different data points including pupil to teacher ratios, attainment at GCSEs and pupil destinations after leaving the school.
“Maharishi School’s secondary phase offers an academic curriculum, known in the UK as the Ebacc Curriculum,” explains Lisa Edwards. “As recently as 2022, Maharishi School outperformed other schools by
achieving double the national average for Ebacc outcomes.
“This achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider that, in many other schools, only the highest attaining pupils are entered for Ebacc subjects, accounting for 40% of the UK national average; at Maharishi School 90-100% of pupils access this academic curriculum.”
Every pupil – and staff member – begins and ends the day with a session of Transcendental Meditation, which provides the calmness and creativity to help the students to learn and the teachers to teach.
The school website describes the difference TM practise and other aspects of Consciousness-based Education makes: “Our pupils delight visitors from all over the world with their remarkable eagerness for knowledge, the atmosphere that they create within the school and their profound grasp of the deepest principles of life. These pupils exhibit a maturity and wholeness that is rarely seen in other schools.” I think I can vouch for that.
Some years ago, I was asked to give a talk on Transcendental Meditation at a local 1500-pupil sixth-form college where most of the Maharishi School pupils progress to post-16. I’d already talked with the Admissions Officer of the college, who was lavish in his praise of the Maharishi School intake, saying that year after year, “without exception” they were the brightest, most resilient, most confident, most creative, and kindest students he’d ever seen. “If I ever have a pupil who is finding it hard to fit in, I take them to the students from the Maharishi School, because I know they will look after them.”
And it wasn’t only the adults who were impressed. Arriving at the designated room, I was surprised to find it packed to capacity. Having checked the room number in case I’d gone to the wrong place, I asked a girl by the door why so many pupils had turned up for the talk.
Lowering her voice so as not to be overheard, she told me: “We all know the kids from the Maharishi School. We just want to be like them.”
For more information: maharishischool.com
“I had long admired the work of Maharishi School and was delighted to accept the role as Headteacher following the retirement of Dr Cassells in 2016. Maharishi School is a truly special place – a harmonious environment to learn and grow to one’s full potential – and it is a privilege to play a role in its continued success.”
– Lisa Edwards, Head Teacher, Maharishi School.
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