The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Affirmation of Student Free Expression Rights

The American School in London’s Affirmation of Student Free Expression Rights


Private and independent K-12 education has a vigorous tradition in the United States and in international schools around the world. From the venture schools and academies of the late 1700s to the wide array of education offerings of today, private and independent schools have sought to educate the next generation through innovative pedagogy, mission-driven values, and a commitment to community.  

Private and independent schools have also been fierce advocates for their students’ rights. The Society of Sisters sued the state of Oregon to ensure the rights of their students to attend a private school without violating that state’s compulsory education law in 1925 – and won. In the 1960s and ‘70s, “free schools” and “freedom schools” sought to teach young people how to take a more active role in their own education, to advocate for their rights and to create social change. Today’s schools continue those traditions, equipping tomorrow’s leaders with a thorough understanding of rights and responsibilities.  

As part of our dedication to the highest quality education that promotes student welfare and lives of service and engagement, The American School in London affirms the right of freedom of expression for this academic community. We recognize the following:  

  1. Private and independent schools are not bound by the same constitutional concerns as public schools, but our shared purpose of education suggests that a similar approach to student freedoms is both reasonable and wise;  
  2. Freedom of speech is a fundamental principle in a democratic society, granted by the U.K. Humans Right Act (1998) and underscored by the Fundamental British Value of Democracy.
  3. Participation and engagement with a robust and free student press promote a range of academic and civic benefits that are both immediate and long-term;  
  4. Teachers who defend their students’ freedom of expression uphold the tradition of preparing students for civic life but may do so at potential professional and personal risk.  


In light of these findings, The American School in London adopts this Statement to uphold freedom of expression through school-sponsored media for our students, and the jobs of the teachers who appropriately support these rights, in order to encourage students to become educated, informed and responsible members of society.  



  1. “School-sponsored media” means any material that is prepared, substantially written, published or broadcast, in any media, by a student journalist at The American School in London under the direction of a student media adviser. Such material is primarily created to serve a student audience, but may be distributed and read far beyond the academic environment, including online. School-sponsored media does not include media intended for distribution or transmission for classroom purposes only.  
  2. “Student journalist” means a student at The American School in London who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination by school-sponsored media.  
  3. “Student media adviser” means an individual employed, appointed, or designated by The American School in London to supervise or provide instruction relating to school-sponsored media.  


The American School in London’s commitment to student journalists’ freedom of expression  

With certain exceptions (see below) a student journalist at The American School in London has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media. Student journalists are responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and visual content of school-sponsored media. Student media advisers may guide this process through instructing student journalists on the professional standards of journalism and English, elements of media law and ethics, media literacy and principles consistent with The American School in London’s mission of “empower[ing] each student to thrive as a lifelong learner and courageous global citizen by fostering intellect, creativity, inclusivity and character.”  



This Statement does not protect expression by a student that:  

  1. Is libelous or slanderous;  
  2. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy or is in violation of the laws and guidance laid out in the Data Protection Act (2018);  
  3. Meets a category of speech that violates the Equality Act (2010) or undermines the Fundamental British Values;   
  4. Promotes a product that is illegal for purchase or use by minors;
  5. Counters the deeply held values of the institution’s mission such that it threatens the orderly operation of the school (see point 6); or  
  6. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of a lawful school policy, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school. Administrators must base a forecast of material and substantial disruption on specific facts, such as past experience in the school and current events influencing student behavior, and not on undifferentiated fear or apprehension.  


Prior restraint and prior review  

The American School in London affirms that prior restraint inhibits a robust and free student press and may only be used for student journalist expression that falls within an unprotected category. Similarly, prior review of material by administrators undermines trust with students to carry out ethical and responsible journalism. The American School in London commits to working with the student journalist whenever possible to address concerns before publication in an effort to avoid prior restraint and review.    


Disciplinary actions  

The American School in London will not discipline a student journalist exercising freedom of expression or press in accordance with this Statement. A student media adviser who seeks to advocate for students engaging in expression that is protected by this Statement shall not be dismissed, suspended, reassigned or otherwise disciplined or coerced if such action is based on the adviser’s advocacy.  


The American School in London’s right to expression  

As a private entity, The American School in London similarly has a right to free expression. This Statement affirms that student journalist expression represents the perspectives of students and may not reflect those of our administrators, governing bodies, faculty or staff.  



In issuing this Statement, The American School in London seeks to ensure the benefits of a robust and free student press for the students under our care and to uphold the principle of free expression. We acknowledge that freedom of expression is both a right and a responsibility, and we embrace the challenge of teaching both to our students. In providing this affirmation of freedom, we aspire to both.  


So signed, Sept. 8, 2023, by Interim High School Principal Jack Phillips.