18 February 2011

Toby Young isn't giving the full story behind the WL Free School’s U-turn

Toby Young devotes much of his latest Telegraph column to rubbishing Andrew Slaughter MP’s claim in his recent constituency newsletter that the West London Free School was “ousting…a school for severely disabled children in its rush to open”.

Yet there is no doubt that until recently, the free school was about to overturn long-standing plans under Building Schools for the Future (BSF) for the Cambridge School for children with special educational needs to move into the better-suited Bryony Centre. 

The free school wanted the Bryony instead, even once HFConwatch revealed that behind-the-scenes discussions on moving Cambridge into the Bryony had kept going after BSF was cancelled.

(We should note here that Young - based on what the council has told him - doesn’t agree that discussions continued behind the scenes. It might help clear this up if someone could make a Freedom of Information request to the council - click here - asking to see all emails between Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Cambridge School from July 2010 to date regarding the Bryony Centre. Any takers?)

On 17 January, Tory Hammersmith council took the wholly unexpected decision to give the Bryony to the free school for two years. Goodbye Cambridge’s hopes for now.

The head teachers both of Cambridge and of the Phoenix School, which is next door to the Bryony, expressed their grave concern, and so did Andy Slaughter. HFConwatch blogged extensively about the shameful shenanigans (see here, here, here and here).

And lo and behold, after hurried discussions with the council, the free school decided it would after all rather move into the Cambridge School’s building once vacated and not the Bryony Centre.

In his attack piece today, Toby Young somehow ignores all this. He also talks patronisingly about “bending over backwards to do what’s right” for Cambridge School and how grateful everyone there is to him, as if the free school’s decision not to snaffle the Bryony is doing Cambridge a favour for which we should all be terribly thankful.

The West London Free School may end up providing great education to local kids. It may even become a beloved part of our community, as we are sure the new Hammersmith Academy (which got going under Labour) will when it opens in September. But for now, it needs to learn to act with a little more humility and ideally with a little less Toby Young.


Anonymous said...

Calls for humility coming from Slaughter's camp. Spot the hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Toby has published his recopmmended reading list for his 11-12 year olds.

How will he explain a phrase such as this from the 39 Steps?

"If you're on the biggest kind of job and are bound to get to the real boss, ten to one you are brought up against a little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattlesnake. Yes, sir, he is the man who is ruling the world just now, and he has his knife into the Empire of the Tzar, because his aunt was outraged and his father flogged in some one-horse location on the Volga."

I found this whole discussion misses the point if the poor kids can't read to start with. Of course it matters what one reads -- I read 1984 when I was 10 (hence my rat phobia) and Chandler when 12 (no jokes please). But I don't care if kids read comics, magazines or anything else if it improves their reading ability so that a real book is not an object of fear.

Sorry this is anonymous --- my google log in won't work here!