05 April 2011

New questions for the West London Free School and Hammersmith council

Interesting interview with Toby Young in today's Education Guardian. He may have a bizarre view of existing state schools, which he apparently thinks force-feed children “New Labour mumbo-jumbo”. But he says he wants the West London Free School to be a “comprehensive grammar” and is adamant it won’t be exclusively middle class.

That is a worthy ambition. Achieving it is likely to prove a challenge, given the school’s wholly academic curriculum (no practical subjects like computing), and it would be good to know how the school will monitor – and make public – its intake over time.

Young acknowledges for the first time that there may be an impact on neighbouring schools: he says his father, the great egalitarian Lord Young, would have worried about this. Again, it would be good to know how this will be monitored, although this is more a job for Tory H&F council than the free school.

Talking of the council, we wonder if they have paid consultants EC Harris anything for their work promoting the free school. The council’s suppliers' list shows they gave EC Harris £14,392 in the first quarter of 2010 but that was doubtless for something else and we don’t yet have more up-to-date figures. 

And on what terms is the council planning to house the free school in Cambridge School’s old building once Cambridge moves into the Bryony Centre? Will it charge a market rent?

Next to the Guardian's piece about Young’s ambitions for the few sits a bleak report of the education cuts hitting the many across the country, who include pupils in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Toby Young’s response? He plans to march in a pro-cuts rally next month.

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