27 August 2011
FT: West London Free School's pupils "will come from richer backgrounds than those in surrounding state schools"
Last summer, all Hammersmith & Fulham schools lost out when Michael Gove abolished the Building Schools for the Future programme. This weekend, the Financial Times has confirmed that the government is giving Toby Young's West London Free School £15 million: see here.
We have nothing against the WLFS per se. We all need to keep striving for better secondary education in the borough. But as the FT also points out in an interview with Toby Young today, "The £15m that will have been spent by the Department for Education on the new school’s buildings would, it could be argued, otherwise have gone into repairing or expanding existing schools." See here.
The WLFS claims it will operate a fair and non-selective admissions policy. We note Toby Young's claim to the FT that its old-fashioned curriculum is “very appealing to working-class parents, immigrants ... The proof will be in the pudding.”
Yet as the FT also point out, "the early portents are that the school’s pupils will come from richer backgrounds than those in surrounding state schools. Initial estimates suggest that about 17 per cent of the entry are eligible for free school meals – an indicator of poverty. Other local state secondary schools have a rate of 31 per cent."
This is worrying.