Will free schools drive up standards? Read Toby Young's guest post and join the conversation

(706 Posts)
ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 10:46:14

Are free schools ready to fall or fly? Do they really drive up standards or are they a snobbish gimmick? And should more parents be setting up their own schools? Journalist and producer Toby Young explains why he set up the West London Free School and what makes the free school proposition an exciting one. Join the conversation that Toby's begun and have your say on free schools.

BarryShitpeas Thu 01-Dec-11 11:33:41


BarryShitpeas Thu 01-Dec-11 11:40:42


how can you say your school serves it's local area when it has an intake from all over West London.

From the first intake the furthest child came from Harmondsworth Primary- do you know how far this is from WLFS?

BarryShitpeas Thu 01-Dec-11 13:25:41


montmartre Thu 01-Dec-11 20:42:31

May I ask why this is on blogging as opposed to education?
Will get a very different audience/response I think...

DogStinkhorn Thu 01-Dec-11 20:43:00

Are non Bloggers allowed to post?

ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 21:11:54

Hi there,

Non-bloggers are definitely allowed to post here. The topic is in Bloggers and not Education because Toby Young wrote a guest blog for Mumsnet and it was organised by Mumsnet Bloggers Network. But we'd love to hear your views, whether blogger or not!

DogStinkhorn Thu 01-Dec-11 21:25:18

How can Toby Young justify the money spent on free schools when there are schools in this country that are falling down or leaking and have their funding cut?

rightlymoaningminnie Thu 01-Dec-11 21:59:03

Toby, I think you said in your Spectator column that it cost £24 million to set up (or was it run?) a secondary school, compared to your Free School, which costs £16 million (to build, or run).

Why is there such a large difference in cost? Is it because your Free School relies heavily on the support, and unpaid labour and expertise, of your highly motivated parents? Do you think that your, 'style' of teaching and ethos of discipline will save the time and money that bad behaviour involves?

Is it necessary to be a free school to drive up standards? Is there room for imaginative heads at state-run comprehensives to put Latin on the curriculum and drop Food Technology? And isn't it about the head teacher/figure head/Toby Young-type person running the show, regardless of being in or out of the state system?

FWIW, I'm pretty convinced by the WLFS argument and hope that these free schools are a success. I wish my DCs had a chance of going to a school like that.

wwbd Thu 01-Dec-11 23:47:06

'I’m proud to say the West London Free School remained open yesterday with not a single member of staff going on strike. A majority of them are members of teaching unions and they’d face no repercussions if they did. They just decided not to.'
So you're proud that your teachers will have less to live on in their retirement than they were originally entitled to? They just 'decided' not to strike. You really think that these two statements are not related?

montmartre Fri 02-Dec-11 00:27:21

wwbd= what would Beezus do???

hocuspontas Fri 02-Dec-11 07:31:04

And only the 'majority' are members of teaching unions? Are some of these not qualified teachers then? I would have thought it was a must for their own protection that the first thing you do on becoming a teacher is to join a union.

Grumpla Fri 02-Dec-11 08:44:27

Toby, I loathe you and all you stand for.

wwbd Fri 02-Dec-11 08:55:22

what would bono do grin

ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Fri 02-Dec-11 09:29:39

Hi all,

We're moving this thread to 'Education' because we think it's an important topic and want everyone who's interested to be able to see it.

BarryShitpeas Fri 02-Dec-11 09:35:35


SpringHeeledJack Fri 02-Dec-11 09:51:30

wot Grumpla said

<marks place>

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 09:53:25

What SHJ and Grumpla said.

Snapespeare Fri 02-Dec-11 09:57:16

what SpringHeeledJack said.

My understannding of free schools is highly motivated parents, who want the best for their children, who don't want them to mix with potentially disruptive children who don't have that support at home.

what happens to those kids? the ones that don't have parental support?

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 10:04:56

Everything about that blog is either offensive, stupid or both.

How can you have it as an aim that 'all our children will go to top universities'? Unless of course you don't take any children who are going to get anything less than a handful of As at A level?

You do know that children in normal schools read Shakespeare, yes? And I've yet to hear of any of them watching soap operas at school.

The (unattributed) Arnoldian notion of 'the best that has been thought and said' is pretty half-baked, too.

Dillydaydreaming Fri 02-Dec-11 10:17:52

"Our ambition is for all the children at the school to go to top universities, no matter how lowly their background".

Hello Toby, I just want to pick up on this comment from your blog. Am I right in assuming that this is a "hope and aim" rather than an "expectation"? If it is an expectation then how do you overcome admissions to the school without selection.

I don't think there is anything wrong with aiming high and I like the goal of supporting every child regardless of background. However, I wonder how you will achieve the above statement without some kind of selection process at the start.

By the way, my son has NEVER watched a soap opera at school and even in his Y4 group they are looking at Shakespeare appropriate to their age group so I think some of your beliefs regarding state schools are erroneous.

I support the idea of Free Schools and as my son is autistic believe they could be set up to meet needs of specific groups of pupils, I think they should be open though so that people are not hiding behind statements like " we are just a normal school with normal admission procedures" when in fact they are entirely selective (and yes I realise this happens in the State system too).

wonkylegs Fri 02-Dec-11 10:25:41

Nope free schools are going to be a very expensive experiment. Some will do ok but at the expense of main stream funding and an erosion of the education system as a whole

wwbd Fri 02-Dec-11 10:42:56

I would like to know what percentage of children admitted to his school
- had a statement
- were already at school action plus
- were already at school action

DogStinkhorn Fri 02-Dec-11 10:47:16

Its all very well to say you loathe Toby, but don't you think you are playing in to his hands a bit? Can't we shoot all his arguments down with reason? Shouldn't be that difficult.

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