West London free school(37 Posts)
Really interested in feedback from anyone with a child there.......not interested in any moans about free schools or Toby young - just want to know what you think if you have a child there.
Re the last point, a school in a neighbouring borough had class sizes of 27 for several years and successfully defended it at appeal saying the building was purpose built to accommodate that number blah blah. They have now moved to 30 per class - they needed the extra funding...
Ah well, IIRC would be one of the few grounds they could make a case on - insufficient physical space. However, lots of free schools are not in purpose-built spaces, but are instead in portacabins, on temporary sites, or are in recycled buildings.
It will be interesting to see what happens with free schools and class sizes.
My kid isn't there, but one thing a friend whose son is there told me really struck me: the pressure on parents to set up a "voluntary" monthly payment to the school of £35/month. (My friend wasn't complaining - she was expressing her distress and shame to me that she couldn't afford that much.) I've got no problem with schools roping parents in to help with fundraising, and indeed I think involving parents is an actively good idea, but this isn't that, and is IMO a fundraising step too far. Combine that with the huge cost of the uniform, and I think the much-vaunted diversity of the place will soon disappear, as lower-income parents self-select not to apply for places.
Oops, said 'streaming' when I meant 'setting'.
I don't think we're going to look at this school after all. Very unlikely to get in, and just doesn't sound the right place for my dd1 - though absolutely does for some other kids, different personalities
Re parental contributions: I do agree. Asking for/expecting or even loudly 'suggesting' regular specific amounts is not on, IMO.
I'm delighted that our primary PTA has decided to make standing order info available for parents who want to support the school that way, rather than asking for or expecting money. There are other ways to support the school (time, for example, or even baking a cake) and although it seems fairly common for schools to ask for regular contributions these days, I think its extremely divisive.
Friends son was going to apply for a job there, put off by the following:
in the two and a half years the school has been open the staff turnover has been:
1 Headmaster has left - no one knows why.
1 Director of Studies has left
1 Head of English has left
1 Head of languages has left ( and the 2nd is about to leave, see website)
1 Head of Classics has left
1 Head of Physics has left
1 Head of Divinity has left
1 Maths teacher has left
Quite high staff turnover for a small new school. Sometimes something to be worried about sometimes not.
That seems an incredible number of department heads for a school which is in it's 3rd year - what is going on there.
I was offered a job at WLFS when it first opened and turned it down due to the sheer lack of organisation and planning. The position was as a Head of Department and was eventually given to a teacher who had 2 years experience (at the time I had 8 years teaching experience). I happened to be looking in the TES and saw a job advert that indicated she had left after a year.
Goldenspots' list of teachers that have left is highly indicative of a school that is not in a 'good place'. Teacher turnover is higher in London than elsewhere but it is rare for that to be at the Head of Department level.
I am also intrigued to know why the much lauded Headteacher that was in place when it opened has left. I have tried, with no luck, to find out - even resorted to tweeting one of the founders about it but had no response.
Would be really interested to hear from a parent who has a child in Year 8 as to why he left or if no reason was given.
Interesting thread. I agonised over WLFS and Holland Park, for my DS, for entry next year, and at the last minute changed my order of preference from one to the other, when my son was placed on the short list for music aptitude. School size was another big influence, even though the Ofsted report suggested room for improvements, which I found a little disconcerting... In all honesty, I still lack certainty as to what would be the best choice and am happy to leave it to Fate for now.
With regard to the Head leaving: at the open evening I attended, I made a point of asking the new Head why he had left, pointing out that many prospective parents found this a little worrying. He replied that the old Head was now involved in commandeering the ship that is responsible for floating all the schools: the organisation that is the West London Free Schools (as they are planning to open even more schools in the near future), as opposed to just the secondary school. It sounds like he is still very much involved.
Hope this helps.
dippingbackin - as someone who tries to keep an open mind on things, your anecdote suggests that the turnover could well be a story of:
1. Highly employable experienced teachers were originally nervous about joining the school (which was experimental, controversial and in a state of pre-opening fluster at the time)
2. The school was forced to employ less experienced teachers instead
3. They replaced them as soon as they could with more experienced teachers; perhaps the inexperienced teachers realised they weren't making the grade and moved on of their own accord, or perhaps they were "let go". Either way I wouldn't expect the school to comment publicly.
I don't know if that's the truth, but it's just as likely as the implied conclusion that "they all left because they hated working there".
I am about to choose my preferences for secondary school. I have visited Holland Park, West London Free School, Chelsea Academy, Ashcroft, Fulham Boys School, Ark Putney.
So far my choices are 1-Holland Park, 2-West London Free School, 3- Chelsea Academy, 4-Fulham Boys. Are there any parents who have children at Holland Park, West London Free School or Chelsea Academy who can give me some up to date feedback on their experience of the schools?
Many of the posts on here are old and I would like a more recent opinion. Thanks in advance, any contribution will be much appreciated!
Also if anyone is at the WLFS how are you finding the fact that there are no technical or vocational subjects? I like the sound of a classical education and my son's passion and forte is writing and English.
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