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A question for Toby Young and Thomas Packer at the West London Free School

(59 Posts)
livinginchiswick Sun 21-Oct-12 15:23:40

Dear Mr. Young and Mr. Packer,
I understand you don't set for Maths till Year 8 and for English till Year 9. I have a child who will be sitting Level 6 Maths and English in Year 6. He has been set by his primary school for three years and is used to work at a certain level. If he goes to your school he will be in the same class with some children who may be finishing Year 6 with level 4. My question is: how will the teacher manage to run a class like that? What topics will be covered? Will my child be revising level 5 for a whole year hmm or will the level 4 child be pushed two levels ahead hmm ?

I am confused. Your vision is a successful academic school for all. Then why have you decided not to follow the sample of other academic successful London comprehensives such as Graveney, Fortismere, Holland Park...? They all sit the children in different bands in most or all subjects from day 1. This way, they can all get the help they need and progress at the speed they need. A proven and tested formula.

Do you band the children in any way? And if not, why not? Would really appreciate an answer before I fill the CAF. I really like the school but this concerns me and many parents I have talked to. Thank you.

seeker Sun 21-Oct-12 15:29:15

Will they let anyone who hasn't got a level 5 in?

livinginchiswick Sun 21-Oct-12 15:40:35

Well, it's not a selective school. Places are allocated by distance/lottery plus 10% musical aptitude....

titchy Sun 21-Oct-12 15:46:03

Presumably they will argue that your child's current teacher has been able to successfully differentiate, as demonstrated by the fact that your child is aiming for level 6, whilst others will be aiming for level 4, and so WLFS teachers can also differentiate.

I do agree setting is better though grin

livinginchiswick Sun 21-Oct-12 15:50:30

Thanks Titchy but they have two sets at his primary, they do not have children working 2 levels apart in the same class.

kylesmybaby Sun 21-Oct-12 16:02:24

same at chiswick school in literacy. i cannot understand it for a second.

titchy Sun 21-Oct-12 16:08:53

Plenty do though - last year ds' year 6 teacher had one child who got l3, 12 who got l4, 12 at l5 and half a dozen l6!!! (Maths btw, but English similar)

HanSolo Sun 21-Oct-12 16:29:32

Couldn't you just email him? hmm
I'm sick of that oxygen thief getting thread-time on here angry

pointyfangs Sun 21-Oct-12 18:45:18

And has anyone seen the puff piece the DM has written about TY's free school? Honestly, it is nauseating - about the only thing they didn't do was gush about how wonderful TY was in bed... Not linking to it, too disgusted.

Having said that, DD1 got L6 in Yr6 last year - she was in a maths top set, but the range of ability spanned 4C to 6C. Her maths teacher handled it, so clearly it is possible for some very able teachers.

Her secondary does not set for maths until Yr8 but classes are broadly grouped by ability in core subjects, and the spread is narrower now, but still wide enough.

freerangeeggs Sun 21-Oct-12 19:00:49

I'm an English teacher and I teach mixed ability at KS3. It's no bother as long as you have time to prepare and plan for all the kids. In fact, it's beneficial in a lot of ways.

TunaPastaBake Sun 21-Oct-12 20:33:28

Alot of schools dont set until Yr8 - luckily my DS secondary will set Yr7 after this half term.

My DS was set for Maths throughout junior but not for Englisg - it is felt that English can be taught with varying levels through out the class.

Sitting level 6 doesn't necessarily mean that they will achieve a level 6 -it's still early days re this in primary school I feel and no doubt they will change the threshold again - maths last year was 68 % in the trial year it was 50%.

I saw the pieces that DM has written - I feel that any state school with good/strong leadership can maintain discipline etc .

How much do those blazers cost that are from the same suppliers as Eton - could anyone tell me say - I bet a bit more that the £30 or so I paid for my sons big standard black -which they all must wear .

TunaPastaBake Sun 21-Oct-12 20:40:03

Just looked at cost of blazer - not bad price £38 .

pointyfangs Sun 21-Oct-12 21:23:57

DD's blazer is £21. Total cost of mandatory school items is £46 - everything else can be bought on the high street in her school. I would think £38 would be beyond the range of a lot of low income families.

I am also very hmm at getting up when teacher or other adult enters the room - disruptive to lessons and a useless token gesture, nothing to do with any genuine respect. And having read what TY wrote about disabled children in schools and wheelchair ramps link here I would not take his word for it if he told me the sun was hot. He's a twat.

seeker Sun 21-Oct-12 22:22:23

"Having said that, DD1 got L6 in Yr6 last year - she was in a maths top set, but the range of ability spanned 4C to 6C. Her maths teacher handled it, so clearly it is possible for some very able teachers."

I think you'll find this is the case in most year 6 classrooms....!

seeker Sun 21-Oct-12 22:23:23

"Just looked at cost of blazer - not bad price £38 ".


swanthingafteranother Sun 21-Oct-12 22:36:50

Telegraph weekend (Sat or Sun??)just had an article in the "education" bit about the woman who wrote Elephant in the Room; she believes that Maths setting is not a good idea.

It is a bit odd this thread...I thought quite the opposite when listening to his speech - that children would be pressured rather than let slide. It put me off. All those 5pm days, "no excuses", no sick notes for games, commit yourself to long practising schedules if you got a music place. I disliked the ethos as presented by headmaster and deputy. Although I liked Toby Young's speech for some reason. He is a good communicator. They were not.

noblegiraffe Mon 22-Oct-12 00:10:56

I'm a maths teacher and I think that setting is a bloody great idea. We set after half term in Y7 and I'm looking forward to it. We used to set at Christmas but the whole department agreed that was too long and was doing the children a disservice at both the bottom and top end. I expect that the WLFS will learn soon enough, but it's young and inexperienced atm wink

Also, why was the DM piece all about Toby Young? He's neither a teacher nor the head there.

Ladymuck Mon 22-Oct-12 08:45:39

Isn't this the wonderful thing about free schools though? Just like any private school, you don't have to go there. But if you like what you see you can choose to apply. But if you have a really specific question about setting in subjects, why would you raise it on here, and not directly with the school. Don't think that those guys are on here that often.

Narked Mon 22-Oct-12 08:52:11

What HanSolo said.

livinginchiswick Mon 22-Oct-12 09:06:04

In answer to your questions:
-Haven't you ever left an open evening without having asked all the questions? I know I have. And so have friends of mine.
-I posted the question here, in the open, because I am aware that some local parents share the same concern. I thought the post would be more useful for people than a private email from me to the school. Mumsnet is a good source of information for all of us.
-My question was very specific. Please I do not wish this threat to become another endless trial and stoning of Mr. Young.
Thank you. I know I may not get an answer but it's worth trying.

Floggingmolly Mon 22-Oct-12 10:26:43

Was it the "Is this the strictest state school in Britain" DM article, pointyfangs?
Irrelevant, I know, but I have the misfortune to share a tube carriage with quite a lot of these respectful children most mornings... Literally hell on wheels sad

Mintyy Mon 22-Oct-12 10:29:54

Bizarre op!

Will you let us know what they reply?

TimeChild Mon 22-Oct-12 10:40:09

"Please I do not wish this threat to become another endless trial and stoning of Mr. Young."

But OP, would you have asked this open question on MN if it was about any other school? hmm

Tw1nmummy Mon 22-Oct-12 12:20:03

I emailed the school with an admissions question and mr young himself replied almost straight away ......

livinginchiswick Mon 22-Oct-12 15:27:27

Thank you.

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