The mysteries of how to get into the West London Free School

Francis Gilbert's picture
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The Admissions Process for the West London Free school is currently shrouded in mystery.

Let's look at what their consultation book says in some depth. The first important statement on page 7 says:

"We want to ensure that the school serves local families and for that reason a significant percentage of places will be allocated on the basis of proximity."

Crucial point: it isn't clear where "local" is. Is this starting from Toby Young's home?

The booklet continues to state:

"The remaining places will be awarded by lottery, with a majority being allocated to those who live within a three-mile radius of the site, and a smaller number to those within a five-mile radius. In this way, we anticipate that over half the places will be taken up by residents of Hammersmith and Fulham. 10% of children will be admitted based on their aptitude for Music and, in accordance with the School Admissions Code, priority will be given to children with SEN statements and children in care."

There's so many caveats here, where to begin! There's a 3 mile radius, then a 5 mile one, for a lottery; how will these lotteries be administered? I find this bit very confusing.

Added to which there is a 10% selection on the basis for Music: this is well known "covert" (some would say overt) test for getting clever, socially advantaged children; it's much used by private schools.

To make things even more complicated, the school is not going through the normal procedure of having admissions "going through the LA":

"Applying for a place at the West London Free School in 2011 will not affect your chances of securing a place at your first choice of Local Authority school. You won’t use the Local Authority form to apply to our school, but a separate application that we will send to you."

I did a little bit of snooping of my own and emailed newfreeschool@googlemail.com for some information on the basis that my son is in Year 6 and I might be interested in sending him there. I got Toby Young straightaway who rumbled who I was immediately (that I was part of the LSN) but nevertheless he sounded keen to have me apply. It was at that point I told him I was sending my son to the local comprehensive but was interested in hearing about how the admissions procedures for his school worked. He hasn't got back to me yet. I definitely will be interested to know what he has to say about this, because my view at the moment is that overwhelmingly this admissions code is going to benefit middle class parents who are wised up about jumping through the various hoops that have been set up to stop poorer and/or less wised-up parents from applying.
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