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27/11/11

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New info on WLFS and Ark Conway costs

In addition to the £600M we have heard of for academies/free schools today…some info on WLFS from a FOIA request response posted on the H&F website:

The cost of the school per pupil of WLFS at the temporary site:

On the basis of the capital cost for the temporary location, and a maximum pupil population of 240 on that site, the cost of the school per pupil is £2895.49. Much of this is on equipment that will transfer onto the permanent home at Palingswick House. There has been no direct additional cost to H&F for the Capital or revenue costs for the Free School.

And

The value of the Palingswick House site;

A disposal valuation of £5.8 million has been determined as representing best consideration reasonably obtainable by the Council, this is in line with the Government “Red Book Valuation” which is common practice as the most fair means of assessment.

And re: ARK Conway:

What is the value of the site the school is situated on?

The site of the former Wormholt Library site was valued at £650,000 in October 2009.

I also learned through a FOIA request that WLFS is indeed required to abide by normal SEN admissions requirements as a part of its Funding Agreement. The response:

” The admissions arrangements for the West London Free School are published on the school’s website at http://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/overview/admissions.html. The school is required by its funding agreement to admit all pupils with a statement of special educational needs naming the Free School. The West London Free School is currently in the process of amending the wording of its admissions policy to ensure that this point is clear. ”

I do hope that no parents of SEN children were put off by the caveat of admitting children naming the school ‘if the school agrees’. The admissions policy for next year has indeed been amended, as WLFS will be part of the normal LA admissions process.

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Comments, replies and queries

  1. It has been said in various places that WLFS had over 1000 applicants…..500 applicants etc….for its first 120 places. In looking at the spreadsheets provided in the link to the FOIA response quoted above that there are 113 children enrolled for 120 places available. That leaves seven places unfilled as of the date of the data available for that response.

    It might be that the truncated postcodes were not representative of one pupil per listing – perhaps mulitple children per family – so it is difficult to know. But as there were supposed to be SO many more applicants per place than anywhere near possible to accept, and ARK Conway had many fewer than expected applicants in the end – it is a natural question.

    From what I gather from the admissions process for this intake, the following would be the case:

    SEN would get in first (and WLFS is reported to have a lower than average number of SEN children) Then 12 can be admitted from anywhere on the basis of musical aptitude.

    Then:

    1/2 are to live nearest the school
    1/3 of the remainder were to come from within a 3 mile radius (random selection from that radius if oversubscribed)
    1/6 were then to come from a 3-5 mile radius (random selection if that radius was oversubscribed)

    *Then* if the school was not full, other spaces could be offered to children living more than 5 miles away.

    It is possible that the map I am looking at is not as accurate as the one used for admissions but based upon a plot of the postcodes available, it would seem a fair number (18 or so ) are from outside the 5 mile radius.

    Even if the 12 children with musical aptitude were *all* from outside the radius that would still leave 6 places filled from so far away. This would mean that both ‘inner radius’ areas (like a majority, if not all, of Hammersmith and Fulham) had fewer applicants than available places for them to take up, hence the need to fill from outside that area.

    I’m wondering if WLFS is part of the in-year admissions process run by H&F – if there are so many children that applied for a place surely the year is filled now.

    That is one of the issues with citing ‘application’ numbers when talking about ‘oversubscription’ – many people may apply but nobody knows if they put any particular school first, second or third. It may be that there were a lot of applicants, but that they got first place someplace else and went there instead.

  2. Cheap as chips, eh? The capital costs of establishing a new secondary under the last government averaged £28 million.

    I cannot account for the anomalies you’ve flagged up, but the most likely explanation is that the information you’ve received is wrong (just as your summary of our admissions arrangements is wrong). All the places at the school have been filled. We had over 500 separate applicants for our first 120 places and we’ve been notified by the council that, as of October 31st, over 1000 children had applied for our next 120 places (1,074, to be precise).

    Just as a point of information – this doesn’t apply to us – a school can be over-subscribed and still not fill its roll due to the logistical complexity of “the churn”. The rule-of-thumb is that you need to be three times over-subscribed to be sure of filling your roll. So it’s perfectly possible for some free schools to have more than twice as many applicants as there are places and still have some empty spaces.

    • That is true – the number of applications is fairly meaningless unless you can see how they break down into first, second, third preferences etc and the local context. It is interesting however that several of the new free schools appear to be undersubscribed, particularly outside London. That suggests they may not be needed or wanted and that the planning process is faulty, as we have always suspected. Unless there is a clearly demonstrated need for new places – and establishing that fact demands detailed analysis of local demographics, parent choice, cross borough movement and so on, the money designated to free schools should be re-directed back into existing schools that are crying out for it, not for buildings that cost £28 million but for basic repairs and refurbishment that are linked to school improvement and curriculum priorities.

  3. Toby, perhaps you could clear up the confusion between what you said above and the information which is contained in the letter from the Head of WLFS posted on the school’s website:

    “Over 1,000 parents applied for our first 120 places this year and we’re expecting more than 2,000 to apply for the next 120 places in September 2012″

    The head says there were over 1,000 applications for the first cohort and you say 500. If your figure is correct then perhaps the information in the Head’s letter ought to be amended.

    The Head’s estimation of the number of applicants for September 2011 also seems be optimistic. That said, a number of 1,000 must be encouraging but a question remains of where these applicants live. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought free schools were supposed to fill a need for places. As a non-Londoner I would have assumed that this was within the local authority (Hammersmith and Fulham). If WLFS already has a number of pupils from outside this local authority area then perhaps the demand for places wasn’t as great as was originally estimated.

    You say that Tracy’s summary of the admission criteria for last year was wrong. As my reading of the complex code was the same as Tracy’s, it would be useful if you could point out where we are wrong. I must admit I was surprised to read that last year’s code said that the school would only admit SEN pupils with a statement if the school agreed. However, I’m pleased to see that this proviso has been removed from the admissions criteria for next year’s cohort.

    http://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/

    • 1 applicant = 2 parents, ergo 500 applicants = 1,000 parents and 1,000 applicants = 2,000 parents.

      Tracy’s summary is wrong in that it isn’t 1/3rd of the remainder (after the previous criteria have been applied) who are allocated places according to a lottery within a 3-mile radius, but 2/3rds. The simplest way to summarise it is: 10% musical aptitude, 45% straight line distance, 30% lottery within a 3-mile radius and 15 lottery within a 3-5-mile radius.

      There are two reasons for the lotteries and, hence, the WLFS’s large admissions footprint. One, it stops all the places at the school being taken by middle-class parents who can simply buy or rent property within the catchment area, as they are at high-performing comprehensives that just admit according to straight-line distance; two, it dilutes the impact the school has on the surrounding schools. One of the concerns that people on this site have flagged up about free schools is that, if they’re successful, they may result in neighbouring schools becoming under-subscribed – and, even if that doesn’t happen because the basic need for additional places is sufficiently great, they may “cream skim” the most able/ambitious pupils from the local area, thereby depriving the neighbouring school of their fair share. By sourcing our pupils from such a large geographical area, we are mitigating those risks.

      There’s no question that there’s a basic need for more state secondary school places in LBHF. Until 2011, less than 50% of in-borough children of secondary school age were educated at in-borough state secondary schools.

      • Toby – the secondary school application form for Hammersmith and Fulham requires only one parent to complete details. I know that it is impossible for one child to be born without the help of two parents, but it only requires one of the pair to apply for a secondary school place. I’m sure you’re not suggesting that parents submitted multiple applications (ie two applications for one child).

        Of course, you may have used your own application form for entry in September 2011 which had space for the names of two parents. Can you confirm that this was the case for WLFS? If so, did you require the names and consent of both parents even if only one parent had sole charge of the child? Or are you saying that there are no children from single-parent families at WLFS?

        I am still puzzled about the admissions criteria. You don’t mention the percentage outside the 3-5 mile radius yet it seems that many WLFS pupils live outside the 5 mile radius. Did you have problems filling the school with pupils from within a 5 mile radius? Or were all those outside the 5 mile radius chosen for their musical ability?

        http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Images/SecondaryApplication2012_13_tcm21-163552.pdf (for Hammersmith and Fulham Secondary Application form 2012)

      • Tracy Hannigan says:

        Hi Toby

        First I appreciate your politeness. Nobody is perfect me especially but I am keen to share a bit of info and maybe understand one another’s views and concerns a bit more than otherwise possible when hackles are up!

        Second thank you for the info. Two questions: 1) It seems like there are pupils from more than the 5 mile outer limit – more than 12 that may have been musical aptitude. I am just trying to understand how it happened – I suppose it is possible that there were some SEN children from a distance as well. 2) I am confused as to why the geography of the ‘lack of places’ is not considered in the calculation of ‘need for places’. Or if it is, I don’t know what role it plays in the consideration. You may not know but I thught I would ask! From my observations it’s a long and skinny borough with major thoroughfares that make it easier for a lot of people to get to school just outside H&F – otherwise it’s a pain to get around from the geography. Part of ‘choice’ is sometimes logistics – I have made no decisions but when it comes to my son it may prove far easier for me to get him to someplace in K&C just because of where I live. I’m not necessarily representative but probably am similar to a lot of parents in the sense that the Borough political boundaries are not necessarily a prime consideration in choosing a school. (this is not to say there is no demand nor no real need outside the boundaries issues – I am just curious how these factors blend into one another).

        • 1. Some of the children at the school who live further than five miles away from Hammersmith Town Hall got in on musical aptitude. If there are any others, I can’t account for that – but, then, the WLFS didn’t apply the over-subscription criteria, that was done by LBHF so your queries should be directed to the Council. I genuinely don’t know the answer.

          2. We have taken basic need in LBHF into account in that our original intention was to admit 25% of pupils according to straight-line distance and 75% via a lottery within a five-mile radius, but we changed it to 50:50 (once the musical aptitude places have been allocated) at the request of the leader of the Council who was concerned about the pressing need for more secondary school places in the borough. In general, free school proposals are more likely to be approved by the DfE if the schools in question are in areas of acute basic need, a point I make in my recent book, How to Set Up a Free School. That’s an explicit criterion in the DfE’s published guidance for proposers applying to open schools in 2013 and beyond. See the ‘How to Apply Guidance’ for mainstream schools here:

          http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools/a0074965/apply

          • Would you tell us now you’re here when you will publish the WLFS Funding Agreement? And have you varied the Admissions Code in Annexe B? Thank you for your reply.

          • Tracy Hannigan says:

            Thank you for this, Toby. I would note that it is not the first time that a free school has adapted to its original intent on the basis of outside information – either to hope to help the pupil place problem or to prevent dangerous drain on local schools as a consequence of opening in a certain location or at a certain size.

      • Have you checked that every applicant has 2 parents, Toby?

  4. Toby – the BBC reported in July 2010 using information provided by Partnerships for Schools that “New schools typically cost about £20 – £25m” and the average cost of a refurbishment is about £4m”.

    No-one knows yet the full cost of establishing WLFS in its permanent home, Palingswick House, which had a disposable value of £5.8 million. Palingswick House is a listed building which will result in planning restrictions, and the local council has said it is expensive to maintain and that there are problems with access which will have to be addressed. The council estimated that it would cost multi-millions to bring it up-to-date, so perhaps the final cost of establishing WLFS in a refurbished listed building may be more than the average refurbishment cost of £4 million per school or more than the cost of a comparable new-build. Two new-build academies in Lincolnshire are being built at an estimated cost of £12 million and £9 million respectively.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10490838

    http://www.shepherd-construction.co.uk/newsitem/shepherd-construction-makes-the-grade-on-lincolnshire-academies_p212_c3.aspx

    • Palingswick House isn’t listed.

      I think it’s now fairly well known that the estimated total capital cost of establishing the West London Free School is £15m. That stacks up favourably against the average cost of setting up a new secondary under BSF which was £28m.

      • Sorry, Toby, I got confused between “listed” and “building of merit” as described on the Hammersmith and Fulham website (see link below).

        The average cost of £28m for a BSF secondary school was for a new build, or a complete rebuild. WLFS isn’t a new build, but a refurbishment. The BBC article I referred to above gave the average cost of a refurbishment as £4m.

        http://www.apps.lbhf.gov.uk/PublicAccess/propdb/property/property_detailview.aspx?module=P3&keyval=0018R0BILI000&propno=000034007870

        • Janet, isn’t “refurbishment” in the BBC figures the smartening up of an existing school?

          I don’t think you can compare that to creating hundreds of new places. I think you are being a little disingenouos.

          • I think you may be right, Charlie. I’ve had a look at the 2009 National Audit Office (NAO) report about Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and it says:

            “It [Department for Children, Schools and Families] plans to entirely rebuild half the school estate, structurally remodel 35 per cent, and refurbish the rest. Refurbishment includes providing new ICT to recently built schools.”

            However, the Design Council suggests that “refurbishment” is more than just “smartening up” an existing school (see link below).

            The NAO report also says: “The total capital cost of each BSF school averages £1,850 per square metre, which is similar to most other schools. It is less than Academies built before their integration into BSF, which averaged £2,240 per square metre at 2007 prices.”

            Charlie, you would know better than me whether WLFS will cost more or less than £1,850 per square metre at 2009 prices.

            BSF was criticsed for being wasteful so it is perhaps WLFS is being disingenuous by comparing the cost of WLFS with BSF schools. Far better to compare the cost with that of establishing a secondary school today rather than yesterday. As I said above, two academies are being built in Lincolnshire at an estimated cost of £12 million and £9 million.

            http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0809/schools_for_the_future.aspx

            http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Documents/Documents/Publications/CABE/new-from-old.pdf

      • I seem to remember £28m going to schools like the Labour Academies, set up in genuinely deprived areas and replacing failing schools. They also educated how many people Toby? How many will your school educate? I also recall these schools went about their business quietly, without having to divide their communities or indulge their Chair of Governors’ habit of self-promotion or making pronouncements calculated to ridicule, bully or denigrate. This level of irresponsibility puts the flouting of haircut length rules into the shade, don’t you think? I’m not quite sure how I would explain my Chair of Governors’ behaviour to my kids if he denounced people who don’t agree with his ideology by sending them to the “dunce’s corner”. Is there a dunce’s corner at WLFS??

        • Janet,

          Free school critics have been saying that the government shouldn’t have stopped BSF and also that they shouldn’t be spending the money they are on free schools. Given that the two are often conflated I don’t think it is unreasonable to point out that the new scheme is more efficient than the old scheme.

          As for comparing London and Lincolnshire building projects I think there might be an element of comparing apples and pears.

          • Charlie –

            BSF would have contributed to new, or vastly improved, schools for the majority of schoolchildren up and down the country, in all schools. The costs for free schools will benefit a tiny minority, most of whom are hardly “poor”. So you are basically confirming that a lot of money is being spent on a very already advantaged few and a handful of the deserving poor. Thank you.

            Critics of Free Schools are also aware that their counterpart in America – Charter Schools – have done little to raise educational standards, nothing for the most disadvantaged, contributed to dividing communities, been accused of financial mismanagement, putting profits before the education of children, segregation, supporting cheating in tests and employing unqualified teachers whilst at the same time lining the pockets of profit-making companies and increasing the influence of philanthropists who buy influence of the education agenda from political leaders in order to promote and set on target their libertarian ideologies. Only 17% of Charter Schools outperform regular public school. This means 83% do no better. Despite this, billions have been poured into Charter Schools, making little impact on the USA’s ranking in international tables. And the Tories repeat discredited or faulty data from questionable studies to uphold the lie that American Charters schools are, as Rachel Wolf repeatedly claims, achieving “unprecedented” success. This was the claim for New York over the summer. Well they ain’t. And the report containing the intrinsically flawed methodology was by Caroline Hoxby, whose challenge to the CREDO report of 2009 was also subsequently discredited. I recall you were blissfully unaware of this in this post here http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/04/how-successful-have-charter-schools-the-us-version-of-free-schools-been-in-improving-education/?preview=true&preview_id=3016&preview_nonce=cff2fc4625

            Since the coalition has modelled their “reform” on American Charters, they have been presumably happy to waste tax payers’ money on a grotesque expensive and failed import rather than attempting to spend the money on a more egalitiarian model which would have a long lasting and positive effect on the whole schools system. Given the Tory’s evident contempt for middle income earners and the disadvantaged, as evidenced by their economic policies, it is not difficult to imagine that behind the rhetoric of driving up standards and giving the poor a chance for social mobility, lies a desire to create a two tier education system to mirror their two-tier society of have and have-nots where the former face no tax increases and the latter are squeezed dry.

          • CHARLIE –

            One more thing. Toby never answers and the DfE always give out the same reply to DoI requests so would you, as their “Curriculum Guru and “steering committee member” let us know what is in the Funding Agreement for WLFS? Would you post a link here?

          • Allan,

            Thank you for your contribution, let’s just analyse what you’ve said.

            “BSF would have contributed to new, or vastly improved, schools for the majority of schoolchildren up and down the country, in all schools.”

            – yes, that’s pretty much true.

            “The costs for free schools will benefit a tiny minority”

            – yes, in the sense that one refurbished BSF school would also be benefiting a tiny minority, we are talking about far fewer schools and much lower costs!

            “most of whom are hardly “poor”.”

            – well, this is what the meaningful debate going on between Keith, Leonard, Toby and Tracy. You’ve obviously made up your mind. But remember, the introduction of free schools is a systemic change designed to improve the system as well as offer an excellent education in the new schools themselves. They are also designed to offer choice, not just to the poor but to all.

            “So you are basically confirming”

            - No, what follows is your own supposition and is not based on the points I put forward.

            “that a lot of money is being spent on a very already advantaged few and a handful of the deserving poor.”

            - What is the difference between ‘few’ and ‘handful’, other than you are trying to play down the numbers coming from a background of relative depravation? I think you are basically correct here; it is a lot of money, but not that much given the scale of education expenditure. There may well be some pupils at WLFS who come from extremely advantaged backgrounds, we don’t know, we don’t have stats on that; we do know that we have pupils from the other end of the wealth spectrum. I don’t know why you didn’t mention those on middle incomes, but what you have described is a school (or schools more generally) that have a mixed profile of entrants. Thanks.

            You then start talking about charter schools, which isn’t really the point of this discussion and as you note has been covered to extremis elsewhere. You try and link to another discussion where I made a bit of a fool of myself, presumably to have a laugh at my expense and attack my credibility. Your link doesn’t work, try this one.

            http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/04/how-successful-have-charter-schools-the-us-version-of-free-schools-been-in-improving-education/

            The remainder of your post is based on your presumption and imagination, as you yourself say. I can’t really respond other than to say that this policy is an investment in the whole school system, which seems to be what you want.

            As for the funding agreement, it is my understanding that the Department for Education will at some point be making this available, I don’t know when exactly.

          • Ben –

            One refurbished school under BSF benefited, in the case of my local school, about 1,500 pupils. The programme was extended to all schools around the country, not a handful of new schools which opened without premises. This would therefore have benefited tens, hundreds of thousands of children. How does that equate with capital funding for a handful of Free Schools, especially when this funding has been top sliced off the budgets for existing schools, some of which will go into decline thanks to an amputation of their resources and funding to fund an experiment that has already been unsuccessful in America?

            Any discussion about Free Schools or Academies is going to be coloured by Charter Schools because they are based on them and because the government itself promotes their so-called “reforms” by perpetrating the myth of the American success. No – I didn’t refer to your earlier comments on another post (thank you for providing the link yourself) in order to “have a laugh” at your expense but to illustrate that Free School advocators can be either ignorant of the reality of what has been happening in American education as they jump on the bandwagon – or are just intent on attempting to discredit those who are revealing the truth.

            Finnish schools are some of the best in the world. They are all inclusive, mixed-ability classes, egalitarian, treat their highly qualified and trained teachers with respect, serve their community, have a broad curriculum catering to children of all abilities and talents and eschew high stakes testing. The system ensures that all schools are excellent and all children go to their local schools. Free schools do not offer more “choice”, especially those whose curriculum, public statements and narrow ideology are offputting to many people. They merely add another patchwork onto an already overcrowded and now even more underfunded quilt.

            Thank you for reminding me that “free schools is a systemic change designed to improve the system as well as offer an excellent education in the new schools themselves.” However, Charter Schools prove that this has failed. There is no evidence that, in districts where Charter Schools operate alongside public schools, standards overall have risen. In fact, a recent report in the New York Times on NYC Charters (much lauded by your own Toby Young, Gove, Sam Freedman and the New Schools Network) not only showed that they did not improve the system but, because of the introduction of easier test papers under Bloomberg and Klein, inflated statistics of New York students to give the false impression that the overall achievement of New York students had reached “unprecedented” highs. More realistic testing this year has shown how empty the claims were. I am therefore interested in how you think that the “investment” (your words, not mine) in Free Schools has a high chance of improving the system? Wishful thinking or government propaganda isn’t enough.

            The DfE said they would publish all funding agreements once the first dribble of Free Schools opened. It is now December.

            St. Luke’s have voluntarily published their Free School Funding Agreement, as announced here http://davidwolfe.org.uk/wordpress/archives/1052 so I assume that you don’t need the permission of Michael Gove to publish yours. Why won’t you?

  5. Tracy Hannigan says:

    As you are working so hard to clarify- is it Hammersmith Town Hall or Palingswick that is the point of measurement for the admissions for next year? Both seem listed. And if I got it wrong let me know the real story – but you can’t necessarily blame one for being confused !

  6. Tracy Hannigan says:

    Courtesy of tweeter, pupil map for WLFS overlaid on 2010 deprivation map. http://t.co/Ha3zLZDL

    • Keith Turvey says:

      Geographical mapping like this is a useful tool for getting a much more accurate picture of the types of levels of deprivation represented in schools. Does anyone know how the index used in this map was weighted? i.e. towards economic deprivation or educational deprivation?

      • It was pupil data overlaid on top of economic deprivation data from 2010.

        • Keith Turvey says:

          Thanks Tracy. It’s pretty clear the school doesn’t have many kids from deprived backgrounds economic or educational.

          • Leonard James says:

            Is it that clear?

            This data presented here suggests otherwise.

            http://schoolduggery.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/free-schools-and-disadvantaged-children-the-data/

            According to this the WLFS currently has 28 (23.3%) students on roll who are entitled to FSM. They would have needed to attract another eleven pupils in a cohort of 120 to match the nearest comparable school that publishes FSM data and another 13 to match the local authority average (34%).

          • See Leonard’s reply below. The only thing I’d add is that our percentage of children on free school meals is higher than that of three neighbouring local authority-maintained secondary schools.

            I don’t know how we stack up next to Hammersmith Academy, a 4FE 11-18 school that also opened this September when it comes to FSM. Anyone got any data?

        • Keith Turvey says:

          The other interesting thing about these geographical mappings of deprivation is that it shows just how easy it would be to ensure balanced intakes at all schools if there was a real political desire for it. There is such fine grained data available, if ministers really wanted to give all applicants equal access it would be possible to design some kind of admissions software to ensure this.

    • I don’t think that’s so shaming. If you look at the two red patches on either side of the school, it’s clear that we’re sourcing a great many pupils from the neighbouring council estates.

      • Keith Turvey says:

        Toby and Leonard the FSM for WLFS is well below the borough average what ever way you look at it. However, %FSM eligibility isn’t the sharpest tool in the box which is why I’m interested in the geographical mapping based upon the IMD. The IMD is a much more reliable measure of deprivation factoring in as it can a range of influences such as parental education achievement etc. There are areas of Brighton for example where there is a higher percentages of families with low incomes who would be eligible for FSM but also have been educated to degree level or are working part time and studying for higher degrees. I would imagine this is the same in parts of London. %FSM can be a fairly blunt measure.

        • Keith Turvey says:

          So what this means Toby and Leonard is that a proportion of your %FSM may well come from the areas of the map that aren’t red (i.e. seen as in the bottom 5% nationally).

          • Leonard James says:

            They probably do but so what? Are you saying that poor people who don’t live in the most deprived areas don’t count?

          • Keith Turvey says:

            No Leonard. The red areas I think represent the bottom 5% (or is it 2%) nationally, i.e. the most deprived according to a range of factors including household income, level of education of parents/parent etc. (a much more fine-grained measure of deprivation basically). So what you need to compare is the proportion of children within this band of deprivation on this measure who access each school. This would give you a much better idea against which to consider claims regarding whether a school is actually catering for the needs of the most deprived children in an area or not.

            BTW where in my post do I say anything about who does or doesn’t count. I am merely questioning the measures being used which is what those involved in social science research do all the time in order to try and get the most accurate picture and understanding of what’s going on which I assume you would consider to be a worthwhile pursuit. Alternatively you can just argue using rhetoric and no evidence. The map to which we have been referring is useful and illuminating evidence regardless of what side of the argument you’re on.

        • Leonard James says:

          Keith,

          “Toby and Leonard the FSM for WLFS is well below the borough average what ever way you look at it.”

          I disagree with your use of the words ‘well below’ since the WLFS would meet the borough average if 13 more students in its first cohort of 120 were entitled to FSM. From my perspective 13 is a rather trivial number on which to damn a school when;

          a) it has only just opened
          b) similar trends were observed in schools (1) that converted to academies under the Labour administration (assuming that there is a correlation between ability and FSM).
          c) If equality between school cohorts is your bag then the WLFS is a step in the right direction given that the proportions of children with FSM at Lady Margaret School and Sacred Heart High School stand at 10.2% and 6.8% respectively (according to the compare schools tool at DfE) – attacking the WLFS is really ignoring the elephant in the room isn’t it?

          “However, %FSM eligibility isn’t the sharpest tool in the box which is why I’m interested in the geographical mapping based upon the IMD.”

          I’m surprised that you have said this now given that you didn’t appear to mention the reliability of the data when you were using it to further your argument elsewhere (2) i.e. ‘It’s quite clear from @SchoolDuggery‘s data that as yet those from lower income families are not benefiting from this policy much as the government and other Free School advocates claimed they would.’

          “The IMD is a much more reliable measure of deprivation factoring in as it can a range of influences such as parental education achievement etc.”

          The map shows the average deprivation of an area not the deprivation of individual families – can I assume that your beef with the WLFS is ‘that it doesn’t appeal to people residing in deprived ‘areas” instead of ‘it doesn’t appeal to ‘families’ who are deprived’?

          “There are areas of Brighton for example where there is a higher percentages of families with low incomes who would be eligible for FSM but also have been educated to degree level or are working part time and studying for higher degrees. I would imagine this is the same in parts of London. %FSM can be a fairly blunt measure.”

          I’d be more inclined to accept this if the available evidence supported it – I don’t think it does. We have a map (minus a key) and some FSM data.

          (1) http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp123.pdf
          (2) See the ‘first-free-schools-arent-actually-serving-disadvantaged-pupils’ thread.

          • Keith Turvey says:

            Hi Leonard. I’m not ‘damning’ any school and I certainly wouldn’t ‘damn’ a school on a difference of 13 children. I’m also not ‘attacking’ WLFS. See my post above where essentially my position is clear I hope. Peer reviewed research in the social sciences does not accept crude mathematical percentages of FSM as evidence of very much really which is why the data based upon the IMD is more interesting. Of course as you point out we are missing keys and all sorts of other information that we could apply to the data such as statistical significance tests etc. to establish a more accurate picture which is why all I am doing on this forum is offering a speculative argument based on some of the reasonably vague generalisations we can make like:

            ‘It’s quite clear from @SchoolDuggery‘s data that as yet those from lower income families are not benefiting from this policy much as the government and other Free School advocates claimed they would.’

            Note it is speculative because I do say ‘as yet.’ This is not a conclusion but a speculative generalisation. As I say above I’d like to see a range of maps for all of the schools in the area of the WLFS with a full analysis done over a reasonable time period before drawing any firm conclusions. But that does not stop me from speculating based upon the data (incomplete as it is). Just to reiterate I am not ‘damning’ or ‘attacking’ any school.

  7. Keith Turvey says:

    Interesting map indeed.

  8. Toby – re your post above about how free schools will stand a better chance of succeeding if there is “an acute basic need”. It is encouraging that you use the word “need” and not “demand”, since the two words do not mean the same thing. Thank you for the link to the new guidelines about apply to set up a mainstream free school which lists one of the contextual factors as “the need for more school places in the area”. Applicants have to describe the “area the demand for your school is coming from” and how this fits with the school’s proposed catchment area. It is encouraging that they are being asked to include details of any discussions they have had with the local authority about pupil admissions or any details they have gathered about the need for more school places in the area. Unfortunately, the word “demand” appears far more frequently in the guidelines than “need”. which suggests that “demand” trumps “need”.

    Of the 24 free schools which opened in September, 5 were existing independent schools. Not all of the 19 remaining are full which suggests that the demand for these schools did not match the need. Of course, this may change over the course of time. However, there is evidence that at least one of the recently approved free schools is being set up in an area where there is no need for extra places.

    http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/11/free-school-causes-problems-for-established-secondary/

  9. Leonard James says:

    Keith,

    “No Leonard. The red areas I think represent the bottom 5% (or is it 2%) nationally, i.e. the most deprived according to a range of factors including household income, level of education of parents/parent etc. (a much more fine-grained measure of deprivation basically). So what you need to compare is the proportion of children within this band of deprivation on this measure who access each school. This would give you a much better idea against which to consider claims regarding whether a school is actually catering for the needs of the most deprived children in an area or not.”

    It would but this isn’t what your map shows is it? Your map shows average or median levels of deprivation across a particular area. The only light shed on the WLFS students is that they are more likely to be deprived if they live in that area. Despite your somewhat selective criticism the FSM measure tells us more about the WLFS actual cohort and allows an easy comparison with other schools.

    “BTW where in my post do I say anything about who does or doesn’t count.”

    I was asking you a question if you had said those things I wouldn’t need to ask.

    “I am merely questioning the measures being used which is what those involved in social science research do all the time in order to try and get the most accurate picture and understanding of what’s going on which I assume you would consider to be a worthwhile pursuit.”

    Funny how you didn’t seem to be that bothered about accuracy when you were using the same FSM data to support your position elsewhere.

    “The map to which we have been referring is useful and illuminating evidence regardless of what side of the argument you’re on.”

    How so? Other than where they live it tells us very little about the children attending the WLFS and since we have nothing to compare it with allows us little to no opportunity to make comparisons with other schools.

    • Keith Turvey says:

      As there is no key it is difficult to be certain but based on my own use of such maps I am assuming that each dot represents a student based on the post code data available to some through the annual schools census. If so it’s quite illuminating but I’m not drawing any conclusions.

      ‘your somewhat selective criticism the FSM measure.’ It’s not only my criticism. Fairly standard on any post-graduate research methods course. See Stephen Gorard’s book Quantitative Methods in Educational Research for a really clear explanation of the problem with broad measures such as crude percentage comparisons of FSM.

      • Leonard James says:

        Firstly a postcode doesn’t prove that someone is deprived, it only proves that they live in an area where average or median levels of deprivation are at a particular level.

        Secondly I’m not suggesting that you are the only person criticising the validity of FSM. My issue is that you seemed to ignore this criticism on another thread when FSM data supported your argument.

  10. Leonard James says:

    “Hi Leonard. I’m not ‘damning’ any school and I certainly wouldn’t ‘damn’ a school on a difference of 13 children. I’m also not ‘attacking’ WLFS. See my post above where essentially my position is clear I hope.”

    Glad to hear it although I’d be interested to know why you are singling out the WLFS on a propaganda site for ‘local schools’ and why you are only ‘questioning the measures being used’ when said measures lend credibility to non ‘local schools’?

  11. Keith Turvey says:

    ‘Firstly a postcode doesn’t prove that someone is deprived, it only proves that they live in an area where average or median levels of deprivation are at a particular level.’ Yes and that particular level is the lowest 2% nationally for the red areas. So whilst not drawing any ‘absolute’ conclusions, social scientists would accept that there’s a high level of probability that a child coming from that particular postcode is representative of the those within the lowest 2% socio-economically and educationally. Still can’t be absolute about it but more certain compared to %FSM data. I stand by my original assertion that the map is indeed interesting.

  12. Rosie Fergusson says:

    Now here’s a conundrum. On 20th Dec Mr Gibb, Schools MInister, provided a written answer to a parliamentary question on Free Schools Finance ;
    Question from Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what methodology his Department uses in respect of the calculation of revenue funding for free schools; how much he has allocated to each free school in 2011-12; and how many pupils were enrolled in each school as at September 2011.
    Evasive Answer: Mr Gibb [holding answer 19 October 2011]: “Annual revenue funding for free schools is equivalent to that received by maintained schools and academies in the same local authority area.We estimate that the free schools which opened in September 2011 have over 3,000 pupils enrolled in total. Information about the number of children on roll at each school will be collected in the annual school census and published in due course.”
    He then provided a schedule of the 2011-12 fundign for all the Free schools open so far which totalled £18,473000.
    Think this ace accountant may have made a mistake somewhere in claiming comparable funding with existing schools as this averages £6157 / free school pupil ; compare to existing schools in Leeds Bradford get roughly £4000 plus £300 per pupil if they convert .
    WLFS got £825,000 .
    The well-established 100 year old Sandbach school of 1200 pupils got £4077.50 p per pupil as a free school so it seems fair to say that the NEW-build Free Schools are currently getting well over their fair share of funding as they build up their pupil numbers.
    All at the expense of the funding of existing schools.
    Still lets put in in perspective 3000 pupils, mainly primary is only 0.05% of the school population..long may it continue that way .

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