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WLFS Primary School – 2FE Entry at Cambridge Grove

I found this Summary of Open Decisions indicating that WLFS has proposed to expand to be an all age school.

I do not recall seeing this school in Nick Gibb’s recent response statement listing pending free schools so wonder if it is within the umbrella of the current free school agreement with WLFS (Secondary).

I specifically am wondering what the admissions criteria are going to be.

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Comments, replies and queries

  1. Tracy

    The Link to the summary doesn’t work! I wonder if you could re-post with the correct link?

  2. Tracy Hannigan says:

    Not sure why it didn’t work:

    West London Free School has requested to extend their provision to
    include primary school education on the Cambridge Grove site from
    September 2013.

    Recommendation approved by the Cabinet Members on: 19 December 2011

    That the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services endorses the West
    London Free School’s proposal to expand to become an all-age
    school and develop a two form entry primary school (as part of that

    Ward: Hammersmith Broadway

  3. According to DfE guidelines “Where individual academies make a request to the Secretary of State to expand their pupil numbers and/or age range, this will only be done following local consultation. The decision taken will be informed by the views of the LA, as the commissioner of pupil places.”

    Free schools are, of course, academies, so the questions that arise from the extension of the age range at WLFS are these:

    1 Has a request been made to the Secretary of State to extend the age range?
    2 What form did the local consultation take, if any?
    3 Was there a provision in the WLFS funding agreement to extend the age range without consultation?
    4 If so, isn’t it about time that the WLFS funding agreement was published? Then readers can discover whether the funding agreement was for an all-age school or just a secondary school with sixth-form. Readers can also discover the answer to a question raised on another thread: is there provision in the Annex to the funding agreement for children of the founders to have priority?

    • Janet, the WLFS is not applying to expand its pupil numbers and/or age range, so points 1 – 4 are non sequiturs. The Academy Trust will be submitting a proposal to the DfE in February of next year to set up a free primary school in 2013. I’m happy to say we’re doing this with the blessing of the local authority – which is a good thing, surely? – but it won’t become a reality without the formal approval of the Secretary of State for Education and we won’t know whether that’s been granted until May/June of next year. Once it has been approved, we’re then under a statutory obligation to carry out a consultation – which, of course, we’ll do – and the Secretary of State won’t decide whether to sign a Funding Agreement with the school until he’s had an opportunity to digest the responses to that consultation.

      Rest assured that we intend to publish the WLFS’s Funding Agreement in due course. While there’s nothing to stop us publishing it right now, we’ve decided to wait until all the first 24 free school are ready to publish theirs. We don’t want to pressurise them into doing something not all of them are ready to do by publishing ours now.

      • Toby – I’m puzzled. The statement from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) – reproduced above in Tracy’s post – said WLFS wanted to extend its provision and become an “all-age school”. I find it difficult to understand how a secondary school can become an all-age school without (a) expanding its pupil numbers and (b) extending its age range. Are you saying that LBHF has got it wrong?

        You say that you won’t carry out a full consultation until after the Secretary of State (SoS) has given approval, but the DfE guidelines – reproduced in my post above – say that any school making a request to the SoS to expand pupil numbers and/or age range can only do so after local consultation. Are the DfE guidelines incorrect?

        I am pleased to hear that you will publish the WLFS’s Funding Agreement “in due course”. However, if all the first 24 free schools decide to wait until all our ready to publish then this might be a long time. Some of the new free schools have published their agreements already. Presumably their desire to be transparent has trumped any concerns about possible pressure on other free schools to make their agreements public.

        • Rosie Fergusson says:

          I interpret it as the WLFS trust will consider itself to have two separate schools , one primary , one secondary . As such presumably attendance at the prep….er sorry I mean Primary… won’t guarantee a place at the secondary- soooo actually a fairer school structure than expansion of the WLFS secondary across the age range…. surely ???

          • Tracy Hannigan says:

            It is no guarantee – unless there is a preemptive clause in the WLFS funding agreement that allows a feeder system from a future primary set by the same trust… But by virtue of having the admissions as they are in the ‘upper school’ and as it is exactly twice the size of the primary, it will be the rare child at the ‘lower school’ that doesn’t get to WLFS.

          • We’re going to submit an application to set up the WLFS primary as a new free school then, assuming it’s approved, join the primary and secondary schools together to create an all-through school. As such, pupils at the primary will automatically qualify for places at the secondary. We haven’t yet decided what the admissions policy for the primary will be and nor would it be appropriate to do so at this stage. If our proposal is approved, we’ll consult the local authority and the local schools before drawing up our admissions arrangements.

          • Rosie Fergusson says:

            aaah thinking about it a bit more …a guaranteed place in senior school due to place in primary school might (????) promote social inclusion from the point that 11 year old peer pressure is reduced…i.e. a parent chooses a school at 5 but a child has an opinion at 11 and can veto attending WLFS if his mates are off somewhere else.

      • Several of the first 24 free schools have published their funding agreements so there is no reason why the rest shouldn’t follow their example.

      • Your last sentence in no way constitutes a reasonable reason not to publish your funding agreement.

      • Rosie Fergusson says:

        Aah go on Toby..don’t be a spoilsport…

        Fact is that the Gov doesn’t want the Free Schools to publish their agreements .
        Just before Xmas Mr GIbb, schools minister and ace tax accountant , answering a parliamentary written question on 20th Dec , admitted to the allowance of an admission policy change in the funding agreement for the Canary Wharf Free School ( wasn’t prepared to say what it was though! – we’ll have to guess hmmm – could it be “no riff-raff?????” )

        C’mon Toby, be a maverick , you’ve worked really hard on making your school process transparent …publish it now and be damned … they saying goes “publish it and the others will follow”.

        There is the possibility Boris and Mike might take offence and stop phoning–so basically its win-win!!!

        • Rosie, We’ll publish our Funding Agreement in due course. You may be surprised to learn that “no riff-raff” isn’t part of the admissions arrangements of Canary Wharf College which you can see here:

          • Thanks for link…I hadn’t spotted the deviation but fortunately David Wolfe has i.e that school founders get second dibs ( after cared for children) .The school already openly states they can’t take kids with physical disabilities.


            QUOTE from above link
            “If the College is under-subscribed, all applications will be accepted. Where the College is over-subscribed, applications will be considered against the criteria set out below, after the admission of students with a statement of Special Education Need that names the College. Places will be allocated to applicants in the following priority order:

            Children who are looked after by a local authority (in public care)
            Children whose parents are Founders of the College
            Applicants who meet the criteria for Faith Places (up to 50% of total places)
            Applicants who meet the criteria for Community Places”
            It then says this:

            “Founders of the college are defined as the Proposers, and those who have provided specific assistance, advice, guidance or support to the Proposers in the preparation of the Application and Business Case for the College.”

            A tired pragmatism may argue if school founders have worked their arses off and their kids are a small temporary proportion of intake then fair enough .

            BUT what abuse is this open to ….can it be extended beyond the founding of the school and apply to any prospective parent who’s cannily been doing the school lawn mowing voluntarily for the last two years.?

  4. This is what I wrote on this site on 28/7/11 following a tweet on Twitter by Toby Young. I will let you decide if my forecast is coming true. How do we have an Education Secretary that does not uphold his own laws? Come on Labour, it’s an open goal. No wonder Ed Miliband is behind both Cameron and even Clegg in today’s poll.

    When asked on Twitter today, why he had started with setting up West London Free School as a Secondary School, Toby Young said:

    “Toby Young @pjpcfp The answer’s too long for 140 characters, but we intend to set up a 2FE primary in due course”.

    Can you work out how the admissions process is going to evolve? Here is my suggestion.
    You ask parents of the WLFS Primary School to make “voluntary” contributions of £35 per month. Perhaps increase the voluntary fee a little. Keep pushing for endowments from parents. Make the primary kids wear expensive blasers. After a few years this will weed out those parents who cannot pay.

    For the WLFS Secondary School you change the admissions policy to say that preference will be given to those who attend the WLFS Primary School. That should encourage the wealthy to get their children into the primary school. The profile of the secondary school becomes much more like a private school. This has been the objective all along: to have a private school that the state pays for.

    If you think this is fanciful, just look at Langley Hall Primary Academy where admission preference is given to children who attend the attached private nursery at a cost of £1000+ per month The Academy and the private nursery are run by a family business. Nice earner!

    Yes this charging for admission seems illegal, but Mr Gove has accepted this admission policy at Langley Hall. What’s a bit of law bending between friends? Is it ethical? Who cares. The Head of WLFS has appointed his own wife as Head of PE. Who cares about moral standards? Surely teaching children does not involve morals does it? As long as the kids get a bit of Latin, and don’t have to mix with oiks, then who is going to complain? There will be plenty of spare school places left for those that can’t pay to go to WLFS. Nick Gibb MP will claim that the teacher pupil ratio has been improved for the poor kids, and overall spending has gone up. Everyone is happy. All those wanting a cheap state subsidised private school say that Toby Young is marvellous.

    Final thought. Everyone in power said Rupert Murdoch and his family business were marvellous, and the Guardian was a paper read by dumb lefty slimebags.

    • Nice try Ian, but 23.5% of the children currently at the WLFS are on free school meals. What percentage of the children at your school are on free school meals?

      • Rosie Fergusson says:

        A truly commendable statistic..I had got the impression it was under wraps . the WLFS should be shouting it from the rooftops. I understand why the WLFS was set up [ well at least I think I do – it was to prove a state school on state funding could be as “good” and deliver the same advantages as a private one ( yah boo sucks Latymers) ].

        I also do not begrudge new schools taking their share of the annual per pupil funding ; I also understand that private school parents effectively pay twice for education via tax and fees .
        But money is money and there’s not much of it about ; the fact I struggle with regarding new free schools is that the Government is providing huge one-off expenditure to fund the capital infrastructure required for each Free School , money that should be used to improve the existing schools.

        Each free school built/converted is money taken directly off the capital and operational funding for existing schools. We all want the best for our kids where we differ is whether , in austerity it’s OK to that the best for our kids is at the expense of everyone elses.

        • Its not as black and white as that Rosie. There is a crushing ‘basic need’ shortage over the next few years that means new schools must be built – initially in the primary school sector where demand will be greatest. Existing state primary schools cannot solely expand using bulge classes or the like to deal with the full extent of the pupil place shortfall. So all this requires capital of course and under this government new schools basically equate to free schools and/or academies. But the two issues are not mutually exclusive. The DfE is also looking at R&M programmes to existing schools in most need of repair through various capital programmes such as the PSB model. Of course as you say there is not enough money around but that does not mean its an ‘either/or’ type equation between new free schools and repairing the exisitng state school estate. Both need attention. So the government has to address both repair to existing state schools and provide new school places. And with little money due to having bailed out the bankers its a very difficult task. You can find out more about the 2011/12 R&M capital programmes via the link here to the PFS website:

  5. That’s almost half the average in H & F, Toby, and I don’t understand the relevance of asking about Ian Taylor’s FSM %.

    Again, remind us why you’re still refusing to publish WLFS’s funding agreement?

    • Marigold I can’t agree with your reporting of FSM data. A source dated Aug 2011 reports 25.4%.

      Go to:

      Use this link, where clicking on ‘EXCEL’ is a download link to an excel spreadsheet;

      “Additional information EXCEL (Additional information on free school meal take-up at local authority level, added 16 August 2011)”

      In the spreadsheet find H + F at row 113, read across to column J, which is headed “Percentage taking free school meals”, subheading of “State-funded secondary schools (1)(3)”.

      Figure is 25.4%. So WLFS is only slightly under average for H + F.

      To really do this right, I think we would need the disclosure of the actual student origins within London boroughs, and then we would have to weight accordingly, since WLFS also potentially admits from other boroughs (up to five miles from the H + F town hall). Glancing at a map that looks like quite a few London boroughs could be included.

    • Ian Taylor is accusing the governors of the West London Free School of operating a socially selective admissions policy. It seems fair, therefore, to ask how socially inclusive his school is. Why no reply, Ian? Is it because your school actually has a lower percentage of children on FSM than ours?

      • I don’t know who Ian Taylor is, but the first thing I noticed when I looked at the WLFS website was what a clear message the all white governing body in a ethnically diverse area of inner London is sending out about who are the pupils that the school wants.

        And why are you ignoring the repeated requests to publish your school’s funding agreement, Toby? Not because there’s something dodgy going on, I trust.

  6. A guest says:

    How good a measure is FSM for determining how well a child may achieve? I do not understanding why if the WLFS was going to be a ‘grammar school for all’ at the very least children were not banded and then drawn by lottery from each band. This would have produced a wide range of abilities and a truer test of whether every child can thrive with an academic curriculum.

  7. Unfortunately, Guest, there is a strong correlation between FSM and lower educational achievement. Toby is trying to demonstrate that a significant proportion of children at WLFS are in receipt of FSM, but fails to put the figure in context, ie that it is not truly representative of the area.

  8. Your link is over 2 years out of date. Possibly the figures I used are Luddite spin – in October 2011, the H & F LibDems stated that 39% of children in H & F schools are on FSM.

    • Again, you’re using the figure for taxpayer-funded primary and secondary schools in LBHF. The fair comparison is with taxpayer-funded secondary schools. According to the latest data made available by LBHF, 28% of children at the borough’s taxpayer-funded secondary schools in the academic year 2011-2012 are on FSM. So we’re not far off.

    • When in a hole stop digging Ms Doyle. You accussed the WLFS of not putting their FSM in context but in fact you were wrong – perhaps you should have the good grace to apologise? This is typical of the Luddite spin on this site and similar to a recent similar attempt to smear the WLFS on the basis of ‘average house prices’ in the area – another incorrect ‘factual’ claim that got shown up for the nonsense it was.

  9. Sadly typical that the so-called School “Reformers” jump up with outdated and badly researched evidence about FSM in a risible attempt to draw attention away from the spotlight put on WLFS and the Free School policy by Tracy Hannigan, Janet Downs and Ian Taylor.

    Hijacking the argument away from WLFS’ Funding Agreement by turning it into an argument about FSM in H&F and WLFS has not detracted from the very valid and uncomfortable points made by Tracy and Ian and has only exposed further the incompetence of the “Reformers” to conceal the real intent of the divisive nature of the coalition’s schools policy. There is nothing radical about the Tory’s segregating and pre-selecting children and society. It is their modus operandi. This conservatism is what is truly Luddite.

    There is no excuse for Toby Young not to publish when other Free Schools have. What is of particular interest is if there are amendments in Annexe B and if it is the schools intent to draw it secondary schools pupils from its proposed primary school.

    • Allan, Given how keen you are on transparency, can you disclose what percentage of the children at your school are on FSM? How does that stack up against the borough average? And can you also tell us what percentage of the children on FSM at your school got five or more GCSEs at grade C or above including Maths and English this year? Given your passionate opposition to education reform, it would be good to know how adequately your own, unreformed school is serving the poorest pupils in your area. Thanks in advance.

      • Toby, it does not follow that anyone who posts comments on this site is connected to a school. It is possible, as in my case, to be passionate about education but still have no link to any particular school. So asking posters questions about their schools is mere rhetoric.

        It also does not follow that if someone is critical of this government’s education policies, as I am, that that someone is opposed to education reform. But the way this government is pushing the English education system – towards the involvement of profit-making companies, towards an even more excessive emphasis on raw grades, towards more centralised control (while at the same time claiming the opposite), and away from the careful reforms made by other countries over a longer period of time – is not the kind of reform that will benefit all pupils in England.

        • I believe Ian Taylor is a teacher at a secondary school in Devon and Allan Beavis is the Chair of Governors at a secondary school in Lambeth. Could be wrong. Perhaps they could enlighten us. Why should it just be me answering questions, Janet? Seems a little one-sided.

          • Whether I am in Lambeth or am Chair of Governors is beside the point.

            Why aren’t you publishing your Funding Agreement – that is point.

          • Toby – your question in partly answered in the post above. Asking such questions about the schools of other posters is rhetoric designed to deflect attention from the main questions – the proposed expansion of WLFS to an all-age school and the non-publication of the funding agreement. The question about the number of FSM pupils gaining five or more GCSE grade C at the schools is particularly irrelevant because it will be five years before WLFS pupils take these exams.

          • Because you’re the one who’s just set up a school and the other two are a teacher and governor respectively?

          • Toby. Just for the record. If there is a secondary school teacher in Devon called Ian Taylor, it is not me. I hope he is not receiving agro due to my comments here. I don’t work or live in Devon, or near Devon. Sorry.

            Cannot see what where I live, or work, has to do with WLFS or government policy.

            I do believe in equal opportunity though, and am against patronage by self appointed elites. I don’t think that is exclusive to Devonshire folk.

            Must have touched a nerve I guess!

        • The reality is Janet that thankfully you and the other left wing Luddites on this site are in a very small minority indeed. Most people in the country support Gove and recognise the need for reform. Some of the tough decisions Gove has had to make are not driven by an over zealous right wing ideology but by a simple lack of money – in no small part caused by the previous Labour government on whose watch this financial meltdown occured. As far as I can see, the main suggestion on this site is to be a bit like ‘like Finland’ but as has been debated ad nauseum (bit of Latin for Toby) that is not possible due to the independent sector in this country. Will Gove’s reforms work? Its too early to say of course. But the majority in this country would prefer him to try rather than see many of our pupils suffer in a stagnating system.

      • As I said earlier Toby, this is not an argument about FSM but yours and your supporters’ attempts at sidestepping transparency and you still continue to do so. This is about the West London Free School Funding Agreement and why you find it so difficult to publish and reveal. You know where my children are schooled – why don’t you look up the school and find out the results for yourself? I recall you looking at the website less than a year ago in order to launch an attack on it which revealed you as more of a “dunce” (your words, not mine…) than you anticipated and opened you up to criticism of (borderline) homophobia. All in the name of “satire” apparently.

        My local school is completely inclusive. That means is takes all children from the local area regardless of background. There is no overt or covert selection; there is a wide and inclusive curriculum; our headteacher or chair of governors do not make public statements which can be deemed politically or ethically offputting to a lot of people who might want to apply to the school. The schools has big challenges, serving children from poor backgrounds, children with SEN, children whose first language is not English, as well as the children from wealthier backgrounds. It is a genuinely mixed and fair intake.

        I am not going to get drawn into a tit for tat argument about the merits of my local school, which has been radically improved over the past handful of years, especially when your school has been in existence for one term, has no results to speak of but plenty of controversy. It is typical of you that you seek to promote Free Schools by attempting to denigrate community schools. Neither does my school need publicity – it is oversubscribed and it’s Chair and Leadership Team are not addicted to self promotion to justify their existence. Neither is it “unreformed” – far from it – it is integrated into its community and is socially cohesive, not divisive.

        I am not opposed to “education reform”. I wholeheartedly support it. The government’s policies are not reforming – they are just importing a system of selection and free-market opportunities from the States, where the policy has failed to raise standards, especially for the poor.

        Back to the original post – why won’t you publish the WLFS Funding Agreement?

    • Can you rewrite this sentence Allan, correcting the mistakes? As it stands, the grammar and spelling is so poor it’s impossible to grasp your point. Thanks.

      “What is of particular interest is if there are amendments in Annexe B and if it is the schools intent to draw it secondary schools pupils from its proposed primary school.”

      • Is this all you can do Toby? You are now reduced to criticising a sentence written in haste, pretending you don’t understand it, so that you can score a cheap, weasel point and clumsily sidestep the main issue?

        I hope some of the pupils and parents at WLFS read what you write here so that at least they can see how mean spirited and spiteful their Chair of Governors is. Not exactly the best way for a Chair to conduct himself is it? Almost as bad, in a school leader, to label people “dunces”. Do you label children at your school “dunces” Toby?

        Will you please tell us why you are not publishing the Funding Agreement?

      • Toby – the point of the sentence is clear. It asks about Annex B of the WLFS Funding agreement. In particular, whether there is any clause which presupposes WLFS will expand its age range. If so, would this expansion allow WLFS to change its admission criteria so that it could prioritise pupils from its own primary school?

        You have not yet answered my questions above:

        1 Has Hammersmith and Fulham Council got it wrong when it said that WLFS wanted to extend its provision and become an “all-age school”?

        2 Which comes first when academies wish to extend their age range: approval by the Secretary of State or local consultation? DfE guidelines say it is the latter but your earlier reply suggested that in the case of WLFS it is the former. Which is correct?

  10. Some schools have released detailed information on their submissions as part of the process (everything from applications to funding agreements) and it doesn’t seem to have created any more of a tide of information requests than existed before. The most interesting one to see will be Langley Hall, I think – given its peculiar admissions arrangement.

    I despair at thinking we will have to wait for the DfE to release all 24 agreements at one time. When I last asked about this, the DfE said there was no date planned but it would happen in the future sometime. I do hope it will be in my lifetime ! Part of what has stirred up so much cynicism is the insistence on keeping so much virtually secret, yet vocalising about wanting to empower local people, provide choice, etc. As the active and involved parent of a primary school aged child I’d be worried if my potential secondary school wouldn’t answer some of these kinds of questions.

    And, though it was a diversion, I’m interested to know why there are apparently fewer FSM children in secondary relative to primary (if combining primary and secondary results in a higher and possibly less comparable FSM number) – do all of these FSM primary children somehow go ‘out of borough’ for secondary school? (I’ve raised my concerns about this ‘out of borough’ criteria within a long skinny borough before so won’t again – will be interesting to see what the criteria becomes when the boroughs get rearranged!)

    • I thought the DfE were publishing when the first 24 were opened? That was back in September. It is looking increasingly as if both the DfE and Free School supporters don’t want us to know something.

    • On your last point, me too. Some of the primaries near WLFS have 60% pupils on FSM. That’s a huge difference.

  11. A guest says:

    Out of interest Toby, did you consider banding as a way of selecting pupils for your school?

  12. Allan, So your children are at Stoke Newington School? According to Edubase, 28% of the pupils at SNS are on FSM, compared to a taxpayer-funded secondary school London Borough of Hackney average of >40%. By that measure, SNS is less socially inclusive than the WLFS. It’s a bit rich to claim that the purpose of the free schools policy is to enable taxpayer-funded schools to be “selective” when the school my colleagues and I have set up is actually less “selective” than the community school your children attend.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but SNS, like all the other community schools in Hackney, is not run by the local authority, but by a private company called the Learning Trust. (For more details on the Learning Trust, see here Is this really the model you’re recommending for the rest of England? I don’t have a problem with responsibility for maintained schools being removed from local authorities and turned over to private companies – as it has been in Hackney – but I thought you did? In fact, doesn’t the survival and continuing improvement of SNS prove that the free market reforms you disapprove of won’t actually undermine the sorts of schools you approve of?

    One of your main objections to the free schools’ policy is that it will increase social division. But you ignore the degree to which our education system already reflects the social divisions in our society. In Hackney, for instance, just under 25% of children of school age at taxpayer-funded schools are educated at voluntary-aided religious schools. In addition, there are 24 independent schools in Hackney, 23 of which are faith schools: 16 are Jewish, three are Muslim and four are Christian. I’m afraid this sort of segregation is inevitable in a multicultural city like London and it’s hard to imagine how you’d eliminate it without forcing religious parents to send their children to secular schools against their will.

    I believe that free schools will reduce the inequalities in our education system by extending opportunities to children from middle and low-income families that are currently only available to those from high-income families – and if that means enabling them to send their children to faith schools, so be it. This belief may be proved wrong – we won’t know for at least five years and comparisons with Sweden and America are meaningless because there are too many variables to control for – but please do me the credit of accepting that I’m sincere in this belief. To constantly claim, as you do, that the people behind the West London Free School want the school to be socially exclusive is both false and defamatory. I want the WLFS to have a “fair and mixed intake”, just as you claim SNS has, and all the free school pioneers I’ve met want exactly the same thing. We cannot begin to have a grown up debate about how best to drive up standards in our state schools and increase opportunities for all until you accept that 99% of the people who’ve set up free schools are as committed to fair admissions as you are.

    Guest, As I’m sure you know, fair banding does not guarantee social inclusion or a mixed ability intake. On the contrary, it is often used as a way to disguise covert selection – one reason Fiona Millar isn’t in favour of it, I believe. We considered it for the WLFS but rejected it. We didn’t like the idea of parents trying to game the system by encouraging their children to do badly in the admissions test. Any system that rewards under-achievement, however well-intentioned, cannot be right.

    Janet, I’ve told you exactly what we’re planning to do: We’re going to apply next year to open a 2FE primary school in LBHF in 2013 and in the course of doing that we intend to observe the spirit and letter of the law, just as we did in the course of setting up the WLFS. I’ve also confirmed that we intend to publish our Funding Agreement in due course and explained why we haven’t done so already. Given how candid I’ve been, I don’t think it’s unreasonable – or diversionary – to expect a similar degree of candour from the critics of the WLFS.

    • This tide of waffle is an attempt at distraction from your lack of transparency and refusal to answer very simple questions put to you.

      What on earth do you mean ‘by a similar degree of candour’? A teacher and governor have not just apportioned huge amounts of public funds set up a school. They’re hardly in a similar position to you.

    • Is it not a little bit tiresome, that having already pointed out that your introduction of FSM statistics is a feeble attempt at distracting attention away from calls for why West London Free School will not publish its Funding Agreement, you now still persist in trying to draw me into a tit for tat comparison of relative FSM numbers?

      I hate to think that you spent the best part of the afternoon trawling for evidence to prove a point which does nothing to explain why you won’t reveal your Funding Agreement. So what if Stoke Newington School has 28% FSM? The fact is, the school’s intake is drawn from a catchment area and that catchment area reflects the diversity of the population around the school. More than that, unlike the overzealous Free School founders intent on pursuing and concealing their agenda by trumpeting their altruistic mission to the poor, SNS has never made a meal of its FSM or SEN intake for the simple reason that it has never felt it necessary to patronise them or any other group of students. How you can put pen to paper and claim that the school’s fortune, or misfortune, in being located in an area with not enough poor children to satisfy your prejudice and thus be less “socially inclusive” and more “selective” than other schools such as yours, beggars belief.

      If only you had spent more time keeping yourself up to date about FSM numbers at your own school as you do in trying to uncover the figures for SNS for no better reason than to indulge in a misguided attempt to play trumps over school intake when the question you are being asked is about your Funding Agreement. You replied as “utter balls” (what is the Latin translation for this, anyone?) a report that WLFS had received, and responded to, an FoI request about the number of children on FSM and demonstrated you knew very little about this issue at your own school.

      You are right that comparisons with Sweden and America are meaningless but this is in direct contrast to your previous utterances, where you fell over yourself, as does the government and the New Schools Network, to praise them. That Free Schools are so publicly identified as being modelled on the American system ought to be cause for concern when its failure to be scaled up in America stands precious little chance of succeeding in the UK. WLFS may be the success story – and I hope so for the children under your care – but that’s like saying KIPP or HCZ is representative of all Charters. They aren’t.

      Thank you for the information on the Learning Trust. You are quick to gleefully point out that it is a “private company” and that I ought, therefore, to condemn it but you omit to mention that it is also a non-profit making organization. Therefore, it is hardly an advertisement for the good practice of profit-making, free market companies in schools is it Toby? Neither do you mention that 10 years ago Hackney schools were placed in the care of the Learning Trust as education in Hackney was found to be wanting under the direct control of the council. The Learning Trust has overseen a great transformation in schools in Hackney and did so by replacing the responsibilities of the council to steward the schools under its care, without lining its pockets. Why did you attempt to portray the Learning Trust as a for-profit making company?

      You may say you want a “fair and mixed” intake but surely even you can see the difficulty in many people believing this when they read your frequent and public polemics in which you pander to snobbery (“Eton of the State Sector”) whilst making gay or lesbian people – children, parents and staff, feel very unwelcome at your school. You will have alienated and put off more people by condemning people as “dunces” (do you have a dunces corner for the SENs at your school Toby?) when they don’t agree with your right-wing politics, which in itself would be offputting to parents who are left wing and might want their children to attend WLFS. Sniggeringly pointing out grammatical errors on a comments thread, “Utter balls” and general bullying rhetoric is not the conduct of a school founder keen to promote himself as someone who welcomes all and sundry to his school. It is not helpful when your headmaster gives an interview to the Independent and states that WLFS might not be the best place for the less academically inclined – for example those who can’t handle Latin perhaps?

      You should therefore not be surprised when people allege covert selection based around your own pronouncements and you would forgive them the smidgeon of cynicism when they read that you are as committed to increasing opportunities for children as you are in promoting yourself through your columns, television appearances and books.

      There is no reason for you to delay in publishing your Funding Agreement when a number of Free Schools have voluntarily done so. Hiding behind not wanting to pressurise the others sounds altruistic but also looks like another excuse to duck transparency.

      • Leonard James says:

        Incredible! After all the guff from the LSN about FSM numbers at free schools and segregation all you can say about Stoke Newington’s numbers is ‘who cares’? Clearly, and predictably, FSM data only matters to you when it affirms your own opinion.

        • No Leonard. What is incredible, clear and predictable is your inability to understand text. I did not say FSM data doesn’t matter. It was The Hon Toby Young who introduced it into the thread in a misguided and patronising attempt to argue that a school in Stoke Newington is less socially inclusive than the WLFS because it doesn’t have enough data busting underprivileged children. The point I made was that the intake was very diverse but drawn from its immediate catchment area. How this misuse of data is supposed to affirm my opinion says much more about your prejudices than it does about me, Leonard

          • Leonard James says:

            I see. But how do you know that free schools are not drawing from thier ‘local cathment area’ – you have implied that selection caused the observations regarding their FSM numbers.

      • You never actually say anything of any interest do you Butthead? All you do is spend considerable time criticising or insulting anyone who disagrees with you on the Luddite Schools Network. What do you actually add to the reform debate by way of any progressive dialogue or positive ideas of your own? Change the record. Its really boring. Left wing versus right wing – its so dull. You’re so dull. What we need is a Third Way!

      • Allan

        You have just written that you are in agreement with the principle and practice of a company limited by guarantee running a chain of schools, said company is the Learning Trust. However you are against another company limited by guarantee running a school called the West London Free School, which differs in running only one school and having the addition of being backed by a charitable foundation. It seems both companies operate in the same, or very similar, legal and ethical framework with regard to performance of their duties and powers. What is your reasoning? It can’t be the profit making potential because both companies have the status of not being able to create and distribute profits to shareholders.

        You are trying to have your cake and eat it with free school means. Either the average FSM % for a given area and a consequent reflection of that within the area’s schools does matter, or it doesn’t. If it does matter SNS needs to reflect if its own disparity is significant and what it will do to change if it is significant.

        • I think the difference is more profound than that. Learning Trust describes itself as “not for profit” rather than “a charity” which suggests it isn’t a registered charity, but, rather, a for-profit company that has decided not to try and turn a profit from this particular line of work. The West London Free School Academy Trust, by contrast, is a registered charity. Perhaps you could clarify, Allan?

        • No I haven’t. Learn to understand what is written Ben.

  13. A guest says:

    Toby, my question was a genuine one. I did not know the answer. I had not heard that the system could be gamed. Many schools have a fair banding admissions policy in order to (try to ) ensure they have students from across the ability range.
    I am not entirely convinced that parents can successfully encourage their children to under perform to get a place. Covert selection also happens by offering only an academic curriculum ??

    • The “covert selection” charge against us only makes sense if you take it for granted that a group of mixed ability pupils can’t tackle an academic curriculum. We would dispute that. The founding principle of the WLFS is that every pupil can benefit from an academically rigorous curriculum, regardless of background and regardless of ability.

      • I’ve just had a look at Learning Trust’s accounts for 2010-2011 – it’s not a registered charity – and in the last financial year it made a pre-tax “surplus” of £27,042,441. Guess how much tax the company ended up paying on this? £218,143. Yes, you read that right. Personally, I don’t object to private companies doing whatever they can to minimise their tax liabilities, but Allan might want to take a closer look at last year’s accounts:

        • Would you mind clarifying what you meant by ” We didn’t like the idea of parents trying to game the system by encouraging their children to do badly in the admissions test.” as I really don’t understand your point.

          Also, the main thing that your through-the-night Googling confirms is the unreasonableness of you keeping your funding agreement out of the public domain to be honest.

          • Suppose you divide all the applicants into four bands according to ability: top 25%, middle 50% and bottom 25% and then allocate places within each band according to straight-line distance. If the distance you have to live from the school to qualify for a place in the top or middle band is smaller than the distance you have to live to qualify for a place in the bottom band, parents who don’t live close enough for their children to qualify for a top or or middle band place have an incentive to encourage their children to do badly in the test in order to qualify for a bottom band place. These conditions arise quite often. The more academically successful and popular the school, the more likely the school is to have band-specific catchment areas that sit within each other like concentric circles, with the smallest circle belonging to the top band. Why? Because academically successful schools will inevitably have more applicants from children of above average ability.

        • Thank you for the link Toby to the accounts of the Learning Trust. I note from their financial statement that the Council’s contract with the Learning Trust ceases in 2012 and the Council has agreed to take over the company on 1 August 2012. The company will retain fewer financial resources in 2011/12 and will pass more resources to schools who will be able to decide how best to deploy these resources. I presume (but correct me if I’m wrong) that any surplus in the Trust’s accounts would be transferred to the Council on 1 August.

        • Toby –

          You persist in creating a storm to draw attention away from refusing to answer questions about your Funding Agreement.

          Whatever the fiscal status of The Learning Trust may be, you yourself have pointed out that it has not made a profit out of its 10 years stewardship of Hackney schools. Perhaps this was a condition imposed and accepted by the Trust when it was given the responsibility? This does not put it in the same bracket as companies such as Cognita and IES. You mention a surplus – will this be handed over to the Council when responsibility for education is handed back to Hackney in summer 2012? The crucial point here is that you yourself have pointed out it hasn’t actually profited from overseeing the borough’s schools.

          You asked me if this “really is the model you’re recommending for the rest of England” as if living in Hackney meant that its citizens automatically endorses the organization that oversees its schools. There are plenty of citizens in H&F who oppose that council’s endorsement of WLFS.

          You bring up the tax liability of the Learning Trust. Is there any evidence that they have acted fraudulently? I don’t have a problem with companies acting within the law to pay the right amount of tax. You asked me to examine their accounts but what on earth has that got to do with the fact they made no profit out of overseeing Hackney education and your refusal to publish your Funding Agreement?

          You said you “don’t have a problem with responsibility for maintained schools being removed from local authorities and turned over to private companies – as it has been in Hackney – but I thought you did?” Schools in Hackney have NOT been removed from local authority stewardship. The Learning Trust has fulfilled the co-ordinating role of the LA, has vastly improved education across many schools in the borough and, most importantly, been accountable to the local community. This is in direct contrast to a stand-alone Free School, accountable only to central government, competing, rather than collaborating, with other schools in the local area; able to vary the Admissions Code and narrow its Curriculum and to act “selfishly” as you implied here

          Your founding principle that every pupil can benefit from an academically rigorous curriculum, regardless of background and regardless of ability may or may not be true but how does this principle square up with your headmaster telling The Independent “It might be that that kind of curriculum is not appropriate for all children – but it is a curriculum that will enable them to think for themselves.”

          Covert selection works in many ways and one way is to pump out frequent, offputting, public and inflammatory statements to alienate those who do not share your political or ideological doctrines. I also do not see how children are encouraged to think for themselves when their schools founder makes it clear he is ready to mock gay and lesbian issues; denigrate and smear his political opponents; mock left wing liberals; call people “dunces”. I don’t think this is the most appropriate or inclusive way for a Chair of Governors to conduct himself is it? It seems to me that anyone who does not prescribe to your right wing view of the world at your school would be too afraid to express themselves because their founder acts in a way that, unfortunately, could be construed as bullying.

          The usual gaggle of “choice” trolls are trying to assist you in your attempt to derail the issue with contrived outrage over FSM, Luddite-ism and trying to now claim I support free market intervention in schools. All utter nonsense and doesn’t answer this question:-

          Why are you refusing to publish your Funding Agreement when a number of other Free Schools have voluntarily done so?

          • Your faith in the Learning Trust is touching. But I must take issue with your claim that “responsibility for maintained schools” has “NOT been removed from local authority stewardship” (your capitals). If the Learning Trust is playing the role that the Local Education Authority in Hackney used to play, then, surely, that is precisely what’s happened? And given that the Learning Trust is a private company, in what sense is SNS more “accountable” than the WLFS? The SNS is accountable to the Learning Trust which, in turn, is accountable to its Board of Directors – an unelected body that is itself accountable to no one since the Learning Trust has no shareholders, apparently (see the link at the end of my previous post). The WLFS, by contrast, is directly accountable to the Secretary of State for Education, a member of Parliament and an appointee of the democratically-elected government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. By any measure, the so-called “community schools” of Hackney – which you most certainly are holding up as a model that the rest of the country should follow – are less democratically accountable than academies or free schools.

            You persistently claim that my politically incorrect remarks across a range of areas have had the effect of discouraging a broad range of people from applying to the WLFS. Where’s your evidence for this? We had over 500 applicants for our first 120 places and we’ve had over 1,000 for our next 120 places, making us the most over subscribed taxpayer-funded school in the borough by a comfortable margin, possibly even the whole of England. I can assure you that these applicants are from all walks of life – a fact reflected in our first cohort of pupils which, as we’ve established, is more representative of the local borough than the “self-selected” cohort at SNS.

            Just to recap Allan, the school you’re a governor of is less democratically accountable than the WLFS, less socially inclusive and less popular. Yet, somehow, your school is the embodiment of virtue while mine is the embodiment of vice. Isn’t it about time you got off your high horse?

          • Toby –

            Your rant goes to the heart of what is so divisive about the Free School policy and how you, as it flag bearer, has tarnished it with a polarising dog eat dog ultra-competitive stance in which your entire operation has been to promote the cause of a handful of schools educating a minuscule number of children by attempting to denigrate and degrade even the most successful of models that existed before Michael Gove allowed you to take advantage of a shift in policy in which you saw your opportunity. Even now, you trumpet the oversubscription of WLFS as if your school has the monopoly on being oversubscribed. It doesn’t. All it means ultimately is that WLFS is the new kid on the block. Yours – along with the other Free Schools and new Academies – can be assessed alongside pre-existing schools when you publish your results. Note I use the verb “assess”, not “judge” – unlike you, I am not out to trash the achievements of any school in order to plead the case for community schools. You reduce the debate to “Your” and “My” school. Unlike you, I am concerned with equality for all children in the country, not just those at “my” school.

            Instead of answering the question why you are not publishing your Funding Agreement, you attempt to make vague and futile insinuations about the Learning Trust and comment as if I personally am wholeheartedly endorsing the Learning Trust. You also claim out of thin air that I am holding up “community schools” in Hackney “as a model that the rest of the country should follow”. Where is the evidence that I say this? Most of the schools in Hackney are Academies anyway, all created and stewarded by the Learning Trust.

            Just to re-cap Toby:-

            Where is your evidence that SNS is less socially inclusive when it strictly draws its intake from its immediate catchment area? The Leaning Trust handles all admissions. To be less socially inclusive, the Learning Trust would have to dishonestly give priority access to less or more privileged children. Which it doesn’t. The catchment area is made of the diverse community closest to the school gates. The school has never made a meal out of its FSM and SEN numbers – it is you who introduced this into the debate and it is you who had no idea about your own schools FSM numbers. Hackney is not Chelsea. You sneeringly wondered a few months ago how many transgendered people that might be at SNS. If they were, and they lived in the catchment area, they would be offered a place, alongside any other child of any socio-economic background, sexual orientation, race living in the same catchment. It is entirely ridiculous of you to try and compete on social inclusion because you – and other Free Schools – are under criticism for not serving the most disadvantaged when that was one of the main thrusts of the campaign.

            You claim the Learning Trust is “accountable to no one”. This is simply not true. You also claim that SNS less democratically accountable than WLFS. Well, for start, the Trust is locally accountable to the community it serves; to Hackney Council, who monitor the services the Trust provides; to external auditors; to the DfE and to OFSTED. They answer to their stakeholders, who include parents, pupils, staff, governors and members of the wider community and they engage them in their decision-making processes. Parents who have specific complaints about a school can take their case to the (impartial) Learning Trust and Headteachers and Governors seeking advice or clarification can use and benefit their services as they have an overview of the issues affecting the whole borough, not just one stand-alone school. I wonder how long it would take for Michael Gove to respond to a parent’s complaint about Admissions or a child protection issue at a Free School? Centralisation is not going to make the democratic process easier or fairer.

            With so many good schools now in Hackney, most of the applicants to SNS are in, or just out of, the catchment area. And it is oversubscribed. Those closer to other schools would therefore not make SNS a first choice as they would stand very little chance of being offered a place. The catchment is a radius of well under a kilometre. Of the 1,000 applicants to WLFS, only 45% are admitted by proximity, the rest by American-style lottery and aptitude for music. Hardly a fair comparison but it is you who competitively compares for no better reason than to justify the large amounts of money you are getting creamed off the budget for existing schools to educate a tiny minority of students.

            Instead of further posturing and setting off fake sirens, don’t you think it’s time to get off your high horse and explain the creation of a WLFS primary school, how it may affect admissions into the existing WLFS and why you will not publish your Funding Agreement?

          • I think the key piece of information to look out for with free schools is whether their FSM figures are significantly different to those in the surrounding community and other local schools. If they are not there is a good chance they are managing to engineer a more favourable intake from elsewhere.

          • Surely the Learning Trust is accountable to Hackney Council ?

          • Yes it is and it is clear they do, as their website makes crystal clear.

      • A guest says:

        Actually, I do think I dispute this. Pupils who are are working at grades E, F, and G at GCSE need a curriculum that is catered for their needs. (Pupils can be operating at this level for a variety of reasons. For some pupils however hard they try they are not going to achieve C grades in Maths and English etc.) I think your headmaster recognises this. Why would some people defend the existence of grammar schools if they did not think that some pupils benefit from an academic curriculum and others would not. The schools where I live (not London- few private schools and no grammars) recognise this and pupils after discussion with parents and teachers chose different pathways at GCSE. This is not necessarily a straight academic/ vocational split either. All the schools have an academic pathway and bright children from whatever background are not prevented from following it. If you take an alternative pathway this does not mean you will not be challenged to think and question what you are doing.

  14. Toby – I now understand why I was confused by your answers to my earlier question about whether a request had been made to the Secretary of State (SoS) to extend the age range of WLFS.

    You answered: “…the WLFS is not applying to expand its pupil numbers and/or age range”

    This seemed to be contradicted by the Council statement: “West London Free School has requested to extend their provision to include primary school education on the Cambridge Grove site from September 2013”

    In a later answer you wrote: “We’re going to apply next year to open a 2FE primary school in LBHF in 2013”

    In other words, you are not applying to the SoS in 2011 but you will be applying in 2012. However, you did put in a request to the Council in 2011. And there lies my confusion – I thought “applying” and “requesting” were the same thing.

    • Glad we’ve cleared that up Janet.

      • 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 .

        • I can assure you the WLFS does not get £825,000/pupil. We get the same amount as maintained schools and academies in LBHF, as Nick Gibb said.

          • Rosie Fergusson says:

            Boy …that would be some school if £825,000 per pupil…meant £825,000 total for year as stated in Hansard..which I think works out at £6875/pupil…..allowances do tend to be higher in poorer urban areas..on the assumption that all schools in an area address the same proportion of socio-economic problems.

          • Can you provide a link to that Hansard answer? I didn’t see it.

            Working out the per pupil budget of a school is not as straightforward as dividing the total pupil budget and dividing it by the number of pupils since you get considerably more for pupils on FSM.

  15. Sorry to interfere with the heated asides raised but I’d like to jump back to my original concern and point.

    I am very interested to know if the Trust has yet discussed admissions arrangements for the proposed Primary. It may be too far in advance to have been touched on yet, I realise – but given WLFS formed its admissions with consideration of impact on other local schools as well as concerns about fair banding, I was wondering if there were any formed thoughts at all on the primary admissions process, and if not – what process will be undertaken to develop one.

    I would imagine if a simple straight line distance was used for a 2FE Primary, then the 45% straight line distance portion of the existing 4FE WLFS admissions arrangement would be occupied mainly by those attending the primary (if existing, or ‘tighter’ catchments are in existence, depending on the ages of children in the vicinity etc). This would obviously have significant impact on local primary schools – particularly if they are virtually, by straight line distance, essentially guaranteed WLFS admission. (It keeps things simple for harried parents!)

    I would also like to know, if its been considered yet, whether or not both forms of entry will enroll at once (I presume so) and if more than Reception will be filled in the first year of opening. To date H&F has not provided any real evidence of a sustained or increasing need for primary places and it seems that the reality on the ground is that children are not rolling in the aisles…if there is something out there that I have missed or that has not been provided by FoIA (based on the omissions in the postcode data, I’m wondering….) – I’m happy to hear it!

  16. Leonard James says:

    Re: FSM figures. These figures for Stoke Newington may be illuminating.

  17. Illuminating only if the school had something to conceal. Much more illuminating would be the contents of the WLFS Funding Agreement.

  18. Leonard James says:

    Why are less disadvantaged children attending Stoke Newington then Allan? Remember you have implied that Toby is covertly selecting his intake on the basis of similar figures.

    • No I didn’t. Why do you find it so difficult to understand what you read? I did not imply anything of the sort. It was Toby Young who brought up FSM figures to detract from the fact that he was being asked to publish his Funding Agreement. Stoke Newington School was not founded by an attention seeking individual who was given £15m to set up a school largely on the boast that its existence was to give opportunities to the poor. Stoke Newington School does not parade its FSM or SEN figures to score points – it is an inclusive school which admits its intake from the catchment area, which is a mix of a diverse population of people. What would you like SNS to do? Bus in hundreds of poor children from miles away and outside the community to satisfy your FSM fetish?

  19. Leonard James says:


    Perhaps you would like to pursue your comments on this thread:

    So what does Toby Young have to do to prevent you from accusing him of ‘sending out deliberately offputting signals’ to ‘undesirables’ – bus in the 13 students he needs to match the average % FSM students for the LEA from miles away?

    This website published the FSM data from schoolduggery in order to stick it to the free schools, you commented on it and came out with some ridiculous conclusions on top. Funny how you are not so bothered, and I am a ‘fetishist’, now the data isn’t going your way.

    • Anyone interested enough to read what Leonard means by @schoolduggery “sticking it to the free schools” can read his rebuttal here on his blog

      • Leonard James says:

        Thanks for promoting my blog I don’t recall ever mentioning it so well done for looking it up. A slight correction – my issue isn’t with schoolduggery it is with the LSN’s interpretation of his data.

        By the way did you edit your last comment? A significant advantage don’t you think?

        • More nonsense Leonard. You’re on a carousel of circular arguments chasing your own confused tail. I’m done.

          • Leonard James says:

            If you think I am wrong debate with me instead of resorting to misrepresentation and ad hominems.

  20. Nothing to do with data going my way Leonard. It is you and Young who are sidetracking the issue away from the Funding Agreement to fetishising and trolling about FSM data, not me.

    I’m glad you brought this up. I’ve already stated why his conduct is offputting to many people. Toby himself dismissed them as “politically incorrect”. It’s not just the polarising politics that is so alienating and so inappropriate in a school leader who pleads inclusiveness, it’s the way he appears to be bullying. A Chair of Governors mocking diversity in pupils and society? Actually calling people “dunces”? I thought the dunces cap went out in the 50s. Will “SEN” be replaced by “Dunces” in WLFS? This question would never be uttered if he left the vocabulary of “dunces” well alone.

  21. Leonard James says:

    And you have evidence that his comments have turned the disadvantaged against the WLFS?

  22. I wouldn’t call gay, lesbian, politically-to-the-left, “dunces”, “Trotsykites” actually “disadvantaged”. Good grief Leonard.

  23. Leonard James says:

    Nor would I but the thread where you accused Young of sending offputtingsignals was about free schools not serving the ‘disadvantaged’. I thought you were elaborating on this when you were actually changing the subject.

    • I’m sorry that’s how you interpret text Leonard but I find equating minorities who don’t confirm with “disadvantaged” not just insufferable but dangerous.

  24. Leonard James says:

    Good for you. Now perhaps you would like to explain where I have done such a thing? I am more than happy to clarify any statements that you are unsure about.

  25. No need for clarification. Your comments speak for themselves Leonard. At no point do I link Young’s offputting statements to the disadvantaged. It is you, I’m afraid, who showed your true colours by equating the disadvantaged with minorities or those with challenges.

  26. Leonard James says:

    I see so on the thread about free schools not serving the disadvantaged you accusation that Young was sending out ‘offputting signals’ to ‘undesirables’ had nothing to do with disadvantaged children at all?

    If Youngs comments were always aimed at Gays etc why didn’t you say so at the time? And perhaps you could answer my original question – do you have evidence that Youngs comments about Gays etc has affected the proportion of FSM children (i.e. disadvantaged children) at his school.

    P.S I am, and always have, considered ‘disadvantaged’ to mean poor children NOT an umbrella term for the minority groups you mentioned. Please ask if you don’t unferstand what I mean instead of lowering yourself to ad hominems.

  27. You’re just digging yourself in deeper now. Enough said. No excuses, as the Gove would say.

  28. Leonard James says:

    Perhaps you would like to explain how I am digging myself a deeper hole? I am merely asking you to explain your accusations against Mr. Young and the WLFS.

  29. Leonard, It’s often hard to grasp what point Allan is making because he’s such an angry person. Often, he just vents, running several points together and not bothering with spelling or grammar. I think his accusation against me – one of them, anyway – is that the humour piece I wrote in the Spectator about LGBT week at SNS was deliberately intended to put off lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered teachers from applying for staff positions and parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered 11-year-olds from applying to the school. That’s right isn’t it Allan? And the reason I did this is because I’m a “homophobe”.

    It’s such a ludicrous argument it’s not worth responding to. But one thing I am curious about. If you call someone who takes the mickey out of LGBT week at SNS a “homophobe”, Allan, what do you call the BNP skinhead who beats a gay man to death? If you bandy the term about too much aren’t you in danger of diluting its meaning and, by extension, making the vice it describes seem less heinous?

    • I may be angry and easy prey for your cheap jibes at my grammatical errors, but why are you not publishing your Funding Agreement?

      A few weeks after your “humorous” piece appeared in the Spectator, East End Pride – which would have included Hackney on its route – was cancelled at the last minute when it was discovered that members of the EDL had infiltrated the organising committee with an aim to incite hatred against gays amongst extreme Muslims.

      During the weeks that your “satirical” piece appeared, Hackney and Tower Hamlets was plastered with homophobic stickers. At the same time Elly Barnes at Stoke Newington School – The IoS most influential LGBT person – was organising the LGBT concert you did not attend but chose to mock, in her continuing work to encourage social cohesion and eradicate homophobia.

      You continued your assault on your Telegraph blog, where you were certain of a more sympathetic hearing but which unearthed once again the type of hatred that in more extreme hearts leads exactly to the kind of homophobic killings you speak of. It is not just the BNP skinheads. It is young people who do not look like killers.

      I did not call you a “homophobe” so don’t put words in my mouth but you were sufficiently worried about being thus labelled that you wrote a grovelling comment to an internet magazine in which you attempted to dig yourself out of a very unpleasant hole.

      My argument is not ludicrous. What is ludicrous is that you fail to acknowledge, especially as a school founder and Chair of Governors of a school in charge of children, is that your casual attack on LGBT people is not just deeply offensive to them but raises concerns about which other minorities you would casually mock and exclude. I don’t think the parents of statemented children would embrace your using the terms “dunces” would they? Or was that you being satirical again?

      Worse than the offence caused, your articles encourage homophobia because those who do end up excluding, bullying gay men or women or even killing them read what you write and are assured that their opinions and behavior are acceptable.

      So whilst Elly Barnes is awarded for her work in eradicating homophobia amongst schoolchildren, the children at your school can access articles written by Toby Young, their founder and Chair, which encourage homophobia.

      You ask if bandying the term too much may dilute its meaning. In the film “The Accused”, the men who stood and cheered the violation of a woman in a bar were as culpabale as the men who actually raped her.

    • A guest says:

      Why is it ok to take the ‘mickey’out of LGBT week in a national magazine? I ask the students who I work with to think carefully about their language when they refer to things as ‘ that’s a bit gay’. Yes this is banter between kids but language is powerful and sets a tone. Actually they are responsive to me challenging them and we have interesting discussions about words and phrases that were once deemed acceptable but are not now.

      • I agree with you. Language is very powerful and if you write as a known name for national press you’d have to be profoundly thick-skinned, short of intelligent material or simply not care about the effect of your words.

        Or all three, of course.

    • But you have responded to the argument. By saying that maybe you’re not as homphobic as ‘the BNP skiinhead who beats a gay man to death’.

      I had no previous knowledge about your ‘humour piece’ in the Spectator, and your representation of it isn’t flattering.

  30. Leonard James says:

    Perhaps some links to the material in question would be prudent here so people can make up their own minds.

  31. Tracy Hannigan says:

    Actually the main point of this thread was not about the funding agreement nor free school meals! It was about potential admissions policies of a free primary school (which may or may not have been in the existing funding agreement)- now that its been settled as a totally seperate entity can I please ask that those who cannot refrain from bringing up every other issue under the sun please go make another thread? I really want to discuss this issue!!

  32. There’s nothing in our Funding Agreement about primary provision, Tracy. As I’ve said (twice) we’re not applying to extend the age range of the school, but submitting a separate, stand-alone application in February of next year to set up a free, 2FE primary school in LBHF. We haven’t finalised the admissions policy yet, but I imagine it will be straight-line distance. There’s no question that there’s acute basic need. Even if we get the go ahead, there still won’t be a sufficient number of primary school places to accommodate the anticipated demand in LBHF in 2013.

    Can I ask why you’re so interested? Are you a mother of a child that will be starting primary school in 2013? And do you live in Hammersmith? If so, can I ask you to fill in the questionnaire that will shortly be published on the WLFS website ( We need to establish “evidence of demand” as part of our application.

    • Toby – you have said (twice) that you are not applying to extend the age range of WLFS but submitting a separate, stand-alone application. But this is not the impression of the local council who wrote:

      “That the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services endorses the West London Free School’s proposal to expand to become an all-age school and develop a two form entry primary school (as part of that provision).”

      According to the Council, the intention of providing the primary school is so that WLFS can become an all-age school and the primary school will be “part of that provision” ie part of the existing school. I ask again – has the Council got it wrong? If so, how do you account for the misunderstanding? And if the Council is correct in its assumption that WLFS will become an all-age school, will the current admission criteria stand or will there be an extra criterion allowing for pupils in the primary school to progress to the secondary school (which brings up back to Tracy’s original question about admissions)?

      It’s interesting that you should be asking Tracy to complete a questionnaire which will be used as “evidence of demand”. Will this mean that any response to the questionnaire could be used to provide this evidence even if the response is negative?

  33. Tracy Hannigan says:

    Hi Toby – I did get what you had said earlier about it not being an extension but rather a seperate venture – My response got lost in the rest of the thread somewhere !

    I do live in Hammersmith and Fulham. When you open the primary, will you be doing Year 1 as well as reception?

  34. 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 .

  35. Toby – you wrote (31/12/2010) “As I’ve said (twice) we’re not applying to extend the age range of the school, but submitting a separate, stand-alone application in February of next year to set up a free, 2FE primary school in LBHF.”

    Today (10/01/2011) you wrote: “We’re going to submit an application to set up the WLFS primary as a new free school then, assuming it’s approved, join the primary and secondary schools together to create an all-through school.”

    Perhaps you could explain how an all-through school is not an extension of the age range of WLFS.

    • You asked if we were applying to extend the age range of the school which we’re not doing. I took you to mean are we applying to do that rather than applying to set up a stand-alone free primary school. It’s an option we considered, but rejected. It’s actually more transparent to apply to set up a stand-alone primary that you’re proposing to join to your secondary than simply to apply to extend your age range since we’ll be obliged to consult about it in the normal manner, just like every other new free school application. Just asking the Secretary of State to vary the Funding Agreement of the WLFS secondary school to allow us to admit 4-11-year-olds – thereby releasing us from the obligation to submit a separate application – would have been less transparent with less opportunity for the local authority and neighbouring schools to feed back. I would have thought you’d approve, Janet.

      • Tracy Hannigan says:

        Hi Toby – may I ask why the trust rejected going that route? Was it transparency alone or were there other considerations (and if so can you share them?). I think especially in this situation it is absolutely critical that local schools are allowed a meaningful voice in the construction of the proposal and admissions.

        • I didn’t mean to suggest we decided to go the more complex route in the interests of greater transparency. I was merely pointing out that that was one of the consequences. I wasn’t aware that the SoS was obliged to consult locally before approving an application by an academy to vary its age range. The point remains that our application to set up a second free school will be subjected to closer scrutiny than a simple application to vary our age range would. We have to submit what amounts to an outline business case that’s then assessed by a panel of experts within the DfE. If they give us the thumbs up, we then have to come in for an interview. Assuming we get beyond that hurdle, we still have to compete with all the other free school groups who’ve reached that stage with only a fraction being approved at the end of the process. We then have to consult locally. To be honest, I would have preferred to go the simpler route if only to save time, but we were advised by the DfE to go this way instead. We could have dug in, but I’ve learnt to pick my battles.

          • Tracy Hannigan says:

            Hi Toby. I’m well aware of the process but I must say I do find this dissapointing. To be honest, because you were first past the post and Gove loves you there is very little chance that you will not succeed – yet you make noises like you prefer expediency over transparency and community consultation. If someone were installing a 400plus strong school on your doorstep would you not have an issue with not being asked, just because it was easier for the person who wanted it done? If the whole process is supposed to be about meeting community demand and need and giving people what they want, don’t you need consultation to do/determine that?

  36. Toby – so to recap: WLFS is not applying to extend the age range but the end result will be that it will have extended its age range to become an all-age school. The Council recognised this when they endorsed “the West London Free School’s proposal to expand to become an all-age school and develop a two form entry primary school (as part of that provision).”

    WLFS is applying to open a “stand-alone” school which won’t exactly be a “stand-alone” provision because it will be joined to the existing school to make one school. WLFS is doing this because it is more “transparent” to apply to open a “stand-alone” school which won’t be a “stand-alone” school when it’s opened.

    I am not sure that the Secretary of State can just be asked to vary a Funding Agreement to allow an all-age school. DfE guidelines clearly state: “Where individual academies make a request to the Secretary of State to expand their pupil numbers and/or age range, this will only be done following local consultation.” So the rules about local consultation still apply.

    However, you seem to be suggesting that Governors/Trustees could just ask the SoS to change the Funding Agreement. If this is so, then the ability to change Funding Agreements would be in the gift of the SoS. Is this really so? If it is, then it is very worrying.

  37. That’s always been the case, Janet. A Funding Agreement can be changed, within reason, provided both the Secretary of State and the Academy Trust in question consent to that change.

    • It’s fab, isn’t it? If you know nothing about education but just fancy a bash at it, the S if S is happy to hand over millions of tax payers money (I’d like to give an exact figure, but that funding agreement, Toby….) and shift the goal posts about to suit both of you. If you have years of collective experience and are the governing body of an improving community school, the S of S gives you a couple of week’s notice that he’s going to disband you, not only with no local consultation, but completely against the wishes of the school community (see forced academy threads).

    • Tracy Hannigan says:

      Well, the SoS can change things if he wants and if the Trust doesn’t agree, well they can be defunded. Consent isn’t really required – but then the consequence is naturally no funding!

      May I ask why you were asking on twitter about the Admissions Code for 2013? What’s the plan?

  38. Toby
    Link to Nick ” what’s core funding again” GIbb’s written answers re Free School funding i.e the £18 mill spent on 3000 pupils is below but has taken some time to track down – you have to go via ” Commons Debate by Date” and know the date in question ( 20th dec 2012) .

    The formal Hansard Archive of written answers hasn’t been updated since 2010…damn cuts .

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