Access for all - if you can afford it!

Tracy Hannigan's picture
I have learned from a WLFS parent that music, the 'specialism' of WLFS, comes at more than double the cost of other pupils getting music tuition in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Costs for a term of individual 30 minute lessons are £130, reduced to £87 for 20 minute lessons. Shared lessons (groups) are £65 per term for 30 minute lessons, and 20 minute shared lessons are £44 per term. No mention was made of the concessionary rates at WLFS.

This seems to me to be significantly higher than the costs of music lessons through local LA schools. Shared lessons are typically chargeable at £70 per hour per term (vs £65 per half hour at WLFS) - and £35 for concessions.

Many local schools offer a one year instrument loan - but it appears you need to rent the instrument at WLFS. Instruments are expensive, especially if one is not sure of a child's commitment. Rental is better than buying blind, but a loan is even more sensitive, and less prohibitive for those who want to know for sure if their child will want to continue. In the case of some families, lesson plus rental cost may be prohibitive.

That is a shame, especially if it is at a much higher cost than would be available at a true community school.

Additionally, some parents have been mentioning that they were hit up at the WLFS introductory evening to pay a minimum 'voluntary' contribution of £35.00 per month. This was followed up by requests for donations to the endowment - in the same email as a request to be sure to let them know if one changed their minds about taking up a place.

Though WLFS claims to want to deliver things that might not be otherwise available to the underprivileged of Hammersmith and Fulham, this kind of environment may inadvertently contribute to the segregation of those less fortunate - through peer pressure, shame, and/or simply through being financially disadvantaged.
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Ian Taylor's picture
Thu, 28/07/2011 - 19:24

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.

Ed Watkins's picture
Fri, 29/07/2011 - 10:09

Good morning Tracy. I'm the music teacher at WLFS so hopefully can shed some light on our instrumental situation.
Hammersmith and Fulham Music Service charge schools £34 per hour for their teachers. The only other school in H&F I have figures for charges parents £17 per half hour lesson. You haven't mentioned any figures for other schools. The only fair comparison here would be to compare us with schools as opposed to other institutions.
As regards concessions you would be right to worry but we are subsidising lessons by half for pupils on FSM.
The only figure I've heard for national uptake of instrumental tuition is 8% in state schools. We will have at least three times that for pupils on FSM and I feel that this shows that we've allocated limited resources in a way that is financially viable for the school while not being prohibitive for the parents.


Toby Young's picture
Fri, 29/07/2011 - 10:35

Tracy, your penultimate paragraph is false and malicious. To avoid committing libel in future, could I ask you to check your facts by emailing me at next time? Thanks.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 29/07/2011 - 11:07

It's all very well having a hissy fit over nothing Toby, but you might like to comment while you are here on Ian Taylor's post, which poses some very interesting and awkward questions.

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