I was interested to read the adverts for an English teacher at the West London Free School
in the TES this week. In addition to being an English teacher, there were a number of other jobs possibly involved. I quote:
"Being able to teach Art, Classics, Geography, French or Spanish in addition to the above subject would be an advantage. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a full-time or part-time position teaching any of those additional subjects we’d also like to hear from you.
A contribution to one of the school’s general areas would be a distinct advantage.
In particular the ability:
- to develop and lead the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme
- to establish the CCF
- to lead the Special Needs and Gifted and Talented provision
- to co-ordinate IT throughout the school
- to take on a pastoral role
- to coach Hockey, Netball or Cricket
- to teach a particular musical instrument"
I suppose the point here is that teachers at WFLS will clearly have to be "flexible" and won't necessarily be "subject-specialists" -- something Toby Young, its founder, has lambasted other state schools for not having enough of. In a way, it's not surprising because small schools always have to have staff who take on a number of different roles. It makes think again that the most efficient and best use of resources would have been for the West London community to pool its resources and add to the staffing of the high-performing Acton High School
rather set up a whole new school; in a larger school, it's much easier to employ subject-specialist teachers because of the economies of scale. That way there would not have been this identity crisis as to what a teacher is supposed to do at WFLS.
Overall, it reveals the central problems with the free school policy which is almost exclusively focused upon opening small schools.