A Freedom of Information enquiry
to Hammersmith and Fulham Council by Ian McCauley has revealed the proportion of the Year 7 entry to the West London Free School that have attained level 4 or better in English and Maths for the 108 of the 120 students who live in that borough:
95.4% have level 4 in English, compared to 62.5% for the borough as a whole
89.9% have level 4 in Maths, compared to 59.7% for the borough as a whole.
This is a remarkable difference. We can expect in 2016, if the GCSE results showed 83% achieving GCSE English and 77% achieving GCSE Maths, then we would hear much about the success of the school. Yet these are the results that the school will achieve if it simply performs at the national average (assuming half of those at level 4 and above are level 5).
It is unclear how the intake ended up so biased towards the most able. Founder and Chair of Governors Toby Young always claimed it was to be an "all ability school". However we have previously noted that headteacher Tom Packer stated on appointment
that the school was "not appropriate for all children".
Some people did suggest that the focus on Latin for all would encourage applicants from the more academically able children, and distort the intake. Whether that is the reason or not, it certainly appears to be the case that the intake has remarkably few students of 'low prior attainment', to use the DfE term.
Toby previously summarised, on this site
, the case being made against the government: 'you believe that if schools are granted the freedom to act in a more self-interested manner, ignoring the impact of their behaviour on their neighbours, the overall quality of provision will decline and, in particular, the least well-off will suffer' and went on to talk, in contrast, about '“selfish” behaviour that we believe will benefit all'.
Whether it is down to the "selfish" behaviour of WLFS, or something else, it does appear that it has a preferential intake. The other side of that must be that the other local schools have a lower proportion of the higher attainment students and the "overall quality of provision" may decline as a result.
We did contact Toby with these figures, also noting that the FOI had originally gone to the headteacher but he had stated that they didn't have KS2 results for the students. Toby confirmed this, saying "we don't set much story by KS levels, hence don't collect and record the data". This is curious, given the emphasis that both Ofsted and the DfE put on progress from KS2 levels. Toby also repeated that he saw WLFS as an "all ability school".