Maths classes at the Michael Gove Free Schools/Dunning-Kruger Academies are going to be fun, one suspects:
Last week Mike had 700 schools itching to free themselves of the dead hand of local authority control. This week he has sixteen. How many had he made up out of thin air for PR purposes when all they'd done is ticked a box on a webform?
Sarah has no schools and a public relations problem. How many schools will she have after a quiet chat with Mike? For bonus marks, what are the chances of someone who isn't an education minister from the junior party in a coalition bringing home the gravy in this way?
London has 5000 more primary school pupils than places. How much money is left in Mike's piggy bank to pay for them after Toby and Sarah have helped themselves? For bonus marks, how many Free Schools will magically conjure themselves into existence to cope with a general public need that isn't restricted to a few middle class tossers in Acton who want Oscar and Lucinda to learn Latin?
It's all rather laughable really. The Toby Young story is precisely the train wreck we suspected all along - he's clearly been bullshitting, or at the very least hopelessly over-optimistic (that old Dunning-Kruger tendency rather blurs the line between the two here) in such statements as:
The fact that the coalition Government is four-square behind free schools is fantastic news, and not just for the group of 500 parents and teachers I'm hoping to set up the West London Free School with, but for the 450 groups that have already registered with the New Schools Network and are champing at the bit to get going. More than that, it's good news for the children of this country.
Now realism has rather struck, and the tone is a little more restrained:
I appreciate that the continuing uncertainty around our opening date must be frustrating for the teachers who’ve contacted us hoping to work at the school and for prospective parents, particularly those with children currently in Year 6. The Department for Education has given us until January of next year to start hiring staff and admitting students for entry in September and I'm still optimistic that we can meet that deadline.
One does hope Mike isn't forced to shoot Toby's precious School On The River Kwai in the head come January. That would be just *awful*.
The news on stability isn't good elsewhere, either, although principle appears to be making a welcome comeback. Not content with their elevated position as official whipping boys and blame merchants, the Liberal Democrats have risked the Wrath of Toby (who doesn't trust the Lib Dems at all, not least because they're the main local opposition to his ideas) by voting overwhelmingly not to co-operate with the Free Schools programme on the wholly unexceptional and entirely correct localism principle that 'councils must retain oversight of school places funded by the taxpayer'. 'Four-square', forsooth. Lib Dem activists on the side of transparency and accountability, their leadership on the side of bullshit, obfuscation and shifting your ground with the seasons. Evan Harris, hitherto something of a loyalist, emerges with credit here on the side of the activists and local Lib Dems who might find themselves, as in Ealing, in bitter conflict with the Free School lot:
...the former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon who lost his seat to a Conservative challenger in May, urged delegates to back the main motion, claiming the party needed to be "free to fight the Tories at local level".
while Ealing Lib Dems remain unimpressed with Toby:
Under questioning Free School campaigner Toby Young, was unable to indicate if the school would be up and running by September 2011, or indeed where the school would be, or from where the pupils will be drawn from.
Councillor Andrew Steed said: "This level of uncertainty is a worry because of the unknown impact the proposed school will have on the local state schools. Although the Department of Education has given the green light for the proposal to proceed it seems Mr Young still does not know where the school will be located, it could be Ealing, Hammersmith or Hounslow."
Councillor Steed added: "There was also some surprise that Mr Young could not even confirm the criteria for taking on teaching staff, i.e. if they will be qualified teachers. All the evidence is that professional staff deliver the best results and it is frankly shocking that there is even a suggestion that the teachers will not be qualified."
Your Dunning-Kruger educationalist at work, ladies and gentlemen.
P.S. Another Toby factoid for your delectation:
it wasn't until I switched to a grammar that I managed to get three A-levels and win a place at Oxford
Funny that, my sister managed to get three A-levels (straight A's, to boot) and a place at Oxford (where she got a First) all without leaving our rural comprehensive. Perhaps Toby's problem is an innate lack of self-discipline and low self esteem?