Review of Toby's latest attempt to sink the Free Schools policy before it sets sail here:
The theme of not actually listening to the needs of the community crops up time and again – parents and teachers in the Acton area are rightly concerned that the school might have an exlusionary admissions policy. Young concedes that he hadn’t canvassed the area to find out what kind of schools local residents would like, but blindly charges forward claiming that a “silent majority” support him – in the face of quite a sizeable yet highly vocal minority it seems. This is the kind of thinking that leads to bad policy decisions – ones that are based on someone’s belief of what is the truth, rather than taking time to find out what it is objectively.
Rather well put, I thought. At least one other Free School initiative, in Brandon, Suffolk (near where I grew up and thus mixed up with the bonkers Tory Suffolk County Council, who are actually a fairly good reason to get out of local authority control) are anxious to disassociate from Toby's way of doing things:
With regard to Toby Young's documentary on setting up his Free School: we are approaching ours totally differently & with community support
They also have a site (the existing school is scheduled to close, presumably as a result of SCC's decision to abolish the middle/upper school system I went through). They also have one of the fine postwar school buildings like the one I attended, all big windows and airiness (and aimed, in a way Toby possibly wouldn't approve of, at the lower orders - my school started as a Secondary Modern). It's not, therefore, anything like Toby's Latin-but-no-buildings fest, instead seeming to be genuinely community based. Of course, it's also idiocy - SCC are trying to save public money by removing a tier of schools, doubtless funding the reorganisation by selling off the land for housing, so the DfE will now step in with public money to keep one of them going over their heads. Where's the sense in that? Where's the localism?