The loathsome Toby Young finally bowed out as CEO of the West London Free School Academy Trust at the end of December. This news, and the extended apologia sent to parents, does not seem to have made the mainstream press. But, as a copy of the letter sent to parents has arrived on Zelo Street, readers can view the pearls of Tobes’ wisdom for themselves - along with the confirmation that he was indeed eased out.
Under the heading “Ian Hunter appointed CEO of the West London Free School Academy Trust”, he tells “I’m writing to let you know that Ian Hunter has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the West London Free School Academy Trust. Ian will already be known to many of you. In 2012, when his daughter started at the secondary school, he became a parent governor and, from 2013, he has served as the secondary’s chair of governors and a director of the Trust”. And there is more.
“He deserves no small part of the credit for the secondary’s extraordinary success and since last September he has served as the Trust’s Development Director. As I said in my letter dated 29th October, I have accepted a job as director of a free schools charity. This feels like a safe time to be handing over the reins. We now have a fantastic team of executives working for the Trust, as well as strong leaders in all of our schools, not to mention exceptional classroom teachers and support staff”.
Tobes has been made director of the New Schools Network, ostensibly a charity, but backed by Government funds. It lobbies for more Free Schools - yes, the Government is paying for someone to lobby it, but not a peep from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, who went after Labour for the same alleged offence - and helps with the application process. So, as with his school, we are paying Tobes’ salary. But back to the letter.
“In addition, the secondary is in its permanent home, we’ve just successfully opened the sixth form, as well as a third primary, and our maiden GCSE and KS1 results were excellent”. The WLFS’ GSCE results put the school either joint fourth, or fifth, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham league table. The school, I’m reliably informed, also did poorly in the value added category. That’s important, as the extra start-up funding will end soon.
Meanwhile, Tobes wasn’t finished yet: “Finally, we have a strong board of directors led by our Chairman Cosmo Lush and experienced governors overseeing the schools. As I said in my last letter, helping to set up these schools has been one of the highpoints of my life. I now have two children at the secondary, with another two to follow, so I’ll still be very much involved. I will remain on the board of the Trust and continue to participate in all the key decisions”. He’s not being removed, deposed or anything like that, honestly!
And on he drones, finally introducing his successor: “Ian was educated at Bristol, Warwick and Oxford Universities and has worked as a business consultant for 25 years, including working on projects for universities and academy trusts. He has three children at the secondary school and I am confident that, with Ian at the helm of the Trust, all four schools will continue to go from strength to strength. I look forward to keeping in touch”.
At which point, seasoned Tobes watchers may notice that Ian Hunter, although undoubtedly a good candidate and someone who will do the job well, is not the kind of applicant Tobes described in his recent interview with Laura McInerney.
Back last May his ideal successor would have been “ideally, an ex-headteacher or someone who has already run a medium-sized academy trust or someone who has experienced a growing comparable business”. But it turns out that he is being replaced by one of his fellow Governors. So he is effectively being deposed.
Why that might be can be gauged by looking at what has already been published from the minutes of a recent meeting of the Trust running his school. It looked for all the world as if Tobes was having to be told by others at the meeting how to do his job.
What can be concluded with a high degree of certainty is that Tobes would rather not have the contents of his valedictory letter made public - otherwise he would have done so himself. The reality is that he really has been eased out, the WLFS faces a future where the Trust must grow or face serious sustainability problems, and all that free and usually favourable publicity has been replaced by the cold winds of reality.
Toby Young was christened Captain Bellend. That is because … he’s a bellend.