Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Thursday 19 July 2012

Toby Declares Victory

[Update at end of post]

He failed to turn up at the so-called Rally Against Debt – an event he commended to anyone who was listening – but on one subject, you have to hand it to the loathsome Toby Young, and that is his commitment to education. Not only has he preached the virtues of “free schools”, he has worked to get such an enterprise started up, and has participated in its governance.

Gosh, am I someone's hero?

The West London Free School opened its doors last year, and since that time Tobes has been uncharacteristically restrained about its progress. This I find to be A Very Good Thing Indeed, because there must have been serious temptation from across the political spectrum to either crow loudly, or defend stoutly. To do so would have been utterly pointless, so he has kept his own counsel.

Why so? Well, what all other schools are judged upon, and one reason for the movement to establish “free schools”, is not three Rs, but one, that R being Results. There would be no results, no end product, no means to tell whether the new school was good, bad or indifferent, until at least a year had passed. Therefore there was no point in taking to the airwaves in the meantime.

But now that first year has drawn to a close, and so Tobes has something to report. Or does he? Let’s have a look at the piece he has penned for the Maily Telegraph and check it out. “My first free school has passed the test – now for the next one” it declares. There is talk of Bozza opening the place, uniforms, Latin (no, I won’t “decline Romani”, thanks) and much union bashing.

And there is a typically on-message sub-heading: “Motivated teachers and committed pupils are turning Education Secretary Michael Gove’s vision into a reality”. But something is missing. There is no news of that R-word. Still, nil desperandum, eh Tobes? It must be there somewhere. “All the children have taken Latin this year and they’ve all got a lot out of it”.

Nope, that isn’t about results, either. But readers do learn that a nearby school is also now teaching Latin, and Tobes uses good Roman terms like Cohort. I can almost imagine him with one of those daft helmets and a stick saying “SPQR” at the top, although not with “LUTON FC” on the reverse. Young bangs on about how many applications there have been for places. But still nothing about results.

I’m sure Tobes and his fellow governors have merited an A for effort, and that the teaching staff is at least as keen as at any nearby school, but he knows full well that the reasoning behind the “free school” concept is that results were supposedly not good enough elsewhere. So if we’re to know that this concept is better than the previous status quo (yeah, more bloody Latin), we need to see some results.

Otherwise, all that we see is Toby Young congratulating Himself Personally Now.

[UPDATE 1505 hours: Toby Young has responded via Twitter - for which my thanks - and has confirmed "We won't have any results for a few years yet". There's an honest bloke. He also pointed out that he did not write the headline, which gives him the extra cachet of writing for a paper that still employs people to do that sort of thing]

No comments: