There are some in the punditerati whose tendency to reach for the L-word as a first resort betrays their own tendency to dishonesty. And the Telegraph seems to have rather a strong concentration of them, most notably Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, who spent much of the last London Mayoral campaign shouting “liar” at the Labour camp. Gilligan is not alone in his endeavour.
Who might I have in mind? Step forward the loathsome Toby Young, whose latest pronouncement on the subject of Free Schools is notable not for what it does say, but for what it does not. Moreover, Tobes, in his excursion in Standpoint magazine, also manages not to disclose that all may not be well at the West London Free School, the one run by Himself Personally Now.
The article is modestly titled “Tristram Hunt’s Lies About Free Schools”, and Tobes opens by admitting to some problems: “The headmistress of a new primary in Pimlico resigned unexpectedly, a secondary in Derby was judged ‘dysfunctional’ by Ofsted and another in Bradford stands accused of financial mismanagement”. This gives us a superb example of dishonesty by omission.
Future Academies, set up by Tory Schools Minister Lord Nash, which included Pimlico Free School – the one Tobes mentions – in its portfolio, also looks after Churchill Gardens academy, whose head teacher left last month amid accusations of managerial bullying. And the departure of the head at Pimlico Free School was not, as Tobes pretends, unexpected. She wasn’t up to the job. They were warned.
Also not on Tobes’ list of Free School difficulties is the IES Breckland Free School in the Suffolk town of Brandon, which last month lost its head teacher just after six other staff departed. At that time, the school was three department heads short (English and Communications, Maths, and Modern Foreign Languages). Had it been in the state sector, Tobes and pals would have been over it like a rash.
And there is no sign in Captain Bellend’s Standpoint piece about the Discovery New School in Crawley, which has also lost its head teacher and has been served with a “Special Measures Termination Event and Financial Notice to Improve”. Lord Nash, who did the serving, has implied that the school’s pupils will be dumped on the state sector if it closes. How convenient for Free School advocates.
Back at the West London Free School, which parted company recently with the head teacher who featured in the opening ceremony attended by Tobes’ pal Bozza, two teachers have recently departed and the reply to a Freedom if Information request about the circumstances surrounding the event is proving elusive. So when Tobes starts the mudslinging, he is doing so from a very draughty glasshouse.
Still, the propaganda pays Tobes’ bills, so that’s all right, then.