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Saturday 3 May 2014

Toby Young’s Right Wing Bias Slip

The travails of Michael “Oiky” Gove’s Free Schools revolution have continued this past week, with Warwick Mansell’s suggestion that another had been rated “Inadequate” by Ofsted proved true as news emerged that The Hawthorne’s Free School on Merseyside had indeed got the lowest possible rating. And the saga of Oldfield School, in Bath, is, as they say, ongoing.
I wouldn't celebrate just yet if I were you, Tobes

But the most significant news, and potentially most worrying to all those parents in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham ambitious for their children, is that there is to be yet another change of head teacher at none other than the West London Free School, the brainchild of the loathsome Toby Young. WLFS opened its doors in 2011. So that’s a third head teacher in three years.

Colour me unconvinced, because I am: this appears to be at least the tenth teacher departure from WLFS since it opened. Moreover, it seems the impression was given by the departing head teacher that his predecessor was still very much involved, despite “moving upstairs”, but he, too, has since departed. Why there is such a high turnover of staff is worrying, but Tobes’ advert for another head is worse.

The West London Free School is an all-ability secondary school that asks every child to do at least eight academic GCSEs or IGCSEs” it begins. Does this mean “study at least eight subjects to GCSE level”? If so, that is how the text should read. One might have expected the Hon Toby Daniel Moorsom Young, who took a First in PPE at Oxford, to have a more coherent grasp of the English language.

And, as the man said, there’s more: WLFS “takes children from across the local community and gives them a classical liberal education”. Political interference klaxon sounding long and loud on that one. Why so? Tobes, who is an ardent supporter of the Tory Party, describes himself as a “Classical Liberal”. Indeed, the label is another way for the right to reclaim the word “Liberal” for themselves.

Perhaps Tobes is unaware just how loaded that remark is: describing the kind of education on offer at the school over which he presides in the same terms as his political orientation suggests a disturbing and only slightly illegal slanting of the curriculum. No sensible school administrator should even suggest such a move. Did he not get someone else to read through the advert before placing it?

And that is not an isolated slip: Tobes tells that the successful candidate will “Be committed to a classical liberal education” (mind you, he also wants the new head to have “flare [sic] and dynamism”). Perhaps, in the interests of clarity and openness, Tobes would like to explain his choice of an expression that means “right-wing” when it comes to the kind of job from which that sort of thing should be absent.

Then he can also explain why there is such a high turnover of staff. We’re waiting.


Anonymous said...

Liberal Education is not a Tory label, it has a specific meaning:


Anonymous said...

|Liberal Education is a term with a specific meaning that seems correctly used in this context. Please try using Google next time:


Shawlrat said...

He's silent for once - please don't provoke him!!

Tim Fenton said...

For those two anonymous commenters I would point out that (a) Tobes specifically used the term "Classical Liberal", and (b) this happens to be exactly the same as his description of his political orientation, that being firmly towards the Tory Party.

Please try to engage brain before commenting next time, @2!

rob said...


To burn unsteadily or to bring back 70s fashion?
Either way not really Michael Gove's passion?

Gonzoland said...

'...with 10 applicants for every [time we] place [an advert for Headteacher].

David Beaumont said...

I largely agree with you but your own, crucial, sentence in this piece is unclear:

"Why there is such a high turnover of staff is worrying, but Tobes’ advert for another head is worse."

You don't set out or discuss here 'why' there is such a high turnover (and I'd like to know why indeed). But 'the fact that' there is such a high turnover is certainly worrying and isn't that what this sentence should have said?

But to pursue the point nonetheless raised properly; is there any clarity about 'why' there is such a high turnover?