Disturbing news has arrived on Zelo Street regarding goings-on at the West London Free School (WLFS), the domain of the loathsome Toby Young, where a high turnover of staff, prevalent since the school opened in 2011, continues. This heightened turnover extends to head teachers: Thomas Packer was “kicked upstairs” and then left completely. Now his successor has gone, too.
Something unpleasant concealed in the cellar?
Sam Naismith is still shown as Headmaster on the school’s website. But, it seems, those subscribing to the Good Schools Guide have been informed that he “left abruptly in May 2014”. Have a think about that. A head teacher departing other than at year end is eyebrow-raising; to have one leave suddenly in mid-term is cause for significant concern. My informant is, indeed, concerned.
That the school was advertising for another head teacher had already been picked up by this blog, but the description of Naismith’s departure – “retirement for health and family reasons” – is slightly sinister, especially as it suggests that all may not be well. I am also informed that “everyone’s been sworn to secrecy”. Anyone more inclined to freedom of information may contact me – email address at right.
The reason that openness may be the best way of shining a light on what is going on at WLFS is that I am informed the true reasons for Naismith’s departure are “very bad”. However that phrase translates, it is most likely A Very Good Thing that the information is put into the public domain – given that Tobes’ pride and joy is being paid for with taxpayers’ money.
I can reveal that the source of my information, while remaining necessarily anonymous, is genuine, reliable, and close enough to the school to be credible. What is more, I am also advised that Tobes and his Governors, rather than coming clean about what is going on, have for the past week been engaged in a media damage limitation exercise in order to hush it all up.
It may not have occurred to Toby Young that, when it comes to the spending of public funds, openness and transparency is not something that can be demanded of others, but not when your particular domain comes under scrutiny. And, while he’s explaining why the WLFS lost its head in what appear to be mysterious circumstances, he might tell why the associated Primary lost its head at Easter.
I expect that The Usual Suspects in the press are already on Tobes’ case, which means that papers like the deeply subversive Guardian will spill the beans in the next few days. It’s understandable that Tobes and his Governors want to protect the reputation that WLFS has already achieved, and don’t want to frighten off prospective parents. But, again, it’s our money he’s spending.
It’s time to come clean, Toby Young. Before someone else does the job for you.