The loathsome Toby Young is in a terrible quandary: Free Schools, it seems, are not as popular as he, and no doubt his great hero Michael “Oiky” Gove, would have us believe. What is causing this disturbance in the Tory Education Force? Perhaps it is all down to Himself Personally Now: “Do people really hate free schools – or do they just hate me?” he muses as he wrestles with, er, nobody else.
Still stuck in the Weinbunker, Tobes?
To tackle this dilemma, Tobes does what comes naturally: he shoots the messenger, and then trowels on his adherence to Olbermann’s Dictum (“the right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”). His attention was drawn to the negative view of Free Schools by Mike Smithson of Political Betting fame, so he dismisses him as “a left-wing gadfly”. Stay classy, Tobes.
Then he thinks aloud how those wonderful Free Schools can have attracted such negative publicity, given how popular he thinks they are. Tobes clearly needs his memory refreshing, so let me provide three examples: King’s Priory School on Tyneside mired in creationism allegations, and King’s Science Academy in Bradford getting its head teacher arrested on fraud charges are two.
And then there is Parkfield Free School in Bournemouth, or rather soon not to be in Bournemouth, as it’s moving to the Airport, which is well out of town. But Tobes can point to his own West London Free School (WLFS). Or can he? Just how wonderful WLFS is can be seen from a number of posts on Zelo Street recently (see HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE).
So it should be no surprise that public perception of Free Schools has been decidedly negative. Whatever is Tobes to do? Simples. He can turn it into a sob story: it’s all a personal attack on poor ol’ him. “The first question I asked was: ‘Is it me?’ I’ve spent four years relentlessly promoting free schools – I’ve helped set up three – and I clearly haven’t been doing a good job” he muses.
Well, it’s rather obvious that Tobes hasn’t been doing a good job when you look at what has gone off on his watch as WLFS, but, as the man said, there’s more: “Has my obnoxious personality doomed the policy? When I was at Oxford I described myself as having ‘negative charisma’ – I only had to walk across a crowded room in which I knew nobody and nobody knew me and already I’d made ten enemies”.
Tobes’ deeply unpleasant nature undoubtedly has something to do with it: perhaps he could cut down on farting in crowded spaces. After all, it wasn’t a real one in the Revenge Of The Pink Panther lift scene. But seriously, there is a very good reason why the public has a negative impression of Free Schools, and that is because they are perceived as an enormous waste of public money.
With many facing a decline in their living standards, that’s not good enough.