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Thursday 5 June 2014

WLFS – The Seedy Reality

As the loathsome Toby Young continues in position as CEO of the West London Free School (WLFS), more information arrives on Zelo Street regarding events that led to the sudden departure of former head teacher Sam Naismith. It makes awful reading, showing that the misuse of taxpayers’ money was worse than previously revealed, and casts doubt on Tobes’ suitability as a manager.
Time to depart the Weinbunker, Tobes

But let us start with the “consultancy” set up under the aegis of Naismith, which was, I’m told, a hockey academy. It could hardly be otherwise, given the preponderance of qualified players at the school. The identity of the “third man” in this enterprise is believed to be Director of Sport John Smedley. I am informed that he has been asked to leave WLFS, and will do so in the near future.

The pals’ network around Naismith included not only Smedley, who knew him before arriving at WLFS, but also senior master Stanton and teacher Aaron Hudson, part of whose salary, I believe, is paid by Naismith’s hockey club, Barnes. What happens to the latter two after the head’s departure is anyone’s guess. But it is other extra-curricular activities of some in this group that will horrify parents.

My information is that Naismith would, from time to time, use WLFS funds – that means taxpayers’ money, folks – for his sports department to enjoy what were termed “bonding” evenings. Having been thus enriched, those wishing to ingratiate themselves with the head would proceed to a suitable Rub-A-Dub, where they would become Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart.

This demonstrated an ability to, more or less, literally spray public funds up the wall. It got worse: some staff became so well-refreshed, I’m told, that they crashed out on the school premises. On one occasion, it is alleged that the caretaker objected in forthright terms to having to clean up vomit found in Naismith’s study. Small wonder heads have rolled, and continue to roll.

What we have here is a total failure of anyone at WLFS to exercise control over spending, plus excessive behaviour, and of course a range of enterprising but highly irregular extra-curricular activities. The board of governors must take their share of the blame for the sorry state of affairs, but the buck stops with the CEO, the manager. And that person is Toby Young.

Tobes has presided over an apparent taxpayer-funded self-enrichment initiative, and  a taxpayer-funded drinking culture, while staff turnover has been abnormally high, and continues to be so (I am informed that, by the end of the school year, only one teacher of English, Laura Matthews, will be left). The parents, pupils and staff of WLFS deserve competent leadership. And they aren’t getting it.

Toby Young has no alternative. He must resign as WLFS CEO, and do so now


Unknown said...

"Laura Matthews"

She's interesting, according to my WLFS staff spreadsheet, in changing job titles about every three months. I suspect she might be quite good, or at least extremely tolerant, but does seem extremely young for the responsibility. Toby and co. of course have to recruit more teachers every year to keep up with the new intake, not be losing them.

[reminds self to write a blog on the staff turnover wrt being a tiny weeny school]

Shawlrat said...

Sounds like a really "professional" operation to me.

Shawlrat said...

Today - Friday: oh the irony, toadmeister is on BBC daily politics giving his opinion as some sort of expert on education and Islamic extremism .
You really couldn't make it up!!

Unknown said...

Is there no way I can persuade you to check your facts with me before posting Tim?

1. To my knowledge, Sam Naismith at no point set up a "hockey academy" during the course of his employment at the school.

2. Jon Smedley (note spelling) has not been asked to leave the school.

3. Aaron Hudson's salary is paid entirely by the school. At no point has he or any other member of staff had their salary paid by Barnes Hockey Club, either in part or in full. Aaron is not part of any "group", is not the "third", "fourth" or "fifth" man in any "consultancy", has not been involved in any "bonding" evenings. These are all malicious falsehoods. Aaron is an honest, hard-working, excellent PE teacher. Nothing is going to "happen" to him following Sam Naismith's departure. And his future at the school is not "anyone's guess" because if you'd bother to ask me I'd be happy to tell you. He's still an employee of the school and, I hope, will remain one for many years to come.

4. I know nothing about any "bonding" evenings in the sports department, nor any misuse of school funds to pay for such evenings. If you have any evidence of any misuse of school funds please forward it to me at newfreeschool@gmail.com and I will investigate.

5. I know of no instances in which the staff have got drunk and "crashed out" on the school premises, not has the caretaker ever mentioned having to clean up vomit found in the headmaster's office. If he had, I would have investigated because that would be an example of gross misconduct.

6. The school's expenditure is very tightly controlled, not just by me in my capacity as the school's accounting officer, but by the finance director of the Trust, the chair of the finance committee of the school's local governing body and the school business manager. I'd be happy to send you a copy of our Financial Regulations and Scheme of Delegation which sets out our internal procedures. Again, if you have any evidence of the improper use of school funds please forward it to me.

Tim, I'm used to being libelled in the public square – it comes with the territory. But can I ask you to stop libelling members of the school's staff? These malicious falsehoods about a group of dedicated, hard-working professionals have got to stop.

Tim Fenton said...

Haven't you got a letter of resignation to write, Tobes?

rob said...

@ Tim 12:03

Give him a chance - he has still to catch up on your June 6th post and thinking up the plausible deniability excuse; he was on holiday or he was deceived by trusted employees or it such a major concern how was he to keep tabs on a minor detail..........

Nico Servidio said...

I think it'd be nice if people gave the SCHOOL a chance. It's bad enough having to live through the 'politicisation' of it. Probably too much to ask if staff and parents were left to deal with such matters without having to endure constant digs at staff or governors (or CEOs as you put it) for what seem to be largely political reasons.

Natasha Farrant said...

I wonder, Tim Fenton, if you have ever visited WLFS? You might be surprised to discover a happy, serious place of learning. No, it has not all been plain sailing, but it would be polite to give both staff and parents the respect they deserve, rather than inflating problems with what appears to be your own agenda?
Laura Matthews, incidentally, is a highly competent individual, as well as an outstanding teacher of English

Natasha Farrant said...

I wonder if Tim Fenton has ever visited WLFS? If he did, he might be surprised to discover a serious, happy place of learning, not the den of sin he seems to be decrying. Please give parents, staff and pupils the respect they deserve, rather than inflate rumours with your own agenda?
Laura Matthews, incidentally, is a highly committed, competent individual as well as an outstanding teacher.

Anonymous said...

Oh and there was the all expense paid trip for teachers to South Africa,