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Tuesday 3 June 2014

WLFS – What The Head Was Up To

The West London Free School (WLFS), domain of the loathsome Toby Young, is, as I noted last Saturday, in big trouble. The building work at Palingswick House in Hammersmith appears stalled, parents (plural) are taking their children out of the school, and we still have no official explanation of why former head teacher Sam Naismith left suddenly in mid-term.
Still down there in the Weinbunker, Tobes?

Tobes said of Naismith in the WLFS prospectus “Not only is he a man of commanding authority, but his vision of what a good school should be tallies exactly with ours”. What that meant is becoming clearer by the day: Naismith was running his own “Educational Consultancy” out of the school, I’m told. Two other WLFS staff were, apparently, in on the deal.

This enterprising co-operative then hired out their expertise to other schools, such was the reputation that the WLFS had gained, albeit significantly inflated by favourable publicity in the right-leaning press. All was done on WLFS time. But the rewards for this endeavour did not accrue to WLFS, it seems, but to Naismith and his co-conspirators. How could this have happened?

Ah well. When this creative enterprise was discovered, Naismith had to go. He was duly sacked, or whatever more soothing form of words the Governors may have devised. Tobes, as CEO, was told that the other two also had to go. We do not know their identities as yet. But we do know that two of the staff also left around the same time as Naismith. And one of them appears bang to rights.

That person was Sam Druce, who, as Tom at Boris Watch has noted, was a pupil of Naismith’s and was hired straight from University, where he took a 2:2 in “Sports and Exercise”. His linkedin profile no longer contains his job description from WLFS, but Tom noted it down: “I schedule and oversee the Headmaster’s diary in order to respond to the changing demands of each day” he tells.

Then he expands on this: “I am responsible for the organisation and management of the school budget”. Think about that: maybe he exaggerated, maybe not, but the thought that Tobes’ headmaster was working a flanker, aided and abetted by a personal hire who had control of the budget and was therefore in an ideal position to keep the “consultancy” quiet, is a singularly disturbing one.

On the identity of the third person involved I will say no more, although it seems that the WLFS now has twice as many PE teachers at maths specialists. Meanwhile, Tobes has little time to utilise the expertise of Sally Coates, who has become acting principal, before she goes off to United Learning next September. Perhaps she can persuade him to come clean about what Naismith was up to.

Because, in the meantime, Zelo Street investigations will continue.


Unknown said...

Dear Tim,

Would it be too much to ask that you contact me in the course of your "investigations" into the West London Free School? You have my email address as I contacted you a few weeks ago to clear up some factual errors in an earlier post you'd written, but in case you've mislaid it, it is newfreeschool@gmail.com.

The above post is inaccurate in almost every respect, but in particular:

1. Not a single parent has withdrawn their child from the school as a result of Mr Naismith's departure.

2. Work on Pallingswick House has not stalled. On the contrary, the contractors are due to start the main programme of works shortly with a view to delivering the school next year.

3. It's true that Sam Druce has left the school, but he left entirely of his own accord to take up another job. He was first employed as a hockey coach then, latterly, as Mr Naismith's PA, but he never had any involvement in the school budget.



Tim Fenton said...

Dear Tobes, you also have my email address, yet there was no contact following my post last Saturday. But as you want to talk specifics ...

1 I didn't say they had.

2 The photo evidence in Saturday's post is there for anyone to view, and they will make their own minds up. "Next year" means when? You were supposed to have it all sorted for next September, remember?

3 I am only quoting what Druce said on his LinkedIn profile previously.

I note that the central point made, that of the allegations of a "consultancy" being run out of WLFS, has not been refuted.

Best regards, Tim

Darren said...

I've got a Gmail address. Can I start a free school too?

Unknown said...

Mr. Young,

Since you're in an informational mood, could I trouble you for a run down of all capital expenditure money the WLFSAT has received from the DfE? They say it would cost too much, but they're a big leaden-footed statist bureaucracy I'm sure your legendarily cost-efficient operation can find it, no trouble.

You'll find an FoI request in your inbox shortly.


Tom Barry

Gonzoland said...

Toby Young 3 June 2014 13:11.
Point 1. Of course they haven't withdrawn their children. They don't want to look like idiots do they?

Anonymous said...

don't hold your breath waiting for a reply for captain bellend, tim.

he regularly tosses in a single remark on the comments page of his DT blog but quickly disappears thereafter.

Shawlrat said...

I would like to know exactly what is inaccurate about this blogpost. Let's talk specifics toadmeister - it's our money you're spending.

Anonymous said...

He took up his right to reply and didn't, he won't be back.

'Oh what tangled web we weave' etc etc

WLFS student said...

I am a Student at the West London Free School.

This school is far from perfect but I don't believe it should be criticised in such a narrow-minded way. Tim.F clearly states his opinion and that is fine, every one has the right to their own opinion, no matter how one sided it may be.

School work and school life is a big part of any teenagers life. We go through many many emotional experiences and I personally believe that the WLFS cushions us from the few emotional falls that we often have. We have an amazing pastoral system, honestly inspirational teachers and a reasonably nice environment. It isn't easy to set up a school from scratch in Hammersmith and I honestly think (despite me not approving of a few of Mr Young's decisions) he did a decent job. IT COULD BE SO SO SO MUCH WORSE.

^Mr Young if you are reading this: "WHY DID YOU SET UP A PRIMARY SCHOOL ASWELL!" <---- it is an unnecessary accessory to the main school ... I thought you had your hand full with the main school. Clearly you should have put more effort into improving the secondary school before leaving a job half done and skipping onto the next one.

Yes Mr Naismith's sudden departure raised suspicion in the school too, however, it certainly wasn't a reason for any of the students leaving (like only 2/3 left) - he isn't missed and Mr Jones is good enough.

I know this comment is many months later and I highly doubt there will be a response but there are some things I believe must be clarified.

Love from XXXXX