Events at the West London Free School (WLFS), formerly the domain of the loathsome Toby Young, have been proceeding apace since the recent appointment of its third head teacher in as many years. Quite apart from all the new teachers, there has been a significant reduction in the number of governors, with one notable casualty among those expended.
Is Tobes no longer in the Weinbunker?
Back in May this year, there were fifteen governors, including Honorary Trust President John McIntosh, and Tobes. Now there are seven, plus two parent governors just appointed. And two of the casualties are McIntosh and the loathsome Tobes, who has for some reason not seen fit to let the world know the good news. Nor has the change been announced by his pals at the Evening Standard.
What has happened to the governors’ set-up over the past three months is not yet known – as ever, email address at the right if you have any information you’d like to share in confidence – but there was a clue in the interview that Tobes gave to the Standard last month. He was described throughout as the WLFS’ “founder”, but not referred to as CEO, which post he took up in January.
The upheaval gives the impression of having been something of a victory for parent power: the new chair of governors is Ian Hunter, who was the school’s first parent governor. Also noticeable is the absence of anyone representing the WLFS Academy Trust. What, then, has happened to them? Is the Trust still extant? Is WLFS still independent? And what is happening to all that building work?
New head Hywel Jones has already taken the decision to cut back the residential and overseas trips taking place during term time. He has also told parents that “the number of after-school clubs will be reduced, all games and sports fixtures will take place in the last two periods of the day and the staff will make sure that children who miss lessons will be properly caught up”.
This suggests that too much emphasis was being put on sports and trips away at the expense of looking after what the school is supposed to be doing – teaching its pupils. Jones tactfully tells that this “is part of a general rebalancing of the school that has been initiated by Dame Sally Coates and which I intend to continue”, which underscores the previous surfeit of sports staff.
So what has happened to Toby Young? He has been uncharacteristically silent of late, especially about the WLFS. Is he still CEO? Has he stepped down, or been prevailed upon so to do? Will that £9 million plus office block be converted to classrooms in time for the new academic year? What’s happening at Palingswick House? So many questions, but I suspect there will be answers soon.
And most remiss of Tobes not to say he was no longer a governor. So I will.