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Tuesday 28 April 2015

Toby Young Is Two Years Late

Regular Zelo Street readers will recall the saga of the loathsome Toby Young and his West London Free School (WLFS), which should have relocated by 2013 to Palingswick House on King Street in Hammersmith. This event did not come to pass; indeed, in the intervening period, taxpayers (that means you and I, whether we want to or not) had to stump up more than £9 million for an office block on Bridge Avenue.
Behold a role model for Free School applicants everywhere

This purchase, with WLFS having to compete on the open market to secure the building, which has very little outside space, was clearly intended to buy not just space, but time. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the work to adapt Palingswick House was not exactly racing ahead, and last year, when WLFS had its hiatus and had to remove its head teacher mid-term, the building was still not ready.

But Tobes has now told parents and carers that all is now well: part of WLFS will move into Palingswick House in September this year, which is two years later than first intended. So that’s that, is it? Well, no it isn’t: despite Tobes telling that “work got underway before Christmas and Willmott Dixon report that they are ahead of schedule … the school will move into Palingswick House in phases rather than all at once”, all is not finalised.

He continues “The plan is for 240 pupils to re-locate at the beginning of Michaelmas term, with the rest following just after Christmas” (one side-effect of Tobes’ Very Wonderful “Classical Liberal” education is that it’s too bleedin’ common to say “Autumn” like everyone else), but then cautions “However, if the refurb isn’t finished, Willmotts will install temporary classrooms in front of Palingswick House”.

This may be a tad optimistic: the planning application has indeed gone in for eight temporary structures - classrooms and toilet facilities - to be installed at the Palingswick House site, but there is no sign of it having been accepted. There is also the problem that “The proposed development adjoins a conservation area and may affect its character or appearance”. So all may not be plain sailing, as well as being more than two years late.

On top of all that, there has been a requirement to remove contaminants from the area, which will not have been performed as a charitable act by whoever did the work. This brings us back, once again, to the question of how much this is costing (the easier part, who is paying, is of course, once again, the taxpayer). Perhaps the Freedom of Information Act may prove useful in this regard.

Meanwhile, Tobes takes any and every chance to tell anyone who will listen that Free Schools are A Very Wonderful Thing, while managing not to mention all the extra millions that have had to be shelled out to keep his own establishment show on the road. One should bear in mind his adverse comment on the previous Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme: this, it was concluded, was wasteful.

One look at the Palingswick House saga suggests Tobes is in a very draughty glasshouse.


Stephen said...

"Michaelmas term"?

Private Eye are going to have fun with that, aren't they? Or have they already?

Shawlrat said...

That would be Michaelmas as in "taking the Michaelmas"

Anonymous said...

Add another to your list.

Khalsa Academy Leeds have been given an old school to open a free school. The property has been stolen off the Leeds taxpayers, but it isn't ready. The school is currently set up in the local Gurdwarda which is 4 miles from the property they have been gifted.

The school is so popular it received a grand total of 8 (eight) applications and 2 of these were from outside Leeds!

22 families close to where the new school should be have had this school forced on them and they will now have to travel 4 miles. I'm sure if parents didn't mind travelling 4 miles they would have chosen schools 4 miles away.

We have been done over again. Millions given to an organisation who convinced Gove there was huge demand for a Sikh ethos free school. It appears there isn't.

rob said...

No pencils yet and no books
Contaminates give Toby dirty looks
At Palingswick House
Building site, parents grouse
No teachers there now ain't that a drag
No one to tell yer "put out that fag"
This school's out for summer
May be it's forever
School's still in bits and pieces

It's in pieces, the school's in pieces
While Tobias faffs around and makes those promises
It's in pieces, school's still in pieces
The taxpayer has to make more sacrifices

It's in pieces, the school's in pieces
The staff have had problems of their own
It's in pieces, school's still in pieces
Some discordant seeds have already been sown

Time goes by and goes so slow....(oh yeah?)
It just doesn't seem true, only just a few years ago
Toby said it'd be ready, yet "no can do"

Anonymous said...

After hearing a story recently that Tobes inappropriately touched two female members of staff at the Christmas Party I wonder if he used the photo displayed here in his potential chat up line!