Toby Young's 'free school' faces uphill struggle

17 Jul 2010

 The proposed West London Free School - organised by the writer Toby Young and fellow parents in Ealing - is struggling to find a building in time to open as one of the pioneering 'free schools' from September 2011.

In an appeal to supporters, Mr Young has asked for both ideas on a new site and also for promises of money to help get the charity underway.

In what sounds like a note of desperation, he admits that the new school will not even have to be in the Ealing area as it will not be a local school but will be able to take students from any geographical area.

 The government would dearly like at least one 'free school' to open from September 2011 and the Department for Education has given what Mr Young has described as 'a tentative all-clear' for the school to go ahead.

It's understood the school's admission policy has been approved and it will admit 25% of pupils on the basis of proximity and 75% via a lottery, with no geographical restrictions on the latter group.

In an email to supporters, Mr Young  says he's 'still hoping' to admit the first Year 7 pupils in September 2011. However they are struggling to 'nail down' a site.

The parents' group has made an offer on an unused school building in Ealing in West London but has not heard back from the landlord.

So Mr Young is appealing for help to find a building, preferably a former school, available to lease from this September. However, he says it could equally be an 'unused office block or warehouse'. Nor does it have to be in Ealing as 75% of  admissions will not be based on geographical distance.

Finally - in a further sign of the project's lack of readiness - Mr Young has appealed for pledges of  donations amounting to £5,000 to establish the West London Free School Foundation Trust.



User Comments

Peter Cobrin - 22 Jul 2010

£500K for the New School Network

How can the DfE hand over £500K to the NFN without a formal tender process to support free schools. I read the formal letter from the DfE to NFN with incredulity. Is it legal?

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