West London Free School
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The West London Free School claims to offer children a "classical liberal" education. The school describes this as expecting "every pupil to study a core of academically rigorous subjects, regardless of background or ability, but with plenty of art, music, drama and sport thrown in". On its website it states that it is a school "with high expectations, strong discipline and an academically rigorous curriculum but which is open to all, regardless of income, ability or faith."
The school was formally opened by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in September 2011 and is currently home to 480 pupils. It received over 1,000 applicants for its last 120 places, making it one of the most oversubscribed taxpayer-funded schools in England.
The school's first headteacher was Thomas Packer, who served in post from September 2011 to January 2013, before becoming Education Director of the charitable trust that set up the school. Sam Naismith, a former England hockey coach, was then Headteacher from January 2013 until May 2014. Dame Sally Coates, ex-principal of Burlington Danes Academy, looked after the school while a permanent head was chosen. Hywel Jones was appointed as headteacher from September 2014. Jones was formerly an assistant headteacher at St. Mary's Catholic School in Bishop’s Stortford.
In 2013 the West London Free School Primary was opened, starting with two Reception classes of 30 pupils each. In 2014, the West London Free School Academy Trust opened the Earls Court Free School Primary, which is currently co-located with the West London Free School Primary, but will move to Earls Court in 2020.
The secondary school is currently based in Cambridge Grove, Hammersmith, but is planning to make its permanent home in Palingswick House on King Street. In May 2014 the school purchased an office block in Bridge Avenue for £9.25 million. This building will become the school's sixth form centre. From September 2014 the school has been operating across multiple sites with the West London Free School Primary and Earls Court Primary Free School also using the Cambridge Grove site.
In addition to criticism of the free school concept generally, the West London Free School was criticised in The Guardian for hoping to make its permanent site Palingswick House in Hammersmith, a building then occupied by a number of community groups. Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter added his voice to the criticism, arguing that "local people are against the plans", and stating that the school was "ousting 22 charities and a school for severely disabled children in its rush to open".
In response, Toby Young pointed out that Palingswick House was listed for disposal by Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council long before the West London Free School came into existence and, had the school not subsequently expressed an interest in it, it would likely have been sold off to a property developer and possibly demolished. There hasn't been a school for disabled children in Palingswick House for at least 50 years.
Peter Winter, the ex-headmaster of Latymer Upper School, criticised the proposal to base the West London Free School at Palingswick House, a neighbouring property, on the grounds that increased traffic to the area might threaten pupil safety. However, the current head of Latymer Upper School, David Goodhew, has been more supportive.
The school has been accused of being unrepresentative of the local community, but these charges have been rebutted by Young who has pointed out that approximately 25 per cent of the pupils are on free school meals.
- The West London Free School has crossed the Rubicon The Telegraph
- The Free School The Independent article
- School information London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
- West London Free School Prospectus
- Paton, Gaeme (10 April 2013). "Nine-in-10 of Coalition's free schools oversubscribed". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- Anna Davis (6 May 2014). "Toby Young's free school loses another headteacher". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Dame Sally to the rescue: headteacher helps flagship free school whose head suddenly left". Get West London. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- Anna Davis (15 July 2014). "Toby Young: 'Letting children run wild and play is romantic rubbish that entrenches inequality'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- West London Free School gets glowing end of term report from Ofsted
- "Welcome to the West London Free School Primary". West London Free School. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- "West London Free School announces primary plans". GetWestLondon. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- Alix Culbertson (22 November 2013). "Toby Young's Trust gets permission for free school at Earls Court". GetWestLondon. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- Anna Davis (8 May 2014). "Toby Young's free school buys £9million office block". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Dame Sally Coates Steps In at West London Free School". HammersmithToday. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- Vasagar, Jeevan (17 January 2011). "Free school plan comes at a price for voluntary groups". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- www.andyslaughter.co.uk, February 16th, 2011 Retrieved March 2012
- Murray, Janet (15 February 2011). "Anti-free school campaigners seek more transparency". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- Hodges, Dan (24 February 2011). "Private school head does not want West London Free School as a neighbour/". Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- September 4th, 2014 Retrieved September 2014 2012
- Official website
- West London Free School Primary
- West London Free School Foundation Trust, Registered Charity no. 1138194 at the Charity Commission