The Evening Standard is reporting that the new headteacher at Toby Young’s West London Free School has slashed the number of trips and after-school clubs, saying that staff need to focus on teaching…
Hywel Jones has told parents that he is undertaking a “general rebalancing” of the school by reducing extra-curricular activities and making sure children catch up on work.
The Hammersmith school was one of the first free schools when it opened in 2011 and aimed at parents who wanted a traditional, academic education for their children.
Toby Young, who set up the school, admitted today that its focus on extra-curricular activities had been “too ambitious”.
All children were expected to take part in four, hour-long after-school clubs a week in subjects including Mandarin, Spanish and chess. Mr Jones said year 10 students will now be expected to take part in just one club a week. Pupils in years seven and eight are still expected to complete three hours of after-school clubs a week.
Mr Jones, the school’s third headteacher in three years who will start full time in September, has also banned overseas and residential trips during term time, and said that all sports fixtures must take place in the last two periods of the day.
In a letter to parents, he said: “I know that the pupils get a huge amount out of these activities, but organising them takes up a great deal of the staff’s time. I’d like the staff to be able to focus on what it is we’ve hired them to do, which is teach your children.” Mr Jones told the Standard that the changes were “minor” and had been welcomed by parents.
Mr Young said: “I think the secondary school was trying to do a little bit too much in replicating the kind of extra-curricular programme you would find in good independent boarding schools, and at the same time hoping to get outstanding academic results. That’s a little bit too ambitious.”…
Do you have sympathy with the position of Hywel Jones here – is it sometimes the case that too many trips or extra-curricular activities can be a distraction from teaching? Please let us know how you see it in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!