Toby Young admits he didn’t realise how difficult it would be to make a success of new school

In an interview with Schools Week, writer turned educator Toby Young has admitted that making a success of a new free school was tougher than he had imagined.

The author and broadcaster set up the West London Free School in 2011 and the interview covers his thoughts on the challenges the school has faced and its achievements.

Mr Young said he was preparing to step down from his role as the trust’s chief executive as it expands – it currently also has three primary schools and a sixth form is due to open in September.

“I was very critical of England’s public education system under the last Labour government, and I hadn’t grasped how difficult it is to do better, and to bring about system-wide improvement.

“The last government and this government have achieved a remarkable amount, and I do think the direction of travel is the right direction, but there is no question that it was arrogant of me to believe that just having high expectations and believing in the benefits of a knowledge-based education for all, that those things alone would be enough to create successful schools.”

You can read the full interview at: Profiles: Toby Young, free school chief executive.

Let us know your thoughts on the interview. 

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  1. jackiecassell

    SchoolsImprove I’d assumed this from toadmeister was a joke – teaching the most important, contested & hardest job in the world

  2. DELIOS71

    SchoolsImprove Welcome to the realities of leading a school! Like managing a football team- everyone thinks it is easy!!

  3. ballater6

    SchoolsImprove pity he hadn’t found out first, or asked those who worked in education before squandering tax payers money

  4. ballater6

    SchoolsImprove -Mr young couldn’t afford to send his off spring to private school so he set up Free school-self indulgent and ill advised

  5. toadmeister

    SchoolsImprove I said in interview that doing better than LAs is harder than I thought, but didn’t link that to standing down as CEO 2/3

  6. toadmeister

    SchoolsImprove But our schools are doing brilliantly. I’m standing down cos trust is expanding, not winding down. Can you correct? 3/3

  7. jackiecassell

    toadmeister SchoolsImprove thanks, will read in morning. I’m bog-standard, so interested in this stuff oaios

  8. toadmeister

    SchoolsImprove Our schools are doing brilliantly. I’m standing down cos trust is expanding, not winding down. Can you correct? 3/3

  9. TheFarquharHill

    toadmeister SchoolsImprove How explicitly have they misrepresented you? Do you get how undignified & naive you appear for moaning on?

  10. SchoolsImprove

    toadmeister We did not intend to make that link, we were just flagging the interview. It’s been amended to avoid any confusion.

  11. gov2

    It’s true that what he said in the original article is not what he was widely represented to have said.  My reading of his Trust/school (whatever it’s called) accounts is that as chief executive he got paid £50,000 – £60,000 pa to do less than what governors in normal schools do for free.  Now having done so much to undermine normal schools he confesses to having not properly known what he had been complaining about.

  12. toadmeister SchoolsImprove But you are Chief Executive Officer of the academy trust and its accounting officer.
    Academy trustees have considerable power.  It is they who ultimately make decisions.  Heads may run schools but they only have as much power as trustees are willing to given them.  I’m pleased if the heads of academies in West London Free School Trust are given free rein but many heads of academies in multi-academy trusts find they have less freedom than they enjoyed when under the stewardship of local authorities (which, by the way, don’t ‘control’ their schools).

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