Who’s behind the West London Free School?

We know that the West London Free School is being driven by Toby Young. He uses his blog in the Daily Telegraph to publicize, propagandize and proselytize the joys of owning one’s own school. The Hon Tobes rails against any suggestion that his school will signal the start of privatized education or that his school is being set up to appease the ambitions of pushy parents.

So who else is behind the free school?  I’ve discovered that a company called E C Harris is to build the school…well, refurbish the building in which the school is to be housed. EC Harris is already involved in building 3 other free schools in Hammersmith & Fulham.

However the most interesting thing about all of this is the names on the school’s  steering committee. Looking down the list, we see the usual assortment of economists, lawyers and corporate types. One name that stands out from all the others is Caroline Ffiske.  She is described as

a full-time mother looking after two girls under five. She grew up in New Zealand, trained as an economist, and worked for six years in the New Zealand public service before moving to London. In London she worked for ten years as a management consultant. Caroline also served for four years as a councillor on Hammersmith and Fulham council, serving the North End ward.

Caroline is passionate about the West London free school bringing choice to parents. She will work tirelessly to ensure that parents from all backgrounds and walks of life are aware of the school, its ethos, and the opportunities it creates for them and their children.

What the WLFS haven’t told you is that Caroline Ffiske is a former councillor and is the partner of Hammersmith & Fulham Tory councillor and Daily Mail journalist, Harry Phibbs. In the 1980’s Phibbs was a member of the Federation of Conservative Students.

Phibbs earned himself a place in the Tory Boy hall of fame when he took time out of school to distribute pro-dissident and multilateralist literature in Red Square. Not surprisingly, he was arrested. More surprisingly, he was soon released

I’m willing to bet that he also wore, or had in his possession, a Hang Nelson Mandela T-shirt too. They all did, surely?

Now I’m not  saying that because Ffiske is on the steering committee that this indicates that there is corruption involved in the process. However the fact the she was once a Tory councillor and is currently involved with someone who now sits as a councillor is interesting. One would imagine that because Ffiske sits on the committee she can use her relationship with Phibbs to ensure the building of the school occurs without much of a hitch.

H&F Conwatch blog notes that for a school that makes Latin such a huge selling point,  Young’s own knowledge of Latin is faulty.  H&F Conwatch provides this link,

To go through these one by one, I have to say possibly surprisingly that I accept the importance of studying Latin in a grammar school. It has served me well in so many ways and I am grateful for my school drumming Latin into my consciousness. However, that the Lyric presentation included the byline “Nulli Secundis” bemused me because it is incorrect Latin and meaningless except to those who know Latin well enough to correct it for themselves. The expression is “Nulli Secundus” or even more properly “Nulli Secundus / Nulli Secunda” and means “second to none” – with the -us ending denoting masculine and the -a ending denoting feminine

With that kind of oversight, one wonders what the rest of the curriculum will look like.



Filed under Education, Society & culture

8 responses to “Who’s behind the West London Free School?

  1. What on earth is the matter with these people?

    • They’re a mix of pushy parents and neoliberals who want to see a totally privatised educational system (by the back door). What strikes me about this proposed school is the way in which certain members of the council have pledged their support. Greenhalgh has gone on record as saying “the council will do all it can to help the West London Free school find a home”.

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  5. Tera

    Knowing or learning Latin is an advantage to every student. It is from whence many European languages come. The proof of the school’s worth will be in 5 to 6 years after its 1st GCSE results are shown. Even then, we must still give it a chance to develop. It think is will be excellent for the pupils. I am extremely envious of them. ‘Sapere aude’ Latin for “dare to be wise”, or more precisely “dare to know” or even ‘dare to be knowledgeable’, ‘dare to learn’, ‘dare to seek and search’, ‘dare to find-out’, ‘dare to be curious’, ‘dare to be inquisitive’, Why Not?

    • Latin is only useful if you happen to be going into law, the Catholic church or, possibly, medicine. But I’m not against Latin being taught in schools, though Tobes’s grasp of Latin is rather wanting. A case of foot in mouth?

      What I find interesting about your comment is the way it misses the entire point of the article.

  6. Pingback: Tobes’ Free school gets free publicity courtesy of the BBC | Guy Debord's Cat

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