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Toby Young
Wednesday 3rd October 2012

The West London Free School is expanding


As the co-founder of the West London Free School [www.wlfs.org] – a four-form entry secondary in Hammersmith – I’ve had plenty of arguments about the pros and cons of the coalition’s education reforms. After three years, I’ve concluded that the strongest argument for free schools is that they provide a protected space within the taxpayer-funded sector where teachers and educationalists can try out new things – the research and development wing of state education, if you like. By allowing schools like the WLFS to innovate and experiment – and monitoring the results – we can eventually discover more effective ways of teaching and learning and, by extension, drive up standards across the board.

Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all the responses to this, from ‘You shouldn’t experiment with children’s lives’ to ‘There’s plenty of innovation going on in community schools already’. Perhaps the best rebuttal is that the population of one free school is too small – and too atypical – to draw any meaningful conclusions from a single trial.

My intention is not to get into that debate here. Rather, I want to tell you about the experiment that’s currently being conducted at the WLFS and which we will shortly extend to a new primary school. (To read more, click here.)

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