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West London Free School - D In Maths
Toby Young can't take a hint - in fact I doubt he'd take a hint if you tattooed it onto his cranium with a meat-axe, so the long war against Teh Stupid continues. Foremost in the fight are the Local Schools Network, who have been going through the admissions process:
[A] significant percentage of places will be allocated on the basis of proximity
The remaining places will be awarded by lottery, with a majority being allocated to those who live within a three-mile radius of the site, and a smaller number to those within a five-mile radius. In this way, we anticipate that over half the places will be taken up by residents of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Eh? At first sight this doesn't appear to make much sense - what's the difference between 'allocating on the basis of proximity' and 'a lottery...within a three mile radius'? What is a significant percentage?
At least there are some numbers we can play with. Hammersmith and Fulham has an area of 6.3 square miles. A circle 3 miles radius is pi * 3 * 3 = 28 square miles. A circle 5 miles radius is pi * 5 * 5 = 79 square miles. Now, class, assuming 'proximity' means 'in Hammersmith and Fulham', what does this imply for putative parents?
Let's throw some more facts into the mix - many from this report:
% of Hammersmith & Fulham resident pupils who go to school in Hammersmith and Fulham - 53.4% (so Toby is aiming for bang average in a borough that's particularly low on the scale, while claiming that this is his interpretation of 'wholly or mainly local', which is apparently what Free Schools are meant to do. The average for London is 78%).
Area of Greater London = 609 square miles, so Toby's '5 mile radius' is 13% of the entire city. 'Wholly or mainly local' is looking rather stretched, now.
Secondary school pupils in London - 376,464
Secondary school pupils in Hammersmith & Fulham = 5186
Hang on, that's tiny - 60,000 pupils start secondary school a year in London, so on that basis there are only about 825 from Hammersmith & Fulham, so Toby's going to have to attract really quite a lot of them. In his 5 mile radius, and assuming (without much evidence) an even density, there'd be 13% of 60,000, or about 7800 possible applicants per year in the five mile circle. That's a lot of music aptitude tests. Hang on, music aptitude tests?
'10% of children will be admitted based on their aptitude for Music'
Helpfully, Toby Young himself explains this (it's apparently a provision in an early Blair era piece of legislation, at the discretion of the Governors):
The musical aptitude test is going to be carried out by a nearby comprehensive that has a tried-and-tested system in place and consists of a hearing test and nothing else
There is indeed a nearby comprehensive that does this - Cardinal Vaughans, in Holland Park. It's not a particularly typical comp, it's a very heavily subscribed Catholic boys school in a very posh area, and they have this to say about their music aptitude test:
All boys applying for a Music Place will be invited to undertake a music listening test for pitch, melody, texture and rhythm to identify an aptitude in music. The test will be objective and will test only for the subject aptitude concerned, not for ability or any other aptitude or for prior learning or experience in the subject.
There's no indication of whether this test has any scientific basis, nor on how it's marked or whether there's any kind of independent qualification of the results. If there isn't, it strikes me that it's wide open to abuse.
However, the biggest flag that admissions policy might be being fixed around the desired intake is the frankly staggering idea that they run their own applications process, independent of the existing pan-London system that even the academies use. This means that those 7800 possible pupils from as far away as Brent Cross or Heston are going to have to know about the activities of a few idiots in Hammersmith and go to the trouble of putting their names down separately. If you wanted to ensure the intake was from a small geographical area with as little diversity of background as possible, that's pretty much how you'd go about it.