West London Free School Opening Ceremony Plans

Michael Gove adds name to list as MPs line up

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Ed Balls Offers to Open the West London Free School

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A question asked in the House of Commons by the new MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Angie Bray, has led to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, announcing that he intends to join Ed Balls, Shadow Education Secretary, at the opening ceremony for the West London Free School.

Mr Balls' offer to open Toby Young's brainchild school - which some assumed had been made in jest - was made during a heated debate on Newsnight a couple of weeks ago.

Angie Bray asked: “I am sure the Secretary of State will know that there are some excellent schools in my constituency, but there is also a fast-growing need for more school places at both primary and secondary level. Does he agree that Toby Young's excellent and well documented campaign for a new free academy school in Acton deserves the fullest support at all levels?”

Michael Gove replied that he had visited some of the superb schools in Ealing and added that “I know that they are currently led by a wonderful team of head teachers.

“I also know, however, that throughout west and south London there are increasing pressures on pupil numbers, and I therefore welcome expressions of interest from everyone who is dedicated to improving state education and creating new comprehensive school provision.

“Toby Young is one of the most fluent advocates of opening up the supply of state education. I note that [Ed Balls] said that he welcomed Mr Young's proposal, and that he hoped to be present to open the school in due course. I hope to join him then.”

We asked Toby Young whether there was any further information on the setting up of the West London Free School since the plans for the opening ceremony appear to be taking shape.

He told us: "I'm looking forward to seeing both Michael Gove and Ed Balls at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and I hope Angie Bray and Stephen Pound will join them. I was delighted Ed Balls came out so firmly in favour of the West London Free School on Newsnight. He's the Shadow Schools Secretary so his endorsement amounts to a clear signal from the Labour Party that Ealing Council should get behind our proposals.

"I'm hoping to discuss the new school with both Julian Bell and Patricia Walker at the soonest opportunity."

June 11, 2010