Saturday, 4 December 2010

Toby Young looks to EC Harris to set-up Free School

According to an article in It claimed Toby Young's Free School has awarded Built Asset Consultancy firm EC Harris the contract to set-up his Free School including the SchoolcGovernance framework

The Story from says:

"EC Harris has won contracts to work on three of the government’s flagship free schools

EC Harris has won contracts to work on three of the government’s flagship free schools, including journalist Toby Young’s free school in west London.

The consultant will provide educational advice, recruit staff and set up the governance for Young’s free school; help with the business case for the I-Foundation Hindu primary school in Leicester; and design the King’s Science Academy in Bradford.

The contracts all start immediately and are expected to finish in September 2011, the target date for the opening of the government’s first 16 free schools"

My own view is, whilst it seems sensible to employ consultants to project management the Free school build, asset management and help with the recruitment process I am not convinced getting the same commercial firm to set-up School governance is such a great idea. Surely there should be checks and balance in any School Governance model and the poacher/gamekeeper saying comes to mind.


I emailed to Toby Young today to ask him to comment on the story in the article.

Toby says the article is "slightly misleading. Although EC Harris is managing all aspects of the project save for the site and ICT. But they're very light touch. There's been no attempt to impose an education template or a governance model. They're working with us to help us realise our vision but it remains very much our vision"

"On the governance specifically the only advice we've received is from a solicitor employed by EC Harris"

"How we set up our Board of Governors, who we appoint as Governors and how the school is governed going forward is and will remain the sole responsibility of the West London Free School"

Thanks for setting the record straight Toby!


  1. ... and who pays them? Or do they work for free in the hope of jam tomorrow?

  2. Toby Young told me that the Department of Education hired EC Harris so I assume they are also picking up the bills.

    I am sure a freedom of information request would find out.