A Level Sociology and Politics students this term have been engaging with the on-going debate over free schools and their place in the UK education system. To aid them in their thinking, the College arranged for a visit from provocative speaker and free school advocate Toby Young on Wednesday 8th November.

Originally leaving school at the age of sixteen with only one O-level to his name, Toby Young forged his own rather unorthodox path through education, ultimately graduating from Brasenose College, Oxford, with a First in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).

Since then, he has pursued a highly successful career in journalism and has a number of books to his name, including the best-selling How to Lose Friends and Alienate People which was released as a feature-length film in October 2008.

Along with his writing, Toby Young is now equally well known his views on education. He has founded several free schools, including West London Free School, the first in the country, and is Director of the government-funded charity New Schools Network which promotes the creation of more free schools in England.

During his visit to the College, Toby Young gave a fascinating and thought-provoking talk both about his life and about the creation of free schools. Students were challenged to think critically about the issues involved, and to ask questions. This resulted in some healthy political debate which greatly enhanced the students’ understanding.

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