Toby Young quits New Schools Network, citing media pressure
Toby Young has stepped down from his government-funded job as head of a charity supporting new free schools, blaming the pressure of media attention.
The journalist’s decision to leave the New Schools Network follows the controversy that erupted earlier this year when Young was appointed a director of the universities regulator, which catapulted his lurid comments on women and eugenics into the public spotlight.
Young’s resignation as chief executive of the NSN – for which he was paid £90,000 a year according to the charity’s accounts – came after the Guardian revealed the Department for Education’s reluctance to renew the charity’s grant while Young remained at its helm.
In spite of its reservations, the DfE is expected to renew the grant to the NSN, previously worth around £3m, after no other applicants responded to the department’s tender last month, leaving it with little choice.
In a statement posted on its website on Friday, the NSN said: “The trustees of New Schools Network announced that Toby Young has resigned. Toby has concluded that the media attention his continuing presence at the helm of NSN is attracting has become a distraction from the vital work it is doing and, for that reason, he has decided to step down.”
The trustees said it would announce a replacement “in due course,” and concluded: “The trustees are grateful for Toby’s work during his time here and wish him well in his future endeavours.”
The move is Young’s third resignation since the new year, the first being his ill-fated appointment as a non-executive director of the Office for Students, the new higher education regulator.
A former colleague of Young’s said: “Ultimately, the relationship between free schools and Toby was too close to be healthy. He was, certainly in his own view, Mr Free School. It is undoubtedly true that the programme achieved more with him behind it in the early days. Yet go forward eight years and it is also true that his presence is doing more harm than good to the wider free school movement.”