Everyone needs to be clear what's happening here, so a little background. There is a 'zeitgeist-y' feeling across all welfare services that the old 'top down' professionally defined models of service delivery are falling short. Hence a lot of emphasis on the 'personalisation' of Health and Social Care and of general out rolling of models of greater user and consumer involvement across the piece. Education is not immune to these developments - and nor should it be. Parent controlled schools fit nicely into this zeitgeist, and shouldn't be opposed at all at the level of basic principle.
However, the question of what any school should control, never mind who should control the school, is a bit more complicated. Here we hit that Great British Wall of Silence About the Most Obvious Thing In the World: how class works in an mundane, everyday sense.
The question of school governance, in the abstract, is one that would send most people to sleep. No one chooses a school because it is a Community School, or a Foundation or a Voluntary Aided School or whatever: they choose on the grounds of the curriculum offer, the results and the ethos of the school.
Well, I say 'they choose', but often this isn't the case: the school effectively chooses them through its admissions criteria. Remember, we still have over 150 Grammar Schools in this country, never mind the Church schools, or the way almost any admissions policy can be adopted to manipulate the intake (e.g. there is a vast difference between having a 'distance from school gates' entry criteria depending on where a school is: in a leafy suburb, surrounded by expensive streets, it is selective; if the school is in the middle of a Council Estate you've got a Secondary Modern in the making).
It is for this sort of reason that some of us feel that no school should control its own entry criteria - there has to be an outside body which coordinates entry criteria to prevent unfairness creeping into the system. Traditionally, this has been the local authority. You don't necessarily have to think the LA should run schools, or not all schools anyway, to believe it should carry out this coordinating function. It is perfectly possible to imagine parent controlled schools which exist within such a regime.
But there is another way in which Tony Young and co appear to have found to flout the aim of achieving some sort of rough level playing field: rather than (just) fix the entry criteria - though they have done that as well- they've fixed the actual curriculum offer so it doesn't fit a huge segment of the children who might potentially attend. This is not choice: it is the active and knowing restriction of choice. & it's all about class.
I think more consumer power over welfare services is a good thing - but I don't think that can just be taken as meaning 'let the sharp elbows of the middle classes get their kids to the front of the queue and devil take the hindmost'. I'd be an enthusiastic supporter of any school run by parents - 'the consumer voice' - which had a genuinely comprehensive entry criteria and a genuinely comprehensive curriculum offer.
But what West London Free School is proposing is essentially a way of stealing resources from working class kids for selfish reasons. It's disgraceful.