Local Talk

New Secondary schools for Richmond!

(1000 Posts)
BayJay Wed 23-Feb-11 21:08:36

Richmond Council recently published a White Paper outlining plans for Secondary education in the borough (http://cabnet.richmond.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=23719). They want new 6th forms in every school, and would need to decrease current Yr7 intakes to accomodate that. To offset those decreases they are talking about creating two new secondary schools. One of those new schools would be a Roman Catholic school.

The Roman Catholic community in the borough are currently disadvantaged by the "link" system (http://www.st-marys.richmond.sch.uk/Newsletter%20Link%20letter%20for%202011%20links%20(2).pdf). Because the Catholic primaries are not linked to any secondaries in the borough, their children tend to go to a combination of out-of-borough Catholic secondaries (which are mostly rated as Outstanding), grammar schools and private schools, though some of the girls do go to Waldegrave, which is not part of the link system. Note that there is no reason, in principle, why the Catholic Secondaries couldn't be linked to local community schools, but because many of their children have other options, they simply don't meet the "25% rule" required to form a link. (See an example set of transfer figures at http://www.st-james.richmond.sch.uk/Admin/Uploads/Docs/StJamesSchool_Parents_NewsLetter_270910.pdf).

This raises several questions in my mind:
1) Does the problem necessarily need to be solved by providing a Catholic Secondary, or are there alternative solutions that would benefit the community as a whole (e.g. reforming the link system)?
2) Does the majority of the Catholic community specifically want to be educated separately from the rest of us, or is it the case that, like everyone else, they simply want an outstanding education for their children, and find that the Catholic route is often the best way of achieving that?
3) If Catholics had more options for transferring to outstanding community schools locally (as many already do, to Waldegrave), would they choose those options over travelling to a single-faith school in a neighbouring borough?
4) I accept that there will always be very religious people who want to segregate themselves, but would I be right in asserting that there are also large numbers of Catholics who would be happy to attend community schools, provided that gave them the same level of academic excellence that can be found in many Catholic options?
5) If a new Catholic secondary school is created, it is likely to have an entrance policy that requires a priest's reference (as per the majority of existing Catholic schools). How do people feel about that?
6) If a state-funded Catholic School is created in the borough, would non-Catholic parents also like the option of sending their children there, provided they weren't barred by the admission system?

I'd be interested to hear your opinions!

amidaiwish Fri 04-Mar-11 10:34:32

interesting.
my Dds are at a catholic primary
there is NO link secondary
the kids get spread far and wide, many parents feel forced into paying for private as the community schools allocated are typically the worst in the borough.
boys is a particular issue, girls at least have waldegrave but only if you live in strawberry hill area.

to answer your qus
1) reform or scrap the link system.
2) just want a good school
3) yes, local is always preferable. no one WANTS to send their 11 year old to fulham or equivalent from Hampton
4) really? i don't know any.
5) it will be part funded by the church i guess...
6) probably, na to me

BayJay Sat 05-Mar-11 22:12:24

Responding to amidaiwish:
4) Waldegrave & Orleans Park are both classed as Outstanding by Ofsted.
5) Voluntary Aided schools have their running costs fully covered by the Local Authority. The church contributes just 10% of the capital (i.e. building) costs.

cwazycaz Sat 05-Mar-11 22:35:37

Richmond has a mix of secondary schools
oversubscribed secondaries with a good track record
undersubscribe academies that still have to prove themselves
Most parents just want the best possible local school for the DC's
By reducing the intake before new schools are even open, Richmond is effectively moving Dc's to other borough or into the academies.
Catholic children wanting a good Catholic secondary have to go outside borough.
so yes, a Catholic school in Richmond would be great but should not be exclusive
a reform to the admission would be more than welcome
6th Forms are well overdue!

Kewcumber Sun 06-Mar-11 10:45:11

well in principal I'm aginast state funding of religious schools so I really don;t think there's much point in me answering most of your questions.

Richmonds link system is ridiculous and an anomaly (as far as I know) our headmaster couldn;t think of a single other borough that do it. It seriously prejudices some schools as once a link with a bigger primary or two is established it just isnt possible for th esmaller ones to get a look in. It should be stopped and admissions policy reformed.

sfxmum Sun 06-Mar-11 11:07:26

what Kewcumber said

we need decent secondaries preferably not too big and spread out through the borough

amidaiwish Sun 06-Mar-11 12:36:48

bayjay

my point "i don't know any" to no.4 was to the point "I accept that there will always be very religious people who want to segregate themselves" not that there aren't any outstanding secondaries.

Kora Mon 07-Mar-11 10:19:35

Ages ago I spoke informally to one of the new councillors who seemed keen to emphasise that two secondaries will be set up and indicated that the secular one would take priority (although he used politician's speak so I'm not sure what he said really...).

Either way, I wouldn't hold my breath. Recently there was a consultation about what to do with the Stag Brewery Site in Mortlake. I know quite a few parents responded to say it would be a good site for a new secondary school as it's next to playing fields, fills a gap location-wise, is accessible etc. But it looks like they're just going to build more young executive flats there, and maybe a primary school, see: www.richmond.gov.uk/al/home/council_government_and_democracy/council/consulation_and_feedback/council_consultations/consultation_details.htm?id=C00496. There seems to be no explanation as to why the secondary idea was rejected and no indication that they are looking at other sites.

So, I'm not sure we should rely on this plan - more effort/money seems to be going into trying to attract parents to existing schools. I suspect, behind the scenes, any money for new secondaries - secular or faith - has been allocated elsewhere for the time being...

Suzihaha Tue 08-Mar-11 22:16:46

Hmm. I am reading this thread with interest. My DSs are a long way off going to secondary, but I worry as our nearest school is Tw. Academy and I remember that even in my school days (15+ years ago) it had a pretty dodgy reputation.

Which would you say were decent schools for boys?

BayJay Sun 27-Mar-11 20:18:26

This issue has been generating some heated debate in the Richmond & Twickenham Times over the last few weeks.

BayJay Sat 02-Apr-11 16:56:24

There's going to be a council debate about this school on Tuesday.

BayJay Wed 06-Apr-11 12:57:01
singersgirl Thu 07-Apr-11 19:21:11

Bumping this too because it's all over the front page of the local paper heralding a massive support for the Catholic school

SeenButNotHeard Thu 07-Apr-11 19:44:24

I would love it if we had a Catholic secondary school in borough.

There is a huge amount of vocal support for one, but I concede that there are a large number of people who will be against it. The fact is that Richmond is one of only two London Boroughs without a Catholic secondary school and the Catholic primary schools in borough would more than fill it.

If faith schools were abolished, I guess we would have to live with that, but the fact is that communities of faith are thriving in our society, both socially and academically so why, in this borough, should I not have the option of sending my dc to a Catholic school if I choose? Even going out of borough and remaining in a Catholic school is not as easy as it once was, it really does depend which side of the borough you live in.

teaplease Thu 07-Apr-11 20:57:12

Here's a positive for non-catholics.....if all the catholic children go to a new catholic secondary school there will be more spaces at the non-faith schools for them.
I am sure this will go ahead - too much senior backing at church & council level, and all in the wake of the papal visit. There's going to be another new non-faith secondary, so I don't really see the problem.

Kewcumber Thu 07-Apr-11 22:17:20

is there really a "huge" amount of support? The petition I think had about 1250 signatures didn't it? Thats really not enough to fill a econdary school every year.

I don;t much care as long as there is adequate provision for non-faith schools as a priority because that is now the majority in the UK. Additionally I don;t see how it is a good thing for people to be faking religious principles to get into a school if that is your genuine faith.

"should I not have the option of sending my dc to a Catholic school" - no, why should you? Britain is not a Catholic country it is not the offical religion, y son doesn;t have the option of a muslim state education and I would be perfectly happy for him to have a decent non-denoinational education. He doesn't need a relgious school to be Muslim/jewish/insert religion of choice. Going to a (relatively) secular school doesn;t preclude him practising a religion and therefore that should be the default position of all education. Once that is satusfied (to a sufficient standard) I am happy if there is money left over to start looking at ways to address minority groups requirements.

SeenButNotHeard Fri 08-Apr-11 18:05:04

The petition only went to three of the primary schools in the borough - most schools did not even see it as they only needed 1000 signatures to force a council debate.

As I said above, if state faith schools were abolished, I would have to live with it but that is not the case is it? I pay council tax along with everyone else and there is a need for a Catholic Secondary - we have more than enough children at a Catholic Primary school to fill it, probably several times over.

I have struggled with this to be honest, as I really do understand the argument re integration and non-denominational education, but the bottom line is that at the moment my dc would have a very long journey to continue their education in a Catholic school, and, perhaps selfishly, I would like them to be educated closer to home.

BayJay Fri 08-Apr-11 19:34:22

SeenButNotHeard (and others in a similar position), would you have any objection to your children attending an outstanding non-Catholic school if it was local to where you lived and they were able to go there with a cohort of their friends from primary school? Do you think there would be positive benefits from being in a thriving school community that included families of other faiths, and families of no faith at all?

SeenButNotHeard Fri 08-Apr-11 19:54:20

Interestingly, we live just around the corner from an 'outstanding' non-denominational primary and chose to go the primary attached to our Catholic Church which is 'good' rather than outstanding and a little further away.

I know that many believe that the pull of a Catholic school is results and OFSTED driven, but we actually wanted a Catholic school to encourage our children in their faith - to go to the school attached to our Church, if we just wanted an outstanding school for academic reasons, rather then for faith reasons, we really would have gone around the corner.

We are possibly just on the outskirts of the Waldegrave School boundary, so if it was just about secondary results, we could send dd there.

I wish I was elequent enough to put into words why this was so important to me. I guess I think that the teenage years are difficult enough already - I would love to think that my dc are being taught in a way that addresses their pastoral needs, not just the ABC's.

BayJay Sat 09-Apr-11 06:03:03

Being a Mumsnet newbie I started two threads on this topic, one on national mumsnet, and the other on local Mumsnet, and now that they're both being posted to, I'm regretting that! Fyi, here is a link to the other thread but I don't mind if people want to continue to post to this one.

Kewcumber Sat 09-Apr-11 09:44:20

"I would love to think that my dc are being taught in a way that addresses their pastoral needs, not just the ABC's" don't we all?

I just don;t understand why my son has no chance of attending a school which specifically addresses his religion but another minority religion would have a state funded school.

I understand it is important to catholics - I'm just not sure why it should be a state funded option when I don't get that choice. I doesn't always make sense to provide a state funded religious education when there are greater numbers children who have little or no choice currently.

singersgirl Sat 09-Apr-11 09:55:02

There isn't a 'need' for a Catholic secondary; there's no 'need' for education segregated on the basis of religion in this country. There's a 'desire' for a Catholic secondary school amongst (well, what do you know?) Catholics.

How about working it the other way round and making sure the non-faith school weights its criteria to exclude people with Christian faiths? Mmm. That would go down well. I pay my council tax, so shouldn't I have the right to have a school that only accepts people who [insert whatever random criterion I can think of that's important to me here]?

As I've said before, there's no Jewish/Moslem/Hindu/vegetarian/left-handed school in the borough. There is a girls' school but no boys' school, which is also unfair.

Kewcumber Sat 09-Apr-11 09:59:16

there also no atheists school

BayJay Sat 09-Apr-11 13:47:39

Nobody is calling for other types of faith school in Richmond Borough as far as I know. However, there is a call for an Islamic school in neighbouring Hounslow. What do people think of that? While there is talk of creating new Catholic/CofE schools it is presumably only right that other groups should be able to do the same, but is this a good direction for our society to be going in?

Kewcumber Sat 09-Apr-11 16:57:25

In principle I am against state funding of any religious education.

This thread is not accepting new messages.