Local Talk

New Secondary Schools for Richmond 3

(1000 Posts)
BayJay Wed 02-May-12 19:40:24

Hello and welcome to the Mumsnet thread about Richmond Borough Secondary Schools. The discussion started in February 2011 in two parallel locations here and here.

In November 2011 the most active of those two threads, in Mumsnet Local, reached 1000 messages (the maximum allowed) so we continued the conversation here.

Now its May 2012 and that thread has also filled up, so the conversation will continue here ......

ChrisSquire Mon 07-May-12 14:05:16

The Clifden Road site is a good one for a secondary school serving the whole borough: it is close to a railway station linking to every part except Ham; there are 9 bus routes; and there are well signed cycle routes. No doubt the new school will try hard to reduce car use. Does anyone know what the car use rate is for our other secondary schools?

The Catholic primary school would have a local catchment area as there is currently no such school in Central and East Twickenham.

muminlondon Mon 07-May-12 15:53:06

Table 9 has borough averages for 2010.

7.4% pupils go by car/car share to Richmond schools (10.3% is average for London)
50.8% public transport
35.7% walk
6.1% go by bike (highest proportion in London).

These statistics are for pupils attending school within Richmond. Car use is similar for pupils travelling to schools in Kensington & Chelsea but lower for Hammersmith & Fulham. But to schools in these boroughs fewer chldren walk and more take public transport.

Copthallresident Mon 07-May-12 16:47:03

This are the figures for pupils attending, in the main, local schools. I do not buy the argument that a Catholic Primary and Secondary School on this site is not going to generate more cars in Central Twickenham, and indeed on the boroughs roads in general, than the proposed local Free school would. I think we can assume the Primary section won't be any more successful than St James's in deterring the use of cars, and most of it's pupils are in walking distance, traffic disruption every morning and it's approaches are on much wider/main roads. There is also the matter of the Twickenham station 8.30 and 4pm Richmond College scrum which despite police presence and the sweet teachers from the college advising you to stay away from their students, even as they give them a wide berth, is very intimidating for adults let alone little Year 7s! Presumably the introduction of Sixth Forms in the community schools (although a high proportion do go to Esher anyway) is going to increase the number of students who come in via the station. I would have every sympathy with parents who prefer to take their children to school themselves, than have to cope with that every morning and evening.

These are issues, though not the main issue, which is about the 11 year olds who are going to have to fight the station scrum going the other way to try to get to Richmond Park Academy.

From the Risc Facebook site...
"Consultation results out - Majority favour Catholic schools, but only because majority were Catholics. 67% of the 4200* people who responded to the Council’s consultation on the use of the Clifden Road site agreed that the site should be used to establish a five-form entry Catholic Secondary School, with 32% disagreeing. BUT, as you can see from our summary charts, 57% of the respondents said they were Catholics, and 98% of these were in favour (with 47 Catholics on our side). 74% of all the non-Catholic respondents, including the majority of Anglicans, were against. So the consultation tells us that “Catholics support Catholic school” - no news there then."

So, although they fail to mention it - this means that 26% of the non-Catholic respondents are in favour of a Catholic school on the Clifden Road site!

LittleMrsMuppet Mon 07-May-12 20:37:16

Can we honestly tell anything very much from the consultation at all? If the council wanted to find out all the arguments pro/against then I'm sure they've already been aired in the press, in meetings and perhaps even here. Analysis of the numbers is inherently flawed as we can only gauge opinions of those who self-selected to respond to an anonymous online survey. Perhaps all we can tell is that there are apparently a very large number of Catholics who want this school. Whether and in what numbers they plan to send children to it, of course, is as unclear as ever.

As an aside, I'm actually quite surprised that the number of non-Catholic respondents in favour was as low a percentage as it was given the very high Catholic turn-out. I can't speak for other parishes and/or other Catholic primaries in the borough - but at my local school more than half of the practising Catholic families actually only have the one baptised Catholic parent. (Despite our mother's pleas, it seems that we rarely married that "good Catholic boy/girl"!)

It's also worth pointing out that the non-Catholic parent often attends church and is typically very supportive of the faith. They are also usually as keen on their children getting a Catholic education as their Catholic partner. (I wouldn't attempt to speculate as to their motivation, of course.)

LottieProsser Mon 07-May-12 21:37:12

I talked to lots of people about the consultation but almost everyone took the view that it wasn't worth the effort of responding as it was a done deal. Faith in the Council is very low.

I hope plenty of personally affected parents will be registering to speak at the Scrutiny Committee on 15th on behalf of their children.

ChrisSquire Tue 08-May-12 00:43:48

?Registering to Speak on May 15: To register you should contact the Committee Administrator by 2.00pm on 14 May 2012, stating which item you wish to speak on. You will need to provide your name, a contact telephone number, email address and in the case of Item 4. Future School Provision, indicate whether or not you will be speaking for or against the recommendations. You may register via telephone on 020 8891 7156 or by email: democratic.services@richmond.gov.uk .’

muminlondon Tue 08-May-12 12:50:26

Lottie, levels of awareness also differ widely. Some parents may be directly affected but won't realise until much later. Some primary schools may have drawn attention to the consultation repeatedly in newsletters, others may not have mentioned it at all or only once. I met one Ham parent who hadn't realised the link policy will be dropped for 2013 and thought Teddington was still a boy's school.

gmsing Tue 08-May-12 13:32:32

Representative summary of full responses to Catholic school consultation‏ can be seen here
www.richmond.gov.uk/home/education_and_learning/possible_catholic_schools_in_richmond_upon_thames.htm

ChrisSquire Tue 08-May-12 20:03:12

Another report for the Scrutiny meeting: Statutory Proposals To Establish A Voluntary-Aided Catholic Secondary School And A Voluntary-Aided Catholic Primary School from which (para 4.8 p. 2) comes:

The Education Act 2011 amended the provisions of the Education and Inspections Act relating to new school proposals with effect from 1 February 2012. The consent of the Secretary of State is no longer required for publication of proposals for a new voluntary aided school. The Diocese’s proposals were accordingly published under section 11(1A) of the amended 2006 Act.

We will have to wait for the judicial review to tell us whether this argument stands up in court or not.

JoTwick Tue 08-May-12 20:25:36

This may have been already discussed on this thread, but it seems to me that the rules are being bent in this consultation. As a taxpayer, I am not keen to see Council spending money fighting legal battles.

The latest press release states that Dfe documentation highlights that the Diocese has confirmed that it may consider Academy status in the future, once the school is established.
www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/files/view/press-releases/Press_Release_-_Richmond_Inclusive_Schools_Campaign_-_8_May_2012_v1.pdf

Nicole12 Wed 09-May-12 14:14:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jeev Wed 09-May-12 14:32:09

Nicole the admission policy of the catholic va school proposals are heavily favoring catholics only . There is some pref for eastern orthodox christians as criteria 7 or 8 . Anglicans will get no preference and will be at par with other faiths or non religious. Hence its no surprise that majority of them do not support the catholic va school proposals.

Ideally everyone will select their local neighbourhood schools that will build the school and community around it as opposed to traveling the lenght and breadth of the borough

BayJay Wed 09-May-12 16:03:16

Nicole12, high house prices around popular schools are a problem, but they're not a problem of the admissions policy, they're a problem of:
a) Inadequate planning for sufficient school places;
b) Lack of sites for new schools in oversubscribed areas;
c) Variability in quality of schools, and league tables which sometimes over-exaggerate that variability;
d) Poor housing policy, and in particular a lack of affordable housing in some areas;
Those problems are all very real, and I think its wrong to shift the blame to sensible admissions policies that favour the concept of local schools at the heart of the community they serve.

However, I do agree that people are less likely to take an interest in community issues that don't directly affect them.

muminlondon Wed 09-May-12 18:59:59

It seems incredible now that the council was able to build two new primary schools near the Sheen area 10 years ago. But no new ones in Twickenham. it is inow mpossible for the LA to set up a new local community school without a complicated academy process, apparently unless it's a VA faith school with council money. Most primaries on the Twickenham side are 3-4 form entry. Free schools (many also faith schools) are fiercely competing for a central budget and can't be planned for or counted on by the council.

Nicole12 Wed 09-May-12 22:20:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Thu 10-May-12 00:47:51

Nicole12 I know where you are coming from in terms of the situation at Primary level in Sheen. When we found ourselves in the Mortlake black hole and appealed, the Council provided a map showing the addreses of those gaining sibling places at Sheen Mount that year including one in Chelsea, as well as Chiswick, Barnes and Putney! Though we were first on the waiting lists we never did get offered a place at any of the three local schools within half a mile...

However the situation around Clifden Road is different, particularly in relation to Secondary level. The housing in the site's vicinity is mixed, especially over the railway line. The proposed Free School are still refining it's admission policies and I understand it may well do something to ensure social as well as local inclusivity. Local Catholic Primary Schools are by the admittedly imperfect measure of social need, free school meals, more socially exclusive than non Catholic ones. St James's the Catholic School currently attended by Catholic children from the roads around here was highlighted in the Guardian as having one of the most socially exclusive intakes in the country. Stanley, right next door has 10% of it's children taking Free School meals compared to 1% at St James's.

The other big issue is that Twickenham Academy, which isn't particularly local as it is in Whitton, is forecast to fill up in 2015 and the catchments areas of all the local community schools are already shrinking away rapidly from Central Twickenham. After 2015 on the Councils forecasts the only places forecast to be available to the children in Central Twickenham, and large areas of the Middlesex side of the river will be at Richmond Park Academy, and there are lots of risks to those figures. As the governors of Stanley School say in their submission on the consultation they believe it is likely that if this site is given to an exclusive Catholic School school there is a strong risk that within three years many of their pupils will have no offer of a secondary school place AT ALL. Even if the Richmond College site proves feasible for a new secondary school it is going to be hard to find the funding especially after funding a new Catholic School. The Council's justification is that a new inclusive school will be poor value for money if there are still places in Richmond Park Academy, particularly given the investment in that school, but we both know that parents faced with that journey will do what they have been doing for decades, if they can afford it, move or go private. This isn't about local exclusivity, it is about the chances of children on the Middlesex side of the river having a reasonably accessible option of a state secondary school being set aside in favour of giving an exclusive school to one section of the community who have always had an additional choice compared to those of us who have relied on the borough for school places.

TwoCotbeds Thu 10-May-12 11:30:31

Well said Copthall resident.

If we lived in an ideal, crazy Madcap world where, lets say..... in this borough there was enough school places provided by the council overall for ALL children, and there were sensible inclusive admission policies, fair to all, Local children could then go to their local nearest school and there would not be any weird jumps in House prices based purely on catchments. This is a sign something is wrong with Education provsion by this Council.

Our concil rates are not cheap in the Borough and the council should easily be able to provide decent, non-failing schools for ALL the children living here. IF this was the Council's top priority and goal, I'm sure it could be achieved.

I particularly hate the way parents are set against parents, when it is the council who is letting us all down.

muminlondon Thu 10-May-12 16:34:17

Secondary school places could be assigned at random to all children who wanted to go and lived within reasonable travelling distance. Sibling priority should only apply to those who still met the distance criteria.

Nicole12, I think the admissions forum consulted on dropping the siblings priority a few years' back for secondary admissions, i.e. siblings would also have to qualify either on attending a linked primary or distance. But there was opposition and they didn't go for it. The government hasn't been too keen on lottery allocation up to now (see here). I can see how it would be fairer for Waldegrave (not to mention the other schools in the area which take a lot of boys) - but soon they'll be their own admissions authority and independent of the LA so they wouldn't consult as widely anyway.

BayJay Thu 10-May-12 16:51:08

Another factor which leads to the over-subscription of schools is the way schools are funded now - i.e. on a per-pupil basis, so that they quickly become un-economic if they're not full.

That leads to a sort of 'just in time delivery' approach for school place planning, with councils aiming for the optimum, but completely unachievable, situation of every school just one place short of full.

That's interesting BayJay - I guess this is why the Lib Dems are also saying that they would not support a community school on the Clifden Road site until 2015. They do not want to see overprovision of places?

BayJay Thu 10-May-12 17:15:10

That's not exactly what they've said MagicFarawayTree. They've said they would support a community school in Clifden Road in 2015. They've been diplomatically silent about the prospect of one opening there earlier.

BayJay Thu 10-May-12 17:19:35

And, by the way, the government will still consider approving Free Schools in areas where schools are undersubscribed.

muminlondon Thu 10-May-12 17:35:11

The first big jump in pupil numbers will come in 2014 - but admission patterns will change from 2013 because the link policy will no longer apply. Also, who knows what will happen with local/national elections in 2014 or 2015. No doubt that's also why the council wants to press ahead with its plans now but others may have to take responsibility later if it misjudges the risks.

Why would they need to stay 'diplomatically silent?' confused

I honestly think that there is a great opportunity for most of the community to be happy - with available school places for Catholic children, in a Catholic school and for parents who wish their children to attend your Free School.

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