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 ......

gmsing2 Thu 08-Nov-12 20:57:52

Hi All - Coming late to the party but starting my second innings here!. Fascinating discussion - with the right sort of checks and balances, I see no harm in having business in education or third sector. There could be 3 main benefits
1) It could infuse a more customer (community) driven approach. No business or school can after all be a success without strong customer driven focus.
2) Regarding cost control, a ruthless approach would and should look for savings, but it would be naive to cut costs in front line. A smarter business approach would look to get overhead savings and use it to fund more investment in front line to benefit students and teachers.
3) Above all a hard nosed business approach is needed to develop a robust performance management system that proactively avoids complacency and underperformance and protectionism.
Ofcourse there are risks that will need careful management to ensure that benefits can be reaped by everyone in the community.

muminlondon2 Thu 08-Nov-12 22:45:39

gmsing, I'm not a teacher, governor or anyone in the business/ management of education, 'just' a parent and voter, but while what you argue sounds reasonable, I understood that with local management of schools all those things are possible with community schools anyway. Certainly, the freedom to make such decisions is available to the newly converted academies we have in Richmond, without the need to sub-contract to a private provider. Profit drives cost-cutting and financial efficiency but I can't see the proof that it drives up standards - while I fear that it can do other damage.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 09-Nov-12 01:26:38

We are at the halfway point of this Parliament. So one good reason for things to happen in a rush is to get them up and working before Labour sweep back in in May 2015 and halt this uncontrolled experiment.

muminlondon2 Fri 09-Nov-12 05:57:03

There's a LibDem minister at the DfE now so if they really weren't aware of the lack of clarity in the law that has set up this backdoor privatisation, and it's not in any manifesto or coalition agreement, there's a chance to put a brake on it. At a local level I hope there is transparency and debate.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 06:11:46

"Certainly, the freedom to make such decisions is available to the newly converted academies we have in Richmond"

Yes, you're right, but for those who advocate the academy model the process of persuading schools to convert is a long and difficult path. Richmond is a relatively unusual borough in that sense, and there are plenty of other councils (with different political flavours) that won't have anything whatsoever to do with Academy conversions.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 09-Nov-12 11:27:12

The IES school proposal (it is only a proposal) is on pages 11 and 31 of this week?s RTT. There is a public meeting at 7 pm Monday Nov 12 at St Mary’s University. There is nothing that I can see about a site for the school.

They offer:

Key Features of Twickenham and Teddington School:
- Affordable childcare – from 4.30pm till 6pm every day
- Enrichment activities –after school clubs every day, summer schools, day and residential trips, guest speakers
- Extended day – catch up for those falling behind, acceleration for the exceptionally gifted
- High expectations – we expect all children to master aspirational targets at the end of reception, key stage one and key stage two
- Inclusive – non-selective, non-denominational, open to children of all abilities and background
- Mentoring – fortnightly one to one mentoring for each child in years 5 and 6
- Outstanding teachers – highly skilled professionals who nurture as well as educate
- Rigorous literacy and numeracy focus – every child reading at their chronological age and above
- Specialist English, Maths, Music and Languages teaching from year two – to develop, conceptual understanding, basic skills and knowledge

Their Breckland school has withdrawn its brochure but instead offers a detailed site map of its website. I liked this:

Healthy Eating at School: Please be aware that in order to support us promote healthy eating for your children at IES Breckland, ensure that crisps, sweets and chocolate are not brought into school. Sugary drinks and carbonated drinks are banned on site; however, please make sure your child has a bottle of water to help them stay hydrated and focused in class during the day.

Do other schools do this, I wonder?

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 11:59:25

"Do other schools do this, I wonder?"

Do what? Promote Healthy Eating? Yes, many do these days. Turing House has also laid out its Healthy Eating approach, and most local schools actively encourage children to take in water bottles, certainly at primary level.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 13:09:33

For anyone interested, the Kingston Educational Trust that is proposing a free school for the North Kingston Centre now has a website.

muminlondon2 Fri 09-Nov-12 15:28:47

Haven't seen RTT but two immediate questions:

1. How can a profit making company propose itself? If they can be subcontracted who is proposing it? Tail wagging dog, cart before horse ... Easy peasy for them to walk off with state funding?
2. If council proposing how come no tendering process?

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 16:36:57

Hi Muminlondon.

Profit making companies can't propose free schools in the UK. However, non-profit trusts can. The IES website says "IES UK has now been established to offer educational services to charitable trusts". So presumably for each school they set up a charitable trust to propose the school and receive the government funding, and then the trust buys services from IES. What's less clear at this stage is whether IES make a profit on the services they supply to their own trusts, or whether those services are supplied 'at cost'.

muminlondon2 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:18:01

shock So it can set up a charitable trust as a front and award a contract to itself with state funding but no tendering process? The Radio 4 programme on free schools says that the DfE has refused to publish assessments made on the impact of free schools on other schools in the area. This is not a transparent process.

Also Jodie King, UK Manager at IES UK,  lives in Twickenham according to LinkedIn. How opportune. Perhaps she reads mumsnet hmm

ChrisSquire2 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:36:23

The contact details given are:

Jodie King, UK manager for IES
Email: jodie.king@engelska.se

Mobile: +44 774 2499 439
IES International English Schools UK
27a High Street,
Teddington,
TW11 8ET

Heathclif Fri 09-Nov-12 17:40:54

Mmm I would say that looks to me like a list put together by a marketing manager, a bit slick. I would like to know more about the substance behind it. For instance "outstanding teachers". I am sure every school looks to recruit outstanding teachers. It's a contrast with Turing House's website which demonstrates a clear vision driven by a parental passion.

muminlondon2 Fri 09-Nov-12 18:29:08

IES was lobbying Michael Gove before the election but no emails or letters were disclosed so it is very secretive.

jotwicken Fri 09-Nov-12 19:29:30

How come Vince Cable is allowing the Govt to get around the Coalition agreement and using backdoor routes for Catholic school or business school and that too in his own backyard!
If he does not act , he may well have to follow Nick Clegg and make a I am sorry video for letting us down.

gmsing2 Fri 09-Nov-12 19:35:25

RPA is lauded by Ofsted and gets a 'GOOD ' rating. www.richmondparkacademy.org/page/ofsted-report

gmsing2 Fri 09-Nov-12 20:23:13

MuminLondon you raise a valid concern Profit drives cost-cutting and financial efficiency but I can't see the proof that it drives up standards - while I fear that it can do other damage

However strong community support and high standards are the key drivers for a profitable enterprise. Without them schools will not succeed and a lot of profit run private schools show that evidence. There are greater risks about adopting this model in the state sector and requires a lot of due diligence.

I also agree with the point that if that is not what the Act or Coalition agreeement allows, it should not be allowed to happen. As BayJay points out profit eneterpise are not allowed to set up free schhols. Any sort of backdoor attempts to circumvent the legislative or democratic intent is wrong.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 20:24:38

"So it can set up a charitable trust as a front and award a contract to itself with state funding but no tendering process?"

Re-stating more precisely, without hyperbole or insinuation smile .... it can set up a charitable trust, which can procure services from itself as well as from other providers.

To achieve the best result for the taxpayer the Trust would ensure that it always procured the best (value and quality) services, whether they be from IES itself or another provider. As taxpayers we might well expect the DfE's Free School approval process to make sure mechanisms are in place to ensure that. If IES are providing professional services to their Trusts 'at cost' then they are certainly likely to be good value to the taxpayer, but if not then the model is more difficult to justify.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 20:44:52

"How come Vince Cable is allowing the Govt to get around the Coalition agreement and using backdoor routes for Catholic school or business school and that too in his own backyard!"

Not sure where that's coming from Jo. VC is Business Secretary, and has no particular influence in Education Policy. As regards Education Policy he has no more power than any other back-bench MP, so its not really fair to say he's "allowing" these things to happen.

muminlondon2 Fri 09-Nov-12 20:58:43

However he can be a good constituency MP by taking an interest and attending this meeting or getting well briefed (as Zac Goldsmith has done with free school proposals in Kingston - despite the proximity to Grey Court, I have no worries about the motives of its backers). And he can liaise with the LibDem minister for education David Laws to ensure no backdoor bending of the rules is going on (including misleading advertising ... 'we will be opening a school in 2014' etc.).

NB we won't last till the JR on this thread! Time for a new one?

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:39:39

"However he can be a good constituency MP by taking an interest and attending this meeting or getting well briefed"

To be fair we've all only just heard about it. VC will probably hear about it for the first time when he reads his RTT over the weekend, like most other people in Twickenham (non-Mumsnetters of course!). Perhaps if he has an empty diary on Monday evening, and happens to be at home, he may go along to the meeting, but I wouldn't beat him up about it if he didn't.

I, on the other hand, have been super-reactive and have created the new thread as requested. See you over here.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:41:53

Just filling up slot 997 to expedite everyone onto the new thread.

For anyone confused as to why we need to change thread, its because we're getting close to 1000 messages, which is the maximum allowed.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:42:34

998

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:43:05

999

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:46:42

1000

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