Local Talk

New Secondary Schools for Richmond 2

(1000 Posts)
BayJay Sun 27-Nov-11 18:21:30

I'm starting this new thread because the other one of the same name has filled up.

LittleMrsMuppet Sun 27-Nov-11 19:14:21

There is less of a risk that the Catholic VA option might fail - it's just a judgement call

Florist - you're right. A Catholic VA school is indeed much more likely to be successful. But it's not because Richmond parents don't want inclusive schools (if it was Teddington, Waldegrave, Orleans and Grey Court wouldn't be oversubscribed). Or even because a Catholic ethos automatically makes a school superior. It's because a selective school is exactly that. Selective.

If the priority is guaranteed success, perhaps another solution could be a new Tiffin-style grammar school?

ChrisSquire Sun 27-Nov-11 19:28:13

1,000 messages! Who would've predicted it? Our thanks are due to our esteemed founder and moderator BayJay for starting this thread on February 23 and then for keeping it going for 9 months with boundless tact and patience and good humour.

Where will matters have got to in another 9 months, in the dog days of August 2012, I wonder?

florist Sun 27-Nov-11 19:41:15

Littlemissmuppet - a new grammar school in Richmond. If it was in fact a Tiffin led school it might actually get off the ground as govt have committed to no new grammars, though is allowing for expansion of existing ones. So a positive suggestion but surely one that does not meet the RISC "inclusive" criteria - we know getting into a grammar school essentially means mindless practice of 11+ papers which favours the middle class measured by FSM which is typicaly 0.5% of school cohorts in GS.
Other point would be I thought RISC wanted a mixed school - Tiffin is girls only.

LittleMrsMuppet Sun 27-Nov-11 19:48:34

florist - my tongue was firmly in my cheek.

You really are quite unaware of our local schools, though, aren't you? I think you'll find that Tiffin's is BOYS only... (There is of course Tiffin Girl's, but that's a another school)

BayJay Sun 27-Nov-11 19:56:26

"If the priority is guaranteed success"
LittleMrsMuppet, its hard to tell on here, but I think you were suggesting that with your tongue firmly in your cheek, weren't you? Florist is right that new grammars aren't allowed under the admissions code (but wrong that Tiffin is a girls school, as they have a boys' school too).

Given the Clifden Road location, and the pent-up demand for good local inclusive secondaries (particularly for boys) its hard to imagine any school failing on the Clifden site. It would have to be seriously badly managed for that to happen!

BayJay Sun 27-Nov-11 20:04:26

Just belatedly posting a link to this week's Richmond and Twickenham Times for those who haven't yet seen it. Article re Vince Cable and Lord True's difference of opinion on page 3. Letters re schools on page 24.

muminlondon Sun 27-Nov-11 20:12:01

Tiffin (boys) is a CofE academy but as a converter it can keep academic selection. What a muddle this policy is - the new academies don't call themselves academies, do they?

LittleMrsMuppet Sun 27-Nov-11 20:12:57

Apologies if I have been unclear. I wasn't advocating a grammar school, simply stating that a selective school is more likely to be successful over a non-selective school. Perhaps the point I was rather ham-fistedly trying to get across was that VA schools are selective; even if the selection is not by an exam.

I'd agree that given the location of the Clifden site, it will have a good catchment. It would as a consequence also be able to attract a good quality head and teachers. As such, it has a very good chance of success.

However, as a general principle I don't think fear of failure should be a valid reason to not support a community school or a faith school with open admissions.

florist Sun 27-Nov-11 20:45:23

Littlemissmuppet thanks for clearing that up; that you don't have a positive suggestion for the site. Your point is the same as many on the 1000 thread: that a VA school is not "inclusive" - pupils chosen on the basis of faith - and you are opposed to that.

Yet in the same breath you say that the Clifden site with a "good" catchment area (Catholic school intake would typically be much wider) would be a success and attract good teachers etc by way of selection by postcode and house prices.

Bayjay, ou have added a new rider to what school you want on the site: that the school is "inclusive" and that it should be "good" - and then it will be successful. That's a bit of an obvious statement.

I can't help thinking that your position (clearly against a Catholic VA school)is not oppossed to an school that cream-skims students on the basis of catchment area - in what way will that be "inclusive".

So with littlemissmuppet withdrawing her grammar school suggestion - freudian slip? - what is the nature of the "good", "inclusive", non faith, not VA, non free school, non academy, school on the site. Or will it just suceed by dint of the rather exclusive catchment area?

Gigondas Sun 27-Nov-11 20:50:26

Florist can you explain how you see a catholic intake school helping demand in the borough which is predicted to rise sharply over next few years? I am confused as even if the under subscribed secondary options reverse , I still think there will be a lack of school places at secondary level at 2015/6?

I have some sympathy to some of your arguments re catholic school but I am afraid that I can't get past the fact that we are heading towards a major issue with secondary places which won't be immediately solved by a catholic school.

muminlondon Sun 27-Nov-11 20:52:45

In that RTT article Lord True is inflexible about a VA Catholic school as opposed to one with inclusive admissions. Yet in another article his cabinet member for schools is willing to entertain the idea of a Maharishi free school which is an extemely niche private school expanding at the expense of the taxpayer. It's a bizarre approach to planning.

LittleMrsMuppet Sun 27-Nov-11 21:00:07

florist - you will draw whatever conclusions you have already chosen to draw.

BayJay Sun 27-Nov-11 21:09:52

florist, again you are at a disadvantage in not being local. The whole of LBRuT is 'a good area'. Twickenham Academy is in a good area too. Unfortunately it was badly managed in the past when it was Whitton School. As I keep saying, it is well on the road to recovery. There are more than enough children to fill both TA and Clifden. They are not choosing TA at the moment because it is a building site, and because they want more evidence of its improvement, but lots of effort is going into it, and its capacity to improve is good, so there is no reason to believe it will not be successful.

florist Sun 27-Nov-11 21:52:55

Gigondas - mine is a pragmatic reasoning. The Catholic VA school has been proposed, refurb funded by the church, it will provide new places attractive to Catholics while not competiting with the undersubscribed academies (allowing them breathing space to improve - if they don't they loose funding if pupils decline further). That's how it helps the demand issue - but actually it seems to me the issue in Richmond as in many areas is on the supply-side: the quality of state education available, and on these grounds I think the Catholic VA option can help here too.

Bayjay - you keep going on about not being local. The Greenwich judgement means I am affected by decisions in Richmond so is everyone outside the borough who might choose to send their children there to school.
I am pleased that the Academies have the capacity to improve - excellent so let;s not rock the boat by putting a non faith, "inclusive" school up against them.

Littlemissmuppet - well, what sort of school do you want on the site, A reasonable question don't you think?

You see it seems clear to me that RISC are not interested in education in Richmond rather they are using it to drive through their national objectives of eliminating faith school per se. Hence their inability to engage with the debate as it is, not as they would wish it to be. It is also clear that not all supporting RISC have such a limited objective but for the life of me I do not understand why people find it so hard to describe the sort of inclusive, school they want.

BayJay Sun 27-Nov-11 22:05:20

"You see it seems clear to me that RISC are not interested..."
florist, you're wrongly assuming that this discussion thread represents RISC. It does not. There are some RISC supporters on here. There are some Catholic school supporters on here. There are some people between the two. The RISC organising committee is a wholly separate entity, so perhaps you should direct your questions there. You're taking an antagonist approach which will only discourage people from engaing in discussion with you, and the fact that you're not local, while not being a problem in itself, means that you are misinformed in some of your arguments.

LittleMrsMuppet Mon 28-Nov-11 10:27:17

Just to back up what BayJay has said - I have absolutely ZERO involvement or connection with RISC and my views are entirely my own.

Lots of people, however, on this thread have come up with suggestions for the sort of school they would be happy with but you choose to ignore them.

What type of school do I personally want? I simply want a school that will provide places for all the children who need one. That's the whole crux of the problem as I see it - there is likely to be a SHORTAGE of places on the Middlesex side of the borough in only a few years. Even at the academies.

What flavour it should have should be the subject of consultation, so what I'd favour is pretty irrelevant. But I can see a good case for a boys' school to balance Waldegrave. If continuity of ethos from primary school is the all-important issue, then the obvious need is for a CofE secondary. (Incidentally, I think any new CofE school should be an academy with open admissions.)

Its interesting that you use the Greenwich judgement to support your interest in this debate. It just goes to highlight that borough boundaries are irrelevant to Catholic school provision.

ChrisSquire Mon 28-Nov-11 11:16:31

BayJay writes: ‘The whole of LBRuT is 'a good area'.’ This is not true. The Lib Dem council identified and gave priority to four areas of relative deprivation: parts of Ham; north Barnes; parts of Hampton; and parts of Heathfield. The tower block of Ham are the most shocking - go and have a look sometime. At one time the bus drivers refused to go there because the kids had taken to stoning the buses.

Outside those areas there a big range of income, housing type and aspiration.

I know the Twickenham constituency better than most residents because for several elections I have taken the lead in putting up garden stakes in support of Vince Cable all over it. This entails journeying ‘across country’ instead of sticking to the main routes. It surprising how one neighbourhood and class of life shades into another, sometimes quite abruptly.

I think that florist is making some valid points. Indeed I think the RC VA bid is just like a grammar school bid: wildly popular amongst those who are confident of getting a place and bitterly resented by those who fear they will be excluded. Grammar school bids are forbidden by law - but more or less bogus selection by ‘aptitude’ is allowed instead. VA RC bids will be forbidden by the Education Bill still before Parliament. This one, if it goes ahead, will be the last.

BayJay Mon 28-Nov-11 12:12:44

"BayJay writes: ‘The whole of LBRuT is 'a good area'.’ This is not true"
I knew someone would pick me up on that smile. I meant on average. It's certainly a lot more prosperous than most other areas of the country, and the prosperity is fairly uniformly spread (despite the pockets of deprivation mentioned by ChrisSquire). There are certainly good quality family houses near to all of the secondary schools, including the Academies, so there is no reason why they can't attract a social mix of students, provided they are well enough managed.

"VA RC bids will be forbidden by the Education Bill"
I don't think that's right Chris. I haven't time to check the details right now (will look later), but its not my understanding from what I've read previously.

seenbutnotheard Mon 28-Nov-11 12:16:28

LittleMrsMuppet - given that Christs School is undersubcribed for it's foundation places, I don't think that there can be an identifiable need for another CofE secondary school.

I think that I have said before that if the council were proposing a boys school I would have to live with that given the single sex girls school available in borough.

The RISC report really does back up the need for a Catholic Secondary School in borough given the rising birth rates in our neighbouring boroughs. It may be neigh-on impossible for Richmond Children to continue their Catholic education.

ChrisSquire Mon 28-Nov-11 12:24:39

BayJay: I may be overstating the case here, I agree; this is how Vince Cable put it last week: ' . . The Government wants to encourage faith school academies with mixed admissions but the new law is not ready yet.'

I too have not got to the bottom of just what the new law will say, which will of course depend on how the Lords amend the Bill and what amendments the Commons then accept.

akhan Mon 28-Nov-11 13:27:19

seenbutnotheard - rising birth rates are a problem for everyone, especially if the Richmond spaces get filled in the next 2-3 years. There will be more demand from both within and outside the borough. So why should we not have a new school that is open to all and addresses everyone's concern. To solve a potential problem for just 1 group of minority does not seem fair.

akhan Mon 28-Nov-11 13:57:53

florist - I do not agree with your pragmatic reasoning - The biggest short-term contribution anyone can make to the development of borough secondary schools is to encourage parents to apply for the academies. The nearby Catholic primaries to the 3 academies could make a real contribution. Instead a new Catholic secondary will make it even easier for Catholic parents to be exempt from the effort to “make all the secondary schools in the borough outstanding”. Understandably, other parents are not happy about that.

Also as requested earlier it would be great if you could check with your council if they will be have places for their students that Richmond council projects will back out of Richmond schools in the next 2-3 years. Maybe you could also check with your council if they can also additionally take on Richmond pupils who will be left without spaces if they cant go to the potential Catholic VA school at Clifden. We would be very interested in your councils official response especially if you are from Hounslow or Kingston!

ChrisSquire Mon 28-Nov-11 14:06:20

Here's the gen:

The Education Act 2011 received Royal Assent on November 15.

‘Clause 37 gives effect to Schedule 11 which makes amendments to Part 2 of EIA 2006 in order to give precedence to proposals for academies where there is a need for a new school . . The changes include a new section 6A . . placing a duty on local authorities to seek proposals for the establishment of an academy where there is a need for a new school in their area . . ‘(Parliament briefing); it simply says: ’37 Establishment of new schools: Schedule 11 (establishment of new schools) has effect.’

SCHEDULE 11: Establishment of new schools:

‘Amendments to Part 2 of EIA 2006:
1Part 2 of EIA 2006 (establishment, discontinuance and alteration of schools) is amended as follows.
2Before section 7 insert—
“6ARequirement to seek proposals for establishment of new Academies
(1) If a local authority in England think a new school needs to be established in their area, they *must seek proposals for the establishment of an Academy.*’

82 Commencement:
‘(1)The following provisions come into force on the day on which this Act is passed— . .
(2) The following provisions come into force at the end of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed— . .
(3) The other provisions of this Act come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order appoint.’

Clause 37 falls into section 3 ‘Other’. So it is the law of the land but not yet in force; no wonder Gove is dithering and dallying about the request for a VA school.

BayJay Mon 28-Nov-11 16:57:27

"no wonder Gove is dithering and dallying"
It may just be that there is some negotiation going on between him and the Diocese. I keep going back to this old speech. Vince Cable always favoured a voluntary approach to open admissions. Assuming Michael Gove agrees (and I've no idea if he does) then he could still grant the Section 10 request if the Diocese made some concessions on opening up the admissions.

seenbutnotheard Mon 28-Nov-11 17:06:30

akhan you quite spectacularly miss the point that Catholic families want their children to continue to with their faith based education.

1:7 primary schools are Catholic. The proposal is that just 1:9 secondary schools should also be so.

It is not the case that this just solves ‘our’ problem – if Catholic children can not get into schools outside for the borough, they will have to take ‘inclusive’ school places; why not consider the possibility of allowing these children to continue their education in a Catholic school?

Really, what is so abhorrent about this?

florist Mon 28-Nov-11 17:35:52

seenbutnotheard - I think the problem we have is that many of the opponents of the Catholic VA are opposed to it in principle - they are opposed to over-subscription criteria allocating places based on membership and/or practice of the relevant faith. That can be a perfectly honorable position but in this local context it appears to be inhibiting a rational discussion of the apparently one viable option - the Catholic VA school - on educational and economic grounds. Ironically, their fundamentalism against a Catholic school is clouding their reasoning.
Bayjay does now seem to be interested in my earlier suggestion of the Catholic VA school voluntarily taking non-Catholic children (for a period I suggested) so that is progress.

LottieProsser Mon 28-Nov-11 17:39:55

Is there any reason why Catholic Church can't apply to open a free school? I am a bit puzzled by the fact that the Maharishis seem to be the only show in town at Oldfield House and the Council seems to only be talking to them about the site when there are so many other potential uses of that site, including a Catholic school, a new primary school for Hampton (where there has been a big shortage of places this year), or a school for the children who get excluded from the Academies once all the secondary schools have become Academies and are allowed to do that ie. in a few months time the way things seem to be going. Lovely and relaxing as doing TM twice a day sounds, it has rather sprung from nowhere and I wonder if such a school would just attract Maharishi-inclined parents to move in to Hampton and environs from elsewhere rather than lots of local parents suddenly deciding it is just what they want? I grew up in Hampton so I do know a bit about the indigenous population there!

BayJay Mon 28-Nov-11 17:42:05

"Is there any reason why Catholic Church can't apply to open a free school?"
LottieProsser, they could do that, but would have to have 50:50 admissions, which they don't want. Only the VA route can get them better than 50:50 admissions.

BayJay Mon 28-Nov-11 17:49:11

"Bayjay does now seem to be interested in my earlier suggestion of the Catholic VA school voluntarily taking non-Catholic children (for a period I suggested) so that is progress"
Florist, I didn't express an opinion. I was musing about what might be going on behind the scenes. If the outcome is a VA school with a percentage of open admissions then of course that is better than one without any open admissions at all. However, there would be nothing to stop the VA governing body from changing the admissions policy once the school was open, so for that reason I'd prefer an Academy.

LottieProsser Mon 28-Nov-11 17:50:50

Florist - you are very dogged but you never address the fact that the actual statistics appear to show that masses and masses of local children are going to be without any secondary school place in a few years time. My reasoning has never been in the least clouded but the only rational option I can see on "educational and economic grounds" is not to give away a prime site for 125 years to an institution that wants to shut 90% of local children out. You would be welcome to a VA school is there was lots of room but there isn't. There needs to be a comprehensive plan to accommodate everyone before any group, including Catholics, gets to go off and huddle exclusively.

seenbutnotheard Mon 28-Nov-11 17:58:38

An 'inclusive' school will also shut 90% of the borough's children out as it will only take the children living pretty much on it's doorstep!

A Catholic VA school would at least take children from accross the borough - those children just happen to be Catholic and there is no in-borough Catholic secondary school for them at the moment.

BayJay Mon 28-Nov-11 18:02:04

"the Council seems to only be talking to them about the site when there are so many other potential uses of that site"
LottieProsser, the council has to talk to potential Free School providers if they express an interest in a site. If they don't then the Government can simply aquire the land and give it away on their behalf. However, if another Free School expressed interest in the same site, they would no doubt talk to them too. What they're unlikely to do is create any more new maintained schools of their own as they want to move towards a commissioning model, where all of the schools are Academies/Free Schools that buy in services.

seenbutnotheard Mon 28-Nov-11 18:02:22

I also don't think that people can discount the imformation that has been provided by the Director of Education, Children's and Cultural Services and the Head of School Commissioning.
These people have not been just employed by the Conservatives, they have been in post for many years, and advised the last Lib Dem council too.

muminlondon Mon 28-Nov-11 18:08:48

I think there would be an oversupply of places with a Catholic VA school. If it attracts all those currently travelling out of borough it will need less selective' admissions criteria. As a new school it won't have the kudos or tradition of other Catholic schools. If it at least attracts those who would otherwise have gone locally to Hounslow, then Gumley etc. will lose a proportion of their pupils (and funds and teachers unless they fill up with non-Catholics.

Alternatively there could be a double-squeeze on girls continuing to prefer Waldegrave and Gumley leaving a boy-dominated school - having a self-perpetuating effect and off-putting to many.

Meanwhile, locals who fail to get a place in oversubscribed Orleans or Twick Academy when it fills up will have to schlepp over to Sheen if they can't go private. A lot of tension is sure to develop.

BayJay Mon 28-Nov-11 18:09:04

" also don't think that people can discount the imformation that has been provided by the Director of Education, Children's and Cultural Services and the Head of School Commissioning."

Yes, but equally they need to respond appropriately to legitimate new information, either to include it in their forecasts, or to explain why it is not included.

muminlondon Mon 28-Nov-11 18:10:25

An oversupply of Catholic places that should say

seenbutnotheard Mon 28-Nov-11 18:19:20

Gumley, St Mark's etc are massively oversubscribed.

If the new school did not attract Catholic children (not that I think this would be the case) it would have to offer it's remaing places to non-catholics, not to do so would be unlawful.

The RISC paper has shown just how much the birth rates have increased outside of Richmond - in-borough children who currently have to travel outside of Richmond for their schooling will need to have a place here.

florist Mon 28-Nov-11 18:20:07

muminlondon - I am sure if the Catholic diocese agrees to such a school it would be on the basis that there won't be an oversupply of Catholic places for Catholic children. Besides, I thought that was what some people wanted: open admissions to Catholic schools - that would of course be the place if there was such an over supply so maybe you should welcome such an outcome (which I think unlikely) rather than decry it.

The Council will not be giving away land for 125 years - any least would require any provider on the site to provide quality education. What the Council is giving away if the Catholic school goes ahead is 10% of ongoing capital costs. Please don't make this a Catholic them and a 90% us sort of debate.

muminlondon Mon 28-Nov-11 18:50:24

But it's there is a 'market' within Catholic schools depending on their desirability/exclusivity - Oratory and Vaughan at the top, perhaps? The same top slicing and sideways squeezes and effect from neighbouring areas will happen as for community schools with universal admissions. And don't underestimate the 'boy-dominated' effect because I would certainly bet a fiver on that.

florist Mon 28-Nov-11 19:21:34

muminlondon - for 20 years and more now governments of both parties have promoted a market in state education so I don't disagree with your main point but it is not just a Catholic school phenomenon. Parents do seek to exercise choice about which school best suits their children's needs.

The issue here is that parents are not sending their children to existing "inclusive" state non faith schools in Richmond but there is an option of a provider coming in to Richmond which stands a good chance of offering a school - a Catholic VA school - that would be chosen by 100s of Richmond parents. That the school would not be open to all Richmond parents who were not of that faith doesn't undermine it as an option - just as a new grammar school would not be open to all.

muminlondon Mon 28-Nov-11 20:05:14

Florist, I agree that both parties in the last 20 years have created a fractured and complex system which has only exacerbated inequalities in society. It's the concept of 'choice' - actually, we just want one choice, just a place in a good - not even outstanding - local school. But some have many choices, while many in our relatively affluent (on average) borough have no choice. Soon that won't even mean a bad local school, just no local school at all. The link system creates it own anomalies - but even without it, there will soon be people with no place.

But the council will soon lose even more power over schools. Resources are limited. RISC is at least challenging the council after a very patronising dismissal of people's legitimate concerns by its leader, who no doubt was privately educated. But no, I'm not a spokesperson for RISC either, and ideally there would be two new schools which could include a Catholic one.

This has of course been expressed many times before.

florist Mon 28-Nov-11 21:05:48

muminlondon I sympathise with what you say. So, if there were two new schools what characteristics would the new non faith "inclusive" school have to have to meet the needs of parents like you.

akhan Mon 28-Nov-11 23:25:15

muminlondon - I agree with you that for years under different parties and officers, the council has not meet our expectations in relation to secondary schools. What frustrates me most is that the leader and my local Tory councillor cannot relate to our challenges and dismiss our arguments - it seems to be "my way or highway attitude" . There is also no point reaching to the Council officers who have to defend this political strategy. I am not sure who we can rely to address the concerns of other minorities in consultation.

muminlondon Tue 29-Nov-11 00:19:38

It would probably be a bit like Orleans Park, Teddington and Grey Court but just a little smaller - non-selective, representative of the local area, inclusive and multi-faith, co-ed and balanced between genders, safe, caring, encouraging imaginative and independent thought, cooperation and self-discipline. Bringing out the potential in everyone. All the things that are great about the schools I have mentioned. It's not rocket science.

Although the Clifden school in particular could be a boys' school so that Orleans and Teddington could have a more balanced gender mix.

BayJay Tue 29-Nov-11 06:50:05

"its leader, who no doubt was privately educated"
Muminlondon, one thing I found out recently is that you can log into Who's Who using your RuT Library card number. Just to clarify, according to Lord True's entry he went to Nottingham High School. Of course, I don't like to get too personal on this thread, but as its published information I'll make an exception.

muminlondon Tue 29-Nov-11 07:59:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seenbutnotheard Tue 29-Nov-11 08:19:13

BayJay - I would think very carefully if this is the sort of route that you want to go down, given some of the members of the RISC organising committee, including Jeremy Rodell and their school backgrounds...

wimpykid Tue 29-Nov-11 09:17:23

People don't have choice over which school they went to. It's usually their parents who decide at the age of 5 or 11 smile. I can't see how this is at all relevant to any of the arguments on either side.

seenbutnotheard Tue 29-Nov-11 09:18:12

I agree Wimpykid

BayJay Tue 29-Nov-11 10:07:28

wimpykid,seenbutnotheard, I agree that its not particularly relevant. I wasn't saying that it was. I was just clarifying the information. It looks like a fairly ordinary private school to me.

seenbutnotheard, I have no idea about the educational backgrounds of the RISC organising committee. JR's university education is on his LinkedIn profile, but I've seen nothing else published and don't really care.

It is interesting that our library cards give us access to Who's Who though, isn't it? I think so.

muminlondon Tue 29-Nov-11 21:14:42

Fair point, wimpykid, such details are not relevant to this particular debate, and not remarkable. It merely illustrates a general point that it is unusual to find elected politicians responsible for education policy who have experience of unselective state schools (either as a pupil or teacher).

ChrisSquire Wed 30-Nov-11 01:09:55

muminlondon: you are quite right to make this point; a rare example of a senior politician educated at a comp is Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and a member of the 'quad' (gang of four) that make the tough decisions in the Coalition Government:

Born in Edinburgh, Alexander lived on the island of Colonsay as a boy before his family moved to Glengarry. He was educated at Lochaber High School, a six year comprehensive secondary school located in the town of Fort William . . (wikipedia)

akhan Wed 30-Nov-11 07:18:02

I want to see all the councillors & council officers working on this to be transparent with the public and declare their relevant interest. Interest could be in various forms such as they or their family members may be Catholics, kids have been or will go to Catholic schools or they are trustees of charities. This is a fair ask.

wimpykid Wed 30-Nov-11 08:23:41

I thought this was the case anyway, certainly with councillors. However I don't understand why you would ask all officers to declare these interests. They are employees of the council and I would have thought are supposed to be apolitical. Surely their job is to implement policies, not influence them?

seenbutnotheard Wed 30-Nov-11 08:31:45

It is the case with the councillors, as well as others, like the two Parent Governor Representative on the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee who have already declared that they support the RISC campaign.

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 10:45:42

akhan, if you think that a particular councillor has not declared a relevant interest then you should raise it with Democratic Services (see council website for contact details). However, I think the legal position is that there is no requirement for councillors to declare their religion. Just because somebody has a certain religion, practising or otherwise, you can't assume that they have particular opinions, or are representing the doctrine of that religion in their decisions. Where councillors have children at local Catholic schools, or are governors at those schools, they already declare their interest.

Officers aren't required to declare any interests, as far as I'm aware.

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 10:48:45
seenbutnotheard Wed 30-Nov-11 11:32:00

I do, wholeheartedly agree that it is important that councillors are honest and declare their interest.

I was disturbed to see that Councillor Stephen Knight, who is leader of the Lib Dems has signed the RISC petition, which rules out a Catholic VA school but at the same time, at the last full council meeting was saying that no school should be ruled out prior to a full consultation hmm

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 12:00:11

"which rules out a Catholic VA school"
It doesn't rule out a Catholic VA school with an inclusive admissions policy. smile

seenbutnotheard Wed 30-Nov-11 12:21:36

It does, in effect, rule out a Catholic VA school. I think we all know that.

Perhaps not an Academy, but given that the RISC petition talks of not wanting Catholic children to be prioritised at all (and 50% would be, even with an Academy) I'm not sure that RISC support your view BayJay.

In terms of a VA school, on the RISC website it dismisses this because "Catholic Voluntary Aided schools set their own admissions policies"

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 13:08:00

Seenbutnotheard, I don't speak for RISC, but I expect you're right that their official line would be that only a 100% inclusive admissions policy would do. However, I'm equally sure that many (though I don't know how many) of their supporters would be satisfied with less. There are black and white and all shades of grey on both sides, and some of the shades of grey overlap between the two campaigns.

seenbutnotheard Wed 30-Nov-11 13:56:04

The point I am making BayJay, is by Councillor Knight, and others signing up to the RISC campaign it is not difficut to see why many Catholics (and others) feel that he has made his mind up already.
That in itself, is fine, many people are clear about what they would like to see happen on both sides already, but I found his speech at the council meeting to be a little less than honest.

I am hoping, like you are I'm sure, that the true views of all will have the opportunity to be expressed within the consultation.

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 16:49:28

Well the local Lib Dems have made their position of prioritising a community school quite clear, though officially they would still favour a Catholic school in the future. They didn't say what type of Catholic school though. As we know, Vince Cable's view is that it should be a 50:50 Academy. I imagine that among the ranks of the local Lib Dems there are variations of opinion, and Cllr Knight's is reflected in the fact that he has signed the RISC petition. There are a few other Lib Dem councillors who've signed it too. However, there's at least one Lib Dem councillor who is a governor of a Catholic primary school. I think ChrisSquire mentioned in the past that they decide on their policies by voting.

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 17:08:29

Has everyone had notification of the Linked School Policy consultation via their schools yet? I know that the council has written to all of the schools asking for the information to be passed on. A friend with children at Stanley had a brief two-liner in their newsletter, and another at St James' has had nothing yet. My own children's school sent out a copy of the council's own introduction to the consultation, and a link to the relevant bit of the council's website.

Jeev Wed 30-Nov-11 21:03:14

I have been informed by my councillor that it is the Liberal Democrat policy at the national level that all new faith schools should be inclusive - they want pupils to choose schools and not the other way around. That is also a core component of the coalition agreement. Chris maybe could you please share more details on the Lib Dem policy.

It is also what we are seeing in the form of 2 new CoE inclusive schools in London 1) Secondary: schools.london.anglican.org/119/north-ealing-church-of-england-academy-necea and 2) Primary: www.stlukesschool.org.uk/. This clearly shows that faith schools can successfully incorporate inclusive admissions. Further BayJay I believe that in the earlier thread you also posted examples of inclusive Catholic schools that have opened in the UK.

Inclusiveness is not just about pupils admissions but also staff recruitment and career development. Some of the teachers, I have spoken to are concerned about employment opportunities in the current economic climate.

I have respect for faith schools - they are an integral part of our history and have specialised in the delivery of education, however in our diverse society enocurage them to be inclusive.

I supported the inclusive school petition as it is is entirely consistent with having a faith including Catholic school that is inclusive in Richmond. My personal belief and what I have gathered from many others is that the inclusive model is healthier for community cohesion in Richmond.

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 21:42:17

Well said Jeev.

Here is some information about the Lib Dem national policy from ChrisSquire's local LibDem website.

seenbutnotheard Wed 30-Nov-11 22:14:13

Jeev, I respect your views, but I don't agree.

I think that inclusive policy in Richmond needs to be seen in a wider remit than this individual school.
Catholic children have no choice but to leave this borough to continue their education within a school which meets their faith needs, and, as we have heard this will become more and more difficult in the coming years.
I understand that not everyone sees the need for a faith school, and this, in itself is fine given that there are seven non-faith schools already in the borough.

I am aware that in some areas of the country, the only choice available for parents is a faith school and if this were the case in Richmond I would struggle more to defend my position. But this is not the case here, is it?

The Clifden site will be a new school in an area where there are already great schools available. The RISC petition talks of a Catholic VA school excluding 90% population, but this would be the case of any school that was going to be catchment led too would it not?

BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 22:32:49

"but this would be the case of any school that was going to be catchment led too would it not?"
No its different. If I really, really wanted to get my children into (for instance) Orleans Park badly enough I could sell my little terraced house on the other side of Twickenham and buy or rent an even smaller house, or more likely a flat, in St Margarets. It would be an extreme thing to do, and I would be competing with others doing the same thing, but nobody would tell me I couldn't do it on the basis of my religion. I would be exercising a choice. However if I wanted to get my children into a 100% VA school at Clifden there wouldn't be anything that I could do about it because I'm not Catholic. That represents no choice. Do you see? I can't 'choose' to be a Catholic.

muminlondon Wed 30-Nov-11 22:35:11

I can certainly see a strong commitment to a Catholic school, and a wish not to have to travel. Not sure the numbers would be enough without some coming in from other boroughs though. It depends on whether the Council sees this as a priority.

There are ways round proximity as the only criteria - e.g. as a boys' school it could have or would need to have as wide a catchment as possible. Although random allocation may not be that popular with parents.

Apart from inclusive admissions and recruitment - does anyone know any other differences in governance between a VA school and an academy?

seenbutnotheard Wed 30-Nov-11 22:37:54

So it is ok if the 'choice' is there for those that can afford to make it so?

We are talking about the black hole that is 1:7 of our primary schools being Catholic and trying to redress the balance of 0:8 (or soon to be 0:9?) of our secondary schools being so.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 06:11:14

"So it is ok if the 'choice' is there for those that can afford to make it so?"
No, its not "ok". Its competitive and unpleasant. If all of our secondary schools were evenly spread out, and of consistent quality, it wouldn't be necessary. In my view, that is the ideal that we should all be working towards. However, in the meantime, creating a school that people can't even 'aspire' to get into just makes matters worse for the majority. Non-Catholics who live in the vicinity of Clifden and Waldegrave can 'aspire' to get their children into Orleans/Teddington/Tiffin/Eton, and if they're determined enough they can do something about turning their aspiration into reality. However, they can't 'aspire' to be Catholic any more than they can 'aspire' to give their boys a sex-change and get them into Waldegrave.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 06:19:58

"We are talking about the black hole that is 1:7 of our primary schools being Catholic"
I think that argument is about as logical as saying that because 1-in-8 of our secondary schools is girls-only, then 1-in-8 of our primaries should be girls-only too. Our primaries are the way they are for understandable historical reasons. If the system was being set up from scratch, nobody would be advocating that 1-in-7 primary schools should be for Catholics only. We have to create new schools based on how the world is today, not how it was in the past.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 06:31:11

"does anyone know any other differences in governance between a VA school and an academy?"
I'm not aware of any. The only reason I've heard cited for setting this school up as VA is because of the admissions rules for new Academies. I expect it would convert from VA to Academy status within a year or two of opening, in line with the council's policy to encourage all schools to be academies. If it does that then it gets to keep whatever admissions policy is set up under its VA status.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 08:01:31

BayJay you are woefully out of touch if you think that for most of us, to be able to move to get into the school we want is something that anyone can 'aspire to'.

This argument, for most Catholics, is not about a 'good school'. It is about our children having the opportunity to continue their education in a Catholic school. I know that you don't beleive that - I'm not trying to change your mind, just stating a fact as I see it.

Historical reasons for schools are important I think, this new school as the opportunity to redress the balance without having a negative effect on the school choices that others all ready have.
There is no way that you can say that if the system was being started up from scratch that "nobody would be advocating that 1-in-7 primary schools should be for Catholics only"

But then, I think you already know that.

muminlondon Thu 01-Dec-11 08:35:12

It's good that you would support the school even it is wasn't 'outstanding'. The choice has been further restricted by the link policy but many Catholics getting a place out of borough have found 'outstanding' schools (and a bigger proportion staying in state schools than going private compared to the local average). They would need to support this school 100%. I don't think they are immune to 'market' pressures.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 12:42:20

muminlondon - I agree that if the site is a Catholic school it will require commitment and support from the Catholic community; it might be quite a 'Leap of Faith' initially, but we Catholics are pretty good at that grin

As I have said on the previous thread... '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.' It is not all about Outstanding Ofsted status.

As a community we will also have responsibility for helping the Diocese raise the 7 million needed to convert the buildings so demonstration of this commitment will begin far in advance of the school even opening its doors.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 14:51:40

Seenbutnotheard, you know that I wasn't saying it is easy for people to move house to access schools. By suggesting that I was in order to belittle my argument you've chosen to ignore the point I was making. I was contrasting distance-discrimination, which affects everybody, with religious discrimination which only (in this case) affects non-Catholics. Surely you appreciate the difference?

It's hard to use analogies without being accused of trivialising things, but imagine you have a family of 10 children and very little money, just enough for the basics. One child shows a talent for music and wants piano lessons. You might choose to sell something that benefits the whole family, like the car, in order to pay for them. You might justify that on the grounds that the talented child is special and the whole family can be proud of her, but surely you would understand if the rest of the children felt that their needs were taking a lower priority?

Re the 'history' point, I think you must realise that, given the coalition policy on new faith schools, if all our schools were demolished tomorrow, and a new system put in place, it would be very different to the status quo.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 15:09:49

I did not say that it would be easy BayJay, I used the 'aspire' description that you gave and highlighted that for most families, this is not possible.

I really do believe that the location of this school, and so the distance-discrimation is very relevant in this case as the area is already serviced by very disirable schools.

In terms of the school system being started up from scratch, again, I used your words when you said that "nobody would be advocating that 1-in-7 primary schools should be for Catholics only" - I see that you are now talking about Lib-Dem policy, rather than individuals. There are many people who would continue to advocate for Catholic Schools.

By the way, no school is for Catholics only - this would be unlawful - schools are obliged to admit children of other, or no faith if the school is undersubcribed.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 15:21:01

Seenbutnotheard, I wasn't talking about Lib Dem policy. I was talking about the new Education Act. Nobody would be advocating Catholic-only schools because the new law sends a clear message that they are no longer to be considered as a first-choice option.

The area is only served by good schools if you have girls. If you have boys you already feel discriminated against, and so many people feel that this new school should be used to redress that.

Kewcumber Thu 01-Dec-11 15:35:31

"Catholic children have no choice but to leave this borough to continue their education within a school which meets their faith needs"

Don't be dramatic, they have choice - they have the same choice of attending the same schools as the rest of us in addition to any catholic schools they can get offers for.

They will still be catholic if they don't go to a catholic schools and I know Catholics (in my own family) who (whilst they might have preferred the choice) would be most offended at the inference that they are somehow lesser catholics for not having had a catholic education.

It what the vast majority of people of other religions do in the borough. The privilege of a catholic primary education available for historical reasons does not confer a right to a secondary education in that religion at the expense of others. I would argue (and have repeatedly) that prioritising a catholic secondary at this time is a foolish move on the part of the council.

And if better informed people than me believe that the Clifden site is not the right site for a new community school, then they shouldn't be buying it but spending their time and money on assessing the reality of what provision is needed, where its needed and when its needed. When the provision for all the boroughs children is at least adequate then they should be assessing the preferences of any minority groups (all of them).

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 15:45:25

Kewcumber, I will repeat my post to akhan earlier...

"you quite spectacularly miss the point that Catholic families want their children to continue to with their faith based education.

1:7 primary schools are Catholic. The proposal is that just 1:9 secondary schools should also be so.

It is not the case that this just solves ‘our’ problem – if Catholic children can not get into schools outside for the borough, they will have to take ‘inclusive’ school places; why not consider the possibility of allowing these children to continue their education in a Catholic school?

Really, what is so abhorrent about this?"

The RISC document gives the figures regarding, for example, a rising birth rate of 40% in Hounslow.
If Catholic children will need to be educated in Richmond, really, why not allow them to have their Faith School?

They are still Richmond children. They still require an education - this is not "at the expense of others" as if they can't get into out of borough schools, the LA will have to accommodate them elsewhere.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 15:50:57

BayJay - I would be shocked if the catchment area for the Clifden Road site and Orleans did not overlap.

I think that I have said earlier and in regards to the council giving priority to an all boys school, although it would not exactly make me happy, I could at least understand the argument given that the borough already has an all-girls school.
I guess that, given 50% of the population have boys, if this was wanted it would come out in the consultation.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 15:57:41

50% of the population are boys...

LittleMrsMuppet Thu 01-Dec-11 15:59:28

seenbutnotheard - and I'd be shocked if the catchment areas for Clifden Road, Gumley, St Mark's and Gunnersbury didn't overlap too.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 16:04:16

I think though, LittleMrsMuppet, that the RISC document has highlighted that the birth rates for the Boroughs surrounding Richmond is rising at a greater rate, so catchment areas in these boroughs will be smaller than they already are.

LittleMrsMuppet Thu 01-Dec-11 16:08:53

Oh for goodness sake, it's not going to have gone up that much. The Clifden site is on the Hounslow border and within a couple of miles of the afore mentioned schools.

Apart from anything else, do you know for certain that this increased birthrate is in the Catholic community? Given Hounslow is home to a large Asian community, it may well be that the big increase is in Muslim and Hindu children. I haven't done any analysis on it myself though. Have you?

Kewcumber Thu 01-Dec-11 16:10:32

"the LA will have to accommodate them elsewhere" - quite right. What is "abhorrent" (your words not mine) is for the council to prioritise delivering a school of a single faith at a time when the provision for all children is not adequate.

No single faith should be given a priority when the council has in some cases spectacularly failed to address the needs of the majority for many years.

Its about priorities. I think a single faith school should be a priority.

I understand you do, but I think you are wrong. No amount of argument will convince either of us differently I suspect. For what its worth, whatever the school at Clifden is unlikely to impact my son although it may free up more spaces in Christs which could benefit us. Its the principle of it not my own family agenda.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 16:23:57

The Hounslow birth rate I quoted was taken from the RISC document presented at council last week.
I agree, that I don't know the breakdown of the data, but I don't think that it is unreasonable to suggest that Catholics are included in this increase too.

Kewcumber - I assume that you meant to write that you don't think that a single faith school should be a priority smile

My point is, that if the council needs to accept the fact that Catholic children will need to be educated in borough, I don't think that it is unreasonable that they try to provide a school that meets their faith needs if these children will be taking up inclusive places anyway.

I also agree though that this debate can not move any further along until Michael Gove makes his decision. And I really hope that, whatever decision is made, this happens sooner, rather than later.

ChrisSquire Thu 01-Dec-11 17:09:48

Re: BayJay Wed 30-Nov-11 16:49:28: ‘ . . I think ChrisSquire mentioned in the past that they decide on their policies by voting.’ Just so: the Lib Dem group of councillors (24 at present) debate the issues before voting on a policy line recommended by their spokesperson (opposition)/Cabinet member (in control). I was present as an observer the last time the Clifden Road matter was debated and heard several sides of the argument well put.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Cllr Stephen Knight has opinions of his own somewhat different to the policy line taken by the group as a whole: ? . . We support the Catholic archdiocese's wish for a state Catholic Secondary school in the borough, but, with uncertainties over available resources, it should not be at the expense of community secondary school provision. The latter must have the first call on available public money and land. I hope the Government will fund both." The Lib Dems will not get a chance to decide anything about new school places until after the next borough election in May 2014 - and then only if they win.

There is, I believe, no such internal democracy in the Conservative group, which practices ‘democratic centralism’: elect a leader and then do as you’re told.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 17:09:49

"I would be shocked if the catchment area for the Clifden Road site and Orleans did not overlap"
They will overlap on the Orleans (East) side of Clifden. However, when the Linked School policy goes (and I'm 99% sure that it will) Orleans' current catchment will shrink considerably. One forecast (and we don't know how accurate that is) says that it is not likely to have a radius of more than about 1.5km, so much smaller than at present. Certainly those families who live in the vicinity of Waldegrave will no longer have access to Orleans Park. I know families who are agonising over whether to send their girls to Waldegrave, knowing that their younger sons will in future have no chance of accessing Orleans Park without a sibling link.

BayJay Thu 01-Dec-11 17:37:00

ChrisSquire, as an aside, we don't seem to have any independent councillors at the moment. What's your take on why that is, and is it something that has been consistently the case in recent years?

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 18:07:48

I don't think there has been an independent councillor since 1964

................................ C LD L other
2010 Conservative....... 30 24 - -
2006 Liberal Democrat.. 19 35 - -
2002 Conservative ...... 39 15 - -
1998 Liberal Democrat.. 14 34 4 -
1994 Liberal Democrat.. 7 43 2 -
1990 Liberal Democrat.. 4 48 - -
1986 Liberal/SDP Alliance 3 49 - -
1982 Conservative....... 26 26 - -
1978 Conservative...... 34 18 - -
1974 Conservative...... 36 10 8 -
1971 Conservative...... 37 3 14 -
1968 Conservative...... 54 - - -
1964 Conservative...... 41 - 12 1

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 18:08:40

Sorry about the table - did not come out as well as I had hoped, but you get the general idea smile

ChrisSquire Thu 01-Dec-11 18:19:32

BayJay: it is just how things are in this borough, where the two-party battle between Lib Dems and Tories is hard fought and always has been ever since Cllr Harry Hall confidently asserted that ‘pigs would fly’ before the Lib Dems took control of the council. Both parties are always on the look out for anyone willing to stand so there is no pool of wannabe candidates.

Most London boroughs are similar, with no independents except when a Cllr resigns the party whip between elections; they all either stand down or are defeated by a party candidate. However Hounslow elected a group of ‘residents association‘ cllrs in 2006 large enough to share control of the council with Labour until 2010 when they were all defeated I think.

I do not know how many other boroughs have similarly successful groups in the past - very few I think.

muminlondon Thu 01-Dec-11 18:57:15

seenbutnotheard I respect your choice of the local Catholic school, and understand your desire for a local secondary to transfer to. But it is as you say a leap of faith that all Catholics would support this school as it would have as many places as the numbers going out of borough.

This comparison of school destinations for two neighbouring schools, both unlinked, similar profile, rating and results, does illustrate that geographical discrimination. Except that Clifden gives the pupils of one school an extra option not available to most pupils in the other.

Marshgate 2011 (newsletter)

19 school destinations
state = 52%
private = 48%
 
St Elizabeth’s school profile (September 2010)
 
20 school destinations
state = 63% (nearly all outstanding)
private = 36%

This is more or less the pattern for all the schools from Richmond to Barnes I think.

muminlondon Thu 01-Dec-11 19:41:33

Whoops, counted Toby Young's free school as a private school. Wonder why I did that?!

Marshgate 2011
19 school destinations
state = 55%
private = 45%
 
St Elizabeth’s 2010
20 schools
state = 63% (most ‘outstanding’)
private = 37%
 

Kewcumber Thu 01-Dec-11 20:06:12

From memory muminlondon I think Kew riverside only has about 10% going private where can I check?

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 20:09:55

I think that the difficulty is that we are never to know which children ended up going private because they could not get into a Catholic school and which would have always made that choice.

I'm not sure what the answer is to get a more acurate reflection. I would hazzard a guess though that if people are really not interested in the provision of a Catholic secondary school in Richmond they may not complete the consultation papers, as this takes a little more effort than just signing a petition, so perhaps all will become more clear a little later down the line.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 20:33:50

Sorry, also to pick you up on your comment that "as it would have as many places as the numbers going out of borough" - that is not quite true...

I believe that the school will have a maximum of 150 places per year and last year I think that 220(ish) children left Catholic primary schools and then travelled out of Borough.

muminlondon Thu 01-Dec-11 20:44:18

Kewcumber, I can't see that info either but you could probably get a copy of the school transfer destinations from the school office. 10% sounds low for an unlinked school but being small that would fluctuate more. Some schools put it in bulletins to parents towards the end of the summer term, but I notice a few favoured linked schools making a big feature of it on their website. A recent profile of schools with a sub heading 'Where do pupils go afterwards?' is published on this school finder site.

muminlondon Thu 01-Dec-11 21:03:59

I thought I saw a figure of about 200 on a council FOI request on RISC's website. But not sure if those from out of borough in RuT RC schools included. Still high though. I think it would still be a culture shock to have 10 options narrow down to one - equally I can't see tbe fairness of it just being another choice attracting pupils from other boroughs but excluding most RuT ones.

Wish I could work some cohesive magic on my own child's cohort (to stick to state over private would be a start).

akhan Thu 01-Dec-11 22:50:50

seenbutnotheard - will be interested in what choice you will make for your kids if you had 3 options in 2013 1) An average Catholic VA school at Clifden 2) An outstanding academy 3) An outstanding Catholic outside borough but closer to yr home compared to Clifden. I respect yr views but do not agree with yr argument on continuity of education for 2 reasons a) at some stage ( university or work) kids to have enter the real world that is not segregated b) what about continuity of education for those who want community schools. The teaching at HA and TA is based on Sweedish system and want in line with what our kids are learning at primary level. Should we all opt out of these academies and ask for new school under pretext of continuity of education ? We can all discuss till the cows come home on merits and demerits of type of school at Clifden. What is important is that Council puts all options for school types on the table and seeks public opinion from everybody and then in a fair manner evaluates them to make a decision. We are in a democracy and not a dictatorship and do not want a decision just based on a 3 line whip issued by the Council leader and no genuine public input. But lets remember that community harmony is priceless - Here is also some food 4 thought - www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/29/northern-ireland-segregated-schools-peter-robinson

Kora Thu 01-Dec-11 22:56:31

Hi Kewcumber, it was 26% went private last year at KR, which is a bit higher but clear majority went state including grammar.

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 23:35:45

Akhan - the school on the Clifden site will be my children's closest school.

I have already said, several times, that '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.'

It is not all about Outstanding Ofsted status - I know that you would like to have everyone believe this, but it really is not true.

The council have already said that they will engage in a full public consultation - what more do you want them to say?

Again - My point is, that if the council needs to accept the fact that Catholic children will need to be educated in borough, I don't think that it is unreasonable that they try to provide a school that meets their faith needs if these children will be taking up inclusive places anyway.

In terms of the type of schools that the Acadamies are, I did not really get involved in the consultation about this, prior to the change over - did you? The conversion to Acadamy status was initiated by the Lib Dems was is not?

seenbutnotheard Thu 01-Dec-11 23:45:44

As to the article that you linked to Akhan - as interesting as I find NI politics, I really do not see that many of the arguments bare any relation to what is going on here.

The issue around religion in NI is very much political with Catholics favouring an Irish republic and 'Protestants' being against it.

ChrisSquire Fri 02-Dec-11 01:22:53

seenbutnotheard: we do not know what the council consultation will amount to and what influence if any it will have on what happens. I suggested on the earlier thread that it will do no more than invite residents to choose which saint the school should be named after - St Thomas More would be a good choice given the borough’s strong Tudor links. I still think that is what will happen.

Hampton, Whitton and Shene schools were converted to academies in order to get access to the substantial funding that only academies could get from the then Labour government; they needed an external sponsor to tak eiver the government of the school from the governors. These schools are or soon will be much improved as a result.

The new Tory academies do not attract similar funding but there is a much smaller bribe instead, sufficient to get all our schools to convert. This bribe comes of course out of the budget for the rest. They do not need an external sponsor - they are in effect, I think, a recreation of the old ‘direct grant’ schools. How well this uncontrolled experiment in school reform will work we will find out as the years go by.

seenbutnotheard Fri 02-Dec-11 10:34:46

Chris - you do make me laugh sometimes - I am going to ignore your quip about what the consultaion will consist of - I have a little more faith that it will be tad more thorough than that - after all, it was you who mentioned that if it were not, we might be in the situation of someone requesting a Judicial Review.

I agree with your statment that Acadamies "are, or soon will be very much improved as a result" and I think that the decision in reagards to what this new school has the potential to be needs to be made in light of this.

seenbutnotheard Fri 02-Dec-11 10:50:03

Sorry for my rubbish spelling blush

akhan Fri 02-Dec-11 11:36:00

Chris - You have high expectations if you think Lord True will consult even on name of the school. As reported in press last week, he has already decided that the name will be Pope Benedict school. So the consultation could well be be " Do you understand that we will open Pope Benedict School at Clifden Road site?".

ChrisSquire Fri 02-Dec-11 15:47:47

seenbutnotheard: I was in fact only thinking of their buildings when I wrote this; how rapidly that is being translated into improved performance I don't know. My impression from what's been posted here is that Richmond Park Academy in particular still has a lot of improving to do before it will become a serious option for the Twickenham middle class, who must regard it as no more than an inner London comp of the kind they moved to Twickenham to get away from. However I will be glad to be told that I'm wrong.

BayJay Fri 02-Dec-11 16:14:18

It's easy to poke fun at the 'middle class' Chris, however education is a good leveller. My experience of Twickenham parents is that whatever class background they're from they generally pretty well educated and aspirational. Unfortunately they're also very mobile, and people tend to move on to avoid problems rather than stick around to try and change things. That leads to a very transient community. I moved into my street 8 years ago, and most of the other 30+ houses have changed hands at least once since then. Good schools ultimately lead to strong stable communities.

akhan Fri 02-Dec-11 16:52:51

Council is refusing to acknowledge the scenario that places could be short by 2013 and using unrealistic assumptions that Hounslow will have spaces for all its pupils who leave Richmond schools. They would want all non catholic minorities to move out to Hounslow - it would be better for them to spit out their prejudice, rather than fudge the numbers.

ChrisSquire Fri 02-Dec-11 17:12:24

BayJay: No fun was being poked. It is well known that Richmond borough is where inner south London’s middle class move to when they wish to breed.

Your annual turnover (more than 12 %) seems very high to me: Zoopla state that the turnover for TW1 is 20 % in 5 years, = 4 % p.a. or 100 % in 25 years rather than 8. Here in East Twickenham the family homes close to Orleans Infants and secondary school turn over very slowly and are snapped up for inflated prices when they come on the market. Pushy pushchair parents and their kids are everywhere.

BayJay Fri 02-Dec-11 17:39:23

"It is well known that Richmond borough is where inner south London’s middle class move to when they wish to breed"

Chris, I'm not disagreeing with that, but it's a horribly cynical way of expressing it.

My street, and the surrounding streets, do have a very high turnover. Young couples move in from places like Clapham/Fulham/Hammersmith. They generally have a baby within the first year, maybe another a year or two later. Then they either move out of the area completely before the oldest child starts Reception, or else they stick around for a bit and do up their house (usually loft extension & kitchen extension). In the past they then tended to move once the older child started secondary school. However, more recently people have started to move sooner. Those with girls are moving closer to Waldegrave, and those with boys move closer to either Orleans Park or Teddington, depending on which one their primary is linked to.

We also have a huge problem with parking which pushes people into moving earlier than they might have originally expected, but that issue is worthy of another thread in itself!

muminlondon Fri 02-Dec-11 18:13:45

A bit off topic but since we are waiting for Michael Gove - he's a man of surprises isn't he?

BayJay Fri 02-Dec-11 19:04:41

Chris, thanks for the link to Zoopla. I searched on my street and there have been 20 sales since we moved in. However, there are also some rental properties that have changed hands multiple times.

Jeev Fri 02-Dec-11 22:38:49

Akhon = I am really sorry your community feels prejudiced. Clearly we have a good history of communal harmony and integration in Richmond and do want to sustain that. Lets hope the fundamentalist attitude of exclusivity is relaxed and the Council shows more humility, respect and tolerance. It will have to respond to the voice of over 3000 ordinary people from all backgrounds, all over Richmond, who have voluntarily and without any whips from schools or churches or organisation demanded inclusive education.

BayJay Sat 03-Dec-11 07:13:02

Just linking to this BBC article about Catholic schools switching to academy status. The Westminster and Southwark diocese are both consulting about switching their existing VA schools to Academy status. That backs up the generally accepted view that a VA school at Clifden would convert to an academy soon after opening, and is only proposing to open as a VA school to get round the 50:50 admissions rules of new academies.

Cat2405 Sat 03-Dec-11 09:30:17

Richmond Council press release dated 02/12/2011 'High quality secondary education for all'. Does this tell us anything new?

ChrisSquire Sat 03-Dec-11 10:15:51

The press release relates to a Nov 24 cabinet paper minutes Secondary School Priorities which says:

. . 3.3 Catholic secondary school: The proposed establishment of a Catholic secondary school would be subject to consultation and the statutory proposal process. The consultation will be considered in a future report to Cabinet . . It covers the same topics as the paper for the scrutiny meeting on Nov 21.

BayJay Sat 03-Dec-11 10:22:49

Cat2405, no, nothing new. It relates to the strategy presented at the last scrutiny meeting and approved at the subsequent cabinet meeting. RISC responded with some additional analysis and have also issued a press release. It's not on their website yet but it was put on their facebook page this morning. Maybe someone could post the link as I'm on my mobile at the mo and it's more difficult.

ChrisSquire Sat 03-Dec-11 10:53:58

I can't find their Facebook page: facebook "Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign"

Cat2405 Sat 03-Dec-11 11:26:53

I think this is what you mean BayJay: www.facebook.com/groups/faithschoolsrichmond

muminlondon Sat 03-Dec-11 14:33:01

It does rather strike me as odd that the 'quality' places they are talking about are all in faith schools. 150 new places in a Catholic school, 30 more in a CofE school. 40 less in the academies, 40 less in Grey Court (back to its usual number). Perhaps 50 more in a Maharishi free school? There's not much of a choice if you don't want a faith school - either because you're not of the faith in quesion or just prefer a 100% inclusive school. The council's concept of 'choice' is questionable.

ChrisSquire Sat 03-Dec-11 17:05:24

The Admissions Body (of the Lancashire Maharishi school) is the Management Committee of Maharishi Free School. The maximum number of children admitted to any year group is 15.

This would mean 165 places in toto once the school runs to Year 11 but only half a reception class each year.

Classes at Maharishi Free School are kept small to enable our teachers to know their pupils very well and for individual classes to form strong, supportive relationships . .
This policy means that pupils in the primary school (Reception to Year 6) will be in a class of 20 pupils or less, while pupils in the secondary school are in classes of 12 or less . .

florist Sat 03-Dec-11 20:57:22

Bayjay you say that strong schools build strong communities. Inmy view it is precisely the reverse: strong communities create strong schools. Catholic schools are effective because the community from which it draws (religious rather than postcode) is cohesive. Cohesive whether the student is English, polish, African or irish because they share a catholic - universal - creed, philosophy, faith and way of life.

akhan Sat 03-Dec-11 21:51:17

florist strong communities do create strong schools and vice versa. Our community is very diverse and the local community school's assembly looks like a UN assembly! The community has grown stronger accepting each others diversity and religious beliefs. The school prides on this family in which neighbours love and help each other. The family shares a global, tolerant and non discriminatory philosophy - the modern British way of life.

florist Sat 03-Dec-11 22:10:31

Akham spare you violently agreeing with me?

florist Sat 03-Dec-11 22:12:55

Akan so you are violently agreeing with me?

florist Sat 03-Dec-11 22:19:19

Bayjay why do you judge the motives for a
The catholic va option?

akhan Sat 03-Dec-11 22:43:22

florist what i meant was that in reality it happens both ways strong communities help schools as well as schools help communities. In my experience our school has helped build a stronger community. I would be really concerned if a religiously exclusive school is set in my neighbourhood that discriminates pupils on the basis of religion. That would not build stronger local community infact it would divide it!

BayJay Sat 03-Dec-11 22:59:42

"why do you judge the motives for the catholic va option?"

I assume you mean "why do you say the motives for choosing the VA option are only related to the admissions criteria?". If you have evidence to the contrary I'd be happy to hear it, but its certainly not being denied by the Diocese or the Council.

The admissions criteria of new schools is the Catholic church's only remaining publicly declared objection to the academy model. The church has been lobbying the government to create a VA Academy model that would allow them to bypass the 50:50 rule, but have so far been unsuccesful.

Existing VA schools in the Diocese of Westminster are consulting on converting to Academy status (through which process they can keep their existing admissions criteria). LBRuT council want all borough schools to convert to Academy status, including the VA schools. The obvious model for any new school at Clifden is an Academy.

muminlondon Sun 04-Dec-11 00:33:43

Akhan what a great way of putting it and I couldn't agree with you more. In London so many of us come from somewhere else. It was only when I had a child that I rediscovered the strength and generosity of a local community and it really took off with the school links..

BayJay Sun 04-Dec-11 07:11:36

muminlondon, akhan I agree with you both.

When I first moved "down south", fresh from university, I lived in Guildford where I felt much more conscious of my elsewhere-accent and non-home-counties roots. Moving to Twickenham felt much more comfortable because everyone I met was from somewhere else. I was working/commuting at the time, so didn't really notice the community very much, but that all changed when I had children. Now I do feel part of a very strong local community, based around ante-natal groups, pre-school activites and primary school networks. That has led me to become more active in my community too, on both a borough level and a street level (we had a cracking street-party for the Royal Wedding, and the Borough of Richmond had the highest number of party applications in the country, indicative of a good strong sense of community generally). I would like that sense of community to continue as my children move on to secondary school. When I see my children's friends drifting away because of house-move decisions based on future school-place provision (generally combined with a dose of parking angst), it saddens me.

BayJay Sun 04-Dec-11 07:20:38

Florist, from paragraph 21 of this document "The Director stated that the Archdiocese was not seeking to open a faith academy as this would limit the number of places they could reserve for Catholic children.", and later in the same section: "Faith academies were currently not welcomed by any Roman Catholic Archdiocese Board, as they limited the number of faith places. This was expected to change in the future when various issues had been resolved between them and the government."

Jeev Sun 04-Dec-11 09:49:45

I would be keen on getting more views from those living on Clifden Road and neighbouring streets on the impact of the proposed Catholic VA school on their community. I believe that they have a very close knit community. Both Catholic and non Catholic neighbours are very nervous about a divisive proposal. Maybe people who live further afield should consider the impact on Clifden community harmony

BayJay Sun 04-Dec-11 10:21:00

Jeev, I know several people living in and around Clifden road, and you're right that they are unhappy about what is going on. They are intelligent and vocal people and are communicating their views quite strongly to their councillors.

BayJay Sun 04-Dec-11 12:54:18

I just noticed an advert for the Maharishi Free School in the Primary Times (which covers south-west London and is distributed via schools, libraries etc). It says "If you live in Richmond Borough you can register today". Am I being pedantic, or does that fly in the face of the Greenwich Judgement? If I lived in another borough and was naiive about these things I might see that and think I couldn't register for the school (which is close to the borough boundary).

ChrisSquire Sun 04-Dec-11 13:56:59

BayJay: you are right as usual; it also contradicts their admission policy which states Any pupil will be admitted . . If oversubscribed they will use distance.

akhan Wed 07-Dec-11 06:47:55

People in Clifden catchment have expressed concerns but are not getting proper support from their local councillors - especially in the Twickenham Riverside and surrounding wards. Especially one of them is very anti inclusive education and supports this Divide and Rule policy. Others who seem to be sympathetic at best, seem to have been ineffective in influencing their leadership team.

ChrisSquire Wed 07-Dec-11 11:12:58

Akhan: your neighbours who live in West and North Twickenham, Whitton, Heathfield (and indeed Ham) are, I trust, getting a sympathetic if powerless response from their Lib Dem councillors? Cllr Malcolm Eady, Fulwell & Hampton Hill, is the Lib Dem schools spokesperson and leads on this issue.

The residents of Riverside ward did, in their infinite wisdom, throw out their Lib Dem councillors in what had been a strong Lib Dem ward - now they see the consequences, like them or not.

Unfortunately this issue has become part of the party battle and the Tories have closed ranks solidly behind their leaders so far. Do keep pestering them however, as it my have an effect eventually.

We hear that Cllr Sam Salvoni is selling up her shop and will move to Cornwall in the New Year, which will mean a by-election in Riverside ward - which will be a hard fought contest. If anyone would like to stand for the Lib Dems (our defeated Cllrs have all retired) please contact us on enquiries@twickenhamlibdems.co.uk

From the latest ^RISC newsletter^: ‘ . . Free Schools: The Council says there are currently three potential proposals for Free Schools in the borough. The Department for Education - not the Council - will decide which, if any, will go ahead. The national success rate for 2011 applicants (schools opening in 2012) was 1 in 5. The previous year it was 1 in 10. The only proposer to have gone public so far is the Maharishi School, where use of the Council's Oldfield House site in Hampton is proposed for a two form of entry, all-through school . . ’

PhyllisDietrichson Wed 07-Dec-11 16:43:49

Just wondered if anyone could kindly have a go at answering this for me (or direct me to relv bits of this topic):

Will catchments shrink nearer to schools under a new linkless system? We live the green end of Twickenham and our DS will be in the first affected year if plans go through, and we'd like him to go to Orleans? There are so many variables to consider (and im no flow-chart, stats analyst, maths gal). Thanks very much

PS ''The tower blocks of Ham are the most shocking - go and have a look sometime. At one time the bus drivers refused to go there because the kids had taken to stoning the buses.'' Involvement with politics doesn't necessarily make one a diplomat then? But nevermind Ham's outside one's constituencywink.

ChrisSquire Wed 07-Dec-11 17:05:32

PhyllisDietrichson: the article Abolishing the ?linked schools? system: who gains? who loses? A forecast for Orleans Park (LD website Oct 10) is the only published forecast of what may happen:

‘ . . 2. Pupils who were at one of the former link schools but live more than about 1.5 km away would definitely not get into OPS. Matthew Paul [the Council officer who oversees admissions] suggests that north St Margaret's "should be" within the catchment, but I don't think he has taken into account the expected large number of applications from parents of children at the Vineyard (not currently linked) and also people who move into the area near the school - just as people do to get into Orleans Infant School. Demographic changes are predicted further to impact on places. I therefore believe that people north of the A316 with children at link schools have real grounds for apprehension . .’

The changes will occur over several years so your DS may be alright in the first year of no links.

Mir4 Wed 07-Dec-11 17:27:10

Akhan: your neighbours who live in West and North Twickenham, Whitton, Heathfield (and indeed Ham) are, I trust, getting a sympathetic if powerless response from their Lib Dem councillors?

Chris I think Akhans catholic and non catholic neighbours in Whitton and Heathfield will be non too impressed with their Lib dem councillors stance on the secondary school issue for the following reasons:-

1)because if another community school (or 50/50 academy) is created on the Clifden site it potentially will seriously damage the continued progress of their local school 'Twickenham academy' as it will impact on their intake and subsequently their funding.
2)because if this is not a Catholic VA school few of the children in this area have any hope at all of getting into a small school in central Twickenham which will only serve those living in central Twickenham.
3)because Whitton and Heathfield contain one of the largest Catholic communities in the borough whose children are currently having to travel out of borough to get school places (mostly if they are lucky to Hounslow but with its 40% increase in birthrate it is already becoming much harder to gain seondary school places in its catholic secondaries)
4) becuase Whitton and Heathfield tax payers must surely be wondering why the Lib dem party are supporting a campaign (RISC) that does not in any way support or benefit any of the members of this local community in its proposals. They must be in fact asking why the proposal for another community school in a such a small area that is already served by 3 other 'inclusive' schools (two of which are reported to be some of the most outstanding schools in the borough)?
With the abolition of the link school system some local Whitton children will already lose a choice let alone have access to 4 choices.

BayJay Wed 07-Dec-11 18:47:57

because if another community school (or 50/50 academy) is created on the Clifden site it potentially will seriously damage the continued progress of their local school 'Twickenham academy' as it will impact on their intake and subsequently their funding
Mir4, I really don't believe that will happen. The success or otherwise of Twickenham Academy is dependent on Twickenham Academy, and is not dependant on other schools. Now that they are sponsored by Kunskappskolan they have an innovative, progressive system that will attract children from far and wide. There are already very positive reports from parents. As soon as the new building is complete (2 years), the new methods start feeding through into exam results, and we start seeing articles in the local paper about able TA children doing their GCSEs one or two years early, they will be inundated with applications. All of that will happen unless the school is badly managed, and I don't think Kunskappskolan and the council will let it be. If the unthinkable happens, and the improvements don't translate into better results, then the school will not fill. That won't be because there aren't enough children to fill it, but because people will move house or go private to avoid it.

If the Clifden Road school is a community school, it will also fill. The forecasts show that there are more than enough children to fill both schools.

seenbutnotheard Wed 07-Dec-11 19:00:32

There are also more than enough Catholic children in St Margarets, Twickenham and Whitton to fill the school.

akhan Wed 07-Dec-11 20:10:22

I dont believe that twickenham academy will remain undersubsribed by 2013. Hence there will be a need for new school. Reading both bayjay and seenbutnotheard posts it seems that there will be more demand than supply available - no one from this end wants to trek all the way to RPA in 2013. But since we will have only 1 site and funding for only 1 school - why should 1 group get the privilege at the expense of others - especially the large population of non Christian minority groups in our wards. A Catholic VA school will break community relations - councillor from both parties need to recognise and speak up - they are not there to just report on broken trees!

akhan Wed 07-Dec-11 20:20:39

Infact I should have said take action and not just speak up - we have heard lot of talk already. Issue is that the party that has majority can bully through any proposal, when there should be some sort of independent and objective review of such a controversial proposal. I also saw that even the scrutiny committee has majority of Tory councillors - so how effective can that be?

seenbutnotheard Wed 07-Dec-11 20:31:00

Akhan - the majority rules, that is the way of our political system, both at national and local level.

In light of this, I am really pleased that the significant minority that is the Catholic population are being listened to in terms of local policy.

I think we have already established that the only minority group that has the numbers in our borough to consitently (and more than) fill a school is Catholic, otherwise we may well have been having the same discussion as our neighbouring boroughs who are proposing, for example, a Muslim school, as they have the numbers to sustain it.

seenbutnotheard Wed 07-Dec-11 20:34:57

I also, in the longer term, do not believe, for one minute that a Catholic VA school will "break community relations".

It has not done so with the large number of Catholic primary schools, so why should it do so with the establishment of a secondary school? That, to me, makes no sense at all.

akhan Wed 07-Dec-11 21:03:27

seenbutnotheard - But this is at the expense of needs of non catholic minority groups. Just because our numbers are smaller does not mean we can be discriminated against. It does not seem that you appreciate the importance of keeping the diverse community integrated. Or are you suggesting that we are all forced to move to Hounslow ?

seenbutnotheard Wed 07-Dec-11 21:50:53

akhan Of course I am not suggesting that hmm and well you know it, but try and point score all you like.

The provision of a Catholic Secondary school is not at anyone's expense. Even RISC's figures indicated that Catholic children within the borough will very soon not be able to access Catholic schools outside of the borough. By default then, they will need to be educated within the borough. What the Catholic community are asking for is the opportunity to attend a school that meets their faith needs, and, given that there are enough Catholic children to fill a school, I don't see this as an unreasonable request.

I appreciate diversity. Ethnic and racial diversity is, and always has been, a feature of the Catholic Church's transnational identity. Such diversity has found unity in common religious faith. It is shared core values, which are rooted in religious faith, that contribute to authentic social cohesion.

You do not support faith schools. Full stop. You have made your feelings about that very clear but please be gracious enough to understand that the motives of those of us who do support them, are not for reasons of prejudice.

TigerInTheWoods Wed 07-Dec-11 21:57:51

<<<Stands up to give a round of applause to seenbutnotheard>>>

akhan Wed 07-Dec-11 22:02:22

seenbutnotheard - I would like to clarify that I am not against faith schools - I support faith schools and would like them to benefit everyone and not have discriminatory intake and employment policies

Jeev Wed 07-Dec-11 22:30:38

seenbutnotheard - "Even RISC's figures indicated that Catholic children within the borough will very soon not be able to access Catholic schools outside of the borough" - please point me where they have specifically made this point. I think the point they made was about rising birth rates overall in Hounslow and other boroughs - so the solution to the problem should take into account everyones needs. They did not show any stats on birth rates broken down by religious group. Have you seen any such released by the Diocese or their projections on demand and supply for Catholic VA schools ?

seenbutnotheard Wed 07-Dec-11 22:50:59

Ohh, sorry, are Catholic families excluded from any rise in birth rates? I must have missed that.

BayJay Thu 08-Dec-11 05:54:58

are Catholic families excluded from any rise in birth rates?
Of course they aren't. They are equally affected by the problem we're all facing: not enough good quality school places to go around. Under the traditional school procurement system, it would have been the council's job to work out where to put the new schools to keep everyone happy (and all the arguments we're having about 'fairness' would be relevant to persuading them one way or the other). However, there's been a seismic shift in that concept. Whilst it is still the council's legal duty to make sure there are enough spaces for everyone, now there is essentially a free 'market' in providing schools that are most in demand. Under the Academies legislation, if the Diocese could show there is a strong demand for a Catholic school, and convince the Government of their case, then they would be able to have one (with 50:50 admissions). However, they would have to do that in competition with other groups who could equally make their case for an in-demand school (Academy providers, Free Schools). The problem here is that the Diocese has essentially slipped in its application for a VA school just before the new rules come fully in to force. People can argue the case for a VA school till they're blue in the face, but if Michael Gove follows the spirit of his new legislation he will see that there is equal demand for a community school and either reject the application or demand a very clear explanation of why this school needs to be VA rather than an Academy. Hopefully the excuse that "we don't like the idea of 50:50 admissions" will not hold much water with him.

akhan Thu 08-Dec-11 06:12:53

We need to respect and understand the strong demand and support from both groups. Hence a Catholic academy with 50:50 admissions could be a healthy compromise to avoid the division in the community.

muminlondon Thu 08-Dec-11 07:45:26

So BayJay, when the Council talked in its briefing paper of a community school needed after 2016 (which may not have factored in increased demand from the 50% going private, or supply meeting demand nearby) it couldn't just create one anyway?

BayJay Thu 08-Dec-11 09:49:44

it couldn't just create one anyway?
muminlondon, it would purchase the land and then put out a call for bids from Academy providers (or Free Schools, which are just parent-promoted or teacher-promoted Academies). I think they can also sponsor academies themselves, but I don't know if they're allowed to be the sole sponsor (anyone know?). Our council may not want to want to get too heavily involved in creating new schools because they want to move towards a commisioning model.

Under the new rules, if no Academy providers came forward then the council could still give the site away for a VA school.

ChrisSquire Thu 08-Dec-11 10:37:23

The main obstacle is finding a site large enough for a school large enough to be viable, offer the full range of subjects and have playing field, in a borough where every square metre of ground is fully used and tightly held. And it needs to be affordable as well.

Expanding existing schools is the other possibility: one option, which I favour, would be to take the remaining grounds of Orleans House north of Riverside into Orleans school. This would mean handing over the galleries and other arts facilities there and an area of scrubby woodland, mainly sycamore, which is unused except by dog walkers, to provide a decent school for our kids. Is this too much to ask?

Probably: the dog walkers are a fearsome lobby and it would be a brave politician to take them on backed by the borough’s arty crafty literati and tree huggers.

BayJay Thu 08-Dec-11 10:55:30

Hmm, interesting suggestion Chris. I'm not going to comment on whether I think its a good one or not. However, in principle it wouldn't necessarily be the council's decision. If Free School or Academy bidders want a piece of public land my understanding is that if they can convince the government that it is under-used, then the Government can simply acquire it from the council on their behalf.

Whether the Government would agree that Orleans House is under-used or not is another matter!

wimpykid Thu 08-Dec-11 11:46:55

I'm a bit confused about the Free Schools issue. I thought that there had already been a proposal for a Free School on the old Royal Mail site by the station but it was rejected because the Department for Education (or whatever they call themselves these days) thought there was sufficient supply for secondary school places in the borough. Now all of a sudden we have more Free School proposals popping up.... which suggests that more places are needed. One of them intends to open in 2012???confused Can anyone explain this situation to me please?

BayJay Thu 08-Dec-11 11:53:06

Wimpykid, I'm not sure the government did think there was sufficient supply, its more that the Richmond Free School didn't convince them of the demand in their application. Plus, from memory, I think their application wasn't convincing on their commitment to the full ability range. Perhaps they will try again. Their website seems to be down at the moment.

ChrisSquire Thu 08-Dec-11 18:40:54

wimpykid: Here are: the RTT report on the failed bid (Aug 31)); and the proposed Maharishi school. You must form your own opinion as to how likely it is that either will open at a date to interest you.

I think neither will ever open. Money for the scheme is very tight so that only a few will get the go ahead and there seems no reason to choose ours over the many much needier places in England - Hounslow borough for example. I have been leafleting there for the by-election and it has been quite an eye-opener.

After the 2015 election, if Labour are back in office, the scheme will be scrapped.

muminlondon Thu 08-Dec-11 19:18:12

BayJay must be right on the first free school bid - it failed because that bid had not produced evidence of popular support among parents (a market strategy as distinct from evidence of capacity in other schools). From what I remember the aims of the school were very vague ('integrated approach to subjects providing a general classical education' or something). Whereas Toby Young's West London Free school had a definable group of supporters and distinctive branding. I can't recall any other successful bid on that scale.

BayJay Thu 08-Dec-11 19:35:39

ChrisSquire, according to paragraph 4.13 of this doc, "the Secretary of State recently stated that he would like to see free schools established London “in areas such as Kingston, Sutton and Richmond, where there is said to be a shortage of places”"

Muminlondon, on this website you can download lists of Free Schools already open, and those in the pipeline. There are a few large ones that haven't had quite so much publicity as Toby Young's school.

muminlondon Thu 08-Dec-11 19:37:58

Also Toby Young's school is competing in part with private schools so there are over 1,000 such pupils per year in Richmond to target.

muminlondon Thu 08-Dec-11 19:42:00

Thanks, will take a look. I think funding will be very limited in these recessionary times.

BayJay Thu 08-Dec-11 20:15:11

The Accord Coalition, which is endorsing the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, have just published their 12th Quarterly Report. Here's a link to it for anyone interested.

Cat2405 Thu 08-Dec-11 20:48:10

Has anyone else seen this Mumsnet thread regarding a possible primary free school in the borough?

PhyllisDietrichson Fri 09-Dec-11 04:35:14

Chris S and BayJay thanks for the info but where does the person quoting:

''^Pupils who were at one of the former link schools but live more than about 1.5 km away would definitely not get into OPS^''

get this figure come from - is it a estimate? How is this figure identified? We live almost exactly that distance away from OPS so I'm now worried - but OPS is much nearer to us than any other secondary.

muminlondon Fri 09-Dec-11 07:58:18

PhyllisD have a look at the admissions map from 2011. It stretches north to Isleworth and as far as Strawberry Hill but stops abruptly on the east side because that's where St Mary's or St Stephen's catchment area stop (that area is also out of Waldegrave catchment).

BayJay Fri 09-Dec-11 09:44:18

Phyllis, I don't know the origin of that forecast, which was posted on the local Lib Dem website (that ChrisSquire edits). It claims to be an "informed view" but its not clear how the 1.5km figure was arrived at. Nobody knows what will happen. The council have done some modelling based on 2010 and 2011 applications, but the results are only presented numerically, not by distance. In any case, they acknowledge that the data is not representative of what will happen in the future because under the current system many people don't bother to list choices that they know they have no chance of getting under the Linked School Policy. Basically, it will be a free-for-all, (but that is arguably better than the current system which discriminates against children at non-linked schools).

ChrisSquire Fri 09-Dec-11 10:03:17

PhyllisDietrichson, BayJay: it is the personal estimate of a well informed local opinion leader who wishes to be anonymous. Time will tell whether they're right or not.

It may well be that they will be proved right but not immediately so. The catchment range may shrink year by year to a final figure of c. 1.5 km in, say, 10 years' time. We just can't say how rapidly parents will respond to the new rules of the game.

In particular, by choosing to live in East Twickenham near Richmond bridge within the catchment areas of both the Vineyard school on the hill and OPS.

seenbutnotheard Fri 09-Dec-11 10:51:56

But that link states "Pupils who were at one of the former link schools but live more than about 1.5 km away would definitely not get into OPS."

That does not appear to be what you are saying Chris when you talk about the catchment shrinking to c. 1.5km in, say, 10 years time.

This appears to be scaremongering and is not particularly helpful. I can understand that the Lib Dem's may want to put forward an alternative view to that given by the council, but when lots of parents are considering how they wish to respond to the consultation I think the Lib Dem's position, and how they come to this position needs to be clearer.

ChrisSquire Fri 09-Dec-11 11:52:14

Oh dear. Let me repeat, it is not a party position, it is one local resident’s forecast. The Lib Dems are neutral about links.

I opined that the shrinkage in catchment area will occur but over a decade rather than a couple of years. If someone from Clapham reads this forum today and decides to move to East Twickenham instead of further out to get good schools for their as yet unconceived child, it could easily be 15 years before that child starts at OPS.

If you find the article unhelpful, please ignore it and do your own forecast. The main important unknown is what the parents of Vineyard kids (the chief gainers) will do and when.

I think scrapping the links is a done deal so the consultation will not affect what happens. In any case the schools will be Academies soon and free to set their own Admission Policies

seenbutnotheard Fri 09-Dec-11 12:18:14

Sorry Chris, I really did not mean for you to think that this was a personal attack - perhaps I am just not clear about the purpose of the website - you can see, I think, why from reading that link I might conclude that the Lib Dems are not in favour of removing the Link Policy.

I can see why parents of children who are currently linked to 'good' schools may be feeling more than a little anxious about this.

What I am personally finding interesting is the way that I am feeling about the link school consultation. I really do not feel that it is morally right to give a view as although we have no link school, we also do not have a school that we would want to attend in borough at the moment. This is despite the fact that, if the link system goes, our most local school would in fact be Orleans. (or Clifden when/if it opens).
I would be interested if others are feeling conflicted, not just from a Catholic perspective, perhaps if they intend to go private, or if they have links that they want to continue.

BayJay Fri 09-Dec-11 14:54:46

Seenbutnotheard, in answer to your question I do feel conflicted, because I live 1.9km from Orleans Park and have a son in Year 3. If the link stays he will get in, and so will my younger son who is in Reception. If the link goes then neither of them will get in.

Having said that, I would still support the case for it to be dropped, because I think its unfair to children at non-linked primaries. Plus, even if it stayed, and both of my own boys got in, then my younger son's friends who didn't have a sibling link probably wouldn't get in, due to the expansions at St Mary's and Orleans.

Of course, nobody knows what will happen when Orleans converts to academy status. My best hope would be if they introduced an aptitude test for their maths specialism, as my eldest son would stand a good chance of that.

Now, I've got a question for you. Has your children's RC primary school sent out information in their newsletter about the Linked School Consultation? All schools have been notified of the consultation by the council, and should have passed the information on by now. I realise that you might not be interested in a local community school for your own children, but there will be others that are interested and they should know that the consultation is taking place.

muminlondon Fri 09-Dec-11 16:02:15

Sacred Heart argued for the policy to be dropped in 2006 when Teddington was already oversubscribed on the link criterion. It acknowledged that there were some non-Catholics at the school as well as others who preferred to stay local. The council did nothing until they were taken to the Schools Adjudicator.

I don't really understand why apart from creating a special link for SH the policy wasn't really changed for 20 years - a distance allocation for unlinked schools could have been introduced. A new loser if it stays the same (impossible with three independent admissions authorities anyway) would be a new Orleans Primary which of course would be unlinked.

muminlondon Fri 09-Dec-11 17:04:11

For info the background to the Sacred Heart appeal is that (point 4 under proposal 4) 'The Forum considered the correspondence between the school and the LA but did not agree with the school’s view that the LSP should be abolished'.

Then in the 2007 report, paragraphs 7.10-7.16 - the exception made for Sacred Heart was seen to be temporary by the schools adjudicator who suggested that "the Council and Admission Forum propose alternatives for admissions in 2009 and beyond”. So they could have come up with alternatives but it's too late now.

ChrisSquire Fri 09-Dec-11 18:17:08

Seenbutnotheard: I didn’t take your post as a personal attack; I acknowledge that it is natural for a reader to read more into the posts on the local Lib Dem website than is there; it is true that the borough stories are mainly from the Lib Dem councillors but I have inserted a few non-party pieces to make them accessible to residents. The link piece comes from a member but they do not speak for the party on this issue, Cllr Malcolm Eady does.

In point of fact it doesn’t matter what the Lib Dem policy is as they are out of office until at least May 2014, when the case will be much altered, for better or worse.

akhan Sat 10-Dec-11 17:29:00

Misleading statements and lots of party point scoring in Tory newsletter we got through the door. I had hoped things will start getting more civil after last council meeting. I hope the councillors do not resort to dirty politics again next Tue and show genuine intent to solve the school controversy

BayJay Sun 11-Dec-11 07:50:55

Tuesday's council meeting, to which akhan refers, will start with a short debate about the petition supporting a Catholic School. There will also be some public questions relating to the Catholic School debate, and some of the members questions touch on wider school policies.

In item 16, Councilor Eady of the Lib Dems has proposed the following motion for a vote "Council notes the Administration’s plan to spend over £25 million on building extensions to the borough’s five secondary schools. In view of the significant increase in local primary pupil numbers, this Council believes that it is a higher priority to ensure that every child can be accommodated at their local secondary school rather than to add sixth forms. Council therefore calls for these new buildings to be used to increase Year 7 admission numbers.” Perhaps ChrisSquire can fill us in, but I don't think the LibDems have ever been particularly supportive of the idea of 6th Forms.

I hope that the meeting will be webcast again so that we can all see how our councillors perform.

muminlondon Sun 11-Dec-11 10:16:06

BayJay do you have any links on the sixth form consultation? I saw a good letter in the RTT from teachers at Richmond College asking what the future will be now the abolition of the EMA is attracting fewer out of borough students and once sixth forms are in place. I quite like the idea of a school sixth form but only if numbers in each school support it. The question of effective use of resources is important at a time of cuts.

BayJay Sun 11-Dec-11 10:59:06

Muminlondon, the 6th Form consultation completed a few months ago. Here is the link. There was strong support from parents.

A feasibility committee has been working on the proposals. I haven't seen any published documents, but there have been references to the plans in some of the Scrutiny Committee papers and Cabinet papers that have been linked to from this thread before.

There is also information in the Disclosure Log related to a Freedom of Information request from a councillor.

Twickenham Academy and Hampton Academy are currently running their own consultations on introducing 6th forms in 2012.

BayJay Sun 11-Dec-11 11:03:21

p.s. Apart from the first one, the links in that disclosure log don't work. However, if you look at the format of the first link, and change the document number in line with the subsequent documents in the list then it links to the docs ok.

muminlondon Sun 11-Dec-11 14:24:47

Thanks BayJay. There's obviously lots of support for sixth forms then. Whereas expanding intake numbers of existing schools isn't always popular and I think the council were right to allow admission numbers of existing academies to reduce to 180 while they rebuild themselves.

ChrisSquire Sun 11-Dec-11 17:17:00

The Lib Dem line, taken from a Nov 26 press statement Tories plan 3 million cuts to fund school 6th forms is:

‘ . . Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Malcolm Eady said: "The Council has already planned to cut spending on services by 25 %, which is affecting the services it provides to adults and young people. To pay for their 6th forms programme, further cuts in services will have to be made. This level of cost can only be justified if it can significantly improve the outcomes for our young people. Government statistics show that our 19 year olds, who have been through our borough secondary schools, are already ranked within the top 10% in the country on "A" Level performance. Improved results are far from guaranteed. This plan could destabilise our local colleges. They currently provide a much wider range of courses, at all levels, than could be provided by individual small sixth forms. As with the Academy programme, it appears this administration is more interested in structural reorganisation then in educational outcomes for our young people."’

Even if the 6th forms are built and staffed they may still fail because the pupils prefer to ‘go to college’ instead.

ChrisSquire Sun 11-Dec-11 17:22:45
akhan Mon 12-Dec-11 10:31:10

I am really confused about this 6th form consultation. Firstly I was not aware when this happenned and who was inlcluded or asked to participate. BayJay as per yr link this was a short on-line survey that was answered by only around 1300 people. It seems majority who filled it were those who support 6th form and henece there has been claims that 85% of people in borough support it.
Did people who do not support like RUT not know about this or were there views not taken into account ? Why is Cllr Eady rasing objections now post consultation ( if there was a proper one!) . All very dubious!

BayJay Mon 12-Dec-11 11:19:31

Akhan, the council did send details of the consultation to all schools. Unfortunately the consultation period was short and happened over the Easter Holidays. If you look back in this forum to that time you'll see I posted a comment to say that the information didn't appear in our school newlsetter. If it did eventually appear (and I can't remember if it did) then it would have been very close to the end of the consultation.

The consultation documentation suggested reducing the Yr7 intake at the schools to accomodate 6th forms, which I suspect wasn't very popular. It also suggested having combined 6th forms. However, the plan now seems to be to build extra accomodation for 6th forms at each school (apart from the Academies), which will cost a lot of money. It is specifically that expenditure that the Lib Dems are now objecting to, rather than the principle of 6th forms (though I certainly remember back in 2010 having a long discussion with a prospective Lib Dem candidate at the door about why the Lib Dems didn't support them).

ChrisSquire Mon 12-Dec-11 13:37:52

Akhan: Cllr Eady's statement relates to reports for Nov 14 meeting of the Council's Finance and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This was the first chance the Lib Dem councillors had to examine and discuss the Council's plans, particularly the cost of the changes.

MrRoss Tue 13-Dec-11 07:56:06

Dear All, I am including a message in this thread as it seems to bring together many informed and passionate parents. We are putting together an application for a new primary free school in the area of Mortlake/East Sheen/Barnes aimed at tackling the shortage of places in the Borough (with whom we have been working quite closely). It aims to be academically strong, with physical activity every day and community service in the curriculum (a sort of Duke of Edinburgh for primary). We have just launched our website: www.thomsonhouseschool.org
If you have the time, opportunity and inclination, it would be great to have your thoughts/feedback/questions on this. Thank you! Matteo.

BayJay Tue 13-Dec-11 10:56:24

Thanks MrRoss. Did your proposal ever include plans for secondary provision? I'm curious because the council did not mention that there were any primary Free Schools on the horizon in its most recent paper on primary school places. However, in the paper on Secondary School Places it said "There are three proposals in development for free schools to be established within the borough in September 2013 and each would include secondary-phase provision".

So far the only one of those three secondary Free Schools that is publicly campaigning for prospective pupils is the Maharishi Free School. The second could be the Richmond Free School if it revives last year's failed bid. The third has not publicly emerged yet but would have to get their skates on if they wanted to open 2013, as the deadline for their application would be February 24th, and in order to be succesful they would need to provide evidence that they have a sizeable proportion of their first 2-years intake ready and willing to select them as first preference.

MrRoss Tue 13-Dec-11 14:02:52

Hello BayJay, I know, so little time left! Deadline has been moved by some months!
We are starting at primary and aim to grow into secondary, yes. The expertise of the team spans both sectors. Our bid for 2013 is for a 4-11 school, for this is where the borough has a deficit of places. We have been communicating closely with them since August and last week had a really good meeting there. We very much see ourselves working together with the Borough and - hopefully - becoming part of its family of schools.
We are just starting to advertise our bid now to the wider public. We will be doing some leafleting this week, our website has gone live, we have spoken to the R and T Times, the MP and on Saturday we have our first public meeting at Barnes Sports Club. Unlike the Maharishi, we are doing it on a shoe-string (I did the website myself!)! However, we are already having some successes: we have been selected to be part of the New Schools Network Development Programme for "bids of outstanding potential" - one of only twelve in the UK! - we have just taken on board Anthony Seldon as one of our advisers, and we are starting to develop a Duke of Edinburgh Scheme for primary with the borough! Key now is to get those expressions of interest. Any feedback you might have would be really welcome. All the best, Matteo.

BayJay Tue 13-Dec-11 17:13:31

MrRoss, thanks for the info. Do you have an idea of when the extension to a secondary might be? Also, what is your planned admission policy?

Have you chosen the Barnes/Sheen area because it is close to the Harrodian school? Its not the area where lack of primary school places is most acute at the moment, although according to the council "In the medium- to long-term, it is possible that there will be a need to consider additional provision in the East Sheen..... If that is the case, then it would be prudent to investigate the permanent expansion of East Sheen Primary."

MrRoss Tue 13-Dec-11 18:00:48

The focus on Mortlake/Barnes/East Sheen arose from a discussion had at the Borough, where they told us that at reception, the biggest deficit they were expecting was there. This is why we are looking for potential sites in that area, Mortlake in particular. Once the Stag Brewery relocates and new housing is established there as well, that demand will grow further.
As for a move to secondary: the latest would be when our pupils coming in at Reception get to the transition from year 6 to 7. However, I hope we will have been able to gather enough support from the community, also on the basis of our good work at Thomson House, to be able to establish one well before then.
All the best, Matteo.

BayJay Tue 13-Dec-11 18:07:52

Thanks. I'd forgotten about the planned primary school for the Brewery site. That makes sense.

BayJay Tue 13-Dec-11 18:21:34

Although, the Brewery closure has been put on hold.

Cat2405 Tue 13-Dec-11 19:12:34

Is anyone else having problems with the webcast? I have no sound or picture (but do have cllrs names at bottom of blank screen). Haven't had a problem with previous webcasts confused

akhan Tue 13-Dec-11 19:15:57

same prob here, its not working!

Cat2405 Tue 13-Dec-11 19:25:58

Working now, but missed most of the petition

akhan Tue 13-Dec-11 19:52:44

Inadequate responses from councillors to all public questions. We deserve proper responses !!

Jeev Tue 13-Dec-11 20:13:09

Lors True's arrogance is blinding his reading of the petition wording and petition scheme rules. The inclusive school petition makes a simple request on a point of principle: "to ensure that every state-funded school opening in the borough from now on is inclusive, so that no child can be denied a place in a good local school because of the religion or belief of their parents." This applies not only to the new secondary school proposed for Clifden Road, and does not even preclude a future Catholic school on that site or elsewhere, assuming it has inclusive admissions. It is highly highly inappropriate of him to say that it is against or opposite of what the Catholic school petition is asking. Hence it is not fair on him to not give a response to the inclusive school petition and break the petition rules.

akhan Tue 13-Dec-11 20:32:58

Really sorry to see the 3 brave public members treated with such disdain. Cllr Samuel seemed in a hurry to sit down and not provide any answers to the lady's question on cost benefit. Jeev - I think Lord True is just downright rude and does not care about replying to people. Cllr Hodgins response to the other lady's question just proved how confused he is about the school places!
If they have any concern and respect for members of public who come to gallery toask questions, they should issue a public apology and provide detailed proper written responses

muminlondon Tue 13-Dec-11 23:24:12

I'll have a look at the webcast later but I don't like the sound of Lord True being as dismissive of members of the public as he is of opposition politicians.

About the free school proposal - I find the idea of a 4-16 or even 4-18 school in Richmond somewhat unrealistic. Richmond's primary schools are the best in the country but higher up, perhaps as many as 40% on the East Sheen side are leaving at 11 to go to private secondaries, mostly selective. A free school obviously wouldn't be able to select on the basis of ability and is more likely to lose pupils higher up the school, unless it has something unique to offer (e.g. SEN specialism not catered for in state secondaries). While primary can still effective with one teacher per single-form entry, and some imaginative swapping between classes in KS2 (e.g. for specialist science or language teaching), a secondary works on a very different scale and may not be able to offer a sufficient variety of expertise without 120-200 pupils per intake. Which requires a different sort of head, different administration, a different school really.

Just my opinion.

BayJay Wed 14-Dec-11 16:07:41

It looks like the archived webcast of last night's Council Meeting is now available, though I haven't tested it to see if it works ok.

ChrisSquire Wed 14-Dec-11 17:01:46

Yes, the web archive works OK - every cough & splutter in the chamber is clearly heard!

LottieProsser Wed 14-Dec-11 19:05:42

Council meeting footage was interesting. Cllr. Hodgins is clearly having to implement a policy that he doesn't believe in but is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel as the number of variables surrounding the issue of whether there will be enough secondary school places continues to mount! Agree about the way people asking questions were treated. I don't think councillors and petitioners should be allowed to bandy allegations about and attack those they disagree with using a process under which their opponents have no right to reply. It's becoming very clear that the ruling cabal is determined to have its way and if there is a consultation it won't be a fair one.

Build a school on Orleans House Woods - over my dead body! But as it's protected Metropolitan Open Land very unlikely luckily.

Do you think the Council is hoping the Sixth Form College will have collapsed by 2016 and that is its secret site for the elusive community secondary school?

BayJay Wed 14-Dec-11 19:18:13

Do you think the Council is hoping the Sixth Form College will have collapsed by 2016
I think there'll always be a role for a 6th form college, because not everybody will want to stay on at 6th form. However, the numbers at the college are already falling (due to other boroughs introducing 6th forms, and the loss of the educational maintenance allowance). If borough schools also get 6th forms, the size of the college will inevitably reduce further, but whether there would be a case for a school on the site is another question.

I'm not very familiar with the college, but presumably they have sports grounds that could potentially be shared by a theoretical community school in Clifden Road (if the VA school is rejected), since its just a short hop over the railway line. Any comments?

BayJay Wed 14-Dec-11 21:06:09

I just caught up with the bits of the council meeting that I missed last night. They've added a useful "index Points" tab to the Webcast so you can jump to the relevant sections of the meeting. Item 3 is the Catholic School supporters' petition debate, and Item 4 covers the public questions that relate to it. However, in my view the most useful bit to listen to is Item 14 (Notices of Motion). It primarily covers 6th form provision, but many of the issues relating to secondary school places are aired too.

BayJay Thu 15-Dec-11 06:43:28

I just wanted to add that the scariest thing about the council's stance on the secondary school forecasts is that Lord True's only defence of their position is (paraphrasing) "the forecasts are produced by professional council officers". As someone with a numerate and scientific background who tries to look at the world objectively, that simply doesn't hold water. The fact is that the forecasts are scaffolded by huge assumptions. Others are pointing out the very credible risks of those assumptions being incorrect and are being dismissed, simply because of who they are. There is no "what if" planning. There is no "thank you for pointing that out, we'll take a look at it and get back to you". There are just lots of heels being dug in. One thing is for sure, if things do go wrong, and some aspect of the business comes to Judicial Review, the council's blindness to the risk has been recorded for posterity.

akhan Thu 15-Dec-11 07:03:34

We would expect the professionals to give a professional reply and justify why they do not agree with Cllr Eady predictions and RISC predictions. Have they provided any robust analysis and arguments to justify this ? If not how do we get them to provide a professional reply

BayJay Thu 15-Dec-11 14:54:37

Akhan, the correct way to challenge the council on their figures is through the Scrutiny process.

The council's numerical forecasts for secondary school places were first published at the request of the Education & Children's Services Scrutiny Committee 1 week prior to their 21st November meeting. The minutes from that meeting have not yet been published, but it was a public meeting and I was there so I can give you a personal account of what happened.

As well as the council's forecasts, the committee members had been sent a copy of RISC's response (an earlier version of this one combined with its appendices). That had been produced by Jeremy Rodell (who has a professional, numerate and analytical background), using publicly available data, in the few days between the forecasts first being published and the meeting taking place. However the committee members had not had it for very long and some had only received it that day.

The Secondary School forecast paper and appendices were considered under item 8 of the agenda. Jeremy Rodell was there and gave a short presentation to the committee, drawing its attention to his analysis and the potential risks he had identified in the council's forecasts. The committee then questioned the Director of Education, Cabinet Member for Schools, and the Head of School Commissioning. The questioning was intense by some of the committee members. One committee member asked if the council would be responding to the analysis presented by Mr Rodell, and the answer from the Director of Education was yes. Their tone was respectful and while they had not yet had time to fully consider the RISC paper they seemed willing to listen and respond appropriately.

One committee member proposed that, as the forecasts were to be presented at Cabinet three days later, the committee should send a message to Cabinet to convey that there were risks associated with the forecasts. There was some discussion about the wording, and some members didn't think it was necessary to send such a message. Ultimately there was a vote on whether the committee should send a message or not, and it was decided that no message should be sent.

At the subsequent Cabinet meeting, Jeremy Rodell again gave a presentation. However, the Secondary School strategy, based on the council's forecasts, was approved.

seenbutnotheard Thu 15-Dec-11 16:35:08

Gosh, Jeremy Rodell has been given a considerable amount of time to stand on his soap box hasn't he?

No one can, for one minute say that his views have not had a good airing.

I disagree with you BayJay when you dismiss the professional standing of the likes of Mathew Paul and Nick Whitfield - they have been doing their job for some time under this administration, and the last. I am not aware of their abilities being called into question by the LibDems when they were in control of the council - unless you know something I don't?
They, at least, have experience in the planning for educational services in our borough. Whilst I am not dismissing Jeremy Rodell's passion for his cause and his business experience for Shell, it is not quite the same thing.

I wonder what input the Humanist's anti faith school's campaigner has in the RISC campaign?

BayJay Thu 15-Dec-11 17:24:52

seenbutnotheard, I'm not dismissing their professionalism at all. They responded to Jeremy Rodell very professionally. I expect that, in time, they will respond as promised, taking on board some of his points. However, the decision has been made now, so their response will not be effective in informing the decision.

Jeev Thu 15-Dec-11 17:44:41

The response to the predictions needs to be made on the basis of numerical and anaytical rigour and keeping aside preference for type of schools. As professionals Nick and Matthew should provide logical and rigorous response. I agree that Lord True dismissing any other prediction is not the dignified way forward and highlights him as being very defensive and non constructive. A better answer from him could have been - thanks for taking interest and time and giving us important information. Our professionals will review and consider and provide detailed response. If they are so confident of their predictions why cant they have the courage to provide feedback on Lib Dem and RISC prediction and justify their stance.

florist Thu 15-Dec-11 18:00:18

Who did the scary gentleman dressed in black represent in the webcast? If that is the opposition to the Catholic VA option he did that cause no good - meanwhile the man who spoke for the VA option was very good: he made the point that Catholic population is as inclusive as the rest of the borough probably more so.

Jeev Thu 15-Dec-11 18:11:19

I feel that Kevin Coakley's speech to the Council in support of his petition did bring out some good points in support of Catholic VA school. There is no denying the aspiration and strong support of the Catholic community for a Catholic VA school. However he did let everyone supporting his cause down by making a number of unsubstantiated attacks on RISC - I am waiting for RISC to respond to them as in the meeting they did not get the chance. In contrast Jeremy made a very dignified speech when he presented the inclusive school petition on 13 Sep and even started saying that we do not oppose a Catholic school and providing some alternative and fairer options for solving the needs of everbody. In a democratic society it should be possible to challenge the powerful lobby seeking a Catholic secondary school with exclusive admissions. I hope we can have a debate in a constructive manner and not be dismissed unfairly.

seenbutnotheard Thu 15-Dec-11 19:23:02

Florist, I think that the person you refer to was James Heather, who is, alongside Jeremy Rodell on the committee of the South West London Humanist Group.

akhan Thu 15-Dec-11 19:43:34

He asked a perfectly valid and reasonable question. When will the Council give a response to the RISC petition ??

seenbutnotheard Thu 15-Dec-11 20:12:07

What do you mean akhan? They gave a response to the RISC petition on the night that the petition was presented didn't they?

There is disagreement regarding the figures for future school places, but as everyone has said, this is not an exact science - the only real figure that is known is that there are over 200 undersubscribed in-borough secondary places at the moment.

BayJay Thu 15-Dec-11 20:23:53

seenbutnotheard, what they (i.e. RISC) mean when they say they haven't had a response is that the debate that followed the presentation of the RISC petition dealt with the question of whether or not there should be a Catholic school, rather than concentrating on the admissions issue. The option of a Catholic school with inclusive admissions (or even 50:50 as in an academy) was not dealt with in the debate.

There is not "disagreement on the figures", there is diagreement on the level of risk in the figures. When people make numerical forecasts in a professional capacity, they quantify the risk, and decisions based on the forecasts take the risk into account. Its a very well tried and tested technique. Nothing radical.

ChrisSquire Thu 15-Dec-11 21:05:50

From this evening's RISC Newsletter:
' . . One question was why our petition had not yet received a formal response, despite the debate in September. Lord True incorrectly claimed that a response had been given, when we have an email from the Council saying that it woud not be provided till after the Catholic petition had been presented . . '

akhan Thu 15-Dec-11 23:33:29

Just watched the notice of motion. Lord True seems to point all responsibility on Nick Whitfield. It seems he is stiching him up badly! I hope he expresses his professional opinion to the public soon and gets out of this polictical mess he had been dragged into .

BayJay Fri 16-Dec-11 06:32:57

Its worth pointing out that Cllr Paul Hodgins does refer to some of the RISC analysis in his speech, when he talks about the inflow of children from the private sector as the Academies improve. They have accepted that point, but say that they have it covered.

LottieProsser Fri 16-Dec-11 10:05:24

It does seem that Lord True and friends are digging a bigger and bigger hole for themselves to fall into. My experience (in Teddington area) is that an unscientific sample of parents do want there to be sixth forms in schools (though noone understands how they can fit in anymore buildings at Teddington school) and don't want secondary schools to get any bigger (Teddington school is already the largest in the borough) and do support removing the linked schools policy so the Tories have got the public mood right on those things. But they don't seem to care about the consequence which will be no places for many of the children who used to come to Teddington School from large linked primary schools like Stanley and Trafalgar (four and three forms of entry). The Clifden site would be an ideal location for a community school to take these children and others. There seems to be no plan from the Tories as to where they are going to go instead, other than Twickenham Academy, which will be full very soon and geographically serves the Whitton side of Twickenham not the Teddington side, Richmond Park Academy for the next couple of years after that (which is a long way to make children travel when they are not positively choosing that school) and then nothing in prospect at all..... I also agree with whoever said that if Twickenham Academy is successful, which seems likely, parents will be moving in from other parts of London to Whitton- they won't care about its past reputation as it is in effect a new school after 5 years.

Mir4 Fri 16-Dec-11 13:50:21

^Lord True seems to point all responsibility on Nick Whitfield. It seems he is stiching him up badly! I hope he expresses his professional opinion to the public soon and gets out of this polictical mess he had been dragged into .
^
Goodness me Akhan!!! I think Nick Whitfield is a grown up as well as a professional! Has it not occured to you that he is backing the councils proposals because he has the facts and figures to support them?

.The Director of education and his department after all are the ones who have all of the up to date figures, statistics, daily updates from every school in the borough etc etc not RISC and not Councilor Eady! These up to date figures include the fact that we have 209 empty , unfilled spaces in our secondary schools in this borough. That we have only 68% of our secondary schools filled with richmond borough students (with a percentage of the out of borough places only being taken in the absence of applications from LBRUT students.) Their figures would also include the 1,888 children currently in our Catholic schools who have no continuity of education available to them in their own borough for secondary education when they reach Yr7!

I'm afraid suggesting that Nick Whitfield is somehow concealing the truth, being hearded along by the council against his better judgement is nothing short of scare mongering. Why on earth would he do this when he is not a paid employee of the Conservative majority party but an independent local government officer?

Mir4 Fri 16-Dec-11 14:00:29

But they don't seem to care about the consequence which will be no places for many of the children who used to come to Teddington School from large linked primary schools like Stanley and Trafalgar

Lottie it is my understanding (unless I am mistaken) that they do not intend to decrease secondary places to accomadate 6th form places at any schools other than the academies (who already have a surplus of unfilled spaces). I think that with Teddington and the other local schools the council have budgeted for building work to expand the schools to accomadate 6th forms.

BayJay Fri 16-Dec-11 15:06:42

"The Director of education and his department after all are the ones who have all of the up to date figures, statistics, daily updates from every school in the borough etc etc not RISC and not Councilor Eady! "
Mir4, this is 2012. We all have equal access to the same data.

I'm afraid suggesting that Nick Whitfield is somehow concealing the truth, being hearded along by the council against his better judgement is nothing short of scare mongering.
Nobody is suggesting that, and if you have interpreted the discussion that way I suggest you go back and read a little more carefully. Nick Whitfield is behaving very professionally. He and his team have produced a forecast. Others have pointed out the risks in the forecasts. They have not denied those risks and have not yet had the time to fully respond. In the meantime the Cabinet have based an important decision on the forecasts. It is the wisdom of that decision that is in question, nothing more.

seenbutnotheard Fri 16-Dec-11 16:56:56

So BayJay, if, after consideration, Nick Whitfield et al report back that they feel the forecast is closer to the council's prediction, than RISC's (and therefore continue to suggest that they would not support a non-denominational school on the Clifden site) would you accept this?

Mir4 Fri 16-Dec-11 17:08:54

Mir4, this is 2012. We all have equal access to the same data.

Bayjay we do not have access to all the data as many things are not freely available and easily accessable on the net. The director of education would naturally have access to a lot of yet unpublished data, new figures, pupil details, confidential and up to the minute inforamtion regarding individual schools admissions, performance, make up together with information on the long history of education and education trends in this borough and neighbouring boroughs.He would also have the expertise and experience to scrutinize these figures with a greater degree of accuracy than you or I . He will have used this information in producing his forecasts and a thorough risk assessment would of course have been done without which the council would not have based their plans on his forecasts. What I am debating is the assumption here that the council is wrong despite having access to the best independant information because RISC sees things differently based on a more limited access to data and information.
With regard to the Lib dems ,it is naturally in the interests of the party in opposition to scrutinize and oppose the councils strategies and I respect that, but it does not necessarily mean that they have a valid case based on sound evidence. I am sure that during any public consulation period more data will become available and questions answered.I think that we all need to await that period patiently rather than tearing apart the integrity of Lord True and his team as some have done on here (and yes I have read back!).

BayJay Fri 16-Dec-11 17:18:00

seenbutnotheard, they would need to address each of the factors identified in the RISC paper (population pressures in neighbouring boroughs, the uncertainties in the Kingston school provision, the unlikelihood of 2 Secondary Free Schools opening in 2013 etc) and show that they are either unfounded or already accounted for in their forecasts. If they did that, then I would feel more reassured that Twickenham was not going to run out of community Secondary school places as early as 2014. However, it is not possible to produce a forecast of this nature without any uncertainty at all, so I would still prefer the Clifden Road school to have as many community places as possible (bearing in mind that if there is overprovision of community places, then the community places at the Califden Road school could still be occupied by Catholics). I think it is important to maximise flexibility.

seenbutnotheard Fri 16-Dec-11 17:29:27

So, actually, you are never going to accept the argument for a Catholic School.
That's ok in itself, we all have different opinions, I just think that it is important to be honest from the start.

If I were Nick Whitfield, or one of his team, I could not help but think that whatever I said there would always be a "yeah, but...".

I really do not think that we are going to get anywhere else in this debate until we know what Michael Gove decides, so, on that note I am going to retire from this thread until after Christmas.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2012.

BayJay Fri 16-Dec-11 17:29:36

"Bayjay we do not have access to all the data as many things are not freely available and easily accessable on the net"
Mir4, I'm sorry you're simply not correct. All of the data is freely available. If it is not already online then it is available via the Freedom of Information process. RISC, the LibDems, and others have been following democratic procedure, using the scrutiny process. Thankfully we are well past the days when we just had to accept that our councils would always do what was right and sensible, without any redress.

I repeat, that the data is not "wrong". It has a risk associated with it, and a professional risk analyst would be able to quantify that risk. That has not been done, and therefore the decision based on the data may be wrong. If it is then the council will not be able to claim that they were not warned.

BayJay Fri 16-Dec-11 17:31:45

So, actually, you are never going to accept the argument for a Catholic School
No, I stated very early on in this debate that I would support a Catholic school with inclusive admissions, and have stuck to that.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

LottieProsser Fri 16-Dec-11 19:12:28

Mir 4 - the point I was trying to make was that Cllr. Eady in the motions debate seemed to be suggesting that the Council expand the existing five community secondary schools during the next few years rather than introduce sixth forms. This could be one way of fitting in all the extra children who are coming up through all the expanded primary schools but it is the first time it's been raised and I think it would not be popular with parents who have already been through years and years of portacabins, building sites and overcrowding in community schools. He seemed to be suggesting that if this expansion happened and the Clifden site became a 50:50 Catholic Academy those two things together might meet the demand for extra secondary places for the time being. Cllr. Eady lives in Teddington and his ward is Fulwell so he is very aware of the problems that are already manifesting themselves in this part of the Borough. Trafalgar and Stanley Primary Schools are both linked to Teddington School at present but hardly any children from Trafalgar and not many from Stanley are now getting in and they will find it even harder if the linked schools criteria is abolished. There are going to be 210 children coming out of those two schools every year in a few years. The three primary schools in the Central Teddington/Hampton Wick area now have nine forms coming through between them from current Year 2 I think (it's only seven at present) plus some children from Sacred Heart School choose to go to Teddington plus about 30 children a year from Kingston who can't be excluded as they live closer than many children in the Fulwell area. Plus if linked schools policy is abolished Teddington will be an option for St. James children and private school children who live close to it. So that is enough children to fill Teddington School on their own leaving many children who live further away with nowhere to go other than Twickenham Academy which is also some way away and will very soon be full with children who live much nearer. These 200 empty places are a) mostly at Richmond Park Academy and b)only for a few more years. There has been no response to this.

LottieProsser Fri 16-Dec-11 19:18:48

The other variable that I never see mentioned is a change to the number of children who leave the state system because it doesn't serve the needs of dyslexic children properly. My daughter is now in Year 6 and her class of 30 has lost 5 boys to the private sector since the end of Year 2 because they were dyslexic and weren't getting enough help or specialist teaching. No other childen have left to go private. I have heard the same sad story about other local state primary schools. If LB Richmond had a dyslexia strategy with specialist teachers such as they have in some parts of the country the retention rate in the state sector might go up quite a lot. But no doubt they would want to avoid that!

akhan Sat 17-Dec-11 14:18:39

If Nick and the Director for Finance are confident that there will be enough secondary school places and then money left to build a new community school, they should explain the rationale to us. As professionals they should have logical answers to defend their analysis compared to the ones done by Cllr Eady or RISC. To just simply not respond or say there is no need for professionals to respond to amateurs is not acceptable.

priviet Sat 17-Dec-11 23:13:39

I really do not think that we are going to get anywhere else in this debate until we know what Michael Gove decides, so, on that note I am going to retire from this thread until after Christmas

I totally agree with you seenbutnotheard!...it's really not going anywhere...and for that reason, I am also retiring from this thread.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year! x

Mir4 Sun 18-Dec-11 00:04:31

Hi Lottie thank you for clarifying your thoughts. I truly believe though that if the link system is abolished and the clifden road site is a VA Catholic school the children in St.James' and Sacred heart will chose it in preference to Teddington and the other community schools. This will free up places for other primary schools in schools such as Teddington . The fact that such a large number signed the petition in favour of a catholic school really shows that a catholic VA school is very much supported by the Catholic community.

If the Clifden school is a 50/50 academy it will not even house all of the children from St.James' school let alone Sacred heart and the other 4 Catholic schools in the borough. With the even huger increase in birthrate in the neighbouring boroughs (particaulrly Hounslow where there is a large Catholic population) it is only going to get much much harder than it already is for Catholic children to get places out of borough. During the last 2 years changes in admissions criteria in some of the Catholic secondary schools (which children from this borough have in the past attended) have meant that the doors have become closed to Richmonds pupils. The Catholic primary school population is also an expanding community and our schools are also very much over subscribed too.

This is undoubtedly a very historical decision and a vital one for the Catholic community as this will in all likeleihood be our last chance to establish a catholic secondary school in the borough to give the children from the 6 primary schools the continuity of education that currently they have to leave the borough to access.Many of these children currently have to make very long journeys to access this schooling. With population increases accross london the future for Catholic children to continue to access out of borough catholic secondary schools is already very very bleak and is obviuosly going to be unsustainable in the future.This is going to cause a huge crisis in the very near future if this school is not built now with nearly 300 children looking for school places.The 1,888 children in Richmonds catholic primary schools are also part of this borough too. They are the children of this boroughs tax payers and they too need to be educated within their own community. Currently these children have no where to go in their own borough at the age of 11 as with the exception of Sacred heart they have no catholic secondary school or links to non catholic schools in the borough.

I too feel that at this point little is to be achieved in debating further until we have that decision from Michael Gove and the oportunity to debate fully with all of the facts on the table through the public consultation. Knowing that we are all busy parents and have the best interests of our children at heart i am sure that we could all do with a break to just focus on having fun with our families. So from my heart I wish you all a very very happy Christmas filled with lots of joy.

Catch up with you all in the New year!

BayJay Sun 18-Dec-11 07:13:07

"If the Clifden school is a 50/50 academy it will not even house all of the children from St.James' school let alone Sacred heart and the other 4 Catholic schools in the borough"
Mir4, it will give Catholic priority access to 50% of the places, and give them equality of access to the remaining places. Most objective people would see that situation as a privelege, not to be sniffed at. If there is still further demand for a second Catholic Academy after that then, in accordance with the new Education Act, the Catholic community can pursue that aim through the Academies programme. In doing so they may be in competition with others who will be arguing their own case for a particular type of school, but I think most people would see that as a more level playing field than has existed in the past.

Jeev Tue 20-Dec-11 08:29:48

RISC has posted the following account of the Council meeting on their facebook site www.facebook.com/groups/Faithschoolsrichmond/permalink/326290357382262

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and New Year and looking forward to continuing our discussion in the New Year.

ChrisSquire Tue 27-Dec-11 18:56:02

From Zac Goldsmith's eNewsletter dated Dec 19:

'NORTH KINGSTON SCHOOLS UPDATE: Kingston Council still faces a major challenge in providing enough primary and secondary school places. I have bombarded the Secretary of State and Lord Hill with letters on the subject, and have urged other Kingston residents to do the same.

I welcomed the announcement that the Borough is to receive part of a 500m grant this autumn, but this still isn't enough, and so I am now embarking on a campaign to obtain a proper 3 year settlement which will allow the council to secure a loan to build the new Secondary school.'

See also: North Kingston school proposal news (last updasted July 2011)]

This scheme may either never happen at all or be much delayed, increasing the demand for places at Richmond borough schools.

Just thought I'd add an update about Maharishi Free School Richmond to this thread.

I've been the proposer for both the existing Lancashire Maharishi Free School and the new one for Richmond.

Right now we are proposing a two-class-per-year Primary School and 3-class-per-year Secondary School on the Oldfield Road site. We are planning to have 24 children per class.

Maharishi Free Schools are non-faith, 100% inclusive - with CofE, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Hindu, Catholic and atheist children of every socio-economic group attending the existing School. 10% of our current intake have special educational needs, and 15% qualify for free school meals.

If any of you came to our first public presentation at Oldfield you will have witnessed first hand the widespread popularity of the School - in a room which could only accommodate 100 chairs we had 150 people, some of whom ended up queuing right down the corridor. We have already secured 100% pre-registrations for the Primary School intake for 2013, and the Secondary School intake is filling up fast. Most of the pre-registrations have come from Hampton post codes. Most of our proposed Board of Governors are local educators and parents. We are still accepting pre-registrations for primary and secondary for both 2013 and 2014.

To address a point raised by a previous poster, I'll share a question that was recently asked by a Richmond parent - is there a particular type of parent who sends their child to Maharishi School?
Hmmm... given the mix we have in our current school I had to think about that one for a moment. What I realised was that the ONE thing that our parents had in common was that they were better informed than the average parent and more likely to take an active interest in their child's education. The more informed a parent was, the more likely they were to send their child to Maharishi School.

Academically Maharishi Schools are consistently rated 'outstanding'. More information on our academic results is available from our website www.maharishischool.com and for a quick summary have a look at the short video on our home page.

Anyway...sorry if this has turned into a long, drawn out summary...

If you would like to find out more you are invited to our next public presentations Saturday 7th of January at 10:30 at the Oldfield Center, Oldfield Road, Hampton; and Thursday the 12th of January at 19:30 at York House, Richmond Road, Twickenham, TW1 3AA.

Jeev Sat 31-Dec-11 05:34:22

Richard - Many thanks 4 the update and your efforts. I have noticed on your website http://www.maharishischool.com/AdmissionandOversubscriptionPolicy.htm
that your admissions policy want pupils and their parents to follow Transcendental Meditation (TM). So how will you deal with applications from parents who do want want to practise TM . And what about recruitment for teaching and non teaching staff - will staff also need to follow TM?
Grateful if you could clarify

BayJay Sun 01-Jan-12 14:40:17

Hi Richard. You refer to Maharishi s
"schools" as being "consistently outstanding". Can you confirm that you currently only have one school, and that as it has only had one inspection, in 2009?

Also your statement that "the more informed a parent was the more likely they were to send their child to Maharishi" sounds very dubious. How exactly did you measure that? I'm a very well informed parent and would hope my children would be taught to think objectively at school, and learn how to critique marketing statements like that to determine whether they were likely to be valid.

rylerom Mon 02-Jan-12 00:04:12

According to the website, the Maharishi School in Lancashire (the only one in the country so far, which was an independent school that recently converted into a state-funded Free School) only has 12 children per class at secondary level - half the class size proposed for Richmond - and 20 at primary level.
Of course, that isn't to say that a Richmond Maharishi School wouldn't be a good school, but the past performance of the Lancashire school isn't a very reliable guide. The key will be the quality and track record of the teachers. Maybe Richard can comment on that.

ChrisSquire Mon 02-Jan-12 17:01:39

I wonder how the Maharishi school will pay its way with only 24 per class. Its government grant will be so much per child, based on 30 per class. Assuming 2 form entry and 5 years in a community junior school, this pays for 1/30 of a class teacher + 1/300 of everything else.

The Mararishi class will bring in only 80 % of this, so either the teacher must be paid 20 % less or the overheads must be cut to the bone or the parents will be asked to make up the shortfall or the Maharishi Foundation (which has about £2 mn annual income) will subsidise the school.

It would be helpful if Richard could tell us what they intend.

katbb Mon 02-Jan-12 18:29:36

The people on this thread have raised some interesting points about the inclusiveness of the Maharishi School. I was at the Clarenden Hall meeting when some of these concerns were raised. The answer was No Tm, No School. TM is their “unique selling point”. If a child decided whilst at the school that they did not wish to do TM they would eventually be asked to leave. At least one parent would also be encouraged to learn TM but they have arranged a discount so it will not cost as much as it usually does!

Thanks for all the responses and questions!

I'll try to answer them all here.

First, regarding Jeev's question. Just to clarify - people don't 'follow' TM; TM is a simple mental technique that people practice in order to produce a specific result. Research confirms that whether one believes the result will happen or believes the result will not happen has absolutely no bearing on the outcome. The result is the same, as reported in the International Journal of Neuroscience, brain wave orderliness improves, and not just during the practice, but outside of the practice as well. So you can literally sit down and think 'This isn't going to work', but as long as you practice the technique as you were taught you'll get the same benefits.

With a better functioning brain, students' academic performance and behaviour improves - its as simple and straightforward as that.

As for parents practicing TM; of the 85 new intake children we had this past September, once the parents were well informed, the parents of 84 of the children did learn to practice TM. The parents of one child chose not to and was obviously free to do so.

As for staff, well TM and Consciousness-based Education are our unique differentiators. Parents who chose to send their children to a Maharishi School expect it to deliver the real deal, they don't expect us to just pay lip service to what we promise to deliver. Our teachers don't have to be a qualified meditator before they apply for a job, but each of our teachers has to be a qualified meditator before being let loose in a classroom, and has to complete additional training. This is comprised of 100 hours of video-based training and 100 hours of classroom training which develop specific classroom skills that emphasize a teacher’s role in:
- Always being uplifting to pupils
- Positive correction of classroom behaviour
- Early identification of learning or behavioural challenges
- Relating the subjects being studied back to the pupils’ own experience
- Creating an atmosphere of receptivity within the classroom

So I hope you can see from the above that our ethos isn't just window dressing with some laudable mission statement stuck on. As Einstein is reported to have said "madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result"; we do things differently, because that's what we have to do to deliver a consistently better result.

ChrisSquire

Another good point, yes we will have smaller classes. Interestingly, the West London Free School also came to the same conclusion as we have - that a class of 24 is a very good number that still lets us balance the books.

It's not for me to discuss how other schools spend their money, but we find the budget sufficient to deliver excellent education. And no, we are not planning to be subsidised by anyone.

Also, teachers really enjoy teaching at our schools. Many Richmond teachers are aware of this and have already sent me their CVs.

katbb Mon 02-Jan-12 19:15:40

The problem with all this talk of research and using “science” to “prove” the superiority of your methods is that when you need to establish your own university (The Maharishi University of Management based in Maharishi Vedic City, or Fairfield Iowa as it is more prosaically known) to push the grandiose claims made for your copywrited brand of meditation you have a bit of a credibility problem.
The 100 hours of video training that you refer to is for The Science of Creative Intelligence which you teach in addition to the National Curriculum. It may well be designed to do the things you claim but I feel you are being a bit disingenuous. The SCI consists of a view about how the world fits together and a variety of sayings that children learn and apply. The SCI was developed by the Maharishi.
The other aspect of your credibility problem is the accusation that you are a covert religion. This seems to have been settled in the USA with the court case of 1979 which stopped the teaching of TM in the public school system as religion is banned from them. Since then the TMO has had to be satisfied with after school clubs, etc. in the US. I heard your reply to this accusation at the Clarenden Hall meeting but if you can repeat it here that would be helpful.

katbb
As for inclusiveness, as mentioned previously, Maharishi Schools are 100% inclusive. Any religion or no religion, any ability, any ethnicity...

If a school, as part of their curriculum offering said school started at 09:00 and ended at 15:30 and a parent said "I'd really like Joanne to come to your school but I only want her to attend in the mornings" most schools would say "sorry but our curriculum is our curriculum, Joanne needs to follow the curriculum."

Similarly, if a parent wanted Joanne to attend a Sports school but she didn't want to study sport they would recommend she went elsewhere.

This is the very basis of a diverse educational offering, otherwise everything becomes a melting pot.

Ofsted regards TM as core to our curriculum. Parents who want to send their children to a Maharishi School want it to be a real Maharishi School that delivers what we promise, they don't expect it to be watered down.

Having said that I can appreciate your view on this; it can be tough to reconcile 'inclusivity' with the requirement to practice TM - at least as long as one thinks of TM as 'something to believe in' or something other than it is which is a technique that is scientifically proven to produce good academic results.

Hope that helps...but happy to go into it some more if you like...

katbb Mon 02-Jan-12 19:41:23

I was wondering if you could answer my question -

"The other aspect of your credibility problem is the accusation that you are a covert religion. This seems to have been settled in the USA with the court case of 1979 which stopped the teaching of TM in the public school system as religion is banned from them. Since then the TMO has had to be satisfied with after school clubs, etc. in the US. I heard your reply to this accusation at the Clarenden Hall meeting but if you can repeat it here that would be helpful."

Also could you give us some specific examples of the sayings that children learn and apply as part of The Science of Creative Intelligence?

Opening and closing times of a school are not part of the curriculum they are administrative and there are examples of schools which allow pupils to start and stop the day at different times because of the learning needs of the individual child. Transcendental Meditation, you have said, is a simple technique that helps a child to fully access the curriculum you offer. It is not a subject in its own right so you cannot compare it with geography. There is no progression in TM unless what you are saying is that the meditation technique is progressive and so will eventually lead to the TM-Siddhi programme.

Hi katbb

Ok...lots more questions...

But thanks for the opportunity.

First, I don't know where you got the idea that the 100 hrs of video training is SCI. It isn't. It is a course related specifically to principals of teaching. I, for example, have completed the 33 lesson SCI course, but have never completed the principles of teaching course. They are completely different.

Regarding 'grandiose' claims...I really do try to not claim for anything that does not have a basis in published, peer-reviewed research.

As stated by a past editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Neuroscience "Over the past 10 years the editors and reviewers of the International Journal of Neuroscience have accepted several papers on Transcendental Meditation because they have met the rigorous standards of scientific publication. IJN is honoured to have two Nobel laureates on its editorial board, and has a distinguished group of scientists from leading universities on every continent who judge the scientific value of the papers submitted for consideration.”

Next...
Now you are getting ever so slightly personal suggesting I am "a bit disingenuous" regarding SCI stating "SCI was developed by the Maharishi"...further suggesting that I am somehow sneaking in knowledge developed by Maharishi.
Our School is called 'Maharishi School' ...it is hard to be more straightforward than that. The technique of TM, SCI and the Principles of Teaching all came from Maharishi - no secrets there.

Finally, TM was never considered by the court ruling you refer to as religious. In fact, as I stated at Clarendon Hall, TM is still being practiced in state schools in the US as evidenced by several YouTube videos.

I did read the ruling back in 1977 (showing my age here.... :-)) and as I recall the judge was worried that the term 'creative intelligence' or 'field of consciousness' could somehow be construed by some as having religious connotations. Remember, this is the land of extreme right-wing fundamentalism...
So if anyone wants to think that those terms are religious...well, its a free world.

For just about everyone else, religion requires faith. There is NO faith involved in TM or SCI. None. Zero. Zilch.

As you recall one of Reverend Winterburn's entourage raised his hand at the meeting and said that he had learned TM 25 years ago and that he couldn't understand why anyone could confuse it with religion. He went on to say that he was a 'church-going man' and that if anything, the practice of TM helped him appreciate his Christian faith more...

Whew...sorry that was so long...

BayJay Mon 02-Jan-12 20:05:18

Hi richard. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Can you provide links to, or at least references for, the Journal of Neuroscience papers that you mention? I'd be interested to read them.

Also, I'm curious to know to what extent a three-form entry secondary school can provide the same breadth of curriculum as, say, a 5-form or 7-form entry school. Is your proposed secondary school curriculum published? If so I'd be interested to see it.

katbb Mon 02-Jan-12 20:31:49

It had never occured to me to use You Tube as evidence. However, just to be clear here is a copy of section 4 of the ruling.

Section 4 of the Malnak v Yogi Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit 1979

IV — SCI/TM AS A RELIGION
Although Transcendental Meditation by itself might be defended — as appellants sought to do
in this appeal — as primarily a relaxation or concentration technique with no "ultimate"
significance,[54] the New Jersey course at issue here was not a course in TM alone, but a
course in the Science of Creative Intelligence. Creative Intelligence, according to the textbook
in the record, is "at the basis of all growth and progress" and is, indeed, "the basis of
everything." Transcendental Meditation is presented as a means for contacting this "impelling
life force" so as to achieve "inner contentment." Creative Intelligence can provide such
"contentment" because it is "a field of unlimited happiness," which is at work everywhere and
visible in such diverse places as in "the changing of the seasons" and "the wings of a butterfly."
That the existence of such a pervasive and fundamental life force is a matter of "ultimate
concern" can hardly be questioned. It is put forth as the foundation of life and the world
itself.[55]
The Science of Creative Intelligence provides answers to questions concerning the nature both
of world and man, the underlying sustaining force of the universe, and the way to unlimited
happiness. Although it is not as comprehensive as some religions — for example, it does not
appear to include a complete or absolute moral code — it is nonetheless sufficiently
comprehensive to avoid the suggestion of an isolated theory unconnected with any particular
world view or basic belief system. SCI/TM provides a way — indeed in the eyes of its adherents
the way — to full self realization and oneness with the underlying reality of the universe.
Consequently, it can reasonably be understood as presenting a claim of ultimate "truth."
co nve rte d by We b2P DFC o nve rt.com
*214 This conclusion is supported by the formal observances and structure of SCI/TM. Although
there is no evidence in the record of organized clergy or traditional rites, such as marriage,
burial or the like, there are trained teachers and an organization devoted to the propagation of
the faith. And there is a ceremony, the Puja, that is intimately associated with the transmission
of the mantra. The mantra is a word communicated privately to each newly-inducted
practitioner, which is said to be vital to transcendental meditation and access to the field of
unlimited happiness.
214
SCI/TM is not a Theistic religion, but it is nonetheless a constitutionally protected religion. It
concerns itself with the same search for ultimate truth as other religions and seeks to offer a
comprehensive and critically important answer to the questions and doubts that haunt modern
man. That those who espouse these views and engage in the Puja, or meditate in the hope of
reaching the transcendental reality of creative intelligence, would be entitled to the protection of
the free exercise clause if threatened by governmental interference or regulation is clear. They
are thus similarly subject, in my view, to the constraints of the establishment clause. When the
government seeks to encourage this version of ultimate truth, and not others, an establishment
clause problem arises.

I am not disputing that TM is practised in state schools in the US. I am disputing that it is allowed in these schools as anything other than an after school club. Please let me know which schools allow TM in so I can check them out.

Why were you filming the meeting at the Clarenden Hall?

katebb

I don't think there is anything in this that contradicts what I said - in fact, considering I last read it about 35 years ago, I think I did a pretty fair job of summarising it!

But then, you obviously have an agenda here that has nothing to do with a school in Richmond...

As for schools that include TM - haven't you checked out our website?

As for SCI principles that you referred to earlier, here are some - maybe readers can make up their own mind:

- life is found in layers
- every action has a reaction
- the nature of life is to grow
- order is present everywhere
-etc.

SCI highlights the very principles and orderliness in nature that enables mathematics and science to be capable of repeatable experimentation leading to consistent and predictable results.

BayJay Mon 02-Jan-12 21:25:26

For info, here is a link to the Lancashire Maharishi School's 2009 OFSTED report. As it was then a private school, it was a light touch inspection.

I've also found this document on the Maharishi School website which highlights some of the results of "a selection of 6 studies from more than 600 studies documents documenting the holistic development of life through Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programme." Richard, do you know how those 6 studies were selected from the 600? Also do you know if there has been a meta-study to analyse the combine results of all 600 studies? If so, please provide a reference.

Richard, I'm interested in your answers to katbb's points. I'd be prepared to accept that daily meditation can have positive benefits, but I would want to know a lot more about the "Science of Creative Intelligence" before I allowed my children to be taught it. Do you publish a curriculum, or could you provide a link to a core text on which the course is based?

Also, can you give a summary of the costs involved for parents who might be interested in studying TM? Would the equivalent costs for pupils be covered by the school?

Bayjay

I'll see what I can do about getting some kind of access to the Neuroscience papers - the only link I could find was subscription only! It might take me a couple of days.

As for the curriculum - we are in the process of changing it. We had hoped to offer the International Baccalaureate but feedback we have had is suggesting that this would be too 'elitist' and academic.

We are now putting together a curriculum built around GCSEs and 'A' levels. It will offer a list of core subjects and a separate list of 'enrichment' subjects.

I should have something reasonably final by the end of the week...

Bye for now

katbb Mon 02-Jan-12 22:09:32

I am a Hampton resident with children the correct age to go to your school. I have attended the meetings that you have held and they have generated more questions that answers. I am interested in answers that are correctly referenced. I do have an agenda - to find out if your school is suitable for my neighbourhood.

I have read your list of phrases from the SCI and would like to know how they are applied to education.

parrich Mon 02-Jan-12 22:58:46

Richard - I am confused with your responses here and just as concerned as I was when I attended your meeting. To start with your claims about track record and quality have been misleading and not credible. A lot of parents are concerned about what is going to be your admission policy - is it going to be distance based are you going to turn down an applicant who lives close to Oldfield and does not want to follow TM. We are all concerned about the no of state primary and secondary places in Richmond. It does not seem fair if there will be a new state school for a selective group of TM practioners only at the expense of local Hampton parents losing their state school option. We will need lot more facts and substance on curriculum, TM conflicts with generally accepted and proven scientific truths, quality of teaching staff

ChrisSquire Tue 03-Jan-12 00:43:20

From the Admission Policy of the Lancashire school:

‘ . . Any pupil will be admitted . . Although it is not expected that each child will be practising TM prior to being offered a place at the School, each child will learn and be regularly practising TM prior to the 1st day of their first term at the School . . there will be no charge for any pupil learning TM to attend the School. It is expected that at least one carer/parent also learn TM at the same time as the child . . Should the child’s circumstances preclude a parent or carer learning, as in the case of a child in public care, then this condition can be waived.

. . it is also expected that parents/carers attend one of the many Maharishi Free School open days held throughout the year prior to choosing Maharishi Free School for their child; during this open day, parents will be briefed on these differences including both the School’s and the parent’s responsibilities . . Neither the parents/carers nor the child(en) will be subject to any interviews, and advice will not form part of, or influence the application of, the published admission criteria during this Open Day briefing process . .

Oversubscription Policy: . . e) Tie breaker: Where having applied the above criteria, there are still more children than there are places available, 25% (rounded down) of the final places will be allocated based on proximity of the child’s address to the School’s address. The measurement used will be a straight line distance from the pupil’s home to the school with those living nearest to the school being given priority. The remaining 75% of places (rounded up) will be allocated by a random draw.‘

rylerom Tue 03-Jan-12 10:30:28

Richard - just to be clear, please can you confirm that:
1. The Maharishi School in Lancashire is the only one in the country so far.
2. It was an independent school which converted into a state-funded Free School in 2011.
3. It only has 12 children per class at secondary level - half the class size proposed for Richmond - and 20 at primary level.
4. The school is part of a community called "Maharishi European Sidhland" which "was created through the inspiration of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and is dedicated to individual enlightenment for its members and creating world peace through the positive influence of collective practice of Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes. Facilities include the Maharishi Golden Dome, the Maharishi School, a Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre and a Sports and Arts Centre."

Admissions Policy

Thank you ChrisSquire - that is very helpful. I am running out of time to answer all these different points....

The only major change to the Admissions Policy is that we have been asked to change the Oversubscription Policy to approximately 50% Proximity and 50% lottery.

This is largely at the request of the Council who have had a lot of feedback from Hampton residents asking for more places to be available based on nearness to the School (proximity). However this has had to be balanced with requests from existing local schools to not take too much of their local intake of children. The result, we hope, provides enough Maharishi School places to local children who want them and, by taking some pupils from a broader area, also releases places in other schools so that more parents get their first/second choice school nearer to them.

As indicated at the top of the thread, the response to our proposals so far have been very positive with the Primary School already having more than sufficient pre-registrations to fill it in just the past few weeks. We still need more Secondary pre-registrations though and I would encourage you to let your friends know if they would like a Year 7 place for their child in 2013 or 2014.

Rylerom

Richard - just to be clear, please can you confirm that:
1. The Maharishi School in Lancashire is the only one in the country so far.
2. It was an independent school which converted into a state-funded Free School in 2011.

Yes to both questions - it has been running for about 25 years now, and to address an earlier question, we have had regular Ofsted inspections during that time, not just the most recent one.

3. It only has 12 children per class at secondary level - half the class size proposed for Richmond - and 20 at primary level.

The secondary intake in Lancashire is based on 15 children per class, the same as the primary intake. Why so small? The smallest classroom in the building could only accommodate 15, therefore that is the maximum we could have in the other classes including primary. The numbers you refer to above are transitional while we have our second building remodeled.

Regarding primary, once construction is complete we have no plans to have teaching assistants in primary classes in Lancashire - however we will have teaching assistants in every primary class in Richmond.

4. The school is part of a community called "Maharishi European Sidhland" which "was created through the inspiration of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and is dedicated to individual enlightenment for its members and creating world peace through the positive influence of collective practice of Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes. Facilities include the Maharishi Golden Dome, the Maharishi School, a Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre and a Sports and Arts Centre."

Yes again.

parrich Tue 03-Jan-12 15:31:42

Richard your explanation on admissions policy seems to contradict what your press release has said about shortage of school places http://www.maharishischool.com/2011/maharishi-free-school-richmond-press-release
"There is an extraordinary need for more school places in Richmond, with the Hampton-based parent organisation Children-Without-Choice stating that there was a shortage of 190 places for Reception-age children this year alone, while even greater demand exists for secondary places"

In times of ever increasing demand for school places and supply constrains, I cant see why you would have only 50% oversubscription based on distance and offer an explanation that that is to protect interest of other local schools or release places in other schools. Hampton state schools are already over subscribed. The risk of yr admissions policy is that new state places will go to only those who agree to get their children to practice TM ( including from out of the borough), at the expense of local parents in Hampton. As a consequence, parents living close to Oldfield who do not want to force their kids into TM will end up having to send their kids long distance to state schools or go private.

Parrich

Sorry if you're confused, I'm doing my best to answer questions, both here and at the meetings.

I can understand why you are annoyed - everyone wants more schools in Richmond, but most can't agree on which type of schools those should be.

For example the proposed Catholic school had a petition or 3,300 signatures against and about 3,500 in favour - its a tough call.

Many are not aware though that Richmond Education Authority are rated the #1 Education Authority? They really are doing a stellar job of addressing the problem. They have plans in place to create both diversity and quantity of places over the next 3-4 years, but these plans include free schools.

What I can say is this, if we are successful in our bid, regardless of whether you decide to send your children to Maharishi School or not, it will release about 120 places at other schools in Richmond every year. The result is that many, many more parents will get their first or second choice school than there are currently.

The competition for Free School money is national, it doesn't come from the Borough. If we don't get it, chances are it will probably be allocated to another borough or county elsewhere in the country.

You're of the opinion that our track record is not credible, I'm sorry to hear that - The DfE, Lancashire Education Authority, Richmond Education Authority and Ofsted seem to disagree with you, but you are entitled to your opinion.

katbb

Here's an simple example of how a teacher might use one of the SCI principles in a secondary SCI lesson..

Let's take 'life is found in layers'

She might point out examples in physics (molecular, atomic, sub-atomic), then biology (epidermal layers), literature (different levels of meaning in a William Blake poem) and finally the student's own experience during TM when he feels himself experiencing deeper levels of the thinking process.

At primary, it would be much simpler, she might point out the different layers in an onion and the different layers of life found in a classroom fish tank.

That's the general idea.

parrich Tue 03-Jan-12 16:13:23

Thanks Richard - You are right that there is a lot of debate on education in Richmond as people are concerned about funding and site availability in these tough economic times. Type of school becomes an issue when the admissions policy are restrictive or discriminatory as it can negative impact on local communities living close to the school. I welcome diveristy but not exclusive/ restrictive diversity.

Can you please point out to the source that rates Richmond Education Authority as #1. Frankly speaking I am surprised as though we have great primary schools, we have variable standards in state secondary education. Their future plans are also being challenged and debated.

I am sorry but I do not buy-in your logic of freeing 120 places in other schools as that suggests substitution which is not the case in places with high demand and supply constraints. Lastly my point on track record and credebility was targetted at the information that suggested that you have a number of outstanding schools when in fact there is only 1 small school in Lancashire .

rylerom Tue 03-Jan-12 16:28:06

Richard - thanks for your responses. You're right that a new school would free places at other schools (if they're full). But would the places all be "at other schools in Richmond"? Your site is on the edge of the borough, so the 50% "distance" and 50% "ballot" places would I guess draw in children from other areas too. And presumably TM practitioners from a wide area would be interested in entering the ballot. Any views on how many primary and secondary places will go to children living in Hampton or other parts of Richmond versus children from other areas?

Jeev Tue 03-Jan-12 16:34:20

Free schools and diversity are great for Richmond, provided they benefit Richmond community at large. I like the ethos of another free school proposal http://www.thomsonhouseschool.org/ that will be open to all without any pre-conditions

BayJay Tue 03-Jan-12 16:58:58

"Can you please point out to the source that rates Richmond Education Authority as #1"

parrich, I suspect richard is referring to the fact that in 2011, Richmond Primary Schools collectively had the best Key Stage 2 results in the country (see para 14 of this doc). However, as you correctly point out, our secondary schools are lagging behind our primaries.

Richard, this thread and its predecessor have been running for over a year, and those who have been following it for some time are very up to speed on the local issues with Secondary schools. I would recommend that you take the time to read through it, as the issues are complex and numerous, and there are many links to primary sources of background information.

I would just like to correct you on one point. There were 3500 signatures in favour of a Catholic school, but the 3300 signatures on the Inclusive Schools Petition were in favour of inclusive schools, rather than against a Catholic school. It is possible for a Catholic school to be inclusive, satisfying the wording of both petitions.

Dentvincent Tue 03-Jan-12 17:58:17

I would agree with most if the above points. I suspect there is a degree if suspicion regarding TM - fair enough - unless interested previously I don't think you would consider a TM school above a 'normal' LEA state school. My concerns are that I do feel some of the Maharishi school statements are misleading. For example: 'Maharishi schools are consistently rated outstanding.' surely less misleading would be 'the current Maharishi school, whilst previously independent and smaller than the proposed new school, has been rated outstanding at it's most recent Ofsted.' once you start being concerned about certain claims then obviously all other statements are taken with a pinch of salt. And I don't think Richard has really answered why he consistently makes this claim

parrich Tue 03-Jan-12 18:16:11

Thanks BayJay for the doc link - but that does not mean that Richmond Education Authority has been rated as #1. Is this an another example of the numerous misleading / factually inaccurate statements that we are getting from them.

akhan Tue 03-Jan-12 18:32:31

Happy new year to all and hope everyone had a good break. Interesting focus on this thread in the New Year! I must confess this is the 1st time I am looking at the Maharashi school proposal. So I just googled to see what TM is all about
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_Meditation_technique

Some interesting facts - wonder if students learn to do Yogic Flying ???

Dentvincent Tue 03-Jan-12 19:45:06

Another free school proposing the same site is Hampton church school - they seem to be a church school that is fully inclusive although they are prioritising the south Hampton area.
https://sites.google.com/site/hamptonchurchschool/

I'm no expert in the inclusive faith school debate but is this a model?

Jeev Tue 03-Jan-12 20:05:49

DentVincent yes the trend is towards inclusive faith schools. I had last month posted links to new CoE inclusive faith schools. . Two new CofE Inclusive schools have been recently opened in London 1) Secondary: http://schools.london.anglican.org/119/north-ealing-church-of-england-academy-necea and 2) Primary: http://www.stlukesschool.org.uk/. The "Coalition Agreement" included a commitment to increasing inclusivity in faith schools

ChrisSquire Tue 03-Jan-12 21:29:02

I was wondering who would be the first to mention Yogic flying! What a load of nonsense it is.

There is nothing amounting to a league (now ‘performance’) table of educational authorities published now as the government is determined to emasculate or abolish them and turn all schools into academies; such tables were published years ago by the previous administration.

Hampton councillor Gareth Roberts has written to the RTT about the tinyurl.com/7ew9jhm Provisions [sic] of school places (RTT Nov 25) in his ward, pointing out that the local community primary schools (Hampton and Carlisle) are full, need to expand and cannot do so on their present compact sites and that the Oldfield Centre, a empty public asset bought for public use, could be used for this. It seems obvious to me that if the residents of Hampton were asked, this is what they would choose and the Maharishites would be invited to find a site at their own expense elsewhere.

BayJay Tue 03-Jan-12 22:37:52

Dentvincent, thanks for the info about the proposed Hampton Church School. From my brief look at the website it certainly does seem to fulfill the definition of an inclusive church school, and I particularly welcome the fact that they are going further than is required by Free School legislation by being 100% open, rather than the mandatory 50%.

parrich Wed 04-Jan-12 06:02:07

Thanks for sharing the Hampton church school link. It looks promising - purpose is to solve the burning need of parents living south of Oldfield and is run by people who have experience in local education. Local parents will no doubt be expressing our preference on use of Oldfield site to our councillors, Richmond education authorities and DfE.

As promised following are some abstracts of research on TM published in the
International Journal of Neuroscience

2006, Vol. 116, No. 12 , Pages 1519-1538 (doi:10.1080/00207450600575482)
CROSS-SECTIONAL AND LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF EFFECTS OF TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION PRACTICE ON INTERHEMISPHERIC FRONTAL ASYMMETRY AND FRONTAL COHERENCE

Two studies investigated frontal alpha lateral asymmetry and frontal interhemispheric coherence during eyes-closed rest, Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice, and computerized reaction-time tasks. In the first study, frontal coherence and lateralized asymmetry were higher in 13 TM subjects than in 12 controls. In the second study (N = 14), a one-year longitudinal study, lateral asymmetry did not change in any condition. In contrast, frontal coherence increased linearly during computer tasks and eyes-closed rest, and as a step-function during TM practice—rising to a high level after 2-months TM practice. Coherence was more sensitive than lateral asymmetry to effects of TM practice on brain functioning.

Short-Term Longitudinal Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Technique on EEG Power and Coherence
1981, Vol. 14, No. 3-4 , Pages 147-151

EEG alpha coherence and slow alpha power were recorded from frontal and occipital derivations during relaxation or the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique in fifteen subjects. Subjects were tested before and after a two-week baseline period in which half practiced twice daily relaxation and half did not change their schedule. All subjects were then instructed in the TM technique and retested after a two-week period of twice daily practice of the technique. During the first two-week period there were no group differences or group by session interactions, but there was a significant effect of repeated measurement, indicating a decrease in occipital power independent of group. After the two-week TM technique period, subjects showed a significant increase in frontal alpha coherence above a 0.95 threshold. Frontal alpha coherence was found to be a more sensitive discriminator of the TM technique than alpha power, which may clarify previously reported nonsignificant EEG differences between the TM technique and general relaxation.

Participation in the transcendental meditation program and frontal eeg coherence during concept learning
1986, Vol. 29, No. 1-2 , Pages 45-55

This study assesses variation in frontal bilateral EEG coherence among normal subjects during trials of a concept learning task; the task used a concept-reversal paradigm found from prior research to distinguish frontal lobe patients from normal adults. Subjects were either participants in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program or controls matched for age, sex, and intellectual ability, and additional experimental factors were whether or not the subject gained information on a given trial and whether or not the trial occurred before, during, or after the shift of concept. It was hypothesized that: (1) higher frontal EEG coherence (alpha and beta frequencies) would be associated with trials on which information was gained; (2) higher coherence in the same frequencies would be found in the two concept-solution periods in contrast to the concept-reversal period that divided them; and (3) these patterns would be more clearly expressed among TM program participants. Each hypothesis received partial support. The first hypothesis was true only for TM program participants for alpha coherence, and only during the first concept-solution period for beta coherence. The second hypothesis was true for alpha coherence only, and the third hypothesis received support for alpha coherence. Results were not attributable to muscle or eye artifacts. However, a different response style was found to the change in concept among the two groups; control subjects displayed greater arousal (muscle artifact) during the concept-reversal period, while TM program participants displayed less arousal.

Effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation Program in Preventing and Treating Substance Misuse: A Review
1991, Vol. 26, No. 3 , Pages 293-325

This article reviews 24 studies on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM) in treating and preventing misuse of chemical substances. Studies cover noninstitutionalized users, participants in treatment programs, and prisoners with histories of heavy use. All the studies showed positive effects of the TM program. Some of the survey-type studies were unable to exclude the possibility of self-selection or responder biases. However, longitudinal, random-assignment studies with objective measures also showed positive results. Taken together, these and other studies indicate the program simultaneously addresses several factors underlying chemical dependence, providing not only immediate relief from distress but also long-range improvements in well-being, self-esteem, personal empowerment, and other areas of psychophysiological health.

BayJay and Parrich

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/richmond-upon-thames

There is another reference rating them as #1, but to be honest, i could spend my life looking up references

hope this helps

ChrisSquire Thu 05-Jan-12 10:25:14

The keyword "transcendental meditation" found 291 journal articles in PubMed a database of more than 21 million citations (going back to 1970) for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books created by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.

No titles included the word ’child’ and only two included ‘school’: one (dated 2006) related to middle school students (The experience of transcendental meditation in middle school students: a qualitative report. Rosaen C, Benn R.) and the other (dated 1973) to African American adolescents (What school physicians, nurses and health educators should know about transcendental meditation. Bright D, Buccola VA, Stone WJ, Toohey JV.).

I conclude that no reputable research has been done on the benefits of teaching TM to primary school children.

ChrisSquire

I'm glad you found 291 journal articles in one medical related database. I think that indicates the volume of research that has been done. Hope you found the 'Neuroscience' abstracts of interest.

Regarding your point on schools and children, look into databases that include education and social sciences and you will have more success. None of the articles that appeared in say 'Education' journal would be in the medical database.

Having said that, I would agree that there is very little if any research on primary school students.

There is a different meditation technique taught to young children, they do not get the ordinary sitting technique until they are around 10 yrs old. Think of it as 'TM light'. They use it for just a few minutes twice a day and do it with their eyes open, and not sitting down.

School performance

To address an earlier question...

Ofsted lists only our 2 most recent inspections, a full inspection followed by a light inspection in 2009, but there are many more inspections before that which reported essentially similar results.

Since 1990 the School has also reported 3 times the national average of 'A' and 'A*' grades and nearly twice the national average of achieving 5 or more 'C to A' grades.

Regarding our Admissions and Over-subscription criteria I've taken what you have all said on board.

We are trying to adapt to local requirements and I expect to be issuing something new very shortly that will, I hope, go some way towards satisfying everyone's concerns.

Bye for now

BayJay Thu 05-Jan-12 17:50:08

Richard, thanks for taking the time to find those references. They're certainly interesting.

Here's where I'm at:

- As I said before, I'd be prepared to accept that meditation could be beneficial in the sense that it is a deep relaxation and visualisation technique, but I'd question whether it was necessary to teach children "The Science of Creative Intelligence" for them to benefit from that. I wonder if any studies have been done to compare with people who have learnt to meditate without those lessons (that's a rhetorical question, so please don't feel obliged to go and search for some).

- If it was called "The Philosophy of Creative Intelligence", I'd feel a bit better about it. It's not science, its pseudoscience. I would expect you to teach children the difference.

- I welcome the idea that parents are encouraged to learn the technique too, as at least that way they will understand what their children are learning about. I would expect to talk to my children about what they were learning and to encourage them to question parts of it that they didn't agree with. Would that sort of critical evaluation be encouraged?

- The fact that there are substantial course fees involved in learning TM is an issue for inclusivity. Would you be offering to subsidise those costs for parents who wanted to learn the technique but couldn't afford it?

- Sorry to say this, but I would like to think the Government would reject your application on the grounds that your Lancashire Free School is embryonic at the moment, and that its success should be proven before you expand to other areas. After all, the original independent school was created to serve a community that were already practising TM, whereas people's motivations for selecting the Free School may well be 'despite' the TM rather than 'because' of it, so it will be interesting to see how those parents rate the school over the coming years.

- If your school was excellent in every other way then I might be one of those parents choosing it 'despite' the TM. However, as I said previously, I'm suspicious of your ability to provide a wide curriculum with only 3 forms of entry. For example, would it be possible for children to take all three sciences as separate subjects at GCSE?

BayJay

Thank you very much for some very thoughtful comments! It is really appreciated.

Regarding your first point - TM without SCI. One of my favourite studies was conducted at York University in Toronto. They chose a secondary school and had one group learn TM, one learn SCI and no TM, another learned both and a fourth was the control.

After about a year (not sure about the time here), they compared the academic performance of all four groups. The TM group and the TM and SCI group improved their academic performance significantly and by the same amount. The other two groups showed no change.

The obvious conclusion is that TM is responsible for an improvement in academic performance and that SCI is just like any other subject a student learns.

oops, gotta run, I'll finsih this later...

Jeev Fri 06-Jan-12 05:32:25

Thanks for clarifying that there is nothing to support benefits of teaching TM to primary school children. So why do we need a primary school with TM, when nothing of TM is done till a child gets to 10 and then its only 4 mts a day at primary level.
Is this serving a critical need for local Hampton residents ( especialy south of Oldfield) who are concerned about primary and secondary school places?
Do they want the the only public site and funding for a new state school in their neighbourhood to be filled mainly by an exclusive group of out of Hampton and out of borough TM followers ?
Will this encourage a hypocritical trend that makes parents practice few mts of TM a day to get a much needed place in a local state school, at the expense of their neighbours?

BayJay Fri 06-Jan-12 09:11:04

Jeev - welcome to the government's new model of school provision! Anyone can set up a school now. They just have to prove that there is a demand for it (and the motivation behind the demand is not necessarily something that will be measured). However, they do also need to show that they are capable of running a good school, and that they will cater for the full ability range, including children with SEN. I note from the Lancashire Maharishi school's most recent insection that they didn't have any SEN children. Nevertheless, in order to secure Free School funding they must have convinced the government of their case.

One point worth noting is that it is a competitive system, which could arguably be seen as having benefits. I wonder if the Hampton Church School steering group would have been motivated to initiate a rival bid if they hadn't been stirred up by the Maharishi school's interest in Oldfield Road? Just a thought.

Jeev Fri 06-Jan-12 10:25:26

Potential bidders will have a better chance of winning bids and building sustainable relationships with the local community, if they solve the burning local needs, as opposed to to forcing their agenda. It is for them to decide whether they want to be there for the local people or just smooch the authorities

Cat2405 Fri 06-Jan-12 10:28:18

Happy new year all. Just noticed that this seems to suggest that there may be an additional form of entry at Christ's this year. I think the Council mentioned 2013 in the forecasts, but happy to be corrected on this.

ChrisSquire Fri 06-Jan-12 14:56:39

RCs get go-head:

Latest move on Clifden School site: The Secretary of State for Education has granted permission to allow the Diocese of Westminster to propose the establishment of a voluntary aided Catholic Secondary School in Richmond upon Thames.

Council officers will now meet with the Diocese to discuss next steps and establish the Diocese’s timetable for publishing a statutory proposal to establish the school. The Diocese’s consultation will be done in two phases, and last a minimum of 10 weeks.

The Council will launch its own consultation later this month on the establishment of a new Catholic secondary and the use of the Clifden Road site that the Council purchased last summer.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools, said: “One of the very top priorities for this Council is our programme, working in partnership with our schools, to create further capacity, quality, and choice across our secondary system. This programme includes working with schools on standards, facilitating sixth forms, commissioned services, and capacity planning. It also includes continuing the Council’s longstanding support for a Catholic secondary in the borough.

“There has been much debate over the past few months about the prospect of a new Catholic secondary, and rightly so. Few issues are as important to our borough as education. We made a commitment to support the introduction of a Catholic school. We also made a commitment to be a consulting council, and to listen to the views of residents, in this case on the use of the Clifden Road site for the introduction of a Catholic school, or otherwise. We will honour both commitments.

We will launch our consultation this month, with more details to follow soon. Once both the Council’s consultation and the Diocese’s consultation are complete, all results will come back to the Council’s cabinet, and we will make a decision based on all factors.”

Ends

Council press release 06/01/12

BayJay Fri 06-Jan-12 16:19:23

It is disappointing that they are planning to conduct the Clifden Road consultation before the result of the Linked School consultation is finalised.

akhan Sat 07-Jan-12 16:50:49

Chris - Are there any details on Gove's approval - why was Vince Cables solution to resolve the controversy in his area not considered ? What action will you - this is against Lib Dem National Education policy and Coalition agreement.

Gigondas Sat 07-Jan-12 16:55:30

Posting as have same issues to akhan.

Also tories must have a death wish in Twickenham area with feeling on this and station development running so high .

ChrisSquire Sat 07-Jan-12 18:08:23

I know no more than anyone else what is going on behind the scenes. However note that this is a decision to allow a consultation, not a decision to go ahead with the RC school. We must now wait to see what the consultation of residents amounts to, what the response to it is and how the council then acts. The council has so far given no clues to what questions it will put to residents or whom it will consult. This is not a statutory consultation, so they don’t have to do it at all and it is up to them how they do it. Nor do they have to take any notice of the responses they get if they don’t wish to.

It is distinct from the consultation which the RCs must do, which is statutory and set out in the School Organisation (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2007: they must consult governors, parents, teachers, etc. at the local primary schools and other interested local representatives but need not actively canvass the views of other residents (who can, nonetheless, contribute).

LottieProsser Sat 07-Jan-12 20:42:40

I see that there is now another free school proposal for the Clifden Road site - a science and engineering Academy with inclusive admissions which is asking parents to register if they are interested:
http://sciengschool4richmond.btck.co.uk/

Jeev Sat 07-Jan-12 22:40:11

Thanks LottieProsser - great to see a 5 form of entry inclusive secondary academy with a science and engineering specialism free school proposal. I have registered on http://sciengschool4richmond.btck.co.uk/ and would like to get more information.

seenbutnotheard Sat 07-Jan-12 23:47:51

Anyone know who is behind this new Free School proposal? Usually Free School's have a "who are we?" type section which shows their 'leaders' so to speak.
They have quite a lot of RISC information, so wondered if some of RISC's more prominent supporters are in their ranks.

Obviously I am delighted that we have (at last) got to the stage of consultation and pray that there is a favourable outcome.

ChrisSquire Sun 08-Jan-12 01:10:45

Here is a working link.

BayJay Sun 08-Jan-12 07:36:16

Happy New Year seenbutnotheard, and welcome back.

I'm happy to declare an interest as being on the steering group for the Sci & Eng school idea. I've fed in ideas from this thread, and I'm happy to continue to do that, and to field any questions. Its operating separately from RISC, and its at a very early stage at the moment. RISC are obviously pleased to see an alternative vision for the site emerge, and have passed on the information to their supporters. However, they would do that for any other inclusive options that emerged too.

akhan Sun 08-Jan-12 07:39:00

So will hodgins offer the opportunity of the clifden road site to the science academy as well? He welcomes all new free schools
The consultation needs to offer all possible school options for clifden . Council should show independence and objectivity and give all sides equal opportunity to present their case

BayJay Sun 08-Jan-12 08:25:38

Akhan, the Sci & Eng Academy doesn't yet have a sponsor, so its obviously not at such an advanced stage as the Catholic School option. Other ideas may yet come forward. The council have no obligation to include any of them in their consultation. If the consultation did ultimately conclude that people wanted a community option, then the logical thing to do would be to open the site to competition from the Academy sector, so other ideas may come forward at that stage.

akhan Sun 08-Jan-12 09:34:37

Will the consultation offer option of community school at clifden or consider the results of linked school - how can it be genuine otherwise ????

BayJay Sun 08-Jan-12 10:05:20

Akhan, we will have to wait to see the council's consultation. However, I think they are very aware that people will be watching closely to see how it is conducted.

At the last broadcast council meeting Paul Hodgins said that it would be a full and fair consultation. He also said that they would be asking people not only "what" they want, but also "why" they want it. I think that is significant to how the result of the consultation will be determined. For instance if a large number of people say they don't want a Catholic school because they are opposed to faith schools in principle, then the council would probably say that they respect that view but don't agree with it. If a large number of people say they want a community school because they are worried about a lack of provision in the future they could point to their (disputed) forecasts as reassurance. Similarly, if a large number of Catholics say they want a Catholic school because they don't currently have any links to local primary schools, they would (hopefully) take that as reassurance that the outcome of the Linked School consultation may alleviate their concerns.

akhan Sun 08-Jan-12 12:05:20

Bayjay - u seem to have a lot of trust in the council to do this properly. The past and even recent track record of what goes into them and the manner in which they are conducted is discouraging. They not even waiting to see the results of the linked in consultation. If they really want to do this properly they should have the contents and timing of consultation agreed.

BayJay Sun 08-Jan-12 15:21:55

Akhan, I'm prepared to keep an open mind, that's all. There's no benefit in doing otherwise.

muminlondon Sun 08-Jan-12 19:55:55

A science and engineering academy in Twickenham sounds brilliant and would fulfil a genuine need - for inclusive places and for the new James Dysons of the future. Especially if the idea is coming from parents rather than managers or ex-staff of private schools. I'd love to see this idea develop.

seenbutnotheard Sun 08-Jan-12 20:49:37

BayJay, I had wondered if you were involved in this.

So, how far have you got? Yours would be one of the largest Free Schools in England I think (I know that there is another 5 form entry one in Bristol, but not aware of any others) Have you got anyone in mind to run it - I think that you will need to demonstrate a wealth of experience and a very thorough business plan to get it off the ground - have you considered a smaller school?

florist Sun 08-Jan-12 23:26:41

Glad to see my suggestion for a free school alternative for Richmond to be up and running, although clearly only in its very early stages. I assume that this is not a spoiler for the Catholic school possiblility on the Clifden site which seems to be well advanced with of course a well funded sponsor.

BayJay Sun 08-Jan-12 23:31:13

seenbutnotheard, a Free School is just an Academy that is promoted by a parent or teacher group, so there are no limits on size. As you know, Free Schools are a relatively new concept, so its not surprising that there aren't a huge number of them. There are 3 different models for setting one up, and ours would use the Sponsor Model. With that model, the steering group define the vision, and promote the school, gathering evidence of demand. They then engage a sponsor, who takes the idea forward and prepares the application. We have defined our vision, and are starting to promote it and seek a sponsor, so its at a very early stage.

BayJay Sun 08-Jan-12 23:37:19

florist - I don't think the Diocese of Westminster have much to worry about at this stage.

ChrisSquire Mon 09-Jan-12 00:54:13

Florist: this initiative is not a ‘spoiler’: ‘Journalism. A news story or other newspaper item published to spoil the impact of and divert attention from a related item published elsewhere. Also used transf. in other news media, or to denote an event which is intended to generate news coverage with a similarly distracting effect.’ (OED).

It is a reminder of the path not taken as a result of a deliberate choice to press ahead with the offers to the RCs; a path that would have led to an open and free competition between alternative sponsors of a new secondary school; a path that will be mandatory for all new schools when clause 37 of the Education Act 2011 comes into force: ‘ . . (1) If a local authority in England think a new school needs to be established in their area, they must seek proposals for the establishment of an Academy.’ See: ChrisSquire Mon 28-Nov-11 14:06:20.

LottieProsser Mon 09-Jan-12 20:06:36

I don't have any confidence in the Conservatives running the Council. Even if the consultation is reasonably objective in the questions it asks they have already made up their minds about what the outcome is going to be and they are the ones making the decision. It's absolutely bizarre that a group of parents have to come together and hawk their proposals around the private sector in order to stand any chance of getting a secondary school that will admit all the local children, especially the boys, in North Teddington, Fulwell and South Twickenham who are going to be left in the lurch after 2014. Removing the linked schools criteria for Teddington and Orleans Park is only going to increase the number of children in that area with nowhere to go. There isn't any other suitable local site large enough for a secondary school as we all know - unless Bay Jay is going to persuade an oil company to build one on Fulwell Golf Course!

LottieProsser Thu 12-Jan-12 20:13:20

I found this interesting exchange on the subject of forecasting how many school places are needed on the Facebook page of the "Hampton Wick parents against Avenue Centre private development" They are trying to get Richmond Council to use the site of the derelict Avenue Centre opposite for school expansion rather than cramming 50% extra children onto the current site. A parent wrote to Matthew Paul of LB Richmond Education Dept. querying various aspect so the development and has pasted the replies. I see Mr Paul says here that school place planning is an art not a science!

"Parent: Spectacularly bad forecasting by Richmond Council of the number of school places required and a very poor response as to why this is so. I cannot accept that there are too many variables for an accurate forecast and that you seem to have been surprised by the number of families moving into or having children in the new Sandy Lane development. Surely any developer will say that they anticipate less families to avoid paying the Council more money towards education? Furthermore with recent developments in Langdon Park, Tremarton Close, the development at the Langdown-Down hospital, the Shell garage redevelopment and now the Avenue Centre - will that not place even more pressure on school places? The plans seem to fulfill current needs for the next few years but how soon before even those places will be under pressure.
Matthew Paul: Whilst you are of course entitled to your opinion, school place planning is perhaps more difficult than you might perceive. We knew that there would indeed be some children in the recent housing developments who would need school places, but much greater factors (so far) for exacerbating demand for places at HWINS in such a short space of time have been: the increased birth rate (up 30% between 2002 and 2008), the economic downturn and the school’s well-deserved reputation for excellence. Of those factors, the one that has arguably played the biggest part in the last year or so is the state of the economy and its impact upon parents’ ability (or not) to (a) consider private education for their child/ren and (b) to move to a larger property – either within the local area or elsewhere – as their family grows. Although we know how many children were born in the area four years before a Reception intake, we can never know for sure in advance of the intake the number of those children who have moved out of the area; how many have moved in since that time; and, of the total number of children living in the area at the time of application, how many might end up in private schools and/or might move out of the area. We can and do track the percentage of children who don’t end up needing local state-maintained primary school places, but sometimes that percentage can changes in an unforeseen way. Ultimately, even with excellent data and good intelligence, both at a borough-wide and more local level, re admission and socioeconomic patterns, school place planning can be more of an art than a science. Most of the time, I believe that we manage our school place planning responsibility well and in a timely fashion."

Jeev Fri 13-Jan-12 09:41:40

Unfortuantely Matthew Paul has been too focussed on art and that creativity led to 60 students who did not get primary places in Sep 2011 to sit at home for 3 months . So with due respect a bit more of science and rigour in primary school projections will help. When there are so many complexities and uncertainities, it is only prudent to evaluate different scenarios and factor in possible risks. Instead what the Council did with the Secondary school predictions, was that it only showed those scenarios that suited the justification fo Catholic school as a viable option for Clifden Road. I do respect the fact that being a Catholic, Matthew is very symphatetic to the Catholic school plans. However in his position of Head for Schools commission he should show greater objectivity and independence and prudence in developing the school places predictions and strategy. A little bit of science will help!

BayJay Fri 13-Jan-12 10:00:56

Jeev, it is not appropriate to publicly speculate about a council officer's objectivity. If you have concerns I suggest you contact Democratic Services.

I agree that the forecasting of school places can, and should, be approached rigorously. Assumptions should be clearly identified, and each assumption should have an associated risk analysis. A combined risk analysis could then lead to best-case and worst-case scenarios. That has not been done.

ChrisSquire Fri 13-Jan-12 10:35:44
akhan Fri 13-Jan-12 16:32:58

Richmond council must be the most controversial reading the rtt today there are so many issues heatham, clifden , twick station ,hampton wick , maharishi etc . Seems like our council officers need a wake up call. The Tories do not listen or talk just act and the Lib Dems only listen and talk but do not act. It is no surprise people have lost faith in the council and are campaigning .

florist Fri 13-Jan-12 20:52:31

Chris Squires - I am confused. Is the free school initiative a genuine initiative or just, in your words, "a reminder of a path not taken..." or in my definition a spoiler tactic. Bayjay seems to think it is not serious.

Secondly, you talk about the "offers to the RC" - surely it is the othher way round that the Catholic church (it doesn't refer to itself as Roman) is offering to fund the refurb of a school and perform ongoing management.

I thought I had read that Prof Richard Dawkins was planning a humanist school - I'd love to see that prospectus:"the children here are random collections of genes with no meaning and no purpose... we believe in the survival of the fittest and to the extent children and staff build a real school community it is only because that what works for survival...."

LottieProsser Fri 13-Jan-12 21:19:29

I think by "a reminder of the path not taken" Chris meant that if Richmond Council was not trying to get around the Education Act's new provisions which say that there must be an open process when a new school is needed there would have been a chance for other bidders to make offers to run a school on the Clifden site. I didn't read BayJay as saying the free school group wanting a science and engineering college were not serious, just that they were at an early stage in the development of the project. The Council does seem to be following that open process in Hampton where the Maharishi school is now being joined by a second bidder, the C of E. Perhaps if the Council were to decide to throw open the Clifden site to other offers as a result of the consultation the Maharishi school might find it of interest too as it is a much larger, more accessible and nicer site than the Oldfield one and in an area where secondary school places are going to be needed sooner than in Hampton?

BayJay Sat 14-Jan-12 00:50:52

Florist, I can confirm that the Sci & Eng Academy proposal is serious.

If you want to read exactly what Richard Dawkins said you can find it here on Mumsnet. The comments that you refer to (and which you misrepresent) are at Wed 23-Jun-10 10:37:24.

gmsing Sat 14-Jan-12 02:17:00

Ofsted completed an inspection at RPA on the 8 and 9 December 2011 to judge their progress in the first year as an academy. The report has now been been published http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/136208 and has concluded that RPA has made good progress towards raising standards. Congratulations to everyone at RPA for their hard work and efforts. If you are interested please also check the RPA Community Board Web Site http://communityboard4rpa.blogspot.com/

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 14-Jan-12 10:47:30

I (and I suspect others) would feel slightly less antagonised by the campaigners for a Catholic Secondary school if they didn't feel it necessary to repeatedly misrepresent the arguments of those opposing them.

There is a very genuine concern felt by RuT parents that there will be a shortfall in secondary places at any school, let alone one they would prefer. Time will tell whether it proves unfounded. Perhaps all the children currently entering reception in their ever growing numbers will end up earning scholarships to Eton or moving to the villages of Devon. But what happens if they don't?

School expansions are always difficult and unsettling. You only need to read the Hampton Wick facebook page linked to earlier to appreciate that. Sites suitable for new secondary schools are incredibly hard to come by in this borough. If another one can't be found, the only realistic option may be to expand the existing secondary schools. Is it really fair that children move from one building site to another throughout their education? Simply so that Catholics can have a shorter bus journey to school?

seenbutnotheard Sat 14-Jan-12 13:26:41

"simply so that Catholics can have a shorter bus journey to school"

I guess there is reason to feel antagonised on both sides LittleMrsMuppet when statements like yours are banded around - whether you believe it or not, this is about so much more than a shorter bus journey - it is about being able to get into a Catholic School; Catholic families are not exempt from birth rate increases - some of us will have no realistic catholic option in a few years.
It is also about wishing for our children to be able to continue to be educated in the borough that they live in.
It is about all of the other things that we have been discussing for the last decade, yes, even when the LibDems supported the opening of a Catholic Secondary School at the earliest opportunity.

Kewcumber Sat 14-Jan-12 13:39:11

I'd love to see that prospectus:"the children here are random collections of genes with no meaning and no purpose... we believe in the survival of the fittest and to the extent children and staff build a real school community it is only because that what works for survival...."

That has to be one of the most offensive remarks I've heard on either this thread or the other one.

Either you are really trying to be offensive or you really have no grasp of what humanism is or even what survival of the fittest actually means.

Just in case you genuinely don't understand It refers to species evolving so that those with the changes most suited to their environment (ie most fit for purpose) survive longer/ procreate more etc which in the long term results in changes to a species to make then survive better in their environment. Its why people living in hotter countries have darker skin. I'd like to think that your god wouldn't have a problem with that? hmm

Humanists like myself (I can't speak for every one) believe that the good and bad that happen in the world is down to the choices that people make (and luck) and that if more people make good choices on the whole the world will be a better than than if they make poor choices. In my mind that is more conducive to developing a strong community than believing there is an outside influence which controls everything (to some degree or other) which you cannot influence.

It doesn't make me consider the catholic religion in a positive light when proponents of it seem to lack the ability to understand that people without a belief in a god can be every bit as community minded, fair thinking, ethical and public spirited and yes even as kind as any other person who does believe in a god.

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 14-Jan-12 13:51:28

seenbutnotheard - You cannot have it both ways.

Either the problem is that Catholic children are having to travel out of borough. Or the problem is that there is an increase in pupil numbers. If you consider that the most significant problem here is that there are not going to be enough Catholic places due to the increased birth rate, you then have to accept the central argument being made by the non-Catholic community. In which case, you need to justify why you consider it more important that Catholics should get first refusal on the new secondary.

seenbutnotheard Sat 14-Jan-12 14:11:29

LittleMrsMuppet - I think that you will find that the argument made in regards to distance and travelling to schools was initially made by the RISC campaign when it talked about Catholic Children having the choice of 8 schools within a five mile radius, or something like that. This is obviously not correct and gave a very distorted view of the current situation.

It is not an 'either / or' situation is it - can there not be a variety of reasons why we have, for the last decade been requesting (very patiently!!) a Catholic Secondary School? So, I don't think that it is the case of 'having it both ways'.

Please remember that Catholic Children and Richmond children too.

seenbutnotheard Sat 14-Jan-12 14:12:27

are Richmond Children too.

akhan Sat 14-Jan-12 14:17:46

LittleMrsMuppet - Catholic children are not the only ones who have to travel out of borough or who do not get the consistency and continuity of education . In Richmond only 48% go from state primaries to state secondaries and that is 12% below the average in the 10 most prosperous London boroughs. Hence the problem is for everybody and we have 2 options here to solve it at the only site available at Clifden 1) Exclusive Catholic VA school at Clifden and please one minority group at the expense of others and damaging communal relations or 2) We all come together shoulder to shoulder and have a school ( whether a free science school or Catholic inclusive school ) that meets everybody's needs.

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 14-Jan-12 14:47:30

seenbutnotheard -

"The new school will ... enable local children, who currently have to travel long distances to access a Catholic school, to be educated nearer to home."

This is extracted from section 3 of the application by the Diocese of Westminster's application for consent to propose a Catholic VA school which gives the reasons for wanting to set up the new school.

As I have said before, if your concern is that there is going to be a shortage of Catholic places in neighbouring boroughs due to the increase in birthrate (there is not currently a shortage), then you have to also accept that this is a community wide problem.

I really can't understand what you hope to achieve by pretending that the journey to school is now suddenly irrelevant and an aside. I know that I wouldn't particularly want to send my child on several buses/trains to get to Gunnersbury either. It's an argument that everyone here will understand, so don't belittle it.

seenbutnotheard Sat 14-Jan-12 17:28:05

You misunderstand me, I am not belittling anything I was responding to your rather flippant "Simply so that Catholics can have a shorter bus journey to school" comment.

I was saying that this is a rather larger issue than simply distance travelled to school. There are, I think, a combination of factors, on both sides.

florist Sat 14-Jan-12 17:35:30

Kewcumber - I of course didn't say humanists can't be kind (nor that Christians can't be unkind) what I said was that the humanist notion of the "selfish gene" as a basis for such communities is not something that appears to me as attractive: it is utilitarian in concept - Catholics tend not to be utilitarian.

BayJay Sat 14-Jan-12 18:04:29

florist, you are misrepresenting humanists. There is not a "humanist notion of the selfish gene". Richard Dawkins is a Humanist. He also happened to write a book called 'The Selfish Gene' but it was about evolution, not humanism.

Everyone, lets not get into philosophical one-upmanship. There's plenty of that elsewhere on the web.

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 14-Jan-12 18:10:04

seenbutnotheard - you are playing down your best hand purely to disagree with me. That's just silly.

seenbutnotheard Sat 14-Jan-12 18:18:16

Why does it have to be all or nothing? Why is it beyond resonable to think that there is more than one reason why the Catholic community would want this school?

Can you not see how your initial statement ("I (and I suspect others) would feel slightly less antagonised by the campaigners for a Catholic Secondary school if they didn't feel it necessary to repeatedly misrepresent the arguments of those opposing them.") holds true for both sides?

Jeev Sat 14-Jan-12 20:19:09

seenbutnotheard - there is no doubt or surprise that the Catholic community want a Catholic school. There are many reasons behind their aspiration. We have also seen genuine concerns and arguments against a Catholic VA school and an aspiration for inclusiveness in our society.
It is now for the Catholic community to decide whether they want to pursue this exclusive privilege or an integrated solution with the rest of the community.

TroubledWaters Sun 15-Jan-12 08:54:52

Its good to see RPA are making progress Gmsing, so thanks for the link. I think a lot of people will be interested to see if Paul Hodgins sends his own son there in September, given how closely involved he has been in its improvements.

ChrisSquire Sun 15-Jan-12 12:24:50

The recent RISC newsletter says:
‘ . . The Council and church consultations will run in parallel and they're currently working out the details:
• The Council's consultation is expected to run for 8 weeks starting later this month. The outcome will go for review to the Council's Education Overview & Scrutiny Committee and then to the Cabinet, which will make the final decision. This is the more important of the two consultations from our perspective.
• The church has a statutory duty to consult on the establishment of a new VA school. Their consultation will be in two phases: 4 weeks informal - perhaps including some sort of drop-in sessions - and 6 weeks formal. Total 10 weeks. We've no idea how this will work or how to engage with it . .
We don't yet know the details of the Council's consultation . . [it] has already said that this is "not a numbers game" and they will go ahead with the Catholic school even if there's a simple majority against it, on the basis of "defending minority interests" . . ‘

ABitTooCosy Mon 16-Jan-12 10:02:14

Does the fact that Richmond's Director of Education Nick Whitfield is a board member of the Learning Schools Trust represent a conflict of interest? I suppose its a good thing in the sense that he is closely involved in the running of TA and HA, but how can that be balanced in this new competitive model where all schools are going to be academies? Is he able to be objective if free schools want to open in the vicinity of one of the LST schools? I don't know the answer, but its an interesting one to think about.

akhan Mon 16-Jan-12 16:06:55

ABitTooCosy - Interesting pen portrait of Nick Whitfield in your link . I did not know he was a Catholic monk in Benedictine monastery as well as head of Religious education in St George´s Catholic School in Westminster

Cat2405 Tue 17-Jan-12 13:30:27

Details of the Diocese of Westminster consultation on the proposed primary and secondary schools are here.

Jeev Thu 19-Jan-12 06:24:04

So the Diocese will have 2 consultation phases - the informal will be from 20 Jan to 17 Feb. Does anyone have any knowledge of how this is run, who all can respond, how the results are made known to everybody etc ??
Also when is the LBRUT consultation ?

wimpykid Thu 19-Jan-12 11:11:05

Jeev - according to the website there will be drop in sessions at St James's school on 24th Jan and at St Elizabeth's school on 7th Feb. There also will be an online consultation via website which starts tomorrow. All current details on www.rcdow.org. LBRUT will also be doing their own online consultation but I can't find out when that starts. As everything is posted on the web it must be open for anyone with an opinion.

BayJay Thu 19-Jan-12 16:37:51

According to the RTT, the council consultation starts tomorrow.

There are some details in the article about admissions:

Within the proposal, a third of the inset places at the primary school would be reserved for non-faith pupils – a proportion secured into the secondary school and into the sixth form.

The secondary school would follow the Catholic admissions criteria for voluntary aided schools, where Catholics will be given priority places.

In terms of numbers, one third of the primary places represents 10 children. Those children would be able to continue on to the Secondary school. That means that the remaining 140 secondary places would be prioritised for practising Catholic families.

akhan Thu 19-Jan-12 22:58:53

The offer of only 10 out of 150 places is a gimmick and further adds insult to our injury

ChrisSquire Fri 20-Jan-12 09:22:45
muminlondon Fri 20-Jan-12 17:19:26

This is odd. On the link policy consultation page the Cabinet is due to make its final decision about link schools on 22 March.

In the Catholic school consultation briefing (page 14) the date has mysteriously changed to 24 May.

The admissions forum meeting is on 6 February and that doesn't appear to have changed.

Why would it have changed? Does the council view the consultations as being linked?

LottieProsser Fri 20-Jan-12 18:37:31

The major reaction I have to this consultation document is that it shows a large number of variables that could result in a big variation in numbers of secondary school places needed for in-borough children just over the next 3-4 years so it's absolute madness to be rushing into making a decision this year on what to do with the Clifden site in a way that limits access to it for 90% of local children over the next 125 years. 2027 is an awfully long way away! We are being told that Catholic children are likely to find it increasingly difficult to get places in the surrounding Catholic schools but at the moment the vast majority of them seem to be getting places so I am not clear why an immediate decision has to be made. We have not been given the complementary info showing the pressure on places in Catholic schools and all the anecodotal evidence I have heard from Catholic friends is that they are still getting places and upon arrival are finding children there who have travelled from a lot further away who would presumably fail to get places before Richmond children eg. a friend whose daughter has gone to Gumley has a girl from Battersea in her class. I've also seen reports that the RACC won't actually be ready to move out until summer 2013 so the sale might not even be completed until then?

muminlondon Fri 20-Jan-12 19:18:00

The background info is selective and raises questions, e.g.:

- At the nearest RC primary to Clifden (St Edmund's?) last year 88% of inborough pupils were offered their first choice. What a high satisfaction rate - considering that 10% of Richmond pupils weren't even offered ANY of their preferences! So why there? And why the rush?

- Regarding Sacred Heart: either interest in transferring to a Catholic secondary dropped by 20% once they got their link to Teddington OR new pupils (lapsed or non-Catholics) filled the previously empty places just to get their golden ticket into Teddington . Which would be true?

-

BayJay Fri 20-Jan-12 19:33:34

In general I think the document is fairly well balanced - they've certainly made an effort to be so. The bit I think is disingenuous is their emphasis on the low demand for inclusive secondary places from the Catholic community. It ignores the fact that people tend not to apply to schools that they know they have no chance of getting into. In the Linked School consultation documents they were very careful to make it clear that people's choices may have been different if the Link system was not in place. They don't demonstrate the same caution in this document.

gmsing Fri 20-Jan-12 21:42:33
LottieProsser Sat 21-Jan-12 08:45:49

Agree that the paper is manipulative on the subject of Catholics not applying to community schools, particularly in relation to St. James where they have had no chance of getting into their two nearest mixed community schools, Teddington and Orleans Park. It also totally fails to address the fact that most of the available places are at Richmond Park Academy which is a long journey from where the children who will be without places first are in North Teddington and South Twickenham. Most of the Catholics who say their children have to make long journeys to school are choosing to send them a long way to avoid their local community secondary school, whereas these families will have no choice.

Sacred Heart is in Teddington and linked to Teddington School but takes a lot of children who aren't from Teddington and thus are too far away geographically to get into Teddington School as it is oversubscribed. Many of the children come from Hampton and Hampton Hill where I am told the Catholic priests are nicer about signing the relevant references authenticating Catholicism. However a friend whose daughter was at Sacred Heart until 2010 said that there were children in her Year 6 class from Esher and Staines. Therefore the fact that 7 out of 28 children from Year 6 choose their local community secondary means that actually a much higher percentage of those who stand a chance of getting into it are choosing it. Sacred Heart also has a fairly high percentage of children going onto private schools such as Hampton, LEHS and Kingston Grammar. I know plenty of parents from there who chose to go private despite having been given places at Catholic secondaries. The information in the consultation document does not say how many children from Catholic primaries go to private schools as opposed to out of borough Catholic secondary schools. It only talks about where they applied but obviously most parents will apply as a back-up even if they intend to go private if possible. I'm sure if they asked about their intentions as part of this consultation nearly all parents at Catholic schools would say that they wanted their children to go to a Catholic state secondary but I really wonder if that is actually the case and if many of them have always intended go private anyway as do many borough children, particularly on the Richmond side of the river.

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 21-Jan-12 10:31:07

Lottie - you raise a number of interesting points - but I'm not sure how easy it is to draw conclusions from them.

With regards to Sacred Heart, the situation isn't going to be straightforward. By year 6, it is possible that a number of the children that transfer to Teddington School are non-Catholics that have moved in later years to the school simply for the Teddington School link. We don't know this information from the figures provided. What we can tell is that its location (and presumably that of most of its intake) has always been one of the worst for both getting in to (quality) Catholic secondaries and for transport links to them. If a parent of a child is faced with a choice of either St Paul's Sunbury or Teddington School - it's going to be a no-brainer which they'll choose!

It does seem more likely to me that the vast majority will choose a Catholic Secondary in Twickenham over Teddington school. (This does rather assume that its going to be a good school of course!) And if the Sacred Heart pupils are spread over a large geographic area then it can be seen as positive if most pupils can transfer to the same secondary.

The figures published on the school's website don't actually show a huge number transferring to the private sector, only 3 out of 25 last year. Although that might not be typical and be purely indicative of the current economic climate.

The question for me is whether the understandable wishes of a minority should supersede the potential uncertainty faced by the majority. The council is rushing this decision. There is no immediate need for a either a new Catholic or a new community secondary. Places in both sectors are currently in surplus, so it would make sense to simply wait and see. Buy the Clifden site by all means, but sit on it until it is clear what the priority needs to be.

I do get annoyed by the argument that "Catholics are taxpayers too" which I noticed also crept into the consultation document. It's quite a nasty little statement. It seems to imply that only wealthy minorities are important. It suggests that non taxpayers, despite often being the most vulnerable in society, can be simply ignored.

seenbutnotheard Sat 21-Jan-12 10:49:02

That's interesting LittleMrsMuppet that you read the council tax references like that. I read it as a response RISC talking saying things like "It's a fantastic deal for the Church. A terrible deal for the taxpayer"

I really hope that people don't share your view that this is about wealthy minorities. That would be very sad

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 21-Jan-12 11:14:27

It isn't a direct response though, is it? Its a quite separate argument.

The direct response to RISC is that the church will be providing the funds for development of the site thus saving taxpayer's money.

The trouble is, Richmond Catholics ARE a wealthy and powerful minority. They are also an exceptionally organised, united and driven minority. And whether you like it or not, that gives Catholics an unfair advantage.

muminlondon Sat 21-Jan-12 12:02:50

I agree LittleMrsMuppet, the document misleads with the implication that a new community secondary would cost £50 million whereas a catholic school is a net gain of £10 million. It does not state the cost of buying the Clifden site - do we assume it comes from an entirely different accounting line if the school is Catholic? Hardly.

The argument that 200 pupils are choosing Catholic schools anyway and are currently travelling a long way is strong enough. I can even see that most - not all - would still prefer a Catholic school over a community should that barrier be removed, in contrast with pupils from the CofE schools.

But the argument is weakened by the siting of this school at Clifden when Gumley is so near - the risk of YET ANOTHER boy dominated school (the faith criteria prevents an easing of that pressure on other Richmond schools). Or several Catholic schools in the Richmond/Hounslow area that will still have to take pupils from a wide area to maintain rolls, cancelling out the benefit of shorter journeys.

muminlondon Sat 21-Jan-12 12:34:51

This is the 'Waldgrave effect' (to which a 'Gumley effect' could complicate thimgs) - 66% of Teddington pupils are boys, a 2:1 ratio, and 60% of Orleans Park. Contrast 52% at Grey Court.

Jeev Sat 21-Jan-12 13:18:20

I am confused - is the Council consultation document actually the Diocese consultation document and the Diocese document just a summary of the Councils? Apart from merely stating that there are opposite views , it only presents the case for Catholic VA school. BayJay how can that be called a balanced and fair document? We were expecting to see justification to the challenges to their secondary school strategy. There is no logical explanation for example for the 300 odd out of borough students that will leave Richmond schools. As Richmond schools on borough boundary get popular like RPA, they will only attract more out of borough and in borough students . The prediction that RPA will still have 40 spaces in 2014 is not giving their progress due credit . The Council need to show greater support for our academies that have been created for everyone. Putting words into action will mean that they lead by example, send their own kids there, encourage all local primaries to adopt them and build community cohesion and not let 1 group get an exclusive opt out from academies. Unfortunately their proposal will do exactly the opposite.

BayJay Sat 21-Jan-12 14:46:47

Jeev - I meant that the wording was (mostly) balanced. All my opinions on the riskiness of the forecasts (as expressed previously in this thread) still stand.

Another thing they omit to point out is that if a Free School, like this one, takes the site, then the government will fund the refurbishments, so the council will be no worse off than if the Diocese gets it.

Jeev Sat 21-Jan-12 15:18:30

That is a good point BayJay and if one wants to use the value for money argument, then free school represents better value. So will be a Catholic academy that also gets govt funding. Its a shame that the current proposals do not consider and evaluate that option. It seems that the Catholic school at Clifden is proposed to be a VA school only to get around the academy rule of 50% places for community. It could still turn into an academy later on. I saw this on the Diocese of Westminister site www.totalcatholic.com/tc/index.php/uk-and-ireland-news/1973-catholic-schools-will-become-academies-to-guarantee-survival.

Mir4 Sat 21-Jan-12 22:05:06

LITTLE MISS MUPPET:-^The trouble is, Richmond Catholics ARE a wealthy and powerful minority. They are also an exceptionally organized, united and driven minority. And whether you like it or not, that gives Catholics an unfair advantage.^

From one of the many very definitely NOT wealthy and powerful Catholic minority I find this comment not only incorrect but also extremely offensive. Are you trying to mislead readers into assuming that 300 Catholic children are not entitled to an education in their own borough because apparently all of them can afford private education? Well I certainly couldn't and very few Catholic families I know in this borough are in the position where they could afford it either. Please refrain from making sweeping comments and stick to an argument that does not belittle the very genuine needs and desires of many Catholic families. Yes Catholic families are united ,in our belief and our Faith and the concern for the welfare of our children (as are all parents I hope with the latter).There is no sinister organized and driven minority but there is faith and trust.

LittleMrsMuppet Sat 21-Jan-12 23:22:55

Mir4 - I was not making reference to the financial position of individual Catholic families, which I am quite certain you realised.

I am not entirely sure why you are suggesting that anyone would think that Catholics should be educating their children privately. Or why you think that it would be "sinister" that Catholics are organised and driven, for that matter.

muminlondon Sun 22-Jan-12 10:29:10

This column heading is extremely misleading:

'% of Year 6 pupils transferring to Catholic secondary schools'.

The figure for St Elizabeth's in 2010 is 97%. But that's merely the number who DON'T go to a state secondary school. The link school policy has prevented them from puttiing Orleans Park as an option (they had a link to Orleans Park until 2002 so some must have preferred this in the past).

In fact, look at their 2010 profile - I make it 33 pupils, of which 67% choose a Catholic school (private or state) but a fairly sizeable 30% choosing a non-Catholic private school.

That's not 97%.

muminlondon Sun 22-Jan-12 10:38:22

And the other interesting figure is the number at St Elizabeth's choosing single-sex schools (Catholic or non-Catholic) - 85%.

No doubt it is for the diocese to ascertain whether pupils would turn down St Paul's Girls, LEH, Tiffin, Oratory or Sacred Heart in favour of the co-ed school at Twickenham. But is there a question about parental preferences for a co-ed school on their consultation questionnaire?

florist Sun 22-Jan-12 20:30:47

Littlemissmuppet I too find your comments offensive; you admit your were talking about Catholics as a group - substitute the word Catholic for another Abrahamic faith and you might see why your comment is offensive (even if you presumably meant no offence). Is this the Catholic organised, rich conspiracy that echos comments by a little Austrian man once about another faith group

LittleMrsMuppet Sun 22-Jan-12 21:26:02

Florist - frankly I think find it abhorrent that you are trying make an analogy between modern day British Catholics and the Jews who suffered so horrendously in the holocaust.

florist Sun 22-Jan-12 22:36:06

I'm not.

BayJay Sun 22-Jan-12 22:38:01

I read LittleMrsMuppet's comment as referring to the Catholic church and associated institutions, rather than to either individual Catholics, or 'Catholics as a group'. Is that right LittleMrsMuppet?

florist Sun 22-Jan-12 22:49:40

No. She said "They" not it.

BayJay Sun 22-Jan-12 22:58:40

She said "They" not it.
True, but I would be prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. We can't all be precise in our use of language all the time (though it does help when dealing with sensitive issues).

florist Sun 22-Jan-12 23:09:40

Fair point as always Bayjay though there was no apology. Either way it was one of a number of other offensive remarks on this long and otherwise interesting thread. We're talking about a school after all - I am not going to quit this site but if I may one last thought. For those opposing the Catholic VA option (which seems to me to be the only viable short term option) you'd be advised to focus on improving the Church's offer (10 primary places) than opposing outright. If you went for 10 primary and an additional 15 at secondary that might be achievable.
I will watch with interest.

florist Sun 22-Jan-12 23:10:10

now not not

LottieProsser Sun 22-Jan-12 23:33:47

Little Miss Muppett - I agree that there are probably some non-Catholics at Sacred Heart as, despite being the smallest school in Teddington, I have known several people who were moving back into the area from abroad being told it was the only school where they could get a place in Yrs 5 or 6 despite the fact that they weren't Catholic. One of the many things we aren't being told by the consultation is the number of non-Catholics amongst the 240 or so Yr 6s in Catholic primary schools for whom this school at Clifden is proposed to be provided.

Mum in London - also agree with what you say about lack of information about how many Catholics go private from primary schools which is also skewing the statistics as a similar percentage will probably continue to do so even if there is a new school at Clifden.

When you start to look in detail at destinations from each Catholic primary school there are clearly some strong existing links with no evidence of difficulty getting into nearby Catholic schools yet even if they are in the next borough. Some of the schools don't seem to give the actual destinations but St Edmunds in Nelson Road, Whitton, does: schoolsfinder.direct.gov.uk/3183315/school-profile/?d=1&Specialism=0&searchstring=St+Edmunds+Catholic+Primary+School&PC=TW2%207BB&type=Primary%2CSecondary&d=1&distanceMeasure=miles&distanceValue=5&pagetype=search-results

In 2010 St Edmunds had 60 children per year leaving (ie about a quarter of the children for whom a new school is supposedly needed). 28 went to St. Mark's which is a mixed Catholic comprehensive a very similar distance from St Edmunds to the Clifden site (about a mile) so doesn't appear they are having trouble getting in and not clear why they would switch preference to another similar school with no track record. 14 girls went to Gumley which is farther away but their parents presumably wanted a single sex school so chose that rather than St Mark's. There are two non-Catholic schools even closer to St Edmunds than St Mark's is, and considerably closer than Clifden - The Heathland School, which is an outstanding Hounslow comprehensive only half a mile from St. Edmunds, and Twickenham Academy. So it seems to me that children leaving that school already have a very good selection of nearby secondary schools.

I continue to be genuinely puzzled about why giving families who have these choices already another option is considered more important than sorting out the overall problem of the black hole that is looming for non-Catholics where the Council is relying on about 8 things out of its control like funding for a Maharishi Free School and Kingston building an enormous school that will create masses of spare capacity at Grey Court to save the day.

Jeev Mon 23-Jan-12 06:26:25

Thankfully in their consultation doc, the Diocese has also got a map showing all the LBRUT Catholic primaries as well as the nearby secondaries www.rcdow.org.uk/richmondconsult/Richmondconsult.pdf

LittleMrsMuppet Mon 23-Jan-12 07:28:29

At least you always know your opponent is losing the argument when they their only response is to call you a Nazi.

Just to clarify - I was referring to Catholics collectively as I've already said. I said "they" not "it", which any true member of the Catholic church ought to understand. "It" is not some random lifeless institution but a collection of people.

I wonder how many other single interest groups would be in a position that they could go to Richmond Council and say that they could pay for all the necessary building work to the Clifden site? Does that not give you some indication of how well funded collectively Catholics are? From a purely local perspective it has already been made clear much fundraising will need to be done locally in the coming years. This is a wealthy borough and the diocese will not be needing to subsidise it in the long run. If it was, it would almost certainly have other priorities in more needy areas.

muminlondon Mon 23-Jan-12 07:33:24

The problem with that map is that it doesn't show areas of population density - it makes the Catholic schools look quite evenly spaced. When in fact Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, Bushy Park, etc. make us a low population borough.

I can see how important it is for Catholics to get behind the school at this stage. But in the end the site could be a risk for them too, that's not being discussed openly. Perhaps St Mark's are worried about the competition. There could be a seesaw effect with swings of popularity. Maybe after preference factors (local, selective or single sex school) only 40% of the current 241 would choose the school - so it could be undersubscribed. It may need an allocation of open places (e.g. 30%).. It's just that there is little evidence of alternative sites for this or any other school.

LittleMrsMuppet Mon 23-Jan-12 09:43:29

muminlondon, my educated guess is that initially (in 2013 and maybe a couple of years thereon) the school will be undersubscribed by Catholics. I know that I for one won't be choosing it as I have other good options that will win out against an untested school. Talking to others, I'm pretty certain that I'm not alone.

Whether this will matter or not, I'm not sure.

The impact on St Marks will be interesting. It's a little gem in a less than glamourous location. In the long term this could put it at a disadvantage as it'll be viewed as much less worrisome to send an 11yr child on a train/bus to leafy Twickenham than rougher Hounslow.

wimpykid Mon 23-Jan-12 11:25:46

LittleMrsMuppet - I don't think St Marks or any of the other outstanding Catholic secondary schools have much to worry about. Any places not taken up by Richmond children will be filled by kids from other boroughs. St Marks was previously a popular choice for St James's, but it is now many times oversubscribed and is now practically impossible to get into unless you're a sibling or live near the Hounslow border. Currently St Marks offers 18% of places to applicants from Thames Deanery which includes the Richmond Catholic Primaries. Also the 11yr old child who previously had a 40+ minute bus journey to Hounslow, Brentford, Fulham etc, would be able to walk to school or cycle if they had the option of a local Catholic secondary.

LottieProsser posted some interesting information about St Edmunds school, there's some equally interesting detail about St James's on the same site, but I think there are some gaps because the total number of children given is 75 and St James's is a 3 form entry school so the number in each year is actually around 90. I'm pretty sure the school is always full. It just gives a flavour of the range of schools that parents end up sending their kids to. It's not necessarily down to choice either, quite often it's just what you end up with.

Jeev Mon 23-Jan-12 11:33:49

Hi Florist - I totally disagree with you that the Catholic VA school is the only viable short term option for Clifden Road. The Diocese proposal of 10 places in primary and none of the 150 at secondary does not pass the muster. A reasonable proposal could have been for a Catholic academy with 50% of non faith places. I am really dissapointed that was not put forward as an option by the Diocese or the Council, despite having knowledge of the local issues and tensions in the community.

muminlondon Mon 23-Jan-12 13:12:46

Regarding St Mark's, if it recruits from further afield (other boroughs) then the long journeys just shift elsewhere. Or it fills up with non-Catholics?

I checked the numbers of primary school pupils taking SATS in 2010 - 255 pupils in the Catholic schools (83 at St James's) and 426 pupils in CofE schools. Even 40% take-up by Catholics would be a good showing and realistic, as it's three times the number of CofE school pupils taking up Christ's foundation places, and I believe their commitment. But would still only fill up 2/3 of the proposed school.

If the school decided to make 30% of the places open, interested parents would need to rely on such a quota and plan for it, otherwise they wouldn't apply. It might be hard as a VA school to attract non-Catholics - I get the feeling that interest in Christ's (open places) has declined slightly since Grey Court picked up.

It's in all our interests for this school not to be undersubscribed or underperform, because it would be a waste of resources (and opportunity for a different type of school).

akhan Mon 23-Jan-12 20:46:09

I wonder what consultation response would it take to make the Council drop its promotion of a VA RC school on the Clifden site? Is the consultation exercise a sham?

seenbutnotheard Tue 24-Jan-12 09:45:56

muminlondon I would be more worried about the impact of a non-catholic school on the Clifden Road site.

In the first few years, as you so rightly point out, it will be a leap of faith whichever side of the fence you sit on. My worry would be that Orleans Park, Teddington and Waldegrave will continue to be the schools of choice and that the new school will just take children away from the Academies.

The council clearly believe this too, hence their expressed concern about being forced to ‘mothball’ the site to ensure that this does not happen.

muminlondon Tue 24-Jan-12 13:56:54

seenbutnotheard the council does see the Catholic school as the less disruptive option in terms of the academies, you're right.

But the council should at least put the decision on hold until clear decisions on the north Kingston school, link school policy and free schools have been made. I would like to see evidence that they really do know of a suitable site for a community/free school/academy school that would address the shortages looming in the future. I don't think they can go ahead with the further expansions of primary schools that they would like to implement until they do that, as they've already expanded by 11 classes.

muminlondon Tue 24-Jan-12 14:45:18

I should say 'less predictable' rather than 'less disruptive'. It doesn't stop the council considering a Maharishi free school near Hampton Academy.

muminlondon Tue 24-Jan-12 14:46:09

'more predictable' ... I need a cup of tea

LottieProsser Tue 24-Jan-12 19:43:11

I do not really think there is any mileage in this argument that the academies have to be protected. We do not need a 125 year sledgehammer to crack a 2-3 year nut. Twickenham Academy has 50 odd places free in Yr 7, Hampton has hardly any, and Richmond Park has a few more. Clearly no more places are needed on the Richmond side of the river at present because there are less primary schools and more children going private. However all the places on the Twickenham side will fill up in the next year or two because the building work at TA ending will make it more desirable, and the expansions to primary schools that have already occurred will hit soon. Teddington, Orleans Park and Waldegrave are already completely full. So if Clifden is barred to them, children from south of Twickenham and other pockets on the Middx side where they are not near enough to a secondary school to get in will very soon have to travel a very long way to Richmond Park Academy just so that the Catholics can have an exclusive school in the middle of Twickenham and keep everyone else out. We have heard a lot about Catholic children having to travel farther to Catholic schools but, possibly apart from some boys at St James, their parents had the choice to send them to their local secondary school like everyone else. Poorer children from schools like Stanley will have no choice but to undertake a long journey and I doubt they will get driven to Richmond Park Academy in 4 x 4s!

BayJay Tue 24-Jan-12 20:32:43

and I doubt they will get driven to Richmond Park Academy in 4 x 4s!

Lottie, the phrase "unnecessarily confrontational" springs to mind. hmm

LottieProsser Tue 24-Jan-12 21:04:46

Wasn't meaning to imply that a disproportionate number of Catholics travel in 4 x 4s - just that quite a lot of 4 x 4s are still on the school run round the area and the further away children have to go to school the more likely it is that their parents will drive them weighed down by their cellos and hockey sticks that don't fit on the bus in rush hour. If their parents can afford a car and don't have to go to work that is! It seems to me that children coming from Barnes, Mortlake etc. will have a more difficult journey to Twickenham by bus/train than they would have had to schools like London Oratory. But I'm sure residents of the Clifden Road area will be defending their parking spaces to the death if they are like most people around here!

Mir4 Tue 24-Jan-12 21:14:18

Lottie thank you for clarifying ! I just though want to point out something to you. There has been a lot of talk about 125 yr lease and peppercorn rent relating to the Catholic VA option, but I notice from the consultation documents that this is the same deal that has been already given to the academies. I think it is important in this day and age to remember that nothing is ever permanant , policies change, educational thinking changes with every change in government and laws change in time. If any of these 4 schools became unviable I don't think they would be continued under the same terms as it would benefit no one.

Also I don't think that the journey from Twickenham to RPA compares to many of the journeys undertaken by Catholic children every day to out of borough schools which can be far far longer. And no many Catholics in this boough have not had the choice to send their children to their local schools due to the link system etc . At the end of the day we are all parents Lottie who love our kids and Catholics are not 'the enemy'

Bay Jay thank you for your last comment. I think it is important that we focus on the issues.

Bay Jay just a thought , have you considered putting together a bid for one of the other free school sites for a science academy or is it just the Clifden site? I know that in ther prev thread we talked a lot about choice of school and how that areas such as Hampton appeared to have less choice than Twickenham. I guess this is why the borough have opened up these smaller sites around the borough to address this balance across the board. It is just a thought, but surely it would be more appealing to a potential sponsor to sponsor a smaller site and not to be competing with the big successful giants of Orleans Park and Waldegrave when they are in such relative close proximity. Potentially the school could be half full for several years and so would not be a good investment proposition. Also will the government ultimately back and provide 10m +funding to a Free school of this size which will provide ultilamately an over supply of places in one area when we are in recession and they already have a biddder ready to foot the entire refurb bill with a proven need? If a science academy is wanted then could it not be in an area that would benefit more from that additional choice without this battling for one site so both sides could be at peace? Just a thought.

BayJay Tue 24-Jan-12 21:32:09

Mir4, quoting from our website's FAQ's:

Do you have a site in mind?
As the school would have a minimum size of 5-forms of entry, we would need a site of significant size. We are aware of the current consultation regarding the usage of the Clifden Road site, and would express an interest in that site should it become available for use as a community school. We are in the process of identifying alternative sites. We are also aware that the council is actively seeking to purchase a site for a future community school and we will monitor that process as it develops.

That's not "battling for one site". That is preparing to take opportunities as they arise.

Secondary schools that have fewer than 5 forms of entry are not able to provide a broad curriculum, so no, we won't be looking at small sites. Hwoever, we are starting to identify some alternative large sites that we could use.

Mir4 Tue 24-Jan-12 22:00:53

Thank you Bay Jay for clarifying , I am really glad to hear that you are actively seeking alternative sites and opportunities. It would certianly be a wonderful thing if both of our schools could be achieved. Just wondering which potential large sites have you been considering and in what areas of the borough?

BayJay Tue 24-Jan-12 22:06:21

Sorry Mir4, that's not information I'm going to be able to give you right now.

parrich Tue 24-Jan-12 22:21:16

LottieProsser - you make a really valid point on impact of a Catholic VA Clifden option on schools like Hampton Jr, Buckingham in Hampton or Heathfield Jr, Trafalgar, Nelson, Stanley in Heathfield/ Whitton. It is preposterous for the Council to imply that kids from these schools ( a high % are on free school meals) will be able to afford and make the awkward journey from Hampton / Heathfield or Whitton to RPA.

muminlondon Wed 25-Jan-12 07:55:44

That's about 15-18 classes? The nearby academies are reducing to 6 forms each in a couple of years and pupils from neighbouring boroughs will always get in if they are nearer.

wimpykid Wed 25-Jan-12 09:23:41

LottieProsser - Just referring to your statement: We have heard a lot about Catholic children having to travel farther to Catholic schools but, possibly apart from some boys at St James, their parents had the choice to send them to their local secondary school like everyone else

I'd like to clarify that very few boys who attend St James's are able to access their local school. St James's draws from a very wide catchment area based around different parishes, which extends from St Margarets (local school Orleans Park), to Central Twickenham (Orleans Park, Waldegrave with some crossover to Teddington, and Twickenham Academy), a small area of Teddington (Teddington School) and Hampton/Hampton Hill (Hampton Academy). Three of these schools are not accessible to St James's boys; 1 because it's a girls' school and the other 2 because of the link system. Catholic parents aren't the only ones who have preferred not to send their children to Hampton and Twickenham Academies in the past. With no local Catholic school available many parents will continue to join the lottery for places available outside the borough, because they favour a Catholic school over a local one. The website schoolsfinder.direct.gov.uk shows more detail of destinations for St James's children. You will see that the list is very diverse and the numbers fluctuate every year depending on how the schools operate their admissions policies (they seem to be different each year as well).

I think also there's another aspect to this debate that hasn't really been discussed much, namely the contribution that Catholic children would make to the cultural and educational life of the borough. Much has been talked about the divisive nature of Catholic schools, however you could argue that Catholic children could contribute a lot to the borough and the local community by taking part in borough sports, music, drama, and any other inter-schools activities that may be organised, which they otherwise can't do. Just a thought for the pot.

akhan Wed 25-Jan-12 11:38:59

Wimpykid I fully understand and share your concern and agree that no child should do an awkward journey to go to school. But in some cases I have seen parents sending their kids from Twickenham to popular Catholic schools like London Oratory because they feel it is worth the hardship and I do respect their choice. I would love to see Catholics as part of our eductaion system and it saddens me when my kids who developed friendship with our Catholic neighbours in nursery, cannot continue that at primary. It would be great to see more Catholic kids at community schools and if there is a Catholic school at Clifden, for it to have both Catholics and non Catholics for better social cohesion. It is wrong to believe that our academies were built for everyone but Catholics - in fact when they were being established they were promised support from all their local primary schools including the Catholic schools. So the unused spaces in TA are for Catholics as well. Yes there is increase in birth rates in neighbouring boroughs - but again that is a problem for everyone in the community. The problem of ever increasing demand for school places and limited supply of sites is for everyone so why should 1 group get excusive privelege. It is for you to decide whether the need for segregated schooling is far greater than the need for an integrated communal and inclusive solution.

LottieProsser Wed 25-Jan-12 12:50:42

My main focus in all this is that there should be enough local places for everyone before we give sites away to special interest groups. By "local" I mean fairly close to where they live and that could be in a different London Borough which may well be closer than the other side of the same London Borough. Richmond Council will not be able to turn round in 5 years time and say "We made a mistake and we need Clifden back" so I am not going to be reassured until I see another site for a community school in the Twickenham area and an attempt to tackle the difficulties that are going to be faced by children who will soon be unable to get into any local secondary school (ie. not RPA when they live in Hampton Hill), through no choice of their own.

Wimpy Kid - I do have sympathy for the parents of boys of St. James - a friend of mine wanted her son to go on to Teddington School which was very nearby but couldn't send him there because of the linked schools system. But it seems highly likely that the linked schools system is about to be abolished so places will go to whoever is nearest from next year. Apart from St James I am not aware of any parts of the borough where children from Catholic schools have been unable to go to their local secondary school but if that situation exists I hope it will be corrected. If parents of Catholic children choose to send them on long difficult journeys to avoid going to a local secondary school with everyone else I have little sympathy for the parents, although I have plenty of sympathy for their children.

Mir4 Wed 25-Jan-12 16:24:35