New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4(1001 Posts)
Welcome. This is the fourth (or perhaps fifth) in a series of threads about Richmond Secondary Schools.
The discussion was originally triggered by Richmond council's publication of its Education White Paper in February 2011. It started with two parallel threads here and here.
In November 2011 the most active of the original two threads reached 1000 messages (the maximum allowed) so we continued the conversation here.
That thread filled up in May 2012, and was continued here.
It's now November 2012, and once again we're at the start of a new thread ....
Well done and thanks BayJay. Vince is after all a very senior LibDem - perhaps the next leader and should ensure the Education Act and Coalition agreement is correctly applied in his own backyard.
Jo, yes, but the definition of "correctly applied" won't be known until after the judicial review, will it?. I expect he'll be watching the result of that with interest.
In the meantime, I don't suppose VC reads Mumsnet, so anyone who thinks he needs to be taking particular action should be writing to him directly. He's generally pretty responsive to letters from his constituents.
Thanks for the thread BayJay. I am always rather hoping ChrisSquires can pass on messages on but appreciate he follows this thread in a personal capacity!
Well done to RPA for their 'good' rating and 'inspirational and committed teachers'.
Re: 'I am always rather hoping ChrisSquires can pass on messages on but appreciate he follows this thread in a personal capacity!'
Correct: anything you wish to tell Vince or our councillors please do it yourselves. I am not a messenger to or a spokesperson for anyone else. I expect that what this new lot [I have forgotten their name] are doing is lawful: the fact that it comes across as a bit crass may simply stem from the fact that they have at present no community support for their scheme and little idea of how to create it.
So they are bluffing - who will call their bluff, I wonder?
Fair point about messages and sorry about the typos.
IES is advertising directly for interested parents as if there is no doubt it is going ahead - take out the 'free' at the top of the advert and it would be easy to assume this is a new private school.
Yes I thought it was crass too. Perhaps if Jodie King read Mumsnet she would realise parents in Twickenham are far from naïve about the approval and funding of Free Schools. Implying it is a done deal undermines their credibility, unless of course it is a done deal......
Also IES is owned by one of the largest venture capital firms in the US - TA Associates' other interests include IT, hedge funds, healthcare, pet food, private universities, sportswear and workwear (so uniforms?), McAfee, Monotype, Cath Kidston, Zadig and Voltaire, and Microban, It might buy up other education services companies and with the state funding it received these companies might subcontract to each other.
I worry about the local press's ability to investigate too. They have taken advertising money. We don't hear about scandals or problems in private schools until later (not suggesting lots of problems but there have been instances of insolvency, abuse, religious sects, etc.) But this is a proposed state school. The RTT otherwise just relies on council press releases but they are not involved either.
Muminlondon, I think the key thing to remember is that the school proposal hasn't been approved yet. Although they have one school open already, that was approved before the recent buyout. No doubt the DfE will be aware of that event, and the criticisms surrounding it. It is their job to only approve schools that represent value for money for the taxpayer, and to preserve the reputation of the Free School initiative, so I expect that the issue will be looked at carefully before the new schools are approved.
As I've said before, the Free School process is rapidly evolving in response to experience, criticisms and feedback, so whereas the DfE might not have predicted this exact scenario before it occurred it would be reasonable to assume they might take a view on it now, and decide whether they want to let it happen again.
The RTT reports: Swedish free school in for Twickenham and Teddington opens to parents (sic):
. . Twickenham and Teddington Free School will welcome the first pupils in September 2014 on the split school site in Fulwell and Twickenham Green. There will be 90 reception places available in September 2014 and the school will eventually grow to accommodate 630 pupils on two separate sites . .
To find out more, visit iesschools.co.uk/Register/TwickenhamandTeddington.
IES has also used the Kingston local press:
New Malden People 8 November
The facility hopes to give Kingston Council a chance to fulfil 300 primary school places across the borough by 2014.
How official does that sound? Therefore, is it misleading? Seven forms of entry in two primary schools in two boroughs going to one profit-making company? I would like to know what Nick Whitfield thinks about this, as he is Education Director of both boroughs.
"going to one profit-making company"
correction: "being proposed by one non-profit trust, with a parent company that may or may not make a profit out of the services provided to the schools".
I do think its worth being careful with language until the full facts are established.
p.s. Also, just posting this link to IES's contact form, so if anyone wants to know more they can contact them directly.
Great result at RPA gmsing. Is RPA likely to get oversubscribed this year and with kids from local primaries That could have a material impact on councils forecast that was relying on people crossing the river to go to RPA
Just to say that: 1. I am not entirely sure whether only not for profit organisations can bid for free schools - Bay Jay? - but a non-profit making company (or charity) can't be owned by any other company as it has no shares that they can own. So if IES set up a separate charity to bid for the school or schools the charity will theoretically be independent and will be able to decide who gets the contract for services that IES and TA Associates clearly want to profit from. They won't be its parent company. So IES/TA will need to be very sure of the trustees! 2. I wrote to my local ward councillors who are Lib Dems last week and they hadn't heard anything about this development at that point but it was before the RTT came out with the advert.
Is anyone going to the meeting at St. Mary's tonight?
"1. I am not entirely sure whether only not for profit organisations can bid for free schools"
Yes, in the UK only non-profit trusts can propose free schools.
"but a non-profit making company (or charity) can't be owned by any other company as it has no shares that they can own. So if IES set up a separate charity to bid for the school or schools the charity will theoretically be independent and will be able to decide who gets the contract for services that IES and TA Associates clearly want to profit from. They won't be its parent company. So IES/TA will need to be very sure of the trustees!"
Yes, I agree. It is the trustees of the non-profit trust that will decide how the money is spent. Those trustees may or may not all be IES employees. The DfE may expect to see some independent trustees, but I don't think there are formal 'rules' about that at present.
Jo - RPA is working towards becoming an outstanding secondary school - the No 1 school of choice for the local community. We shall have to wait till Dec to see the preferences parents have stated in their 2013 applications.
I have lots of questions but can't go. It would be in the interests of councillors to be fully briefed. I understand IES has a very different educational approach from Kunskapsskolan so one would not feed into the other, therefore such a school could have wider implications for other secondaries in the borough as well as primaries.
On a different topic, it's interesting to note that the schools adjudicator has found the Maharishi free school in Lancashire in breach of the admissions code - once on requiring parents to attend TM open days (it has no religious designation by the way) and another time for naming a private fee-paying school as a feeder school.
By a googling chance I also found a freedom of information request on the Maharishi free school:
Q. Can I see the free school proposal, business case, assessments, any final report/recommendation?
DfE answer: No.
"DfE answer: No."
Yes, I have heard there have been other similar FoI requests turned down. The DfE are keeping all the proposals under-wraps. On one level it makes sense to protect intellectual property as there'd be nothing to stop successful proposals being duplicated by other groups, but it certainly hasn't helped acceptance of the free school programme by sceptics.
It's a huge culture shock for Richmond because I think residents expect transparency. So for Twickenham Academy you got this level of detail published and for RPA you had the expression of interest
and consultation brochure. (The numbers reading these documents or responding to consultations can sometimes be small but hey, local politicians and the press play their part in this.)
We don't see this for free schools. In fact I thought I heard that the Information Commissioner has ruled that the DfE should publish its assessments of the impact of free schools but the DfE has refused (need to check that).
I saw somewhere ( can't remember source) that Maharishi is not applying in Richmond this Dec.
I've just found that decision by the Information Commissioner - it's just for a list of the proposals, not even supporting info:
'The Commissioner therefore considers that there is public interest in increasing the transparency of the programme ... there are strong arguments about the importance of public oversight of education spending and its distribution ... there is a public interest in allowing people who would be potentially affected by such a school to be able to have an informed debate on any application that would affect them, or to be able to make informed representations to their local council or MP ... the public interest in maintaining the exemption does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure. Therefore the requested information should be disclosed.'
I think appeals are still going on. I don't know what 'paper consideration' means but it's happening on 5 December. So maybe we'll be allowed to find out whether the Maharishi school is applying again.
found the article that Maharishi is not applying for Richmond due to lack of sites !
Hallo, I see from the updated IES website www.iesschools.co.uk that the Admissions Policy says that "Impact Trust" is running the school but Impact Trust doesn't appear to be registered at the Charity Commission yet (there are a few other organisations with similar names). I had a look at 27a High Street, Teddington, yesterday as I walked passed. It seems to be the rooms over Teddington Instant Print next door to Budgens. So not wasting money on plush offices! They have a picture of a generic primary school with international flags on their website but nothing about the actual sites yet.
RISC write: The Judicial Review of Richmond Council's decision to go ahead with the Catholic Voluntary Aided schools at Clifden Road will be heard at the Administrative Court in the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand on Thursday and Friday this week (15th and 16th). In principle we could get a judgement there and then, but in practice that's unlikely and we'll have to wait.
Accord have asked the public about selection by religion: Nearly three quarters of the British public disagrees with religious selection in admissions at state funded schools (Accord Nov 12). Telegraph report: Selection by religion ?should be banned in state schools?.
BHA have published a useful background article: High Court agrees to hear first ever legal challenge to new 'faith' schools because of religious discrimination, Government applies to intervene against BHA (Oct 04).
LProsser, I saw a report about academy funding per pupil not being shown in the performance tables even though that data has been published for community schools. And that information is not available via the Charity Commission either as they have now all become 'exempt charities'. Maybe this is also true of the type of trust proposed by/for IES.
"Maybe this is also true of the type of trust proposed by/for IES"
Yes, Free School trusts have exactly the same status and obligations as Academy Trusts and are funded by Government in exactly the same way, using the same funding formula.
Tough exams and learning by rote are the keys to success, says Michael Gove (Guardian):
"Exams matter because motivation matters," Gove will say, according to extracts of the speech provided by his department. "Humans are hard-wired to seek out challenges. And our self-belief grows as we clear challenges we once thought beyond us. If we know tests are rigorous, and they require application to pass, then the experience of clearing a hurdle we once considered too high spurs us on to further endeavours and deeper learning."
Gove professes himself a great fan of Daniel Willingham, a US cognitive psychologist who has sought to use scientific research to show pupils learn best through the use of memory and routine, arguments outlined in a book, Why Don't Students Like School?, also popular with free schools guru Toby Young . .
Chris I saw that article. He goes from bad to worse. Words fail me but then it doesn't matter what anyone in the world of education says. It couldn't be going further in the wrong direction from the system of learning and assessment we have in universities now.
The Historical Association are doing a consultation based on an interesting paper. www.history.org.uk/news/news_1612.html I particularly agree that (apologies in advance for any random spacing from cut and pasting) I will argue that society is in need of individuals who are capable of innovation and forward thinking: individuals who need to be resilient and flexible to meet the demands of a complex economic environment. They also need to be social beings able to collaborate and work effectively in teams. Sixth formers need much more than good exam grades to be successful. I am not sure that an A level, certainly in its present form, or even its suggested new form, prepare students for the harsh realities of life. If we are hoping to improve students prospects then we need to offer them something else. Learning of quality should not only deliver them the qualifications they deserve but also offer them life skills with which they can negotiate a complex existence. Learning of quality therefore becomes much more than the ability to perform well in exams. The current A level exams measure important skills of memory, analysis and evaluation but these skills are only a small part of a human beings ability.
She goes on to argue that teaching based on encouraging students in oral debate and assessing them on effort and effectiveness, as well as attainment, rather than merely assimilating and regurgitating facts in a structured essay in exams conditions actually gives them skills in learning to learn and helps them to assimilate facts and knowledge in a historical context they really understand and to develop persuasive arguments that they can use to write more effective essays.
That is what actually happens at university, that and producing the essays in the real world using research skills.
Good post Heathclif. Universities are also workplaces and I'm sure most lecturers and teachers would agree with this description of the essential skills our society needs. While politicians live in a bubble of their own.
(No 14) Secretary of State gives speech to IAA:
. . So - having come out - through the medium of French lesbian poetry - as an unapologetically romantic believer in liberal learning - education for its own sake - let me now explain why the best way to advance this liberating doctrine is through regular, demanding, rigorous examinations . .
Judicial review hearing starts today in around 3 hrs!
Before MR JUSTICE SALES
Thursday 15 November, 2012
At half past 10
CO/7182/2012 The Queen on the application of British Humanist Association v London Borough Of Richmond Upon Thames www.justice.gov.uk/courts/court-lists/list-rcj
Coverage on the Richmond court case today on National media.
Interviews with Claire, Natalie and Andrew Copson was on LBC this morning at 645am www.lbc.co.uk/listen-live-3578
Press release from BHA www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/1142
Mr Justice Sales on video: he seems a sensible chap - not at all like my idea of High Court judge.
The Guardian reports: Humanists attempt to halt 'back-door' spread of state-funded religious schools:
A potentially landmark high court case begins today, which could halt what campaigners call the "back-door" spread of new state religious schools through England, approved by councils without residents being given a choice of alternative . .
The RTT reports: Richmond Park Academy rated good in tough new Ofsted regime (Nov 15).
Richmond Park Academy has received a good rating from Ofsted after being the first secondary school in the borough to be examined under the new system. Ofsted has toughened its criteria and removed satisfactory from its marking categories, meaning good is the lowest acceptable benchmark for a school to achieve. Headteacher Lesley Kirby said: I am most proud of the judgement made about the high quality of teaching because this has been our central focus for some time and our hard work has clearly born fruit.
RISC report: This was day 1 of the hearing of our Judicial Review at the High Court . . the lawyer representing RISC and the British Humanist Association (BHA) presented our case and responding to queries and challenges from the judge, Mr Justice Sales. This was a painstaking business as the law in the area is complex, involving several Acts of Parliament, the most recent of which (the Education Act 2011) was not complete in itself, but amended the Education Act 2006.
Towards the end of the day, the lawyer acting for Richmond Council, Clive Lewis, began his arguments . . much of the discussion centred around the new rule, effective from 1 Feb this year, that says simply: "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" . . The core Council argument was that there is no "need" for a Catholic school . . merely a "desire" for one, so they were not obliged to seek proposals for academies, and needed only to consider the proposal from the Catholic Diocese of Westminster for the VA schools.
To underline this point, their lawyer even went so far as saying that, even for Catholic children "matters are progressing perfectly satisfactorily" as they are all able to find places outside the borough. He also caused a collective intake of breath when he contrasted "Catholic children" with "ordinary children"!! A lot will hinge on what "need" means.
. . Tomorrow we will hear the intervention by the Secretary of States lawyer. And our lawyer will be able to reply.
Today's RTT has (p.3): Going head-to-head in court over new school.
College and Council move forward with new school plans (Press release Nov 15):
Residents, staff and students at Richmond upon Thames College will be asked to have their say on proposals to establish a new centre of educational excellence on the Egerton Road site, including a new secondary school.
This announcement follows agreement in principle from the College governors and Council on initial proposals considering the future shape of the college provision, a new secondary school, new improved community resources and exploring the possibility of new purpose built accommodation for Clarendon School.
Earlier this year, a feasibility study was commissioned to consider options available for the Egerton Road site, including future improvements to college buildings and the investigation of a new school which will meet future increases in demand for secondary school places. The aim would be to have the new secondary school by 2017.
David Ansell, Richmond upon Thames College Principal, said:
We shall be consulting with students, parents, staff and the local community over the development of the Egerton Road site and the future vision for the College. We are commencing a consultation process where we will be presenting initial plans for the site over the next few weeks. We expect that the consultation period will continue to March 2013 with a final decision being made by Easter . .
Judicial Review Decision:
Unfortunately Justice Sales has passed his judgement in the high court and decided against RISC and the BHA. The full details of the decision will not be available for about 2 weeks. The legal system is a complex one and the RISC core team will meet shortly to determine where we go from here after having received the full judgement and discussed it with our lawyers.
RISC would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to everyone who has given their time and resources to assist us throughout this long campaign. We are a local group who have always maintained the highest level of respect for the Catholic parents seeking adequate school places for their children living alongside us and that has not changed.
The leader of RISC, Jeremy Rodell, said "Obviously there will be a lot of people in Richmond who will be disappointed with this judgement. Our key point all along has been that it's simply wrong to set up a new state school in the borough that will discriminate against most local children simply because of their parents' beliefs. That remains just as wrong now as it was before. Clearly we respect the outcome on these legal points, and I would like to wish the school well. But this is not a good result for inclusivity and fairness."
RISC will get in touch with our supporters with further details as soon as possible.See more
Disappointing, but then it was a decision that could go either way. It will now be interesting to see how admissions to St RRs pan out. From what I have heard people are putting it down the preferences but naturally preferring, even without the uncertainty of JR, the established options in spite of the journey / being out of borough etc. I do hope non Catholic parents aren't going to find themselves forced there with no other option as happened with the extra class at Sacred Heart. just to establish and preserve this "desired" school for such time as Catholic parents are unable to get in elsewhere / decide it is actually desirable.
Plus whether they are Catholic or non Catholic I hope they walk to and from school and don't throw any litter in my garden! I'm going to install a webcan, and speed dial to Andy Cole
Press release by Catholic church beta.rcdow.org.uk/news/high_court_rules_catholic_schools_in_richmond_lawful/ So this was a case bought by the BHA and it's "acolyte" to further it's secular agenda nationally whilst Lord True nobly defended his actions on behalf of "localism" and not at all "a victory not just for Richmond Council and the Diocese of Westminster, but more importantly, for all those seeking to send their children to a church school. The Diocese of Westminster would like to thank Richmond Council for its support over the last few months"
One more vote for the lib dems in this house over the whole debacle
Disappointing but it's clarified the law. It does highlight that there are different routes for establishing religious schools while it's now impossible to get a mainstream LA maintained school set up without a sponsor and without competition. Catholics are very fortunate to have had support from the council. I expect that the Hounslow schools will need to change their admission policies now to attract Catholic pupils from other boroughs.
High Court rules Council decision on Catholic Schools Lawful (council press release):
Richmond Council is today delighted that the High Court of Justice has ruled that the Councils decision on the future of the Clifden Site is lawful.
In May the Councils Cabinet agreed to a proposal by the RC Dioceses of Westminster and Southwark that the Council-owned Clifden Site should be leased as the site for a new Catholic voluntary-aided secondary school and a Catholic primary school. This decision followed a lengthy period of consultations, which went well beyond statutory requirements. In the final consultation sixty seven per cent of parents and residents who responded agreed that the site should be used to establish a new, five-form entry Catholic Secondary School with fifty seven percent in favour of the primary school proposal.
Since this decision was made the British Humanist Association (BHA), which is opposed to faith schools, has, with support from Mr Jeremy Rodell, of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC), taken legal action to have the democratic decision overturned, taking their case to the High Court of Justice.
In a one and a half day hearing at the Court, the Judge reviewed all the evidence submitted by both parties and concluded that Richmond Council did act within the law when it considered and approved the Diocese of Westminsters proposals for the schools.
Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:
I am delighted with todays outcome which supports the clear, democratic decision that was taken locally in pursuit of the previously longstanding policy of both parties on the Council. It will come as an enormous relief to the hundreds of families whose hopes for their childrens education has been threatened by this hostile legal maneuvering.
This Council set out a full programme of genuinely inclusive educational improvement in its Schools White Paper in 2010. Working in partnership with our schools and Colleges, we have acted, and will continue to act, to create further capacity and to sustain and raise quality, and choice across our secondary system. This programme includes working with schools on standards, facilitating sixth forms and providing new secondary and primary schools and places. It also includes honouring the Councils longstanding promise to seek to enable a Catholic secondary in the borough and so give local Catholic families what almost every other Borough in London already does.
Over the past year, the British Humanist Association has elbowed its way into Richmond upon Thames with their clear national agenda of hostility to faith schools their action has been uncaring and unsympathetic to the many people within the Richmond Catholic community who have worked hard to bring their dream of a dedicated secondary school to fruition. It has also totally ignored the parallel action being taken by this Council to provide more places for all. Hundreds of local families have been left uncertain about the future of the school and thousands of pounds of Council Tax payers money has been spent on lawyers. I trust that the BHA will now accept the verdict that they themselves sought and let Richmond get on with building an even better education system for all. A period of silence from certain all too well ventilated local voices would also be welcome.
I am glad that this uncertainty has come to an end and we look forward to moving forward, working with the Diocese of Westminster to develop plans for the schools.
Words really fail me when it comes to Lord True which seems to be what he wants! He is one of the least democratic politicians I've ever come across: he seems to find it acceptable to deny the existence of thousands of the people he is supposed to serve just because they disagree with him - not only on this but also on other issues such as Twickenham station. If there had really been "parallel action" to provide more secondary school places for everyone else there might have been less concern about a Catholic school but we still have the inclusive Turing House School proposal facing considerable uncertainty about whether it can find a site, and only the vague prospect of another school being squeezed onto the same site as the sixth form college in another 5 years time from the Council. Whether or not RISC are able to afford to appeal the decision, there still seems to be a lot of lobbying to do to get enough inclusive secondary school places for all. I hope more parents of younger children will now wake up to the issue and get involved.
What a sad decision for our localc hildren. In fact for all UK children.
I did not think my opinion of Lord True could got any lower but that bit he said about "silence from all too well ventilated local voices" is particularly low and discurteous even for him.
I feel very proud of the huge effort and dedication of those involved in RISC. The one good thing from this sad issue is how there has been excellently run opposition, always with integrity. I am grateful for all the hard work down truly with local people's best interest at heart. Thank you so much
As to the ruling, we need to see the details but at the risk of covering old ground, there is clearly a MASSIVE logic gap here !!
If a totally excluding school is justified in our so-called democracy then all aspects of the school admission process should fit in with this divisive ethos.
I.E. there should be clearly 2 separate admission forms for parents to apply to Secondary school.
One: for those who believe in inclusive schooling (with the options of Orleans, Academies,Waldegrave). And a separate form....Two: for those who believe in excluding schools and division based on a parents beliefs ( with only excluding schools listed, new st Richards, Oratory, Gumley etc)
Actually it is not a logic gap, it a logic Abyss. One set of parents who want division as an option but also still access to our lovely inclusive schools too. You could argue a principal is right but then still keep both options open, when it suits you but only give one option to the rest of parents. Wow, its so unjust its utterly depressing.
On a more positive note is there any any hope in the future that were a reasonable bunch to take over Richmond Council that this unjust school decision could ever be reversed?? Once such a school is formed is it ever possible to re-claim it?
Why should us taxpayers fund a school for eternity that excludes our own chidren and gives higher priority to a catholic family living in Scotland, over us??
minglemingle: The site is to be leased to the Catholics for 125 years, so at the end of that term it could be used for another purpose, provided they have not been able to buy the freehold - I don't know what rules apply to this.
As to why, I can only recommend a study of the tangled history of publicly funded schooling in this country: a long series of compromises have bought us to where we are now, rather than any single act of intent and design:
. . It was with Forsters Education Act of 1870 that we have the real birth of the modern system of education in England . . (it) assured the existence of a dual system - voluntary denominational schools and nondenominational state schools.
The act required the establishment of elementary schools nationwide. These were not to replace or duplicate what already existed but supplement those already run by the churches, private individuals and guilds . . (they) were often called " board schools" (and) had to be non-denominational . . (nondenominational ) Religious instruction was an integral part of the school curriculum but was not compulsory. Since 1870 Voluntary Schools declined except Roman Catholic Schools because Boards Schools provided better buildings and higher pay for teachers . .
Like so many other people I'm saddened by this decision, which seems very much against the zeitgeist. It's frustrating that we will have to wait another 2 weeks for the judge's reasoning, because by then the media attention will have moved on, and a lot of victory flags will have been waved.
On a positive note, if it wasn't for RISC, and the many local people who have supported their campaign, and continue to support it, the issue of inclusive admissions would not have been raised so prominently. The RISC committee can be very proud of themselves for uniting people from so many backgrounds over this one common theme, and I still think the day will come before too much longer when all of our schools, whatever their denomination, are open to everyone from all faiths and none.
The RTT reports: Judicial review backs Richmond Council on Catholic school
The judicial review into the Catholic school has been found in favour of Richmond Council. Mr Justice Sales made the unusual step of making an announcement today because of the children awaiting confirmation of a place at St Richard Reynolds school. Mr Sales stated the council had acted lawfully in its processes . .
A fresh vigorous exchange of views is under way, with Philip Taylor leading for Lord true . .
that press release shows Lord True's true colours (no pun intended!). Tasteless comments and side swipes at individuals which do him and his party no favours at all. One interesting side effect of the whole debate has been that I have watched some of the council debate online and it has affected my opinions of certain local politicians. I had not realised there was so much blustering and buffoonery in local politics!
Mingle - I think thats a fair point about inclusivity - you either agree with it or you want an education for your child exclusively for those of your religion. In theory an application limited to those exclusive schools only does seem tempting but ironically it offends my principles of inclusive education for all regardless of beliefs.
Its also interesting that when the local Catholic/CofE secondary in Richmond started deteriorating the local catholic primaries couldn't desert it fast enough - which kinda makes a mockery of the insistence that is only because they need a Catholic education that a catholic secondary school is required.
The RISC committee can be very proud of themselves for uniting people from so many backgrounds over this one common theme, and I still think the day will come before too much longer when all of our schools, whatever their denomination, are open to everyone from all faiths and none.
Too much to hope that we will go the way of other western counties and refuse to fund religious schools that are not inclusive.
I respect the judgement of the High Court to allow the state funded Catholic schools in Richmond and wish these schools well. However sadly this judgement seriously undermines the Governments flagship policy of free schools and makes a mockery of the Coalition agreement for promoting faith schools with inclusive admissions. Whilst every new free school application for which parents and sponsors put in a lot of hard work, will have to compete for limited funds and sites, there remains a back door for religious groups to to set up new schools with discriminatory admissions policy.
As a local parent, along with thousands of people in Richmond, I am extremely disappointed with this judgement. We still believe - in common with the vast majority of the British public that 'state funded schools, including state funded faith schools, should not be allowed to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds in their admissions policy' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9670234/Selection-by-religion-should-be-banned-in-state-schools.html). Our key point all along has been that it's simply wrong to set up a new state school in the borough that will discriminate against most local children simply because of their parents' beliefs. That remains just as wrong now as it was before.
RISC has brought together people all across the borough who are deeply passionate about education and communal harmony and we will continue to campaign "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 Big Society campaign has people from all backgrounds, with a lot of them tirelessly working in Richmond's state education sector to improve our existing schools and set up new inclusive schools. We are all in it together and will continue to work at the grass root level for the benefit of everyone in our community.
I hope that as my kids continue their education in state sector, religious discrimination will end in our state schools. One day, in our multi cultural and diverse and tolerant society, religious discrimination will be as illegal and unacceptable as racial discrimination is today. We brought this challenge to help to bring that day closer and our campaign will go on locally in Richmond and hopefully inspire millions nationally.
The RISC group page on Facebook links to items in ITV News and BBC TV News.
Mumsnetters who would like their opinions to reach a wider audience should write to the RTT Letters page: email@example.com which will be glad, I am sure, to publish the views of anyone who hasn't written in before.
Mumsnetters who think that they could better than the present bunch of councillors (or who would like to join Lord True's platoon as an act of gratitude for what he has done for the borough) should note that now is the time, 18 months out from the next elections, when the local parties start actively recruiting new would-be-councillors. So now is the time to make yourself known to the party of your choice.
For the Liberal Democrats I have created a page of information and useful links.
Chris - perhaps the political landscape needs to change in Richmond. What we have seen from both parties is not healthy and further eroded peoples confidence in party politics
Why should there be councillors from only 2 parties ?
Perhaps 2014 will be more candidates from other parties or a group of independents!
Both our MPs should resign for letting Lord True Divide and Rule us and failing to safeguard the promise of the Coalition agreement in their own backyards.
gmsing2: I agree that there will be more candidates from the other parties (Greens, Labour, UKIP, BNP and the Christians) and Independents than last time, when there were already more than you probably realise. If that is what suits you then do go ahead and put yourself forward - the campaign only lasts 3 weeks and then you can return to your normal life. Have a look at past results in your ward, which you can access via twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/page/wards to see how they have fared in the last 3 elections.
But if you actually want to get elected and serve then you must choose Tory or Lib Dem: both are broad coalitions of more or less like minded people. Both are constantly looking for fresh faces as the turnover of candidates at each election is about one third, I reckon.
Chris - Thats good historical analysis of election result. Seems like people vote have in the past voted along party lines. But will history repeat itself? Never before in this borough has there been such a powerful voluntary campaign. Even those of us in the education sector who could not come out in the open, supported it. Infact some of us regret letting down our parents and students by not openly endorsing RISC.
These two national parties and coaltion partners have both let us down in the education sector. Its a shame that again at the next election it will be Tory V Lib Dems. Their mess may just discourage many genuine and passionate people to join politics and instead keep on working in the voluntary capacity to deliver change. After all we need people to spend more time on pavements and working with residents, instead of sitting in Town Hall abusing each other .
Politics is exciting when you get a break from tradition and determined tactical voting, usually in university towns. The Greens seem to do quite well in Twickenham (2010 results here). Most Labour supporters have been tactically supporting LibDem for years. I don't think they can take that for granted, and there are a fair few Green-minded Conservatives too.
It seems to me that our local political parties will only ever be as good as their members, who are mostly fairly ordinary decent people, trying to stand up for things that are important to them. Personally I don't really care who stands for which party - I just want to see good people standing as councillors, of whatever colour, and for local voters to look at councillors' personal track records and philosophies rather than the team they're on (or not on).
Chris is probably right that the most pragmatic option for anyone wanting to be elected in Richmond is to represent a political party. However, if parties want to attract good people they do need to allow them to speak openly on things they feel strongly about, rather than wielding a strong whip to gag people during times of controversy. It does amaze me that councillors frequently don't express their views openly, even in committees.
Well put BayJay I must admit I thought my politics were clear, and I even had a vague notion it might be a way to make a difference, until I got involved in local issues, since when my faith in local politicians and bureaucrats has slid downhill. I actually feel a bit sorry for our local Conservative Councillors who are clearly not personally supportive of this Council's policies on Twickenham and actually had done a good job on the local planning issues that were under Lord True's radar, on which the policies of the Libdems, and some of our local Libdem Councillors, were certainly out of step with local people. The frustration of having to deal with the bearpit of the Council Chamber and wading in the treacle of bureaucracy is off-putting for most of us.
Meanwhile in Westminster David Cameron wants to clamp down on judicial reviews and consultations and make it more expensive for the public to challenge the powers that be. Apparently the DfE can get a consultation 'done and dusted in two weeks'.
Press coverage and letters in todays RTT www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/files/view/press-cuttings/RTTcoverage23Nov.pdf
This extract from Education Bill: Report (3rd Day) (26 October 2011) makes it clear that the Act (as it now is) was intended to make it easier to set up new voluntary aided schools:
Amendments proposed by Baroness Massey Of Darwen 71 Page 87, leave out line 11; 72 Page 87, leave out lines 35 to 38; and 73 Page 87, leave out lines 42 and 43:
Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour): . . My main concern is that some measures proposed by the Bill may further fragment education on the basis of religion or belief. I have serious concerns about how the Bill makes voluntary-aided faith schools the easiest type of school to set up. I am also concerned about voluntary-controlled schools converting to academies, then being able to choose to increase their religious discrimination in admissions.
Currently, when a proposer wishes, for whatever reason, to establish a new foundation, voluntary-controlled or aided, or foundation special school outside of a competition, they need the consent of the Secretary of State. Following consent, the local authority runs a consultation on the proposals. The Bill, if passed in its current form, will change this, as I understand it, so that consent from the Secretary of State would no longer be needed for voluntary-aided schools, but it would still be needed for foundation, voluntary-controlled and foundation special schools.
I see some problems here. Almost all voluntary-aided schools-99 per cent of them-are faith schools. Admissions are determined by the school, which can discriminate against all pupils on religious grounds. In voluntary-controlled schools, local authorities set admissions and only about a quarter of local authorities have chosen to allow some or all of their voluntary-controlled schools to discriminate religiously, either in whole or in part. Mr Gove has made it clear that he wishes to make it easier to set up voluntary-aided schools, which can discriminate . .
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench): My Lords, I hope that the Minister, when he comes to reply to the amendments in the name of . . Lady Massey, will think carefully before agreeing with the premises which have been laid before your Lordships' House this afternoon . . I would say this to (her) on the possibility of creating new faith schools. In parts of London there are large faith communities-for instance, of Polish people or people from the African and Asian communities-and in the Borough of Richmond, for instance, a petition has been laid before the council urging the creation of a new faith school. To restrict the opportunity to do that would be to deprive us of something special.
. . in 1944 . . RA Butler brought before the House the (Education Act) that allowed the state to contribute towards the creation of Catholic schools. The Catholic community of that time . . was mainly an immigrant community -many were from the west of Ireland, as my late mother was. Those were schools for impoverished communities . . Around 2,500 schools have been created in the years that have passed, mainly though the efforts of those local communities, and they have enriched our education system. I urge your Lordships not to tamper with the settlements that have been there ever since 1944: that these schools are normally over rather than undersubscribed and that there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that denomination provision is not increased or decreased where it is inappropriate . .
. . Lord Touhig (Labour): . . I shall say a few words in response to the three amendments of my noble friend Lady Massey of Darwen. The Bill provides that where a new school is required, the local authority must consider the establishment of an academy or a free school before consideration is given to any other type of school. From the point of view of the Catholic education authorities, that would be a disadvantage. In any entirely new academy or free school, priority can be given to children of faith in relation to only 50 per cent of the places in cases of oversubscription, and that would clearly be a disadvantage. The Bill therefore sought to compensate for and counter that disadvantage by making provision to allow voluntary-aided schools to be established more easily. (my emphasis)
The amendment moved by my noble friend would effectively limit the opportunity to establish new voluntary-aided schools. That would be a handicap, especially where there is a demand for them-and there is certainly demand in parts of London where there has been a rapid growth in the Catholic population in recent years. The other disadvantage of my noble friend's amendment is that, as I understand it, if it were part of the Bill, academies and free schools would be the only schools that could be established, and I do not think that that is the policy of our party.
Schedule 11 : Establishment of new schools: Amendments 70C to 73A not moved . .
And the House moved on to something else. The issue does not seem to have been raised at all in the debates on Schedule 10 in the House of Commons committee: March 29 and March 31 2011.
Thanks for digging that up Chris - very interesting. It might have saved a bit of time if it had come to light at an earlier stage!
I predict that the focus of groups like Accord will now move to campaigning for VA school faith admissions to be capped at 50% to bring them into line with academies. It would seem a logical move, and Michael Gove's comments about the Richmond school (that it should voluntarily have a 50% limit) suggest he wouldn't oppose it.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
It doesn't seem a long debate, and no vote. Interesting local connection: Lord Touhig stood for election as a Richmond & Barnes Labour MP 20 years ago but polled just 5.8% of the vote.
Establishing a new school advice for LAs and proposers is non-statutory advice from the DfE:
What legislation does this advice relate to?
The Education Act 2011 (EA 2011)
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006) . .
The new 'presumption' for an academy/Free School requires LAs to seek proposals to establish an academy/Free School in the first instance where they identify a need for a new school.
. . Despite the academy/Free School presumption, in certain exceptional circumstances it is still possible to publish proposals for a new maintained school outside of a competition, under sections 10 or 11 of the EIA 2006.
Establishing new maintained school:
22. It is still possible to publish proposals for maintained schools in certain circumstances as set out below. Flow chart B at Annex A of this document sets out the statutory process for establishing a new maintained school under sections 10 and 11.
Annex A says:
Process to establish a new school introduced by s37 and Sch 11 of the Education Act 2011 amending the Education and Inspections Act 2006
A. Local authority (LA) decides, under its duties to plan and secure sufficient schools, it needs a new school.
Academy/Free School presumption (s6A of EIA 2006)
LA to seek proposals to establish a new academy/Free School . .
. . B. There is a separate process for the establishment of new schools in certain limited cases, which are (sic) outlined below:
s11 proposals including new VA schools: SofS consent no longer required to publish certain new school proposals, which can be proposed at any point:
- new VA school; . .
. . Decision: LA is decision maker unless it has published proposals or involved in a foundation school's Trust, in which case the Schools Adjudicator is decision maker. LA must decide within 2 months.
This guidance is not exactly clear! It doesn't say what a local authority has to do where it has a need for a new school and a VA proposal comes along at the same time that doesn't meet that need. I also think it is assumed that VA proposals will be more self sufficient in terms of supplying their own sites so that a local authority will not be forced to pretend that it doesn't need a school when it does so that it can prioritise the VA school. The two are supposed to chug along in tandem uncontroversially.
I think the policy was made deliberately unclear. The HL speakers were well aware of the implications (and of Richmond's Catholic school proposal). But the lack of a vote on the issue, and the government's more neutral line about 'reducing bureacracy', suggested a lack of willingness on the part of the government to call attention to the implications of the policy until legally challenged.
I did find this BBC article on the 2006 proposal to impose 25% quotas in faith schools which was dropped very suddenly. Again, no vote, just agreement behind the scenes. What surprised me most was the council's lawyers argument that the new Catholic school was not 'needed but wanted'. Either they didn't use the right arguments, or they had to establish a precedent because the drafting of the law had holes in it. That in itself justified the judicial review.
From the point of view of Catholics who have been working for the school, they demonstrated their strong support, and the decision is confirmed to be legal. I don't think either political party is prepared to legislate for a 50% limit on faith admissions, and the reality is that not all religious schools are likely to attract non-faith applicants.
In fact, there was a vote on the 25% open places quota in faith admissions in 2006. But it was in the House of Lords, as an amendment tabled by Lord Baker, the Tory peer and ex-education minister. The debate is fascinating - see 30 October 2006. It got defeated with peers in both main parties for and against, and the LibDem position was that an imposed quota is unworkable.
Thanks muminlondon. I liked the following line from Lord Taverne "It strikes me how much this place, the House of Lords, is out of touch with what the people as a whole think".
Just posting a link to an interesting Telegraph Article.
Catholic Education Service is saying we don't need the trouble of the academy/free school route when we can go down the easier VA route.
The law has left a loophole in Sec 11. It seems unfair that all other free school applicants have to join a queue and fight for limited funds and sites , and Sec 11 applicants can do a back door deal with their Council and get a school with site and then convert to an academy to get 100% state funds as well.
There could be lot more applicants exploiting this and using Sec 11 route to jump the queue and get their state funded exclusive schools. All it needs is a sponsor and a demand from local parents !
All it needs is a sponsor and a demand from local parents !
To add to that the most important part - a willing Council that will approve the Sec 11 application and procure a site.
Can the Local Authority also be a itself a sponsor for VA schools ?
Vince did try to challenge Gove www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/nov/28/cable-accuses-gove-over-faith-schools?fb=native but it is a bit "going through the motions" to write a letter as a local MP rather than mobilising the coalition committee (which they are threatening to bring out of mothballs for Leveson, on which disagreement looks possible) to bring the issues out into the open and firm up coalition policy on this issue . Otherwise Gove will just carry on in his own autocratic way as he is doing on so many other issues.
From Vince Cable accuses Michael Gove of betrayal over faith schools (Guardian Nov 28):
. . In a brief but irate missive to David Laws, the Lib Dem education minister, copied to the office of party leader Nick Clegg, Cable wrote: "A serious problem has arisen whereby DfE officials, in evidence to a court case, appear to be acting in contradiction to the coalition agreement in relation to faith schools and contrary to the express intention of the Education Act 2011." He concluded: "Can you intervene with the department to rectify this situation?"
. . Shortly before the case was due to be heard, Gove intervened decisively. He formally applied to take part in the proceedings as an interested party, to argue that in his view Richmond was not legally obliged to seek the academy route. It was at this point, on 9 November, that Cable wrote his letter, also copying in a local campaigner who passed it to the British Humanist Association (BHA), which was backing the court case. Cable's appeal for Gove to step back was ignored.
. . In his letter to the DfE Cable wrote: "For the record, I and the Richmond Liberal Democrat council group have supported the proposal for a new Catholic school but argued that it should be inclusive (ie 50:50 admission). This was in line with the presumption in favour of 50% faith-based admission in new academies in the [Education] Act, and the coalition agreement."
Cable's fury appears fuelled in part by a sense that Gove has gone back on his word: in March the Liberal Democrat wrote to the education secretary suggesting the new Richmond schools be subject to the 50% religious limit. Gove replied saying that while this would not be enforced, a voluntary cap "seems very sensible to me and I would welcome such a move".
Cable told the Guardian he was acting purely as a local MP, and that he had supported the efforts of campaigners to make the school more inclusive. He declined to criticise Gove personally, but said: "I am disappointed at the outcome. There was quite a lot of local feeling about this. I supported the school but I raised concerns because the coalition agreement said faith schools should have a 50/50 split on intake."
The comments (92 so far) are ill-informed, of course, but vigorously expressed.
RISC press release Nov 28:
Vince Cable heavily criticised the Department for Education for their intervention in the Catholic schools court case, which he said contradicted the 2010 Coalition Agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.
The Agreement commits the government to work with faith groups to enable more faith schools and facilitate inclusive admissions policies in as many of these schools as possible. But in a witness statement, David McVean, a senior official at the DfE, claimed the Education Act 2011, which came into force in February, not only promoted Academies/free schools, but was also intended to make voluntary aided schools easy to set up. One of the main reasons he gave was that In some cases religious organisations will not wish to establish an Academy. This is mainly because only 50% of places can be prioritised on the basis of faith if that Academy is oversubscribed. Voluntary aided schools, such as the new St Richard Reynolds Catholic secondary, can go up to 100%.
In a strongly worded letter sent prior to the court hearing to David Laws, the LibDem Minister for Schools, Dr Cable said: A serious problem has arisen whereby DfE officials, in evidence to a court case, appear to be acting in contradiction of the Coalition Agreement in relation to faith schools and contrary to the express intention of the Education Act 2011 .. For the record, I and the Richmond Liberal Democrat Council Group have supported the proposal for a new catholic school but argued that it should be inclusive (i.e. 50:50 admission). This was in line with the presumption in favour of 50% in favour of 50% faith-based admission in new academies in the Act, and the Coalition Agreement. Can you intervene with the Department to rectify this situation?
The Department ignored Dr Cables request. Their lawyer put forward their argument during the High Court case, and the judge accepted their overall interpretation of the new Act.
Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Chair of the Accord Coalition, which has been backing Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) said: Children should not be selected by schools according to faith. It is highly discriminatory and sends a terrible message to the children themselves about the sort of society we are trying to create. It also begs questions about the core values of any faith that wants to shut the doors on others. Britain today is multi-belief, but we dont want that to become a multifractious society. State funded schools should not help to segregate and entrench religious division, but should instead be open to all children, regardless of religion or philosophy. We therefore call on the Government to fulfil its commitment to facilitate inclusive admissions policies. Schools conduct should be exemplary, and religious discrimination should form no part of their life.
However, Greg Pope, the deputy director of the Catholic Education Service, has recently asked Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education to remove even the 50% cap on faith-based selection at new academies/free schools. He said that it acted as a perverse disincentive to set up new Catholic academies/free schools. He added that a loophole in the rules meant that the Church could set up a traditional voluntary aided school and then convert it to an academy to get around the cap. But he said: That seems to me to put it mildly not the best way of doing it. RISC have cited evidence that that this was the intention for the new Catholic schools in Twickenham from the start.
Vince Cable letter to David Laws of 9 Nov 12
Witness Statement on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education by David McVean
Chris - Thats all good stuff - lot of words no actions. Lib Dems are good at giving a shoulder to cry upon. But are again proving to be ineffective in gettin things done.
I would like to be proved wrong when Nick Clegg and Vince Cable take this up in the Parliament and get it sorted!
For info, Richmond Council have just published their 2012 Admissions Report. It also includes preference data for 2013 applications.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Correcting my previous post (as I don't think out-borough applicants are included in the tables yet), what I should have written is ....
One thing I notice from the Admissions Report is that despite it saying in para 7 that "the total number of applications from Richmond Borough residents is the lowest for five years", the numbers of children applying for those secondaries that were previously only accessible via the linked-school policy have shot up.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
BayJay The huge increase in applications to Orleans, oversubscription at Teddington and increase at Twickenham Academy (especially if this doesn't include out of borough) is all pointing to the emergence of the black hole. We will see how it goes with actual allocations.
An update: I've checked with the report's author and the 2013 preference data does include preferences from out-of-borough. So that means the increased number of preferences for Orleans, Teddington and Grey Court are a combination of in-and-out-borough preferences.
So while first preferences have declined very slightly for Teddington and Waldegrave (still enormously oversubscribed, so that's just the local cohort), there has been a similar jump in popularity in both Orleans Park and Grey Court of 49/44 first preference applicants respectively. Grey Court is now oversubscribed on first preferences so its catchment area is likely to have shrunk back to Ham.
Christ's has increased by 22 but still not oversubscribed as a first preference (and we don't know if they are local applicants or for foundation places, so not sure if they are locals preferring Christ's to RPA).
So if only 67 chose Sir RR as first preference including out of borough how many LB Richmond Catholic families actually chose it? Doesn't this indicate a slightly underwhelming want let alone need as opposed to all the deluge of anguish about not getting places out of borough, having to leave at 6am instead of 8.30 am etc. (see front of Friday's RTT for this amazing piece of time forecasting!) I thought there were 200 families in the LB Richmond absolutely gagging for this opportunity!
Lottie, I do think we need to be a little careful because some families may have been put of choosing St RR because of the uncertainty over the judicial review.
The number of first preference applications naming Richmond schools is the highest for at least 9 years (in fact, I'd guess it's the highest since 1993 when the link system began) - it's jumped up by 137 applications since last year, despite 79 fewer Richmond children.
I'd guess a few more from Hounslow applied to Twickenham Academy as first choice, and perhaps there could be up to 100 from Kingston naming Grey Court or Teddington as their preference. Then I'd guess 70-100 more Richmond Catholics applied for a Richmond school as first choice - most for St RR, but some for Orleans Park.
Either the provision of a Catholic school isn't freeing up places in other Richmond schools as expected, or the out of borough 'cushion' is something they can no longer control, because Richmond is attracting even more out-of-borough applicants.
We'll find out in March whether there's an improvement on 9.3% of Richmond residents not given a place at any of their stated preferences. If not, the council will not have met its aim of 'increasing choice and diversity'.
BTW I don't know how the new Tiffin tests would influence things. Some may have failed the first round test which was designed to weed out about two thirds of hopefuls who would otherwise have put it down as first choice. But as they appear to be holding it again in December maybe not enough had registered for it the first time round.
I think the low level of first preferences for Sir RR is astonishing given that there was supposed to be a massive desire for it from 200 LB Richmond families whose children are "forced" to go out of borough each year. If they were really longing for this school wild horses wouldn't have put them off making it first choice when it had been named, the headmaster appointed, open days held etc. I don't believe they would have been put off by the fact that the outcome of the JR wasn't known until after applications closed. Obviously if it wasn't going to open their first preference wouldn't count so their second pref would become their first pref. etc. This just seems another indication that a small minority have driven this through and the majority have so many options open to them that they can afford to sit back and wait a few years until they can see whether Sir RR is any good compared to expanded Gumley, London Oratory, the private sector etc. If it's going to open with lots of Catholics from outside LB Richmond or lots of non-Catholics or half empty it's a complete travesty.
I think the low level of first preferences for Sir RR is astonishing
I'd be astonished by it if I hadn't been following the debate closely, but I think I'd use the word 'unsurprising' in the circumstances, given that we know the Catholic population have some very good alternative out-borough VA choices, as well as (new for 2013) some very good in-borough community choices, in addition to this new (and therefore unproven) in-borough VA choice. Presumably St RR will fill eventually, but it may take a little while to become established, as is the case for many new schools.
One thing the Free School process has introduced is the requirement for groups to demonstrate the number of people who would not only support the vision for the school in principle, but actually specify it as their first choice. Of course those 'first choice' pledges aren't binding but they go some way towards measuring the demand more accurately.
The local consultation about Clifden Road didn't ask that question.
Bayjay I thought that at the time, whether parents were going to prefer it to the established alternatives was never tested except in so much as the "well ventilated" vocal minority quoted the difficulty of the journey, even as it was clear they themselves had taken the journey in preference to a local Catholic option. And of course the majority of the Catholics responding to the Consultation weren't even parents of children under 11.
There are lots of reasons to expect low take up at this stage though , the crummy accommodation, building work to come, letting the fuss die down, and I am not sure how it works with the random allocation within Parishes / Oratory lottery. You may have to put a school as first preference to get into the hat IYSWIM.
There is an incentive to put undersubscribed schools down the preferences. I wonder if that is what has happened with RPA. Obviously you don't stand much chance of Tiffins /Christ's etc if they are not first preference but we don't know how many of the parents who put RPA down the preferences did so knowing it pretty much was a sure thing they would get a place and they would be quite happy with that , and how many are still not convinced it is a good school. I am hearing the former.
However the main issue with St RR is whether whilst the Catholic community are deciding whether they actually desire St RR, the situation on school places for non Catholic "ordinary" children in Twickenham becomes a crisis, a crisis of Lord True and his acolytes' making. We won't know fully until allocations but I think there are some worrying pointers here, especially in terms of the Orleans catchment.
It can certainly take a long time to establish a school but perhaps even longer to turn one around and for parents to see the results. The Ofsted result for RPA came after the applications deadline, after all.
I think the cohort size is meant to be a little smaller this year (or perhaps no bigger but with more at our primaries from other boroughs). That may have been another reason for the rush to establish St RR this year, before the council runs out of 'alternative offers'. When that happens, they'll act all surprised.
An interesting report in Times2 today on what competitive parents do to get into selective, church and private secondaries. There is also a book "The Perfect Parents' Insider Guide to the 11 Plus" available at 11plusperfectparent.com
muminlondon2 - As you probarbly know, Osted ratings are only a means to an end, not an end in itself. A lot depends on how schools listen and engage with their local community and the trust the parents have in their leadership.
Grey Court is a great example of a school with just "Satisfactory" Ofsted Rating (that would mean RI as per new Ofsted guidelines), but skyrocketing popularity.
Heathclif I agree I think there are some worrying pointers here, especially in terms of the Orleans catchment
All schools here apart from TA are heavily oversubscribed. Even TA has seen a surge in applications and may well get oversubscribed. The daunting prospect is that some pupils will not get into any local school in Twickenham.
Ofcourse the Councils party line will be that there are open spaces at RPA and it wants parents from Twickenham to choose a school that that is being rejected by its local primary schools!
concparentt, I agree that the gist of Grey Court's last Ofsted report said 'good', while the 'satisfactory' rating seemed to relate just to exam results which have since shot up. My own impression from visiting and talking to parents with children there says 'outstanding'. So no wonder it's oversubscribed. But still ... for the new academies such as RPA, it's reassuring to see 'good' - we've yet to see the outcomes for the Kunskapsskolan academies (although the head of Hampton Academy has taught in the borough before so perhaps application numbers reflect a certain amount of confidence in her).
Muminlon and concparent - what is the magic sauce at Grey Court ? I have not visited the school but am amazed to see how well it is connected with its local community.
Why can't our academies do what Grey court does ?
I post here, for the record, a paragraph on the history of school funding taken from a letter I've just sent to the RTT; it's taken from various sources:
. . The faith lobby, which, taken as a whole, is hugely over-represented in Parliament, particularly in our unelected House of Lords, easily defeated a proposed amendment to the 2006 Education and Inspections Bill to introduce a compulsory 25 % non-exclusive quota for all new schools. The option to set up a new exclusive school was left in place. The matter was hardly debated at all when the 2011 Education Act, which amended the 2006 Act, went through Parliament.
The public financing of Anglican and Roman Catholic schools stems from the 1902 Education Act; it was bitterly resisted by the nonconformists, particularly in Wales, led by Lloyd George, who denounced it as Rome on the rates. The matter remained unresolved until the Liberal landslide of 1906 swept the Tories from office. The Liberals made a major effort in 1906 to pass the Birrell Educational Bill; it would end public support of religious schools. It passed the Commons but was blocked by the House of Lords. The 1944 Butler Education Act made it easier to set up new exclusive schools, to serve the large Irish population settled here.
Nowadays however very few new Catholic schools are opened; they are nearly all primary schools and in areas where there is a large Catholic population who want them.
One source is the Dictionary of National Biography, available through the public library website, which has:
. . The new Education Bill introduced by Arthur Balfour in April 1902 offered Lloyd George new opportunities. While in many ways he approved of the new structure created for primary and secondary education, he led nonconformist resistance to the public financing of Anglican and Roman Catholic schools. He recalled from his own childhood the social resentment provoked among dissenters in Anglican single-school areas.
There was individual passive resistance by nonconformists in England. In Wales, by contrast, Lloyd George seized the initiative by leading a collective revolt by the Welsh county councils which would have to administer the bill; by February 1904 all of them were under Liberal control. He offered a solution by which the act would be operated but on condition that the religious and other demands of nonconformists over the running of the schools be met. Several councils were declared to be in default. There remained an impasse until the autumn of 1905 by which time the Balfour government was in dire straits . .
There is nothing new or surprising or unreasonable about the RISC campaign.
There is nothing new or surprising or unreasonable about the RISC campaign
Of course there isn't. The only thing that's surprising to me is that some people are surprised by it. Oh, and the fact that it's a debate we're still having in 2012.
Of course, little will change until we have some long-overdue House of Lords Reform.
Some more history from the DNB:
Augustine Birrell (1850?1933) . . became president of the Board of Education in 1906. His challenge was to amend the controversial 1902 Education Act, which was deemed by nonconformists and Liberals to favour Church of England elementary schools.
His Education Bill of 1906 was intended to restore equal educational treatment but could satisfy neither the English Anglicans and Irish Catholics in the House of Commons nor the permanent Conservative majority in the House of Lords. It was withdrawn after its inevitable mutilation in the upper house, but the delicate negotiations between rival religious denominations demonstrated his superb skills as an adept diplomat and sensitive conciliator, reinforced by his tolerance and humour . .
Free school in row over plans to scrap religious education (Telegraph Dec 02):
The Bristol Primary School decided to drop RE from the curriculum because parents it consulted thought it would be a waste of time, according to its headteacher. The school, which will open next year in the St Pauls area of Bristol, has marketed itself to families on the basis that RE and sex education have been scrapped. A statement by the school explains:
No religion will be taught in the school. The governors feel and parents have told us that places of worship or parents themselves do a much better job than any school and we agree.
Despite free school rules which state that RE must be taught, the primarys application which the head teacher said included its decision to drop the subject was approved by the Department for Education . . A spokesman for the Department said that the school's application said it would address religion in an appropriate fashion which had been taken by Whitehall officials as an assurance that the subject would be taught . .
Steve Spokes, the head teacher, said the decision not to teach RE had been taken after conversations with almost 600 parents.
Parents have said their particular religion is best dealt with by their own places of worship or inside the family, the Muslim community here feel that with recent events, such as the situation in Afghanistan, they are under siege. They didnt want the school to teach religion their own religion let alone any other religion.
It is not just the Muslim community saying this. I have all sorts of people saying 'Why teach it? How much time would you be wasting with it?
While primary schools are entitled not to teach sex education, RE is a statutory requirement of the national curriculum . . [they] are also supposed to carry out a daily act of collective worship of a mainly Christian character, although a recent BBC survey showed that two-thirds ignore the legal requirement . . When alerted by The Telegraph to the schools plans, officials from the DfE contacted the school about the rules regarding free schools and religious education. Later, a Department spokesman said:
The proposed Bristol Primary Free School is clear that it will be teaching religious education. It is a compulsory part of the curriculum and it is written into the funding agreements of all Free Schools that they must teach religious education. We will not sign a funding agreement if a proposer is refusing to do so. In its application form, the school stated that it would address religion in an appropriate fashion
Jotwicken, just to go back to your point, in Grey Court's case there has been no major rebuild or sponsor (although there are building plans now with the sixth form). That's the easy fix of politicians but it's down to hard work. Trust gets rebuilt when parents see good leadership and behaviour and ambition for all ability levels.
The teaching of RE is important so that children learn about other cultures as well as their own. Even the BHA would agree with that.
The only worrying thing about that Bristol story is that the proposers of the school didn't realise RE was statutory. Makes me wonder what else they don't know.
Jo-there is no magic sauce just needs a great head and teachers and strong discipline and learning ethos.
Issue with some of the academies is they think they are great, but parents do not share their view. Schools get carried away by the few cheerleaders and stop listening to concerns of community.
Many of those who do not like what they see, do not provide feedback, just do not apply. Hence we have spare spaces in the eyes of the Council and schools, but for parents concerned about quality there are no spare spaces in the system!
All - regarding discussion on schools, I suggest that the best way to experience a school is to visit and see it in action and form your own opinion.
If there are concerns and feedback, it would be great to feed them to the leadership and evaluate their responses.
Excellent discussion on the Sunday Politics show (from 37:24) www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01p1m09/Sunday_Politics_London_02_12_2012/ between Richard Ottaway (Con) and Rushonara Ali (Lab)
Nice piece on Radio 4 Sunday programme on the Richmond case. Key points are well-made in terms of wider implications and the use of a loophole in the rules by the Diocese. MP3 now on the website here: www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/files/view/press-cuttings/Radio_4_Sunday_2_Dec_12_-_Richmond_school_item.mp3. BBC link is: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p30f5
The Council data suggests that the already popular schools are seeing an ever increase in applications, especially after removal of linked system.
However with RPA likely to remain half full, what are the chances that the Council & the DfE will back a new free school in the borough ?
I was wondering about this. It depends whether the DfE takes the same view as the council on the effect of a new school on the two Kunskapsskolan Academies, in which it has invested a lot of money.
On the other hand, consider Hounslow: they had spare places in their Y7 in 2012-13, particularly the one which is due to be turned into an academy with the same sponsor as RPA. They still have some very popular schools, and they're all good or outstanding with a 'Mo Farah' effect on results this year. They seem to have a much lower number of parents offered 'none of their preferences' (4.5% compared with 9.3% in Richmond). Apart from Heathland (nearest to Whitton), the other schools oversubscribed on first preference for 2012 were faith schools (Green School and St Mark's) where there are fewer offers than applications per preference owing to the faith criteria. But of course, some were coming from Richmond where now there are more CofE places and another Catholic school.
Yet Hounslow has still had two new free schools approved with 160 secondary places.
Muminlondon - I wish Richmond was as fair as Hounslow council. It had a 50 50 Sikh school and not a exclusive like we got at Clifden. It also does not have a Director of Education saying I want no free schools in 2015 and friends in DFE exploiting loopholes !
Nick Whitfield is likely to play the numbers game again and sadly exploit the spare spaces in the weakest link in our borough.
I doubt that Hounslow council had any influence over the free schools. But spare capacity doesn't seem to affect approval decisions by the DfE.
Jo, councils have little influence over Free Schools, so you can't really give Hounslow LA the credit for the Sikh school's admissions policy. Given that Hounslow already had a number of Catholic and CofE VA schools, their council couldn't reasonably object to a Sikh Free School, even if they'd wanted to, and the 50:50 admissions policy is the most exclusive allowed under the Free School rules.
"It also does not have a Director of Education saying I want no free schools in 2015"
Neither do we! He's on record as saying he didn't want one at Clifden Road in 2013, and no more than that. Richmond LA have always been open to Free Schools, and are being very encouraging of the Turing House proposal. Their 10-year forecast that was produced in Nov 11 explicitly included 100 free school places. We know that some of the numbers in that forecast and its underlying assumptions now need to be updated (e.g. timing and size of the North Kingston school, reduction in out-borough applications, fill-rate of the Kunskapsskolan Academies) but those trends are all in the same direction, and are certainly unlikely to result in a sudden antipathy towards free school places in 2014.
"with RPA likely to remain half full, what are the chances that the Council & the DfE will back a new free school in the borough"
They possibly wouldn't encourage one in Sheen, but they're certainly not going to object to one on the Middlesex side of the borough. The last thing they're likely to want is for RISC's prediction of Twickenham children traveling to RPA to be proved correct!
It would represent poor value for money to open a new school when just a 10 mt train ride away there is a half empty school.
Today's RTT has a letter No regrets in keeping pledge, by Lord True, robustly defending his polices (p. 25) - which now includes creating a new 11-16 community school in Twickenham - plus my letter No to faith school funding on p. 27.
"new 11-16 community school in Twickenham"
Interesting they're calling it a Community School when it will have to be a Free School. (Unless they've found a loophole in that part of the legislation too!)
mmptsa "10 min train ride"??? RPA is a good twenty minute walk from the station. The area of Twickenham that is near the station is likely to stay within the Orleans catchment in the near future anyway, and who knows, local non Catholics may get pushed into St RR since Catholics are clearly preferring other schools. The area of Twickenham likely to find itself between the catchment areas is Fullwell and west of the green, a long way from the railway station, hence the catchment for the proposed free school Turing House agreed by the Council. Pupils from that area will probably face a two bus journey to RPA, which at rush hour can take over an hour, hence the Council's sensitivity on the issue of sending Middlesex pupils across to Surrey, highlighted by Bayjay.
We will not know until allocations are through whether RPA is half full. A lot of people will have put Tiffin and Christ's, and those in the Richmond a try for Orleans on distance, ahead in their preferences but many will not succeed with those applications. I understand that many happily put RPA further down the preferences on the basis they were assured of a place. The last set of results and the leadership of RPA have succeeded in making sure it is not entirely discounted by parents but still have persuading to do to make it a first choice, ahead of those other options. Of course this year we may see some of those Twickenham children making that journey away from their community to fill up spaces because whether there is sufficient capacity in Middlesex is going to be very close thing.
The other issue is that parents in this borough, and Sheen especially, have become accustomed to reluctantly moving or going private rather than be forced into schools they do not have confidence in. This Council has been very complacent about it's schools strategy as a result, and clearly places no value on the needs / desires of that group of parents. However the Free School programme is aimed at meeting parental needs rather than the needs / desires of the Council. Turing House has had no problems demonstrating demand.
Lord True's letter is as always written with blinkers on, he was of course in no way associated with a body peddling a national agenda....
"It would represent poor value for money to open a new school when just a 10 mt train ride away there is a half empty school"
Whether that's true or not, it isn't an argument that the current council administration are going to use. They defended using Clifden Road for St RR on the basis that they had a broader plan, and that broader plan has always assumed there will be some secondary Free School places. Both RISC and the LibDems have made the point that if no Free School places materialise then that will result in Twickenham children to Sheen (with Catholic children doing the same journey in the opposite direction). The council response to that accusation was We do not envisage any children on the Middlesex side of the river commuting to Richmond Park Academy unless it is through parental preference, so they're unlikely to do a u-turn on that now.
"Unless they've found a loophole in that part of the legislation too"
Well, it's not exactly a loophole, but there may be a way for the LA to propose a Free School itself. The council's proposed social enterprise for running Education & Children's Services Achieving for Children might legitimately be the proposer.
I see lot of sympathy about Twickenham children who may have to travel to Sheen but none for those who already do long journeys from Sheen or the Catholic children who have to travel for 2 hrs.
Lord True is right on the money in his letter on education. As a defender of Catholic education, he has delivered on his promise. He is also right in pointing out that the academies werewrongly handed over to the national chains (Mcdonalds of education).
But now that they are there, people should accept them , instead of asking tax payers to fund new community schools, whilst there is spare capacity.
mmptsa We would welcome your insight on why more than two thirds of the Catholic parents in the borough who are choosing a school for their 11 year olds this year are still choosing to send them out of borough in spite of the journey, and only 67 (including Catholics from out of borough) have actually signed up for St RR's 150 places as first preference . That doesn't seem much of a "desire" to me, or at least not compared with the 276 who are chasing the 200 places at Orleans.
I think Lord True's letter is probably aiming to distance himself from the title "defender of Catholic education", that would somewhat undermine his argument that he is defending local "desires" against " bodies with a national agenda" although Jesus has something very appropriate to say about first removing the beam from your own eye before removing the speck from your brothers.
If only a third of the 10% of the community this school was supposed to be desired by actually desire it, almost certainly less than 60 families, that is pretty poor value for money and a wasteful use of a desired and rare site too. I am sure Turing House will represent far better value for money in terms of meeting the desires of local residents.
DfE is spending millions on the academies. If there are 200 open spaces in Richmond, it would be poor value to add another 150
200 spare places? Where did you get that from? That was the Council's figure for 2011. The Council's forecast for 2013 was 122 spare placeswww.richmond.gov.uk/consultation_on_use_of_clifden_road_site_january-march_2012.pdf, and that included 100 places in a free school, which was not approved . That leaves the Council with 22 spare places this year against a total capacity of 1820 which is way below the Audit Office's accepted margin of spare capacity of 4-5%, especially in a situation where pupil numbers are going to rise. That is before the Council revise the forecasts as they accept they must to take account of the fact that a new school in Kingston is not approved, and take up in Academies is actually exceeding what was forecast. You can see why the Council is supporting the new free school?
mmptsa: Re yrs of Dec-12 19:13:28: Lord True is also right in pointing out that the academies were wrongly handed over to the national chains (Mcdonalds of education)..
The (Labour) government of the day made assigning the schools to an outside trust who could relaunch them as Academies a condition of proving capital funding to rebuild a school. So the [Lib Dem council] went along with this, reluctantly, to get the money as it didnt see any other way of getting it and the schools needed to be rebuilt. The choice of external sponsors was quite limited, I recall, and Edutrust, the first one for RPA had to withdraw because of financial irregularities.
Kunskapsskolan have 25 schools in Sweden, 1 in the US and 4 in the UK, 2 in this borough, 1 in Suffolk and 1 new one (this week) in Northamptonshire. So the jibe about Mcdonalds is wide of the mark.
In terms of branding, strict adherence to standard methods, imposition of ruthless conformity and number of schools world-wide it seems to me it is the chain of Catholic ones that compares to Mcdonalds. The main difference is that at least Mcdonalds is open to all.
The Coalition government widened the term Academy to describe all maintained schools that have converted to ?direct grant? status, a status which had been introduced by the 1944 Act but abolished in 1970s. No external sponsor is required: they can retain their existing board governors and carry on as before but free of any local authority control [but also deprived of any external support if things go awry].
It is confusing - deliberately so no doubt - that these two different types of schools have the same label.
"and only 67 (including Catholics from out of borough) have actually signed up for St RR's 150 places as first preference"
Its going to be very interesting to see how those numbers evolve. The new Clifden school has some stiff competition from outstanding community schools, and, as we've discussed ad infinitum, Catholic parents will have more freedom than ever before to choose between different types of school. If St RR doesn't become an automatic first preference for the majority of borough Catholics within a few years of opening, the Diocese may have created a rod for their own back. No doubt there will be lots of lobbying of parents to persuade them to choose it, but how will they respond to that? We'll all be watching with interest.
Most people wanted community schools and not national chains, but the Lib Dems did not listen. It seems the free school is now understandably releasing the pent up demand.
Heathclif - looking at the applications for 2013, its likely there could be 150- 200 spare community places in 2013 at the 3 academies and some at Clifden Road. This may go down to 100 - 150 in 2014.
It could be argued that taxpayers will want to see investment in academies fully realised before funding more capacity.
The problem has been that the academies do not seem to have any accountability to the communities they serve. They have not shed the baggage people wanted them do. Had they engaged the community they could have become community schools.
mmptsa- those spare places are sadly just on paper. Parents deserve choice if their needs are not met.
mmptsa Are you arriving at your statistics based on first preference? There will be 216 parents who don't get first preference just on the Middlesex side. There will doubtless also be a considerable number who will put Tiffin as first preference who won't get in. We have no way of knowing how many spare places there will be until the computer has completed it's complicated algorithm to assign subsequent preferences on distance to those that have not got their top preferences. The Academies may well fill up with those who have put them as lower preferences (or not included them as a preference at all)
However with 1458 in borough applications and the Council forecasting 346 out of borough applications (a reduction of 100 from 2012 but the actual impact of removal of links and the number of out of borough applicants attracted by St RR - the general consensus being that initial applications will be from out of borough Catholics because in borough Catholics have good established options - remains to be seen), there have been 1804 applications for 1720 places. I think the risk of there being no places for some of those children is greater than the likelihood of 300 evaporating out of the borough.
The Academies may well fill up with those who have put them as lower preferences (or not included them as a preference at all)
- that seems very optimistic!
What has changed significantly in the last 12 months to justify that ? Its more likely that parents will go out of borough or private if they do not get their top preferences.
By September 2012 Hampton Academy had filled 188 of its 210 places. In 2013 its PAN will reduce to 180, yet it has a similar number of applications, so it is highly likely to be full next September.
By September 2012 Twickenham Academy had filled 135 of its 180 places. For 2013 its showing a 28% rise in first preference applications, and a 7% rise in overall applications, so it will certainly be fuller than in 2012. Its hard to say exactly how full, but certainly the fact that Orleans Park and Teddington are significantly more oversubscribed than last year will work in its favour.
So its reasonable to expect that by September 2013, HA will be full, and TA will be near-full. Provided they both get a favourable Ofsted report early in 2013, there's no reason why they shouldn't both be completely full by September 2014.
P.S. For reference, here are the in-borough cohort sizes transferring out of our community primaries between 2011 and 2017 (taken from 2011 school census data):
2011: 1705 children transferring out of year 6
2012: 1766 children transferring out of year 6
2013: 1749 children transferring out of year 6
2014: 1914 children transferring out of year 6
2015: 1964 children transferring out of year 6
2016: 2104 children transferring out of year 6
2017: 2148 children transferring out of year 6
There's a reduction in cohort size for 2013, which accounts for the drop in the number of in-borough applicants referred to in para 7 of the most recent admissions report. However, its obviously temporary and we can expect a big rise in applications for 2014.
TA showed only satisfactory progress when Oftsed visited it last time. Even if they have a full inspection they will at best get Good. As indicated earlier in the thread about GC parents make their own judgement and rely on feedback from others more than a Ofsted.
If you are used to top class teaching and discipline standards in our primaries its hard to settle for something less. Consistency and continuity into an outstanding secondary is what most parents what.
Jo, I don't disagree with you. However, all the evidence shows that HA and TA are filling up despite their interim reports. Their new buildings are a big factor in that. If their full Ofsted reports are positive, and word of that spreads, they will rapidly become oversubscribed.
Jo You know I agree with you entirely about the issue of the number of parents who feel forced to move or go private (or indeed rediscover their Catholic heritage) because they do not have confidence in the Academies, and therefore give the Council a cushion for it's complacent, and now as far as Nick Whitfield and Lord True's personal inclinations are concerned, indulgent education strategy.
However not everyone is in a position to pursue those options, both Orleans and Teddington have 100 more applicants this year than last so sheer force of numbers is as Bayjay highlights filling up the academies.
mmptsa says Lord True is right on the money in his letter on education
Lord True's letter in RTT www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/files/view/press-cuttings/LordtrueRTTletter06Dec.pdf is at best misleading and disrespectful of RISC.
1) There was no pledge to create a Catholic VA school with exclusive admissions in the Tory manifesto
2) Neither was there a pledge to create a Catholic school as a priority to meet demands of Catholic parents on the only available site at Clifden Road - for which £ 10m was paid to meet the "need" of local school places.
3) There is however a pledge in the Coalition agreement to promote inclusivity in faith schools that his govt has now broken. This has serious national implications.
Lord true also again fails to show that he understands the core of RISC argument - that is about inclusive admissions in faith schools. You may also want to see this article written by Rabbi Jonathan Romain www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jonathan-romain/faith-schools-richmond-op_b_2230019.html
BayJay, there are more up-to-date figures in the 2012 census here. School level statistics are in a zip file.
The 2012 data puts numbers slightly lower - the equivalent of one pupil per class leaving since the 2011 census. Still a big jump between 2013 and 2014.
2013: 1710 (last year Y5)
2014: 1854 (last year Y4)
2015: 1903 (last year Y4)
Also, the data shows that 15% of last year's Y6 primary cohort were from other boroughs. In our secondaries, 30-35% are from out of borough. The 2012 numbers at the four previously linked Kingston primaries are:
These data imply growth at 4.3 % p.a. and a doubling time of 17 years. Hounslow numbers are growing at the same rate.
So the challenge for the planners is to forecast when this growth will slow down and then stop - it cannot continue for ever:
A trend is a trend is a trend
The question is: will it bend?
Will it alter its course
Through some unforeseen force
And come to a premature end?
Blimey Chris, you've gone all poetic. Anyone would think it was Christmas or something!
Muminlondon, yes, thanks for that. I was being lazy and using the figures I'd already downloaded to show the trend. I've downloaded the 2012 ones now too, so here are the full figures up to 2018 (when there's another big increase, so certainly no let-up in the trend) ....
Year : Children transferring out of Richmond maintained primaries
The 2018 number pushes the growth rate up to 4.7 % p.a. and the doubling time down to 16 years.
Thanks everyone for the data and analysis - all makes sense . When will the Council update the slippery forecast they made last year ?
It's worth being clear where in the borough the extra pupils would be coming from. The primary expansions are listed on the website. Aside from demand from newcomers or those moving from the private sector, there seem to be extra classes and bulges will be feeding through to secondary as follows:
2014: Heathfield (Holy Trinity bulge) [Hounslow: Oriel]
2015: Vineyard/SMSP bulge [Kingston: Fern Hill, St Paul's CE bulge]
2016: Lowther, Holy Trinity, Orleans (St Elizabeth's/St Mary's/SMSP bulge) [Hounslow: Ivybridge, Kingston: Latchmere bulge]
2017: Heathfield (#2), Buckingham, Stanley (Collis/St Osmund's/Marshgate bulge) [Kingston: St Luke's bulge]
2018: Chase Bridge, SMSP (Vineyard/St Mary Magdalen bulge) [Kingston: Latchmere]
From the 2011 Census data released today:
The boroughs population = 187,000.
The %s by religion are: Christian 55; No religion 28; Religion not stated 8; Muslim 3; Hindu 2; and Sikh Buddhist Jewish Other religion 1 each.
Any suggestions as to the % of the Christians that are Catholic?
No idea. But interesting data. Fewer Polish born residents in Richmond compared to Ealing or Hounslow (e.g. 1.1% compared to 4.1% in Hounslow and 6.4% in Ealing). More originating from US and Germany (1.4% and 1.2% respectively).
The top 4 religions for Richmond and our neighbour boroughs:
Richmond: Christian 55 No religion 28 Religion not stated 8 Muslim 3
Kingston upon Thames: Christian 53 Jewish 26 Other religion 8 Hindu 6; and No religion = 1
Hounslow: Christian 42 No religion 16 Muslim 14 Hindu 10.
Some rates for Outer London: Christian 50 %; No religion 19 %; Religion not stated 7.
And for England & Wales: Christian 59 %; No religion 25 %; Religion not stated 7.
2001 rates for England & Wales: Christian 72 %; No religion 15 %; Religion not stated 8.
. . The BHA has now calculated that if the change in Christian belief over the decade to 2011 continues at a linear rate, Christians would be in the minority by the census question from September 2018.
This is a really significant cultural shift said the BHA chief executive, Andrew Copson. In spite of a biased question that positively encourages religious responses, to see such an increase in the non-religious and such a decrease in those reporting themselves as Christian is astounding. Of course these figures still exaggerate the number of Christians overall the number of believing, practising Christians is much lower than this and the number of those leading their lives with no reference to religion much higher.
The BHA said the census figures were used in parliament to justify the extension of faith schools . .
It is time that public policy caught up with this mass turning away from religious identities and stopped privileging religious bodies with ever increasing numbers of state-funded religious schools . . They are decreasingly relevant to British life and identity and governments should catch up and accept that fact.
Chris, those Kingston figures again:
Christian 52.9%, Muslim 5.9%, No religion 25.7% (not Jewish - 0.5%) and 4.7% Hindu.
Worth pointing out that Hounslow also is 9% Sikh in addition to 10.3% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 42% Christian (and 15.9% no religion) - that may have been the justification for a Sikh free school. I don't want to see any more segregation by religion. Apart from the cultural divide, there's no flexibility when demographics change.
Majority of people in Richmond belong to a faith group and want faith schools. The Council fulfilled its pledge to support that popular demand and I see no reason why they will not continue to promote choice and diversity.
Dare I remind the Lib Dems, that their leaders are Chair of Governors, Governors and parents in our comunity of faith schools. None of them have inclusive admissions. It does not makes sense to turn away a child who believes in the schools faith, in favour of a child who does not believe in the schools faith!
I would like to see Councillors Eady and Knight use their influence to make changes and introduce inclusive admissions. And why are all the foundation governors men?
It does not makes sense to turn away a child who believes in the schools faith, in favour of a child who does not believe in the schools faith!
Did the council contribute money towards capital costs of expansion of this school? If so, it does not make sense to turn away Richmond borough residents from this school when there is a shortage of places and other schools in the area are being asked to take bulge classes.
Where is the shortage at secondary level - there are more than 150 spaces in the academies!
There are 1750 places this year. 1450 inborough applications. And 400+ outborough applications which are likely to be successful due to proximity. So more than 100 Richmond residents will have to go elsewhere. Some will go willingly, many will be disappointed.
For 2014 there will be about 1570 inborough applications for 1680 places. If still 400+ outborough applications and rising - including for St RR - then there will be a serious shortfall.
A large no of those applicants will go private. Are you suggesting that all our secondaries will be full in 2013 ? If so that can only be good news for all taxpayers!
Not that I believe that and would rather trust the Councils forecast that projects around 150 spare spaces in 2013.
It would be preposterous to add more capacity whilst there are spare spaces in the system.
Councillors Eady and Knight have sought to liberalise St Mary's admission policy on many occasions without success as they are always out-voted. The school is voluntary-aided and therefore entitled to act as it does.
muminlondon2: thanks for the correction - an error in transcribing numbers which I should have spotted.
mmptsa I have already provided you with the link to the Councils' s current forecast for 2013, 122 spare places of which 100 were forecast to be made available in a Free School, no Free School with secondary places was approved. They are as I pointed out now actually on the wrong side by some margin of the 4-5% spare capacity that the National Audit Office, who do determine what is good value for the tax payer, regards as prudent to ensure that there are sufficient school places. Not only that but they have acknowledged that as a result of a number of the assumptions underpinning their forecasts, not just no free school, having been undermined they will need to revise their forecasts. We have had this conversation already.
Why are Councillor Knight and Eady then holding onto their Governor post in schools that do not follow the Lib Dem and coalition policy of inclusivity?
They need to put their skin in the game for the community. Perhaps they should use their talents to help our academies improve and join their boards instead.
Good point JoTwicken.
Some people choose to go private, or selective (e.g. Tiffin). And that goes for Catholic families too - about one-third of St Elizabeth's pupils in 2011 went private. Like Marshgate next door they had no link school (although they still had some priority for Christ's foundation places). They used to have a link with Orleans Park so perhaps some will choose it now. There's certainly no reason for them to go private or out of the borough now.
So parents at St Elizabeth's get to choose between out of Borough Catholic schools, Sir RR, Christs, Richmond Park Academy and still one third of them go private, but parents of most children, especially boys, on the Middlesex side of the borough, have no choice whatsoever of school and some may have no place at all as early as 2014. All this talk about parents being able to chose the right school for their child is such nonsense as it only seems to apply to a small percentage of the LB Richmond population. Even those of us who are happy with our local comprehensive didn't actually have any other choice. Most children are just numbers who have to be shoved in whereever possible so far as the Council is concerned, and if you question that you are accused of being prepostorous by the likes of mmptsa. It seems that by this time next year the Council could well be asking local secondary schools to take a bulge class in Year 7 unless the free school gets both the money and the site it needs. I hope that now they are academies those schools will stick two fingers up at the Council. If Sir RR only took Catholic children from within LB Richmond and filled up its spare places with local children who have nowhere else to go that would be slightly more acceptable. However, I'm sure masses of fake Catholics will be emerging to take up the Catholic slack, although a school full of boys whose parents have faked Catholicism to get them in because they feel they have no alternative may not be ideal!
"Why are Councillor Knight and Eady then holding onto their Governor post in schools that do not follow the Lib Dem and coalition policy of inclusivity?"
I'd prefer them to stay there to continue putting the case for more inclusive admissions (if what Chris says is true). If everyone who believes in that walks away from VA schools, then it will never happen. Parents at those schools can help too. If they vote with their wallets and refuse to pay the "Voluntary" contribution to the maintenance fund the VA schools would have no choice but to change to Voluntary Controlled instead. That's happened in lots of schools around the country (usually in less affluent areas). The council controls the admissions of VC schools, and the vast majority of them are fully inclusive.
Then perhaps they need to be doing more and create more awareness. Just being a silent minority does not help anybody.
We live in north St Margarets and some RC families are switching preference to The Blue School (CE) since it was announced 6th best performing in the country in the Sunday Times.
According to St E's only 4 Y6 pupils transferred to private schools in 2012 (p.9)
St Elizabeth's School Profile 2012
Cat242 Interesting to see the actual destinations of St Elizabeth's pupils last year. From what I hear the preferences this year are no different. In spite of all the issues around journeys and splitting up of the St Elizabeth's community highlighted at Cabinet, parents only see St RRs as a back up to those established excellent out of borough schools, and will continue to do so as long as places are available, which of course at Oratory they always will be.
The issue is that non Catholic parents do not have those options, let alone a back up.
Stephen Knight, an atheist, is an interesting choice for Chair of Governors of St Mary's and St Peter's in Teddington! One thing that is different about SMSP admissions criteria from totally exclusive schools like Sir RR, however, is that it only gives preference to church goers in Teddington (linked churches and then Churches together in Teddington which includes Methodist and Baptist, but not the fiery evangelical Christ Church I believe!) and then it admits on distance. So someone who goes to a C of E church in Hampton Hill would not get in in preference to a non-religious child living closer to the school. I think this is a change of policy from 10 years ago when any child of C of E parents living anywhere could trump a child living in the same road as the school from a non C of E family. Presumably this has been brought about by negotiation with councillors such as Stephen Knight and the offer of money for rebuilding/expansion as a result of the catastrophic lack of primary school places in central Teddington over recent years? I am not familiar with the admissions policies of other borough religious primary schools - have all C of E primaries changed in this way? Do Catholic primary schools allow anyone in on distance in preference to distant Catholics?
Heathclif, with respect the 2013 applications data suggests that there could be lot of spare spaces in the academies in Sep 2013. Then if what you are saying is true, there will be open spaces in St RR as well.
I like the suggestion here of people getting more involved to help the academies - especially the Lib Dems who created them.
It is for people to decide where to invest their energies - existing schools or worrying about new schools that the Councils eductaion plan will anyway deliver.
"new schools that the Councils eductaion plan will anyway deliver"
Mmptsa, under the latest education act, which came into force in Feb 2012, local authorities are no longer able to "deliver" new community schools. Any new community places will need to come from the expansion of existing schools (no longer an option dues to space issues, and no longer under the control of the council as they're all academies) or the creation of Free Schools. Richmond LA understand that, and is therefore being encouraging of local Free School proposals. In parallel, it is also investigating Egerton Road as a potential site for a future secondary school, but under existing Government policy that would need to be a free school too (so not directly under Council control).
Its worth emphasising, as you are new to the thread and may not have read it from the start, that many of the people in this discussion are already contributing significantly to the success of existing local academies and future new schools.
mmptsa "with respect the 2013 applications data suggests that there could be lot of spare spaces in the academies in Sep 2013." You may choose to interpret the preferences in that way but as I am sure you know you cannot forecast without making your assumptions explicit so people can judge whether your interpretation is accurate. Implicit in your "forecast" are the assumptions that
1. A lot of people who have made the RPA, TA, and HA lower preferences will get the school(s) they have made higher preferences. We obviously cannot say whether those higher preferences had high chance of success but certainly there are a large number of applicants to Tiffin and the other oversubscribed state schools for whom they were not. We will know that after allocations. However there are enough parents making those academies preferences for them to fill up at least in line with the Council's forecast of 22 places. Obviously with such a small margin of error it could go either way. There is a significant risk with at least 1850 applicants for 1720 places of no spare capacity especially on the Middlesex side.
2. That a very large number of those applying for the oversubscribed schools will have the means, and the will, to go private or move away if their applications are not successful. Clearly if they have applied to the state schools in the first place that is far from their preference and "desire". Aside from issues of morality and fairness the Council has for decades had implicit in it's education strategy the assumption that one of the highest proportions of parents in the country will be deterred from it's secondary schools. However rising standards, and the prospect of a triple dip recession makes that a very risky assumption. We have already seen it undermined at primary level with the response being hastily assembled bulge classes and some children still left without places. Surrey have been planning on the assumption that trend will now feed through to secondary schools.
3. That out of borough applications will fall. However the situation on school places in neighbouring boroughs has not improved as the Council predicted it would, in fact with the school in Kingston failing to materialise, it has got worse. Nobody knows how the distance criteria is going to affect out of borough admissions since areas of for instance Kingston that did not get in on links will now on distance.
4. That no Catholics who will now live within the catchments of oversubscribed secondary's will have applied successfully, as the figures show 6 out of 28 St Elizabeths parents did to Christs's and Waldegrave in 2012, now they will get in on distance.
3. That the much desired St RR will have spare capacity for non Catholics. Whilst in borough Catholics may be sticking with established out of borough schools, and there are places for them, there is disillusionment with the Catholic options out of borough in the south west. It should also be borne in mind that St RRs admissions policy means that non Catholic families offered places will be discriminated against when it comes to subsequent siblings, a significant factor in Sacred Heart, Teddington remaining with spare capacity in it's bulge reception class.
I therefore do not agree with your implicit assumptions, and neither do the Council anymore.
It seems that by this time next year the Council could well be asking local secondary schools to take a bulge class in Year 7
Free schools are having to find temporary accommodation while they are being refurbished and/or the site is still occupied, like Bolingbroke in Wandsworth which moved temporarily in with Burntwood School]. I think this has been mentioned before but in Richmond it would be an irony if the only free space is at St RR.
On the other hand, St RR itself could still be housed in portakabins until the summer of 2014 as RACC doesn't finish its own refurbishment until then.
Bayjay councils could potentially set up voluntary community schools under Sec 11 outside of free school and academy competition.
You mean a Voluntary Aided community school? It would be the first as far as I'm aware (correct me if I'm wrong). Who would be the proposer? It would need to be a non-profit trust with enough funds behind it to guarantee being able to cover 10% of the capital costs of the school for the foreseeable future. Such an organisation (e.g. Achieving for Children) could just as readily set up a Free School, so there wouldn't be any need for them to break new ground unless there was significant disagreement between the council and the DfE (i.e. if they submitted it as a Free school proposal but the DfE turned it down and they wanted to try again using another route). Remember the only reason St RR was set up as a VA school was to guarantee >50% faith admissions, but that incentive wouldn't apply to a Community School.
Is that not what the portsmouth council is doing with the CoE after their free school was rejected ? I saw it posted on the previous thread.I am not sure of rules but a Council is also non profit and could be proposer and be willing to buy Land and building and fund 100 pc of costs ?
This could appeal to Councils who do not want national academies.
Heathclif: thank you for your very clear statement of the position as you see it [Wed 12-Dec-12 14:58:07].
I hope that mmptsa will respond with an equally clear statement of the position as she sees it, showing her working and assumptions at each stage. That way we may get to a meeting of minds on what the outcome of the allocation will be.
In the Portsmouth case I assume its the CofE Diocese that's the proposer, so its a VA faith school like St RR.
p.s. Here's a link to the Diocese of Portsmouth's website, which confirms its the Diocese not the council that's the proposer.
Of course the Portsmouth VA schools might choose to have fully inclusive admissions, but that doesn't make them Community Schools. When our council talks of a Community School at Egerton Road, I'm assuming they mean a non-denominational school, created in partnership with the College, rather than a faith school with open admissions.
Bayjay - interesting points. Could there not be a non faith VA or VC school ?
"Could there not be a non faith VA or VC school ?"
Well as I said in my post at 18:22, even if there could in principle I don't understand what the advantage would be over a free school.
For more background on Achieving for Children (AfT), see Item 9 on the agenda for tomorrow night's cabinet meeting. Assuming those plans move forward as intended, all of Richmond and Kingston's Education Services will be shifted into a single non-profit trust, jointly owned by the two councils. That trust will then provide services to schools etc on a commissioning basis. The schools are prepared for that because they already commission services from the council, but in future they will commission them from AfT instead.
Now, the next bit is speculation on my part, but as a non-profit trust AfT will presumably be eligible for setting up free schools. If so, they could reasonably form a partnership with the college to create one at Egerton Road. Hey presto, a free school that is as close to a Community School as you can get (in terms of the individuals involved in setting it up), without technically being a Community School.
Not sure what the relationship will be with elected councillors themselves?
I do see something positive about cooperation between the two boroughs though, and if you are right about the possibility of such a body being a free school sponsor it makes planning possible. Kingston is sending about a school's worth of pupils into Richmond secondaries so what happens with their free school will have a big impact. It does need to be managed carefully.
"Not sure what the relationship will be with elected councillors themselves?"
Elected councillors appoint the Director of AfC. The Director then appoints the next tier of staff. In the current LA model councillors appoint both the Director and the next tier of staff, so there will be some reduction in control there. (However in the initial set-up of AfC the top-tier of managers will simply move over from the LA structure, so they will come from that pool of staff that were initially appointed by members).
Councillors will subsequently hold AfC to account via its Service Level Agreements.
The judgement from the Judicial Review has now been issued and this is RISC's QC's view on it davidwolfe.org.uk/wordpress/archives/1390.
It does leave you wondering what is now going on in Gove's mind? Presumably the resulting legal inconsistency is an accommodation between his "desires"/ dogma and the interests of a powerful faith lobby?
Thanks Heathclif, will look at that.
Interesting to see Ed Milliband's speech on integration - he mentions English lessons, cutting translation services, recruitment and housing but not education and faith schools. Are all the children of the latest wave of Polish residents expected just to go to Catholic schools? Does it encourage integration to have more Muslim, Jewish and Sikh schools in a city like London where 'white British' are now a minority? It will be interesting to see how that debate takes off.
Very dissapointing from Ed. Let's hope Vince Cable can boldly go where no senior politician has gone before. The coaltion agreement on faith school inclusivity is in tatterS
Having grown up in a town of immigrants I do think that integrated education is important. As you know I respect the right of devout and cultural Catholics to have Catholic Schools but not exclusive Catholic Schools. Where I come from those Catholic Schools which served previous Catholic waves of immigration play a really important role in helping a multi cultural community co exist because they are not over subscribed and popular with the more recent waves of Muslim immigrants.
It seems most of our politicians are content to allow the waters around the faith school issue to be muddy.
The usual counterpart in towns with an undersubscribed, more ethnically mixed, family-oriented Catholic school is a predominantly white, middle class CofE school which is more socially exclusive, with other community schools fitting in around them (the worst performing often being on white working class estates).
It's still unevenly 'spreading privilege' rather than providing equal choices. Some Muslims may have been happy to attend undersubscribed Catholic schools as long as they know they have a good chance of getting in along with their friends, although new Muslim schools are being set up in those areas which may attract those minorities away. But you're unlikely to get Catholics, Anglicans or those of no faith going to new Muslim (or Sikh or Hindu schools), and the white working class (non-Catholics) stay on their estates and become even more isolated and resentful. So ultimately it may lead to more racism, social exclusion and cultural segregation and undersubscribed schools.
Full judgement published in Richmond Catholic schools judicial review is the BHA's view; it ends:
The BHA and RISC have decided not to appeal the ruling, not only because of the costs but also because any appeal would come too late to affect the Richmond schools, which are due to open in September 2013.
Full Judgement by The Honourable Mr Justice Sales:
. . 70. On the basis of these legal points, I think there is really no doubt on the facts of the case, as reviewed above, that the Council has acted lawfully in making the assessment that it does not think that a new school needs to be established in its area, and hence that no duty has arisen under section 6A. The Councils assessment was that there was no need (in a section 6A sense) for a new school to be established, but rather that it was merely desirable in its assessment of the public interest and having regard to factors relevant under sections 13 and 14 of the 1996 Act that the Dioceses proposals to establish the two new Catholic schools should be approved and the Site made available for the implementation of those proposals.
71. The Councils assessment of these matters cannot be impugned as irrational or in any way unlawful.
The judge clearly took the council's arguments at face value, and the council had a carefully crafted, reasonable sounding defence that was always going to be difficult to penetrate on technicalities. If he'd scratched below the surface and considered the irrationality of their forecasting, and the intent behind that irrationality (because it certainly wasn't down to incompetence) he might have come to a different conclusion. However that would have been much more difficult for RISC's lawyers prove, and quite possibly beyond the judge's remit.
So, the council have outsmarted RISC, but just because their actions have been judged to be lawful doesn't mean they were right or fair.
muminlondon2 I suppose one thing that can be said for the grim social and economic conditions that prevail where I come from is that both Catholic and non faith schools are very mixed. There are no Cof E schools and the independent Girls' school has become a Free School because of falling pupil numbers. Some of my family live on one of those working class housing estates you mention but are very familiar with the issues affecting Muslim families because the children attend the same non faith school, and are friends. Ofsted commented of the school "Those students who have been most difficult to engage in learning; most notably White British boys explained very clearly to inspectors the positive difference these changes are beginning to have on their attitudes to learning." The Schools, both Catholic and non Catholic, seem to be finding ways to address these issues. I agree the possibility of Muslim Free Schools that are effectively exclusively Muslim would be worrying especially as in my cousins' school one of the special measures imposed by Ofsted concerned the lack of knowledge and attainment of pupils in RE where non Muslim religions were concerned. However none of the new Free Schools approved for the city are faith schools. I wonder if the D of E has amongst it's opaque criteria one that seeks to ensure Faith Free Schools do not create ghettos?
Heliview I think the judge was only empowered to consider the legal arguments put before him, which revolved around whether the Council had said there was a need for a new school and therefore invoked the terms of the act. Issues around the robustness of the forecasts were not considered. What strikes me about the judgement is that the judge appears to go beyond that narrow remit and makes some subjective and even political observations. In fact the judge seems to be endorsing our views on Lords True's distinctive talent for rhetoric based on sweeping generalisations!!
Where I grew up there are now more faith secondaries than community schools. I was lucky to go to a comprehensive that was ethnically diverse but that was a long time ago and now, in poorer areas, communities do not mix.
Interesting about the independent girls' school becoming a free school. Some such schools were established hundreds of years and used to be direct grant grammar schools, but as free schools they are required to be mixed ability. So considering them on a case-by-case basis it is better that they serve a wider community as a non-faith (often smaller-scale) option than go bankrupt. I do wonder whether we have seen the 'religious' wave of free schools and will now be seeing more of the 'private schools conversion' wave. But I wouldn't support that if (1) there is any relaxation of the Schools Admissions Code that will bring back academic selection and (2) profit-making is allowed, encouraging private equity takeovers and general asset-stripping by big business.
Chris - I am not qualified to produce a forecast and would rely on the Councils professional judgement. I shall eagerly wait to see if Cllr Eady produces another version of his famous forecast spreadsheet.
The Councils forecast clearly showed 122 open spaces in 2013 in RPA and TA - and thats almost size of a new secondary school. On evidence of this years application trends, it is safe to assume that their forecast is correct, if anything there could be more spare spaces in the academies. Heathclif - you raise some valid points but no one knows what will happen and the free school with 100 places assumed in 2013, could have diverted more pupils away from the academies to the free school. But it does not mean that in absence of a free school, parents will select the automatically select academies - who have not changed enough to their satisfaction. It is equally likley that parents wil continue to go for out of borough or independent secondaries. Its not a good use of tax payers money if RPA remains 1/2 and TA 1/4 empty in Sep 2013 - something I hope their leaders start accepting the responsibility for.
Even if the judge would have reviewed the forecast, he would have not been in a position to challenge them and correctly accepted the Councils argument.
BayJay - I respect that many people on this forum are already engaged with existing and new schools and applaud their efforts. It does however feel that the community could put more pressure on the national leaders of our academies to deliver changes that meet our needs.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
"I am not qualified to produce a forecast"
Having just re-read that last post it sounds more strident than I intended, so I'm rephrasing and have asked for the previous one to be withdrawn ...
A fully professional forecast would have included a risk assessment. However, at least it did include the assumptions, several of which have now proved to be false, as has been discussed in this thread in some detail.
Any moderately numerate person is capable of analysing the forecast, and its underlying assumptions, and seeing the implicit risks. Jeremy Rodell and Malcolm Eady are both highly numerate and have both pointed out the potential risks in some detail. If an independent forecast had been produced it would have described, and attempted to quantify, those risks to indicate a range of possible outcomes.
"the community could put more pressure on the national leaders of our academies to deliver changes that meet our needs"
In a sense that's what the community has been doing by not taking up the places. In the past they have voted with their feet. Now that improvements are taking effect those schools are showing a welcome increase in admissions. That process will continue and soon they will be full.
It's a shame that RPA's Good Ofsted report came out too late to materially impact their 2013 preferences, but it will no doubt have a positive impact on take-up of offers further into the process.
"That process will continue and soon they will be full"
Before JoTwick jumps in to remind me there of course needs to be enough 'slack' in the system for that filling-up process to be powered by a reasonable amount of parental choice, rather than force. That's why I wouldn't agree with people who say no new community schools are needed, and why the LA are being generally supportive of free school initiatives.
There's an interesting BBC film here about free schools which looks at the distinction between 'basic need' for places and quality-driven-demand-need (not sure if there's an official term for that). Its that second type of need that the free school programme was designed to address, which is why its been criticised for creating over-capacity in some areas. The LGA are arguing that basic-need should be prioritised. That would seem like a no-brainer on the face of it. However, the problem is that there's a deep rooted relationship between the two types of need. While some people have the means to move around or go private, basic need will simply never arise in schools where quality is low. In the past that lead to a sort of Catch 22 situation where LAs have had no incentive to improve schools beyond 'satisfactory' .... why bother improving schools when that will cause them to fill up and mean they'll need more schools? The result has been middle-class flight from some areas, and growth of the private school sector in others. I don't think that was intentional; it was a side-effect of the 'just in time' culture of school place planning.
Like everyone else, I really hope the 3 transformational academies are successful in attracting students over the next few years, and I'm pleased to see that their hard work is paying off and the trend is in the right direction. It will not only be a positive for the schools themselves, but also for their local areas, as good schools naturally attract strong and prosperous communities. As I said many months ago in this thread, people who buy houses near those improving schools are probably making a very sound investment, as they will almost certainly be oversubscribed in the future (and we all know what that does to local house prices).
BayJay I am impressed by your ability to read my mind and dedication to wake up early to make that post
Firstly academies have duty to their existing pupils - and just getting to good is bare minimum. mmpts4 has given food for thought and I will be surprised if below par performance is accepted and that floodgates will open.
Ultimately any school needs to get in touch with its local community needs. I do not see that happening in the academies as much as I would want to start trusting them. Its not easy for parents to put blind faith in them and just send their kids. Hope this does not block new school plans as you are right parents deserve choice.
BayJay, I've just watched that Newsnight film and one thing that shocks me is that a free school was allowed to poach existing Y8 pupils from other schools, rather than just build up slowly with Y7 classes. Some new free schools have deliberately set a smaller admissions number while they build up, and that sounds more manageable all round. There is a problem with the decision process in terms of lack of transparency, and it seems wrong for free schools to set up in areas with lots of surplus capacity.
If Twickenham Academy had been a rebuilt Whitton I would be against the Turing House proposal. The reason I feel more ambiguous about TA as it stands, and more positive about Turing House, is because TA is an academy with a sponsor that took over two schools that were far too close to each other yet had no other experience in the UK, something that attracted criticism from when it was discussed in council and limits choice. We need to see its track record. I think as it stands, if the sponsor does not deliver what it promised, it could be sacked in 7 years, or earlier if it fails its Ofsted. Even for a big state school supporter like me, it's hard to feel loyalty to a school that seems to have been imposed on us from above rather than one which has been requested with significant parent support.
Having said that, I hate to see any school do badly because of the effect on pupils.
I would add that I hope St RR is a success with Richmond pupils. It will be the same size as Christ's with the same head teacher and slightly worse sports facilities but unlike Christ's it will be nearer to where the majority of Catholics live and easier for the rest to commute to by train. The campaign was well supported by Catholic parents so I hope the school is too.
onsite sports facilities -obviously St Mary's are excellent
"one thing that shocks me is that a free school was allowed to poach existing Y8 pupils"
I'd need to watch it again to be sure, but I got the impression the school had opened with just year 7, but was already in its second year of opening when the girl in the film transferred. She would have been able to transfer easily if there was still some spare capacity at the new free school. Lots of free schools have opened with spare capacity because people often tend towards established schools rather than taking a risk on new ones, until they've established a good reputation.
"If Twickenham Academy had been a rebuilt Whitton I would be against the Turing House proposal"
Even if it was almost full, as we know it is? Interestingly I think that, rightly or wrongly, the DfE would have taken the opposite view, and been more inclined to approve a free school earlier if it felt there was a coasting local school that needed a push to convert to academy status. The fact that TA was already on the right path (according to current policy) has bought it more time to prove itself. Provided its next Ofsted is positive, and its building is completed on time and meets local approval, it will have justified that trust as it will then be able to sustain itself against some additional capacity.
The Turing House needs-case is a combination of demand need and impending capacity need, and if it has any impact at all on other schools, that impact will be transitory because, as we know, the primary bulge is so huge.
"I would add that I hope St RR is a success with Richmond pupils"
I also hope its successful, with whichever pupils it gets. All children should have the opportunity for the best possible education.
muminlondon Yes the indie was a direct grammar when I went there (I am very old ) and when we were consulted on it's change of status I agreed that becoming a Free School was actually truer to it's original ethos than it's current wholly private status. It wasn't an entirely happy experience, a confidence sapping regime by today's standards, but it did provide a lot of my friends from disadvantaged backgrounds with the opportunity to go to university, something not many girls from any background achieved at the time. It is of course a best case scenario for the Free School Programme, a ready made school with excellent facilities, admission is by random allocation within ability bands. Somehow I don't think we'll be seeing an LEH becoming a Free School anytime soon and coming to the rescue of Fullwell parents.
I just wonder how those teachers who have been used to teaching those with high ability will adjust to meeting the needs of the whole range of abilities, they don't seem to be putting any special training or support in place.
mmptsa I won't repeat Bayjay's excellent posts, as she rightly says good forecasting is about probabilities and risks. The National Audit Office regard 4-5% spare capacity as necessary to ensure there is a cushion in the event that the risks to forecasts materialise, and the Council's forecasts are very risky as I highlighted, especially given the size of the pupil bulge it faces. With 1720 places that would mean there actually should be at least 90 spare places in our schools.
Bayjay highlights our Councils "just in time" strategy for school places. That has been a disaster for parents at primary level for decades, with every year hundreds of parents told there is no school place for their children at allocation time and an ensuing struggle to put together bulge classes in whatever accommodation they can find. Last year that included a old hall some distance from the main school with reception children being marched to and fro to be included in their school community and still some reception children having no place until Christmas. There is no space to create additional classes in our secondary schools.
Had there been a legal basis to challenge the Council's forecasts they would not have stood up to scrutiny when benchmarked against common, let alone best, practise in the private sector, and many Councils are now applying the techniques of assessing risk and probability and having forecasts that include quantification of risks and opportunities. However the law is only based on whether a Council "thinks" it has a need, not the robustness of the forecasting of that need.
The Councils did forecast 122 spare places in RPA and TA BUT they assumed 100 places would have been filled in a free school. That is 100 pupils who do not have a place in a Free School and so will fill up all but 22 of those spare places.
I think my hopes are irrelevant, the Catholic community in Richmond has a responsibility to make St RR a success, and to send their children there, and not just treat it as an insurance. With all privilege there come responsibilities.
Heathclif your logic is flawed that just because there is no free school in 2013, those 100 pupils will go into academies. There is demand for free school but not for what is being offerred in the academies. Mmptsa has highlighted that point. Even RISC had forecasted that there are a large no of people who will go from state primary to secondary, if they were convinced of quality.
The problems in the academies are not being dealt with and community expectations not being met.
"those 100 pupils will go into academies"
Not all of them will, but many of them will. Many of them will be expecting to get offers for OP, Teddington etc and will be disappointed. What they do next depends on whether they have confidence in the Academies as an alternative (and an unpredictable number will) or have other contingency plans in place.
The shift from primary to secondary that RISC predicted as a result of increased quality was in addition to the 100 places. Their analysis showed that if Richmond's state-sector-retention increased to that of the next lowest borough (Wandsworth) that would represent 150 children.
No, I wouldn't have opposed Turing House had TA - as Whitton - filled up last year or was full this year. A new school is obviously going to be needed in the most basic sense soon because 2014 will see a big jump in pupils and so will subsequent years. And the council agrees - it just thinks it will be later, and Kingston is still unclear. But that's irrelevant because I do approve of Turing House in the circumstances as a parent-led school, especially if it can work with the council, and successive councils have complacently relied on the 'private school' cushion in a borough where there's no excuse for mediocre schools.
I still don't understand why both HA and TA were handed over to Kunskapsskolan though. The economy of scale argument is entirely to the benefit of KS, not the community. The council used the diversity and choice argument for the Catholic school so it is fair and logical for that to be applied to academies.. KS are used to managing smaller schools so it is probably better for the pupils who chose them that they remain small. The money spent on the buildings is a separate issue but at least the council didn't stump up the cash.
"I do approve of Turing House in the circumstances"
That's good to hear. I think all Free Schools need to be judged on their own circumstances (which to be fair, is what the DfE are trying to do, despite all the criticism). Turing House was born right here on Mumsnet. I bet there aren't many schools with that credential .
Bayjay your logic could fill some more spare spaces at TA, but unlikely to work for RPA. If it does not get pupils from it's a local community, its unlikely it will get 100 from Twickenham.
jotwick The Council's forecasting is not so sophisticated as to factor in any sort of model for how parents are attracted / deterred from it's schools. It should, the reason that their forecasts on primary school forecasts are consistently less than actual is because they fail to take account of the way quality attracts applicants, as well as the impact of the economic situation, (even after the downturn had materialised). Their forecast pupil numbers already implicitly account for the number of parents going private, out of borough or moving away. Actually only with one exception, after a meeting with RISC Councillor Hodgins did decide to put 200 of the pupils going private back into borough schools as a result of the expected improvement in quality by 2015, a number picked out of the air. So if they have put 100 of the expected pupils into a Free School their logic (definitely not mine) dictates that if there is no Free School those numbers go into the Academies. If they do start to factor in any sort of model for the way quality attracts then the RISC argument kicks in and more than three new schools are needed by 2015.
Of course there is no substitute for actuals when it comes to forecasting so we will know the outcome of all this in a few months time.
TA is filling up and I think that people forget that TA isn't starting from ground zero like RPA. It has never failed entirely to serve it's local community. I know Whitton parents who went to the school and do not think it merited it's poor reputation and will be sending their children there because it is their local school. Evidently not everyone is turned off by the educational methods it is using (although I agree parents should have the choice ). There was an ignorant letter in the RTT saying that TA was the answer to Twickenham's school place problem, if only Twickenham parents would send their children there and somehow deter out of borough applicants, totally ignoring the needs of the community that TA serves. At 2.1 miles from Clifden Road once it achieves outstanding status as I am sure we all hope it will, Twickenham parents are unlikely to get in.
In RPA's defence, back in 2004 it was the most popular of the three schools which are now sponsored academies although it, too, has traditionally taken many from Wandsworth (which is five minutes away). And a few years earlier Barnes Primary (as Westfield) was apparently linked to Orleans Park while Grey Court was number one choice in the borough. So all these schools have the potential to rise again and be successful.
Heathclif - cutting through all the complexity and nuances of forecasting, in my simple mind I can't see an exodus of 100 pupils from Twickenham to RPA. Hence I would put my money on having around 100 plus spare spaces in 2013.
muminlondon By 2004 things were improving, the nadir of Shene Schools fortunes was back in the 90s when there was knives in the playground and it's gates had to be policed after a series of assaults on passers by. It only survived by drawing pupils along the Upper Richmond Road, Christ's was in a similar predicament. They both really did lose the confidence of their community entirely . Christ's has shown that that can be overcome. Greycourt is of course a lesson in how schools can sink or rise. www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/nov/02/schools.teachersworkload
jotwick We will see. I wouldn't put money on it because there are so many unknowns. I am actually hearing more substantive negatives about TA than RPA. People are impressed with the leadership and what they have achieved at RPA. It is just that Sheen parents have for so long pursued other options, I know one family who couldn't afford to go private who sent their son to a school in Wandsworth and their daughter to the Green School in Hounslow! It takes time to change that sort of culture of seeking other options.
Grey Court was definitely the most popular until about 10 years ago, right up to 2003 when the previous head had become ill. A similar thing happened to a relative of mine, a head who was off for cancer treatment while Ofsted was in. So glad it is back on form and popularity - I think it is a fantastic school.
Sorry, wasn't Barnes Primary but Lowther that had the link with Orleans, until 2000. Still a wider catchment than you'd see today.
Human Rights Blog, written by members of 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers, offers this handy summary of the JR:
The Courts reasoning: Sales J found that the Council had made clear its provisional view that there was not a current need for a new state school in its area and its provisional view that introduction of the Catholic schools proposed by the Diocese would be beneficial, in that they would increase diversity of school provision. Section 6A of the Education Act, which would have triggered an obligation to consider proposals for an Academy, was therefore not engaged as no general need had been identified. The judge did not agree with the claimants case that
whenever a local authority considers that it might be beneficial for there to be additional educational provision in the form of establishing a new school in its area, it must be taken to think that there is a need to establish a new school, in the sense in which that term is used in section 6A.
In short, he did not accept the claimants argument that the duty in section 6A trumps any other procedure under Part 2 of the 2006 Act. There was no clear language in the Act to suggest that Parliament had intended that provision to operate to disapply the obligation of a local authority to consider other proposals (for schools apart from Academies) on their merits.
As for the second part of the challenge, the attack on the lack of reasons in the consultation paper, there was no further mileage for the claimants. The judge did not agree that there was anything misleading in the Councils paper. In particular, it contained no express statement that the Council considered that there was a current need (in the technical section 6A sense) for new schools to be established on the Site; nor was there any implied representation to that effect.
Can anyone answer this question? Is there a difference between 'published admission number (PAN)' and 'standard intake'? I don't know if it has been explained before but I'm looking at the 2013 PAN in the December applications report (and Clifden consultation), standard intake in the secondary school admissions brochure and admission numbers published in March. For example, the committee report has:
Grey Court 200 (240 published in March, 210 in brochure)
Hampton Academy 180 (210 in brochure)
Richmond Park Academy 220 (also 220 in brochure but 180 on website)
Twickenham Academy 180 (200 in brochure)
So now I don't know which figures will be used for them to calculate spare capacity - Grey Court will definitely be full but there's a discrepancy of 90 places for the academies, which probably won't be.
Muminlondon, the academies have each reduced their PAN to accommodate their sixth forms. You can see the timing of that on the council's forecasts. Hampton reduces from 210 to 180 in 2013. RPA reduces from 220 to 180 in 2014. Twickenham Academy reduced from 210 to 180 in 2012.
Also, Grey Court had a temporary increase from 200 to 240 in 2012, but that won't become a permanent expansion, again becasue of its sixth form.
BayJay, that's what I thought, so why are there higher figures in the 2013 admissions brochure? Because the 100 free school places never materialised for 2013? Christ's numbers are 150 as expected but HA and TA have 210 and 200 places advertised.
Also, RPA/Shene has had 215-220 capacity for years that has never been filled. Is it a moveable feast to meet statutory requirements or is there a funding benefit for the schools to do this?
Hmmm, you're right. My instinct would be to assume its just a mistake. They may have used the previous year's brochure as a template and not updated the numbers.
Possibly. But the Grey Court figure would then have been picked out of thin air and I think TA's number is still different from last year.
"Is it a moveable feast to meet statutory requirements or is there a funding benefit for the schools to do this? "
They're academies now so they have control over their own PAN. However, they did have consultations.
I don't know about RPA, but TA didn't receive any objections to reducing their admissions.
"the Grey Court figure would then have been picked out of thin air"
PANs are normally multiples of 30, so if somebody was editing Grey Court's PAN from 240 down to 200 they could have easily made an error. I'm not sure what the logic is for it being 200, though I'm guessing its just that they have 8 forms with 25 children in each. Anyone know?
If it's an error I think it's very sloppy proofreading on the part of the council but I shall be watching to see how they calculate spare capacity after allocations!
But interesting to consider how big a 'form' or tutor group is. I think it is 25 in a lot of schools, e.g. Orleans Park? Some GCSE classes are much smaller than that. I guess funding has to comprise a fixed grant based on potential capacity as well as an amount per pupil - schools have certainly been in deficit for being undersubscribed but you can't suddenly sack a French teacher mid-term or turn the heating off because of a dip in Y7 admissions, or high mobility in Y10 after a bad crop of results. Or can you? That would be my main objection to new schools causing instability in neighbouring schools, because it would punish pupils.
"but you can't suddenly sack a French teacher mid-term or turn the heating off because of a dip in Y7 admissions"
No, I agree, but at least with small academy chains, backed by corporates, like Kunskapskollan there can be some absorption of that fluctuation. I'm guessing Kunskapskollan do channel funds into the Learning school Trust, in the same way that Education London channel funds (and pro-bono effort) into Russell Education Trust. Its in their interests to do so in order to make sure their schools perform at a standard that's inline with their vision. Groups that dip their toe into the academy sector do so so with their eyes open and do have to accept some risk.
No info on academies income in performance tables. I think David Cameron promised to publish it so that is a big omission. But your post does make me nervous about what would happen if Waldegrave, Orleans Park, Teddington or Grey Court suddenly suffered a dip in numbers and therefore funding. I'm sure Gove's answer is a swift take-over by a chain but what is the DfE's liability if the dip was entirely due to sudden overcapacity rather than a bad Ofsted or results? How long can a school operate in a deficit? And anyway, what if the chains themselves had a bad year?
Sorry, I don't expect an answer ftom you BayJay but these are all unknowns.
"How long can a school operate in a deficit?"
I don't know about the transformational academies, but the guidelines for free school applications require groups to provide financial models for both 100% and 80% capacity, i.e. they have to be able to show that they can they can meet their objectives even if they're only 80% full. Of course, some of them have less than 80% in the first year or two until they prove themselves, but all new schools get a little extra money in the first few years to cover start-up dis-economies, so budgets do balance out (and if it looks like they won't the DfE can refuse to sign the funding agreement to let them open, as has been the case in a few high profile cases).
I have heard that the DfE is now encouraging converter academies like Waldegrave, OP, Teddington to join together into small federations to support each other, though I don't know anything about the potential financial benefits of that.
Muminlondon schools get funding based on no of pupils in all years and not capacity. They are supposed to maintain their expenses below their funding levels and are not allowed to go in RED. In addition some schools like our academies have recieved start up grant that provides them cover for 3 to 5 years. This is to recognise that a large portion of costs are fixed e.g you can't deliver half the curriculum or just mow half the lawn, just because you are half full. But over time the imperative is for schools to get full to effectively balance their books. All this requires rigorous and robust financial planning and proactive management. Not having the luxury of high fees and donations levels in private schools, state schools need to spend their funds very carefully. Their challenge is to direct as much spend as possible in value adding activties that enable them to over deliver for their pupils and community.
Thanks for those answers. I see the incentive for new schools but it is a worry for existing schools. What I do not want to see is Turing House and Kingston's free schools approved in the same year - because that could affect all of the Surrey side schools, and even Orleans Park iif Richmond preferences are split equally. On balance, I think Turing House has the strongest immediate case.
muminlondon - If you remember seeing the RISC paper on secondary school plans RISCsecondaryschoolplans (an update will be available in Q1 2013, Richmond has the lowest ratio of resident children at state secondaries (in and out of borough) versus those at state primaries of any London borough. In 2010 the figure was under 50%, compared to an average for the ten most prosperous boroughs of 60%. This is not because Richmond is especially prosperous or has an especially high proportion of children at state primaries.
There is pent up demand for high quality state secondary places. I believe that if existing and new schools offer outstanding education that meets or even exceeds the community expectations, there is enough supply of pupils. A 60% ratio would imply another 260 borough children seeking places in state secondaries. Even Council has agreed with this logic from RISC.
Tax payers deserve excellence in all the existing and new secondaries. In an oustanding environment, the independent sector should have more to fear and that could only increase the number of them who join the state sector through the free schools.
gmsing, I agree that the proportion in private schools is too high. But missing from the assumption is the high mobility and number of ex-pats in Richmond where many live in rented accommodation. For both schools in 2013, 100% of Barnes/Mortlake/Sheen pupils would need to go to RPA (=240, if you really think the 50% at Sheen Mount will switch from the private sector to RPA and all of Marshgate, Vineyard and Darell would need to take up the Grey Court places vacated by North Kingston pupils (=150). That leaves Christ's needing to attract 100% of Kew R, Holy Trinity and Queen's (also high in private school destinations). The case for Turing House assumes many more from Richmond will go to Orleans Park.
I happen to think Kingston's case is weaker now they have both a renewed Grey Court and Teddington as their choices. There may be a case for both schools by 2017 but not 2014. Unfortunately there is no clear site for Turing but an obvious one for Kingston.
BayJay in reply to my comment "the community could put more pressure on the national leaders of our academies to deliver changes that meet our needs"
You wrote In a sense that's what the community has been doing by not taking up the places I agree with you and it will help if parents provided feedback for rejecting the school to their management and Ofsted. National schools are not trying to understand their local community, instead they just start blaming them - elitism, preference for private schools etc. That is just like blaming customers for not choosing your product, instead of accepting that your product is just not good enough and the management needs to improve. gmsing - Whilst I ideologically disagree with RISC, they raised valid points on school places planning and accept the private to state secondary argument. The die hard fans of our excelelnt private schools, send their kids from age 4. Every pupil in Richmond's state primary is a potential pupil for our state secondary. Parents in this borough expect a very high standard and correctly so - they deserve outstanding education coming from our excellent primaries. Unfortunately from 2006-10, the Lib Dems messed with our secondaries, and that has lead to the lower conversion from primary to secondary.
"there is no clear site for Turing but an obvious one for Kingston"
That's not part of the decision-making process. If the preferred site falls through then another site will be found, and now that there is a significant budget for building new free schools (as opposed to a reliance on identifying existing buildings for conversion), the options may be wider.
mmptsa Shene School had already started to go downhill when we moved to Sheen in 1988. Whilst the surrounding Primary Schools continually improved and became oversubscribed successive administrations, Conservative as well as Libdem, were guilty of allowing a school which should have always been similarly outstanding to fail. The negligent educational strategies go back a lot further than 2006.
BayJay, I'm glad the site isn't the determining factor and while it's logistically difficult without
(whoops, that went too early!)
... without one, I think the first wave was rather gung ho with a lot of new free schools in Suffolk in empty sites when the council was in the middle of a reorganisation and trying to shut down middle schools. So there has been a lot of criticism of half empty schools there. I hope lessons have been learned at the DfE. (At the same time, Gove wants to make 1,000 staff redundant and is still not transparent about information from impact assessments to emails so I'm nervous.)
"I hope lessons have been learned at the DfE"
Well the DfE are accountable to the Audit Commission, so lessons do get learnt. The free school programme was radical, and introduced quickly (in order to make an impact within a lifetime of the parliament), but I think its evolved quickly too. It'll be interesting to see how it evolves in the future, and how history will look back on it!
Muminlondon - interesting point on high mobility and expats. I do not have data but that is same for a lot of prosperous London boroughs especially the inner city ones like Kensington, Fulham, Battersea etc. I also see a number of expats choosing private schools like Swedish,American and French schools that gives them better continuity when they return to their home countries.(In some school fees are paid for in some juicy expat packages!!).
"it will help if parents provided feedback for rejecting the school to their management and Ofsted"
I would say its the job of the LA to have their ear to the ground on that. The opinions have been flowing freely for a number of years, but weren't being heard. In fact, that's how I got involved in this whole issue in the first place .... by trying to find ways of getting the council to listen to local parents.
Bayjay in your experience what is the best way to get results. Unfortunately the council and politicians have failed us and cannot be trusted. The academies are anyway outside LA control and not bothered about the community.
"in your experience what is the best way to get results"
In my experience, the best way to get results is to stay positive and focus on what you can do rather than being cynical and complaining that "the council and politicians have failed us and cannot be trusted". Ultimately, everyone wants the same thing - great schools for all. Some people just need to be persuaded of the best way to achieve that, and it takes time and diplomacy. I'm not a fan of adversarial politics as a means of making things happen. When I went to Zac Goldsmith's first meeting about the North Kingston school crisis I was impressed at how politicians from both sides were pulling together to find a solution, and I'd like to see more of that.
Bayjay I think the opinions of parents have been known to the Council and our politicians for decades. When I was appealing to get a place in one of the three primary schools within less than a mile of my house in Sheen in 1995, the letter to your MP, Councillors, Head of Education and anyone else you could think of were an accepted part of the rigmarole, as were the standard pat letters you received back. The content of the Facebook group page that arose as a result of the Hampton black hole in the last couple of years was terribly familiar, it was just we did it by word of mouth. And after you had gone through the process, parents were already moving or going private because they had got the message loud and clear that they could not have confidence in state education at that end of the borough, and that word of mouth culture directed itself to where to move to, how to get into out of borough or private schools and of course the tutoring industry.
It is as you said earlier a parental culture that has enabled the Council to pursue an educational strategy that did not put meeting parental needs (parents of "ordinary" children anyway) anywhere near the top of their aims. That culture was very clearly manifested in Nick Whitfield's presentation to Cabinet on the Clifden Road site.
That is why I so wholeheartedly support Turing House, because it is putting the needs of the community where they belong, at the head of it's aims.
Hi Heathclif, yes, its good to have your historical perspective. A similar situation in Bristol, over similar timescales, led to the creation of "Parents Voice" and the founding of the Bristol Free School.
Turing House is an inspiration and hope for the community. I hope the case study is widely published and used to guide parents across all over the borough and beyond.
BayJay, I really appreciate the debate in these threads and your energy - you were consistent in arguing for inclusive admissions, then the free school case.
I haven't any recent presentations on the North kingston school. But interesting to find this original Kingston parent-led campaign. Their case in 2006 was based on choice and expanding pupil numbers, and frustration with Tiffin's selective admissions. But also an example of how assumptions may quickly date:
1. Fern Hill primary DID gain a link with Grey Court from 2006 allowing places for up to 60 more children.
2. The link policy has gone - so 150 Kingston children (15 more) at Grey Court estimated and 16 at Teddington on 2011 patterns.
3. Now that Grey Court IS oversubscribed on first preference, North Kingston is closer than Richmond town (without the hill). And it is getting a sixth form and a swimming pool.
4. Tiffin has expanded - although that would help very few without a defined catchment (undesirable as it could have a 'secondary modern' effect on surrounding schools).
5. Some of the borough-wide increase in pupil numbers is in cheaper New Malden, a long way off. The actual number of 2013 Y6 leavers in the three community and two CofE primaries is 238, so if Richmond council correct at least 170 could by 2013 be in Richmond borough schools - 75% is a better percentage of state school take-up than Sheen Mount!
6. Are one or two good comprehensives and a grammar enough? Sounds good to me.
BUT in 2015 Fern Hill expands by one form, and St Paul's has a bulge class in that year. So there could be 80-90 without a place. And a big issue is that Richmond children (past Ham) will be unable to access this excellent school. So that is why Grey Court's head welcomes cooperation and all are working together. But from 2015 - and perhaps it would be phased in gradually.
However, RPA, will need to have built itself up by then, as it will face competition as Christ's may be chasing more from Sheen to replace those from Richmond.
Unless of course there is 100% take-up of state schools as I underlined earlier
gmsing, yes for ex-pats there's the Swedish school, German school, etc. But they also go home. You will get others moving in but with younger children and the cycle starts again. The children just seem to disappear after a certain age ...
"I haven't any recent presentations on the North kingston school"
There's the Kingston Secondary School Action Group on Facebook, but I don't know if they're the only campaign group.
There's a website for the North Kingston community free school. There's also a website for the North Kingston Church free school proposal.
In the spirit of positive and constructive developments- congratulations to all for writing this letter to Gove
The Youth Wing of the Lib Dems has joined the Accord Coalition now too.
I didn't hear anything from Richmond Lib Dems' youth spokesperson on the Clifden Road issue.
Heliview22: As she is a party spokesperson, Cllr Ellen would not have anything to say that goes beyond the carefully drafted party line that the Lib Dem Group of Cllrs have adopted and Cllrs Eady and Knight have articulated:
We support the case for a Catholic secondary school but not as a priority over a new community school in Twickenham, which is needed and should come first.
What her private opinion is, I have no idea.
The Local Party regards faith-based education as a 'toxic' issue because of the fierce passions that it arouses, for and against. They are aware that one of Cllr True's aims is to portray the Lib Dems either as hopelessly split on this issue or as a bunch of atheists who are a threat to local much-loved faith schools. So none of the is going to say anything on this that goes beyond the party line.
Chris, with a little more foresight and ingenuity they would see admissions as a 'populist vote winning' issue rather than a 'toxic' issue. They would need to make the clear distinction between admissions and the schools themselves, but RISC have already carved out that path for them.
Leadership in tough times requires parties to deliver. Whether you agree or not with Lord True, he kept his party united and vigorously delivered what they pledged. The Lib Dems made a little noise but did not show courage in their convictions to stand up to Lord True or Gove, for their people and their values.
The Lib Dems couldn't stop Lord True from acting as he has done - only a split in his own party coud achieve that. There is very little discussion of policy within the local Conservative Party and what dissent there was was effectively dealt with without it becoming public.
Once the Lib Dems had been advised that his actions were lawful - as the judge has now confirmed - they could only resolve to wait to see the results of the 2013 admissions process, which come out on March 1.
Once the results are known the political debate will start again in earnest and run until the May 2014 elections.
???"he kept his party united and vigorously delivered what they pledged"???
He exaggerated and broadened the pledge, then hid behind it with the rest of his troops, lobbing rotten tomatoes at anyone who dared to stand up and question it.
Politicians over-estimate the public's respect for united parties. There's no point in being united if you're backing the wrong horse.
Heliview - As the consultation results showed, majority of people backed Lord True's horse. Lib Dems were sitting on the fence and watching the RISC bandwagon.
Chris - for goodness sake, Lib Dems are in the Govt - they were the ones who wanted inclusivity in faith schools in the Coalition agreement, as it is their National policy. They could have made a more serious attempt at holding the government to account.
What are they doing now - are Vince Cable and Nick Clegg going to take it up with Gove ? To start with it would be good if they also sign the letter that Accord, NUT,RISC and other sent to Gove!
Local Tory councillors seem to be absolutely terrified of Lord True and his henchmen possibly with the exception of Scott Naylor who is on the front cover of Friday's RTT outside the High Court for the TRAG judidicial review. I spoke to one Tory councillor who said they were not allowed to raise concerns about the issue at their group meeting and that applies to nearly all issues! I think most of us agree that we are pretty amazed at how feeble the LibDems have been on this issue - apparently unable to see the difference between encouraging the Catholic church to set up a school with its own money and spending local taxpayers' money on a school that is closed to most children and now, apparently, about 5th choice for the average local Catholic family. I don't expect Vince Cable and Nick Clegg will pursue the issue of inclusivity in faith schools.
There are councillors of both parties locally who are governors of CofE and Catholic schools. As Heliview has pointed out, it may be better to engage and debate from the inside, although that may lead to frustration as this Guardian piece illustrates.
I was intrigued to read the Lords debate from 2006 because some of the most passionate supporters of faith schools were Labour and former LibDem Catholics, while Kenneth Baker, a Conservative, tabled an amendment on inclusive admissions. Then again, he criticised Gove on Ebaccs too - perhaps you can only speak your mind when out of office or elections.
- About 35% of the primary school places in Richmond are at voluntary aided schools that include at least some faith-based discrimination in their admissions. That's above the national average of 30%, with Catholic schools -the most discriminatory - the most out of line (13% v 10%). At least one local CofE primary has recently increased its religious quota.
- For secondaries, including St Richard Reynolds, it's 18% (national average is 20%).
- Setting up a new, very discriminatory, secondary is unbelievable. But the existing position is even worse at primary level than at secondary.
- The council may have influence, but it has no control over the admissions policies of existing voluntary aided schools- they're decided by each school's governors. Almost all the funding is from the government, via the council.
- Quite a few Councillors are also governors at these schools.
- None of the Conservative councillors stood up to Lord True. The local LibDems shifted their position to one where they approve of a selective Catholic school in principle, but don't think it should have been given the priority to use the site. There is little sign of them actively pursuing their party's policy, which is for increased inclusivity.
What can be done?
mmptsa I assume you do not live in Twickenham. "Safe" Libdem councillors lost their seats because they pursued policies that ran counter to local feeling on planning issues, and helped deliver Councillor True his victory. The Conservative party won the seats here because they worked really hard to support local people and translate their views into local policies. And now we have two judicial reviews because they totally ignored local needs/ desires /whatever you want to call them, and the policies they implemented as promised. I feel sorry for our Councillors, and Cabinet Members, because every single one I have met has tried their hardest to defend policies they clearly don't believe in and know will lose them their seats. Good for Councillor Naylor standing up for what he stood for in the first place, but his voice has been silenced when it could have made a difference. Lord True hasn't kept his troops united, he has used every means available to him to silence all dissent in his pursuit of his legacy, there's a difference. The "diplomatic process" can be seen on-line, the only chance to turn the ship was the scrutiny committee when the fact that Andy Cole future Governor of St RR refused to declare an interest and Beverley Saunders on behalf of Turing House declared an interest, made the ultimate difference.
The Consultation showed nothing but that Catholics wanted a Catholic School, and could use their organisation to achieve it, no surprise there. The surprise was that so many local people could mobilise themselves to make their feelings felt without the help of an establishment institution, a Head of Education who believed it was their papal duty to deliver Catholic education, and their acolyte Lord True, pulpits and handed out paper forms available to no one else.
An election is going to be different....
Its really sad for people when their elected representatives are made to shut up in Town Hall. I was shocked to see that majority of Councillors from both sides did not utter a word at the OSC and Cabinet meetings on Clifden Road. Being in politics does not mean one should let go their freedom of speech and expression.
It seems political careers are more valued than public service. Remaining silent spectators as Chair of Governors in a faith schools increasing discrimination, only further damages trust and credebility.
The Tories remain arrogant, the Lib Dems do not walk the talk. The absence of a 3rd credible political or independent group is failing to provide reasonable checks and balances in our local political system.
mmptsa, as Heathcliff says, the consultation results were skewed by the way it was conducted - paper forms handed out at church, and letters home to parents at Catholic schools telling them what to do. RISC campaigned solidly for the other side of the argument, but it was always going to be a David versus Goliath battle.
Heathcliff, that scrutiny committee was never going to 'turn the ship' because it has a political and religious bias built into its structure (and can, in any cvase, be ignored by the Cabinet). The co-opted members are independent, but don't get a vote. The councillors on the committee vote as a pack. The two church reps are there specifically to represent the interests of church schools. The parent governors may have some influence, but there are only three of them. If that committee was operating independently, and scrutinising properly, it would have highlighted the risks in the secondary forecasts that subsequently became a linchpin of the council's case, but I believe it voted not to do that.
"it has no control over the admissions policies of existing voluntary aided schools- they're decided by each school's governors. Almost all the funding is from the government, via the council"
As I suggested earlier, if parents at those schools realised that their 'voluntary' contributions (which are often invoiced in a way that makes them feel like an obligation) were upholding the VA status, then some might choose to withhold them. Once the incoming funds dipped below the required threshold the schools would have to convert to VC status. Local councillors would then be able to influence their admissions.
Helliview Totally agree, I just meant the Scrutiny Committee was the only point in the process when I heard any dissent expressed. I do actually think the ship was turned a fraction, not enough to make a difference to the outcome but it will affect the outcome of the election, and hopefully Councillors in future will think a bit more deeply about the views of local people. This was the first time they were mobilised to challenge the Council's educational strategy, a source of stress and dissatisfaction for parents for a very long time.
How much per term is the voluntary contribution if your child is at a church school? Are some cheaper than others or is it a flat fee? I'd imagine that once their children are in the parents are less willing to rock the boat by going on strike as they will be worried that it means blocked toilets that aren't fixed, less books etc?
LP, they pay about £40ish a year, but that goes into a central maintenance fund run by the Diocese. The school then applies for funds when it want to do 'capital' projects like fixing the roof. However, the Diocese only covers 10% of the costs of those projects. The council funds the remainder.
The Diocese only allows schools to take part in that funding scheme if they can raise a minimum contribution each year ... think of it as a sort of insurance scheme where you pay in each year, and then hope to benefit when you need it. The churches are maintained by the same scheme, so a percentage of church donations goes into the pot, which they can then claim from when they need to fix the roof.
Non-capital maintenance like unblocking toilets, and running costs like book-buying are covered by Government funding via the council, just like any other community school.
Unfortunately not many people understand all of that. They think their VA schools are being funded much more significantly by the church, but they're not.
It is a shame that the Scrutiny committee wasn't broadcast on webcam because the Chairman, Gareth Evan's ruthful wince when it was suggested that the Catholic School was the result of politics and networks of influence said it all.
About 35% of the primary school places in Richmond are at voluntary aided schools
ryelrom, that's just the Richmond side of the river but it's more like 40% on the Twickenham side. One interesting local fact is that in the mid-19th century Lord Russell, president of the British and Foreign Schools Society, who lived in Pembroke lodge, gave his support to a couple of new non-denominational schools in Richmond/Ham, one of which bears his name. The organisation was set up to counterbalance the National Society which promoted Anglican schools.
Apologies if ChrisSquire has given this link before but here is a really informative history of schools in England. A few key moments:
1870 - the Act 'could have begun to separate church and state, as was happening in other countries' but with generous government funds for new buildings [about 50%] of cost, within 15 years, the number of CofE schools rose from 6,382 to 11,864, and RC schools from 350 to 892. In the same period, the number of children attending church schools doubled to two million.
1902 - 'The 1870 Act had taken 28 days to debate. The 1902 Act took 59, and most of that time was spent on the religious clauses.
1936 - the raising of the school leaving age caused capacity problems: building grants of 50-75% could be made to church schools 'provided that religious instruction was given in accordance with the LEA's syllabus and that the teachers were employed, appointed and dismissed by the LEA ... as a result, the Church of England submitted proposals for 230 new schools, the Catholic Church for 289.'
1944 - collective worship and religious instruction made compulsory and distinction made between voluntary aided schools (50% of building and maintenance funded by state) and voluntary controlled schools (100%). 1/3 of of the 9,000 CofE schools opted for VA status, and all the RC and Jewish schools.
1959 - 75% of capital costs funded by state
1967 - 80%
1974 - 85%
2001 - 90%
Lottie, for info there was quite a lot of discussion of VA school funding in this part of the thread. There's a fair amount of historical context which goes with the current funding structure.
BayJay, in that earlier thread you calculated that, considering most buildings were acquired and paid for many years ago, churches contribute no more than 0.7% to total costs in their schools.
I've been wondering if the Sir Harold Hood trust will help donate to the one-off refurbishment of St RR. In fact, could it have paid to buy the school outright? It has received some big donations in recent years since Lord True became a trustee - £3.3 million in 2007, £10 million in 2009. I can't see anything about where that money has gone.
The Charity Commission website does of course show income and exenditure for that charity. A few schools are beneficiaries including St Benedict's Ealing, not necessarily large amounts (£000s), about £500K in total per year. The £10 million was property in the deceased Sir Harold Hood's estate (not in Richmond).
The Trust gives away c. half a million a year to these kinds of things:
Churches; Education; Homeless; Hospitals; Leprosy; Missionary; Nursing; Prisoners; Retreat Centre; Schools; Seminary; Vatican; and Youth
via a large number of smallish donations [i.e. below £10,000] which fill nearly 3 pages of their report.
Thanks Chris, didn't mean to imply £500k went to any single beneficiary. And I have no criticism of that charity.
It's just made me wonder how we've got to the point where churches expect buildings to be provided by a council for a school with exclusive admissions. The only reason Education Acts since 1870 have given increasingly generous funding to church schools was to expand provision quickly - it was never about choice because they were near monopoly providers in the first place. At the same time they tried but failed to impose conditions on that funding.
When was the last time a Catholic VA secondary was approved and funded in this way?
"When was the last time a Catholic VA secondary was approved and funded in this way?"
I don't know the answer muminlondon, but the school census data has opening dates so you should be able to get a list of ones opened in the last few years from that.
I did have a look. Not many schools had dates but I'm fairly sure there have been but a handful of brand new Catholic schools since the 1960s, and the vast majority have been amalgamations of older schools or a boys section of an existing girls' school, and one or two ex-independent schools. So there isn't really a precedent. In a way it really does go back to a replacement for St Edward the Confessor.
A quick trawl through the Catholic Herald archive also suggested the original 1944 tripartite system, of grammars and sec mods and the ill-fated technical schools, was a real problem for Catholic schools in terms of size - the comprehensive system suited it better.
My spy in Surrey County Council, speaking from the accepted point of view in most Councils that creating faith schools does not meet need (because they discriminate against the most vulnerable in communities) commented that the most recent case of a "Catholic Zealot" delivering a Catholic School from public funds was in the North West?
If the 1990s then St Helens? Manchester? Since 2000 there have been more recent rebuilds wit cash from Building Schools for the Future and some controversial decisions on amalgamations or closures of comprehensives. Such school reorganisations can affect a whole town.
I think they were talking about something more recent but possibly primary. Anyway generally regarded dimly by Senior Mangers in Councils nationwide.
St Stephen's Primary School [St Margaret?s] which has hitherto (though it is a VA school) had an inclusive admission policy taking most of its intake from Orleans (was Infants now also a Primary) school is proposing to introduce:
. . Six foundation places: These will be allocated to children, one, or both of whose parents are active members who worship regularly at either St Stephens or another local Christian church. If foundation places are oversubscribed places will be allocated firstly to members of St Stephens and then according to geographical proximity . . Regular worship will be defined as church attendance at least twice per month in the past year and should be verified by a letter from a member of the clergy of the specified church. Those applying under the foundation place allocation should also submit a supplementary information form so that Governors may consider their application fully.
. . for this year only Year 3 applications will continue to be processed under a separate system, which continues to give priority to Orleans Primary School pupils.
The church is strongly evangelical with a large affluent youngish congregation. How many are local and wish to use the school, I dont know.
Did a quick search for 'new Catholic primary school' and instead found another story about a Catholic school in an area where demographics have changed (Daily Mail alert!): Birmingham primary school
I'm sure they like their school - but while the issue of ownership of buildings may be a complicated one, it doesn't need to have either a religious denomination or exclusive admissions policy now as clearly all their children are being admitted under criteria 7 and 8. And it certainly explains the overall percentage of 80% non-Catholic in Catholic schools.
Chris, it's only 10%, but a bit like the 'children of staff/governors'/founderse criteria which has been controversial under the Admissions Code. I looked at the other church primaries:
Queens: Distance is priority 6, no limit to foundation places
St Richard's: Distance is priority 6, no limit to foundation places
Archdeacon Cambridge: 70% foundation places within 2.5 km of the school
Bishop Perrin: 18 foundation places (60%)
Holy Trinity: Up to 30 foundation places (50%)
St Marys: 24 foundation places (27%)
St Marys and St Peters: church attendance in particular parishes prioritised over distance
St John the Baptist: link with infant school prioritised over church attendance
St Marys Hampton: no religious priority
All Catholic schools except St RR give priority to Catholics others are last of up to 12 criteria.
Note that the primary schools admissions booklet does not give application and offer numbers, either in general or under the specific criteria. Which the secondary school brochure does, correctly in my opinion. An exclusive admissions criteria in some schools does not automatically make them popular.
Scott Naylor is the local councillor on Governing Board of St Stephen. I would have thought that he is aware of the concerns people have on primary places and foundation places.
Cllr Naylor represents Riverside ward, which is well served by 4 Primary schools: St Marys, Orleans, St Stephens and the Vineyard - and Orleans Park Secondary. His views are strongly and eccentrically conservative - he denounces liberals like me as marxists! - and he probably supports the right of VA schools to use faith criteria.
I think it likely that the children getting the six foundation places at St Stephens would have got in on distance only anyway. My guess is a compromise between what those governors who wished to introduce more foundation places now that St Stephens is no longer linked to Orleans Infants asked for and the wish of other governors that it should remain what it has probably been ever since it was opened in 1896 - a community school open to all.
Interesting local history! Queen's CofE primary started as a 'free school' in 1810 - did that mean not controlled by the church in those days?
No: it meant 'free at the point of consumption'. OED says:
free school, n. . . From the mid-19th cent. onwards, it was sometimes argued that 'free (grammar) school' was a translation of post-classical Latin libera schola (grammaticalis), and that the word liber in this phrase must mean e.g. exempt from ecclesiastical control' rather than 'not charging fees. In fact, in English sources the English phrase seems to antedate the Latin one . . Free schools might indeed charge fees to certain pupils, and in some cases the ideal of free education may have become purely theoretical.
1. A school which provides teaching free of charge. Now chiefly hist.
. . 1500 Deed Found. Lancaster Grammar Sch. in National Observer (1896) 3 Oct. 578 [The master shall be] a profound grammarian, keping a Fre Scole, teching..the childer unto the utmost profitt, nothing taking therefor.
. . 1727 Stat. Bury Gramm. School (1863) , I have ordered my Free Schole of Bury to be free to all boys born in the parish..yet my intent is..not to debar [the masters] from that common priviledg in all Free Scholes of receiving presents, benevolences, gratuities from the scholars . .
2. An independently run school based on the principle that children should be allowed to develop without the restrictions imposed by examinations, authority, and other features of traditional education.
1926 A. S. Neill Probl. Child xvi. 209 The Germans had a free school, rather like King Alfred School, in London. A school with co-education, much freedom, no punishments, no rewards . .
The recent politically charged sense has yet to get into the dictionnary.
"His views are strongly and eccentrically conservative"
Obviously I didn't manage to convince everyone that adversarial politics wasn't the best way to get results . Let's try and keep the personal stuff to a minimum shall we? There's enough of that on the RTT comment threads.
(p.s. My log-in was playing up today, hence the '4' in my username)
Adversarial politics is one thing: personal stuff is another . .
It was adversarial politics that won Cllr Naylor his seat on a 14 % swing, thereby giving Cllr True the power to do what he has done. To ignore or despise that is to cut yourself from what makes the world go round in a liberal democracy. If winning an election didnt give the winner some real power over resources [and thereby other peoples lives] no-one would bother to fight them.
I have no personal antagonism towards him - he beat us fair and square and it remains to be seen whether or not we can beat him in May 2014. That his world view is eccentric is well known to everyone involved in the public life of the borough and is therefore no more than fair comment.
Vince Cables constituency secretary once told me that it was reckoned that Twickenham has more nutters - persons with eccentric world-views - than anywhere else in Britain. I have no idea if this claim is true or nor or even how one might decide. If it is, then Cllr Naylor must be the right man for the job.
"To ignore or despise that"
Chris, I agree it can't be ignored, for the reasons you say. But I like to think of this thread as a relatively safe haven from all that. If local councillors or their supporters feel compelled to wade into the arena to defend reputations or strike back then we could end up with an RTT-style spat that wouldn't reflect well on anyone. So let's try and keep the genie in its bottle.
On that note, peace, goodwill and a happy Christmas to all on Mumsnet! .
Happy new year
Just picked up on this report about £8.6 million cut in central government grants to Richmond council for 2013-14. It's frustrating to see this when the council spent a similar amount on Clifden Road and there was £1 billion overspend on academies conversion nationally. It's important in that context that new and existing schools are successful. There may be cuts to other services unless the council can negotiate some more funding as they have frozen council tax for next year.
What the RTT report actually says is:
Following cuts of £8.6m to general Government grants, Richmond faces further significant cuts in funding over the next two years.
As no details are given it is unclear what this means without further investigation.
I don't want to stir any adversarial conflict but for the sake of clarity
I have had a chance to learn Councillor Naylor's views on the Catholic School in Clifden Road. He is a wholehearted supporter, believing Catholic Schools have a superior record of academic achievement and discipline. He also believes that our other schools will be greatly improved by the imposition of Gove's plans on curriculum, exams etc. (including the devaluing of the Religion and Ethics GCSE ).
Councillor Naylor's Riverside ward has it's border in Clifden Road which for some time now, with Copthall, has been on the borders of several primary school catchments, depending where the bulge classes are. As we have discussed elsewhere it seems likely that we will be moving to a position where the same applies for secondary's (the roads have already moved out of the Waldegrave catchment). Councillor Chappell has shown a great deal more sensitivity towards parental concerns about school places. Councillor Salvoni has been quiet on the subject, possibly because she was reported, earlier in the year, to be moving to Cornwall.....
The RTT reports: Richmond missing a million in free school meals:
. . If children do not claim free meals their school cannot claim extra funding through the pupil premium, which is due to increase from £623 to £900 per pupil from April . . Richmond schools would be eligible to get £3,320,000, but are missing out on an extra £1m because only 3,740 of a potential 5,582 pupils are expected to claim their free meals . .
£1 million is about the size of the borough's annual school sports budget which is a scary thought.
Heathclif, also news over Christmas is the schools adjudicator ruling that the Oratory school is in breach of the admissions code for favouring those doing voluntary work for the church. It discriminates against poorer families with less time for flower arranging etc. So it might have to change and therefore take in more local children (if it abides by the code) rather than Richmond boys. But I don't think Hounslow Catholic schools will be changing their admission policies much for 2014 - so maybe girls will still be looking at Gumley (and Sacred Heart).
Admissions criteria for Teddington, Grey Court, Orleans Park and Waldegrave for 2014 entry published on council website. Consulation closes 11 February 2013.
The main change is that Waldegrave will have additional priority for children of staff (who have been there at least two years) after siblings. There are also admissions criteria for the sixth forms.
I don't think Christ's or RPA have published 2014 admissions criteria yet. TA and HA have documents dated 18 December 2012 which look like they are intended for 2013 entry but they're a bit confusing.
muminlondon Does the admissions code specify there should be distance criteria? If so the LAs like Brighton who have gone for a lottery system are in breach? Oratory have already defied the diocese in refusing to have an admissions code based on distance, so I doubt they will concede that unless they have to. They perceive that in conceding distance criteria they become a "local comprehensive", something the governing body find an anathema to the traditions of the school which has always seen itself as serving the truly devout Catholics of London as a whole. Even if they drop the points earned in the lottery for "service" they can still have a lottery of those who earn the necessary points from church attendance, baptism etc. Of course St RR is not going to use distance criteria either, but random allocation from the qualifying Parishes for those with the necessary reference from the priest. I suspect there will be a significant number of boys from the borough boarding the train for that "difficult journey" to Oratory for the foreseeable future.
School admissions code here. You're right, distance isn't a default assumption - catchment areas can be defined, although not by borough or so as to exclude children from other areas. LAs can't have random allocation, only individual schools, which must be monitored independently. And of course faith-based oversubscription criteria can be used - but they must 'have regard to any guidance from the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination when constructing faith-based oversubscription criteria' (e.g. follow the Diocese's advice).
Oratory, Cardinal Vaughan and Sacred Heart are designated as comprehensives - but they are 'like' grammars. Last year's GCSE entrants were an intake of 70-80% 'high attainers' so double the national average of 33%.
The Admissions Code says admission authorities (i.e. VA schools, academies) must not:
- Introduce any new selection by ability.
- Prioritise practical or financial support parents may give to the school or any associated organisation, including any religious authority [so that's where Oratory breached the Code].
- Take account of reports from previous schools about behaviour, attendance, attitude or achievement.
- Interview parents or children (apart from discussing 6th form options).
And they must:
- Set admission arrangements annually including admission number for each relevant age group'. [So RPA, TA, HA and Christ's should do this by 15 April and if anything changes they must consult for 8 weeks before 1 March of the previous year.]
- Ensure that their arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group [Oratory's currently admission criteria might do this too].
muminlondon I could, but didn't, have added the words "middle class" to "devout Catholics of London as a whole". I think from the perspective of the Oratory they would see any attempts to change their criteria as "left wing social engineering". I think I shared this link before blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100087049/london-oratory-school-restores-traditional-criteria-for-admissions-will-the-left-wing-diocese-try-to-punish-it/ Interesting that there is a perspective that sees the diocese as left wing social engineers whereas from a non Catholic perspective in Richmond, in relation to the admissions policy on St RR one might perceive them as championing the perpetuation of the middle class privilege we see delivered by our Catholic Primary Schools.
As we have discussed just putting the hoop of a priest's reference into the admissions process has been demonstrated to disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group. Something that applies to all exclusive Catholic Schools, not just Oratory. I was talking to someone whose children left St James's over 10 years ago and they said that the school was very socially mixed then, much smaller and not as oversubscribed but it has changed out of all recognition as it's academic reputation became better known and middle class parents duly found ways to get themselves to the head of the queue. It is even understood amongst middle class parents that the reason that Sacred Heart in Teddington has a wider social mix, in spite of relatively little difference in the affluence of the surrounding area, comes down to the basis on which the local priests are prepared to provide a reference.
Well, there's certainly a link between class - or just lack of deprivation - and achievement, as Waldegrave and Teddington have 50% 'high attainers' in their intake and consequently do well on pass rates.
Not really much difference between Oratory and Sacred Heart in intake though - Oratory 2011 GCSE year had 71% 'high attainers' on entry and Sacred Heart had 74%. If you adjust for the gender gap in attainment it would explain why Oratory needed that extra criteria to get the same intake. But it's true, whether it's a priest's reference or points for charity work, they are an extra layer of selection.
Happy New Year everyone!
Muminlondon, it's interesting that local schools are introducing priority for children of staff (the proposed IES free school has a similar policy). That's something that was brought in by the new Admissions Code, and is considered controversial by some.
Here's something else that might be of interest to people. Richmond Council has a new Schools Forum which ".. has a consultative role in relation to the local distribution of school funding and supports the Local Authority on matters relating to school budgets. Members are drawn mainly from local schools and play a critical role in representing the views of schools in the area, including Academies, maintained schools and early education providers." The first meeting took place in November and agreed the forum's constitution. See the link for the minutes.
Kingston have also published their 2014 admissions arrangements. They're planning to start using as-the-crow-flies distance instead of shortest walking route as a distance criteria.
"Richmond Council has a new Schools Forum"
Actually I've realised its not a new forum after all. It just has a new constitution.
With so many different admissions authorities/policies the schools adjudicator might get more work to do. One of the biggest problems is schools failing to publish their (updated) criteria on the website. And that means complaints can't be made according to deadline.
TA and HA admission pages here - admission year not clear in my opinion.
I've found 2014/15 consultation on admissions criteria for RPA.
Don't know about Christ's - but did you know they have a new house system with Elizabeth, Attenborough, Dickens and Turing House?!
"did you know they have a new house system with Elizabeth, Attenborough, Dickens and Turing House?"
I didn't; but good for them! More detail from page 10 in this newsletter.
MuninLondon: where do the %s of 'high attainers' come from?
If you go to the archived 2011 performance tables, select 'secondary' and search on e.g. local authority or by school name. The 'KS4 2011 results' tab should already be selected, but select the subheading 'Cohort information' and then sub-sub head 'Cohort information II'.
Or click on the school link and it's under the heading '2011 KS4 Performance Tables - Cohort information'.
The 2012 results will be published later in the month - primaries are already published and you can see 2011 results for many secondaries but there's some odd stuff going on with double entries with convertor academies and lack of info for the newer listing. The London Oratory's results don't come up on that database, but the archived database has the old VA listing.
Thanks for this most interesting link, from which comes:
KS4 2011 Results:
Percentage of high attainers, in descending order:
Teddington : 43%
Orleans Park : 35%
Christ's : 31%
Hampton : 31%
Grey Court : 30%
Richmond Park : 21%
Twickenham : 17%
Percentage of Disadvantaged pupils, in descending order:
Richmond Park 29%
Grey Court 22%
Orleans Park 14%
Also Gumley 48% High attainers, 10% disadvantaged
It's worth bearing in mind two things: (1) cohort and results reflects applications from 5 years ago - a school can evolve in that time, and (2) it's a useful context to see average GCSE grades and Ebacc rates just for 'top sets' (progress after prior attainment - see under KS4 results, 'average score per qualification' and 'english baccalaureate' broken down by ability band).
The smaller the school and/or top set, the harder it is provide separate classes for 'top sets' in all subjects. But on that basis Orleans Park and Grey Court have done particularly well and I wouldn't be surprised by even better 2012 results.
Top attainers: ave grade GCSE (% Ebacc)*
Orleans = A- (74%) (see Gumley below)
Waldegrave = A- (65%)
Teddington = B+ (57%)
Grey Court = B+ (49%)
Christ's = B (34%)
TA = B- (43%)
HA = B- (40%)
RPA = C+ (14%)
Gumley A- (74%)
Are free schools working?From Mandarin classes in Kent to meditation in Lancashire, free schools are the biggest experiment in education, but are they any good and who's paying? is a feature by John Harris for the Guardian; it ends:
. . Codling adds. "When we looked into the whole free school thing, it was clear you could do something radical with it go down the grammar school route, or become a trumpet-playing specialist school, or teach Latin. But we wanted to use that initiative to do something quite old-fashioned and unexciting. We just wanted to be a local community school, with a strong academic bias and strong pastoral care."
Not for the first time, I'm struck by a thought that might cause Gove a pang of disquiet: factor out what Whitehall would call its governance, and this is essentially a comprehensive school, isn't it?
"Yes," Codling says. "I'd say that it is."
A bit more context on 'top attainers'.
B is the average/median GCSE grade of high prior attainment (those who left primary at level 5 in English and Maths in London comprehensives) - about three quarters of those schools average B- to B+.
'Middle attainers' average C/D borderline and only 7% nationally are passing all Ebacc subjects.
Other Hounslow schools - proportion of high attainers:
Heathland 31% (16% disadvantaged - all pupils)
Gunnersbury 32% (20%)
St Mark's 54% (6%)
High attainers average GCSE (% achieving Ebacc):
Heathland B+ (56%)
Gunnersbury B+ (65%)
St Mark's B+ (58%)
Chris - thanks for posting that Guardian piece, which I thought was well balanced. Its good to see commentators waking up to the idea that, despite their freedoms, free schools don't necessarily have to be very different to traditional community schools in anything but governance (good thing too, since its now the only way of creating new community schools). I've no idea whether that thought would cause Gove disquiet or not but I think many school leaders would be comforted by it.
To me, 'mainstream' implies maximum flexibility - for all ability levels. Following best practice, trying new ideas but not being tied to any methodology where it doesn't deliver (phonics is an example - good idea, but so was ITA in the 1970s - not necessarily a silver bullet).
Just wondering BayJay - if Twickenham Academy had continued to be LA maintained but with the sort of rebuild budget Teddington had benefited from, could it have attracted the same level of support as the Turing House proposal at this stage? Would it have been easier for parents' wishes to be heard? Does it depend on the headteacher, whatever the governance structure?
"if Twickenham Academy had continued to be LA maintained but with the sort of rebuild budget Teddington had benefited from..."
I don't know what the outcome would have been, but interestingly Whitton School was shortlisted along with Teddington for chance of a rebuild under the BSF programme. If the decision had gone the other way then the educational landscape would probably now be different ... but it's impossible to say whether it would be better.
I'm not sure if they've been posted before, but for info here are the consultation responses to the closure of Whitton school and its replacement by Twickenham Academy.
I find those consultation responses very sad - only 20 responses, half from parents who, if they did approve (and most didn't), expressed some regret that it was the only option on the table. Meanwhile the councillors gave pat responses and the church diocese more or less replied 'we don't really care either way'. If the link policy had been abolished earlier, perhaps more parents would have taken note and got involved. But I feel that was manipulated by various parties too.
I do admire your positive and proactive approach - the free school route is a real opportunity.
"the free school route is a real opportunity"
Thanks. Hopefully we'll make the most of it.
I did find it interesting to see one of those responses suggesting TA adopted a science specialism. That's something I've suggested in the past too as TA's science results have always been particularly strong, and I think that as a core academic (and Ebacc) subject it would have balanced well with its existing sports and technology specialisms.
Of course schools no longer automatically receive extra Government funding to develop specialisms, so there's no financial incentive to adopt extra ones, but they're still significant as something that gives a distinctive flavour to a school and a focus for enrichment activities.
As a matter of interest, a few months ago my DH did a little bit of research into the prevalence of Science specialist schools in London, and he's been nagging me to post it to Mumsnet ever since, so now seems like as good a time as any. There are 49 of them, of which only 28 are community schools (the others are Voluntary Aided). There are 4 London Boroughs that don't have any Science specialist schools at all. Twickenham children can currently access a science specialism at Waldegrave (obviously girls only) or, if they're Catholic, possibly at Gunnersbury or St Marks.
Of course, if Turing House is established, it will provide an extra option.
Grey Court has a science specialism of course - but unless you live virtually in Kingston it's too far. Music is attractive and complements science well (thinking of Brian Cox and Brian May ...). I like your admissions policy too -very straightforward.
Yes, Grey Court has one but, as you say, isn't really accessible to children on the Middlesex side of the Borough.
Having a science specialism makes schools more attractive to specialist science teachers, who are sadly in short supply (I've been told there are only 6 physicists teaching in the borough). If I was a newly qualified physics teacher (perhaps emerging from St Mary's University's new Applied Physics course that they're developing with NPL) I would be attracted to a science specialist school ahead of others.
Chris Cook (FT) on the performance of academy school chains:
. . it appears that among the multi-school academy chains, Ark is the best. And some, if you look, are struggling. To be clear: these chains mostly took over failing schools to begin with. But some have really struggled to turn them around. . .
. . This measure also highlights the M25 divide: the best non-London borough is the Wirral on 2.0 behind 19 of the London boroughs. We will come back to this, publishing all of it in full when the the full, corrected 2012 results are available.
I find this interesting:
'the best performing secondary school chain, when you include all comers, is actually Westminster Council. It scores 4.1 on the adjusted measure. But its reign may be fleeting: some of these schools have become converter academies. Other high performers include Islington and Hackney.'
Those LAs are, along with Tower Hamlets, areas of greatest deprivation in terms of FSM in the country (e.g. 40-50%) and yet have seen some fantastic progress in the last few years. They have had lots of money and support from the London and City Challenge programmes - just shows what can be achieved if there is a concerted effort and political will.
Some provisional 2012 figures (see e.g. Table 5a) show a 15% difference between pass rate figures for 'GCSEs only' and 'GCSEs plus equivalents' for sponsored academies. While I'd rather see children passing BTECs than with nothing at all, that's twice the average for LA maintained schools. And in a couple of years a whole list of equivalents will be phased out, and after the election the new Gove/Ebacc exams may come in.
They also had their advert (used in this borough) criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for being misleading. It implied they already had outstanding from Ofsted when in fact this was awarded to a school in Lancashire. Of course achieving that in one school doesn't mean they could get it again
Sorry - didn't realise I was on the first page of this thread - that referred to the Maharishi free school and you have moved way beyond that subject now
Hi Nelsonelson, was looking for a link to those Standards Authority complaints about the Maharishi school in Lancashire but there was no formal ruling as the complaints were settled informally. I've found a BBC article on it failing to enter primary pupils for SATs as well as for two rulings (July 2012 and August 2012) by the Schools Adjudicator.
The Guardian reports: Academy schools use covert selection to skew intake, report finds:
Holding social events for prospective parents or issuing lengthy admission forms [are] among practices used to manipulate entry, claims . . The report . . from the self-styled Academies Commission, which broadly backs the "aspirational vision" of academies and has links to the programme . . It says it has received numerous submissions suggesting that "academies are finding methods to select covertly", such as holding social events for prospective parents or asking them to fill in lengthy forms when applying for a place:
Such practices can enable schools to select pupils from more privileged families where parents have the requisite cultural capital to complete the [form] in ways that will increase their child's chances . . there is a risk that admissions 'game playing' may be extended further.
. . The study, led by Ofsted's former chief inspector Christine Gilbert, says chairs of governors should be selected openly. Often . . existing governors stayed in place in converter academies and struggled to adapt to their expanded role:
We were concerned by the number of governors who told us themselves they didn't fully understand their new responsibilities and they didn't feel equipped to lead the process of academisation as was envisaged. I was surprised that that point was made so strongly by governors themselves.
A key government argument for academies is that removing local authority control brings schools closer to their community. This, however, does not always happen, Gilbert warned:
It's not automatic. Some are doing it very well, others are not. We heard many tales where parents felt they were no longer able to have their voice heard. This really has to be worked at.
. . A DfE spokesman said: The report rightly acknowledges the overwhelming success of the expanding academies programme in driving up standards for hundreds of thousands more pupils . .
Academies Commission Report: Unleashing Greatness: Getting the best from an academised system
Chris I was particularly interested in the suggestion that Ofsted approval of leadership should only be given if that leadership extended beyond the school into enabling improvement in the system as a whole. In a borough where we have such a disparity in demand for schools serving communities that are in fact very similar demographically that might be a tool for ensuring all the schools understood, and met, the needs of their local communities?
Richmond Adult Community College to stay on-site reports the RTT:
. . A council spokesman said: We hope to commence work on the Clifden site at the end of March to begin the first phase on the eastern side to provide sufficient accommodation for the first intake of reception children and year 7 children in September 2013. . . the school and RACC will share the divided site for 12 months, until the Parkshot site is completed by September 2014. . .
The Academies report also points to a specific free school's admissions policy (Canary Wharf College). It only has ONE pupil eligible for free school meals in borough with 50% in total! Not only does it have a 'faith' priority (no faith school designation, just a faith 'ethos'), but it also has priority for founders of the school. The report criticises:
- lack of information and transparency at the DfE on variation from the admissions code in funding agreements
- no set limit on numbers or time limit for 'founders' criteria
'Such an approach fails to be transparent and engender trust.'
The IES free school proposal in Teddington has a founders priority. As a company backed by a private equity firm which has advertised directly to parents, it needs a charitable trust to set up the school - are the founders the first parents who sign up or company employees nominated as trustees, and how many are there?
Apologies, IES have priority for children of staff not of founders. Thomson House has priority for 'children of staff/founders'.
Oh, and a special mention in the report for Education Richmond, an initiative between our local schools for professional development and sharing good practice, including the heads of Waldegrave, Grey Court, The Vineyard and Richmond Park Academy to name a few.
It might be interesting to see what effect staff priority policies have on the demand for jobs as lunchtime supervisors etc. In the policies I've seen that are introducing it there's been no distinction between teaching and non-teaching staff, full or part-time, though there tends to be a minimum length of service (2 years in the case of Waldegrave's proposed policy), and they have to be directly employed by the school rather than agency staff.
Sunbury Manor's staff-priority admissions policy waives the 2-year minimum service for posts where there is a skills shortage (another good way to attract physics teachers I suppose!). Plus they're also prioritising children who are eligible for the Pupil Premium (i.e. on Free School Meals).
For info, just posting this link for the primary allocation maps for Richmond Borough's oversubscribed primaries.
p.s. It's worth emphasising that those maps only show first preference admissions. If we still had a first-preference-priority admissions system then they would give a reasonable guide to catchment, but we don't, so I'm not sure how helpful they would be if, for example, you lived in Central Twickenham and wanted a guide to your chances of getting in Trafalgar. A map of all the distance admissions would be needed, not just those for first-preference applicants.
BayJay, this Economist blog was very critical of the reintroduction of 'children of staff' as a priority:
It will help schools with high standards but do nothing to boost the low-ranking schools that are most in need of improvement. ... When it was last allowed, it led to game-playing: there were reports that some mothers took jobs as dinner ladies purely to smooth their child's path into a sought-after school. And it places teachers in the unenviable position of having to chose between what is right for their careers and what is right for their children.
Muminlondon, yes, I think its a policy that doesn't help to narrow the gap between high and low performing state schools.
However, in its defence, it does help to narrow the gap between medium-to-high performing state schools and private schools. Many private schools give substantial fee discounts to their own teaching staff, which draws teachers away from the state sector.
There's also an argument for giving teachers a few perks ... they certainly work hard for it. In the vast majority of cases the perk will be used to improved their work-life-balance and family relationships, rather than gain access to a better school.
However it perhaps becomes more of a grey area for support staff.
"it perhaps becomes more of a grey area for support staff"
... who of course also work very hard, make a valuable contribution, and often have very sought-after skill-sets. I imagine schools that introduce the policy start by trying decide where, if anywhere, to draw the line between teaching and non-teaching, full and part time etc, and eventually decide that trying to draw the line anywhere will be divisive.
Over the long term it will make teaching (and related roles) generally more attractive, which has to be a good thing. If that leads to an increase in high quality educators generally, then it could compensate for a short-term polarisation between schools.
I think it is a problem when it is additional to a priority category that already selects its pupils, e.g. a religious criterion. It was part of Queen's primary admissions criteria until 2004 or so. It's also satirised in John O'Farrell's highly entertaining novel on middle class school neurosis May Contain Nuts.
Interesting that Mossbourne Academy has this priority - but then it also has strict banding tests to ensure a comprehensive ability intake and random allocation, both of which are very fair in admissions terms. So I think it's only fair on those terms.
muminlondon Interestingly my old school, the former direct grant grammar turned independent turned Free School, is also using banding tests to ensure a comprehensive intake but my cousins tell me just the existence of testing is putting off families from deprived areas. The intake looks like coming primarily from families where the parents are motivated to seek out a good education. Any sort of hoop can lead to skewing, even if it is there to avoid it. Schools need to go out of their way to facilitate and encourage applications from vulnerable families.
That's an interesting point. It's occurred to me that RPA is affected by Wandsworth where there is a banding test with a small degree of selection in some schools. Only one or two schools are left with a simple distance criteria and they have done less well. I think RPA has also taken a lot of Wandsworth pupils who perhaps are put off by the hoops or don't understand it. It's all self-reinforcing - Richmond has perhaps suffered from Wandsworth's policies.
KINGSTON RSS FEED
Gove "very supportive" on Kingston secondary school funding:
. . Kingston Council is waiting to see if it will be successful in a bid for more than £20m to fund a new free school. Mr Gove made the comment this morning on a tour of Coombe Girls' School . . [he] was joined by . . director of childrens services Nick Whitfield . . Headteacher Deborah Walls said:
I am extremely proud of this school and all the wonderful things that happen here. He said that there were things from this school that he would want replicated such as the number of girls studying physics in the sixth form and the teaching of music.
"just the existence of testing is putting off families from deprived areas"
One way to mitigate that would be to base the bands on national or local averages, rather than on the cohort taking the test. And of course to do lots of outreach to communities that are under-represented.
In fact, Mossbourne's admissions policy says "The boundaries of each band reflect the national range of abilities", so unless some of their bands are undersubscribed, it sounds like they're doing what they can to make sure of a mixed intake.
Mossbourne is so successful that it is also the subject of appeals - especially for special needs cases. The headline is worrying but the detail suggests it already takes a good proportion of SEN pupils and does a great deal to raise attainment generally. Random allocation is pretty fair too. But then it was important for this school to be so successful that pupils are clamouring to get in despite the lack of certainty.
Chiswick School?s response to current educational changes - some powerful words from the Head.
Powerful and worthy of applause. New and impressive Head at Kingston Grammar has made similar comments (but on parent area of website)
News that funding will be cut for science a-levels. That may affect our schools planning sixth forms where they already have fewer resources for science teaching.
RPA is affected by Wandsworth where there is a banding test
I think RPA attracts Wandsworth kids for positive reasons rather than they are put off by the banding system. RPA is highly regarded by many and is also much greener with open space and playing fields on site. Many Wandsworth schools don't benefit from this. It is also very close to the Wandsworth border.
Maybe the schools with banding tests are too far away to be considered competitors. Elliott (Ark Putney) must be the nearest and it has distance as its main criteria. Elliott's results were much better last year including Ebacc. It will be interesting to compare 2012's results now that RPA appears to have caught up because they must have similar intakes and are now both sponsored academies.
Guardian Jan 15: Free schools: government ordered to publish list of bids:
Michael Gove must reveal the names, location and religious affiliation, if any, of all those organisations that apply to join the government's free schools programme, a tribunal has ruled. It rejected an attempt by the education secretary to limit any information only to successful applicants, saying that the programme, which establishes state-funded schools free of local authority control, involved substantial public funds and significant changes to the way the education service in England was controlled, managed and delivered. The transparency of the process and its openness to public debate were "of concern to communities" across the country, the tribunal ruled.
. . Humanists had wanted the names, locations and religions of all groups that applied to run free schools in 2011 and 2012 currently, they said, this is only known for the 79 schools already opened.
The DfE argued opposition would deter potential applicants and also might deter unsuccessful ones from applying again because of "negative" media attention. Faith schools might be particularly affected by campaigning by the BHA before they had the support of ministers, it said. The department cited a survey by the New Schools Network, which helps schools prepare for "free school" status. This suggested giving public information on unsuccessful applicants would have made nearly half of them less likely to apply or reapply for such status. "Premature" public knowledge could "disrupt the conduct of public affairs" and hurt the free schools programme, said the department. The tribunal said the survey on which the government chose to rely for its evidence was "poor" and biased.
Richy Thompson, faith schools campaigner for the BHA, said it was "vitally important, especially where such substantial sums of their money is involved, that the public is able to have its say in the decisions as to which proposals merit funding. Up to now this has been impossible for free schools, whose proposals are not revealed until the government has decided whether to support their opening."
"Michael Gove must reveal .... all those organisations that apply to join the government's free schools programme"
It's quite hard to see how free school groups could be under the radar anyway, given that the application process involves demonstrating demand, which generally involves some kind of advertising of the proposal.
The BHA did put together a list of groups last year, presumably just from web-trawling and gathering information from people about what was happening in their local area, but never knew if it was complete or whether the groups on their list actually did submit an application.
How well do children perform in England?s boroughs?
Chris Cook writes in FT Data, Jan 16: [Here is] some data that will help explore how well do children do at a borough level. I have worked out the FT score for each child (a score based on their performance in English, maths and three other GCSEs). I then ran a regression through the data, which predicts performance based on background and by local area . . the objective is to get a steer on how levels of attainment vary in different boroughs for an individual child of similar social circumstances . .
The principle here is that the score tells you where schools seem to be under-performing, for whatever reason, relative to similar children elsewhere . . In this case, I am comparing every school with Birmingham. The table tells us, for example that children in Camden (score = 4.1) beat children of a similar social background in Birmingham by four GCSE points on the FT score. That means they would do better by one grade in four GCSEs.
The 4 worst performing London boroughs are:
Richmond upon Thames 0.0
The 6 best performing London boroughs are:
Tower Hamlets 4.3
Hammersmith and Fulham 4.5
The average London score = 2.1; Kingston = 1.0 and Hounslow = 1.9.
Richmond borough is trailing badly vis-a-vis the London average. Why should that be, I wonder?
"Why should that be, I wonder?"
Hi Chris - I've only looked at it briefly so can't be sure, but I suspect it will be something to do with a combination of:
a) an anomalously high number of local children transfer to private schools at secondary level,
b) some schools close to the borough borders have intakes that differ significantly in socio-economic terms from the area they're located in.
The model excludes children at private schools, and (if I've interpreted it correctly) assumes that children go to school in the same MSOA that they live in.
Just to illustrate that with an example, according to its IDACI ranking, RPA is in one of the least deprived areas of the country, and its results will have been compared with areas that have similar IDACI rankings.
However, neighbouring Roehampton, where some of RPA's pupils presumably come from, has a much lower IDACI ranking (1077 for random local postcode SW14 8RG, compared to 30137 for RPA's postcode).
(The SOA with a rank of 1 is the most deprived, and 32482 the least deprived).
BayJay2: thanks for making this point: I have emailed the author, Chris Cook, asking him to clarify his method, which is only described informally in earlier posts:
Benchmarking school systems [Nov 05]
' . . I fit a simple line through all the pupils school results in the country after asking it to account for the childrens ethnicity, poverty and prior test results . . '
Londons big lead and social mobility [Aug 05] (FT score)
' . . I fed each childs region, special needs, ethnicity, neighbourhood poverty, mother tongue and free school meal eligibility . . '
The social mobility challenge for school reformers [Feb 22]
' . . We standardised the lot, then divided them up by the poverty of their neighbourhoods . . '
Note that Roehampton should be described as having a much higher ranking as the top rank = 1 and the bottom rank = 32482. Small number = high rank = poverty.
Camden, Newham, Tower Hamlets didn't have any sponsored academies with results in 2011, (Hammersmith just one, but their community schools showed massive improvements (e.g. up to 35%) compared with three years previously. Elsewhere academy improvement results are mixed - good and bad.
GCSE results without 'Equivalents' were given in 2011 - they clearly have bumped up pass rates for all types. But WITHOUT equivalents the lowest GCSE pass rates (5A-C inc E&M) for schools in Camden and Tower Hamlets were 45%. Contrast with Richmond schools:
2012 results should show if real progress has been made.
Sorry, just to correct one figure there:
Camden state school with lowest 2011 5 A-C inc EM GCSEs excl. equivalents was 43%. Profile:
18% 'high' attainers, 59% English not first language, Disadvantaged 44%
Tower Hamlets state school with lowest 2011 GCSE score excl. equivalents 45%. Profile:
15% 'high' attainers, 70% English not first language, Disadvantaged 66%.
RPA 39%. Profile:
21% 'high' attainers, 31% English not first language, Disadvantaged 29%
TA 36%. Profile:
17% 'high' attainers, 24% English not first language, Disadvantaged 15%
I'm not suggesting RPA and TA are especially appalling schools compared with most with that sort of intake but HATS OFF to those other schools/LAs with a similarly level of prior attainment but twice as much poverty and potential language barriers. Chris asked this question:
Richmond borough is trailing badly vis-a-vis the London average. Why should that be, I wonder? How about:
1. Many inner London boroughs have participated in the City Challenge programme for the last few years - lots of highly targeted, specialist and management support, lots of additional funding, lots of cooperation between schools in a local area. Did Richmond get any of it? I think we are a low funded borough without the same scale of inner city problems.
2. The fact that those inner city schools have high numbers of pupils with English as a second language does make me wonder whether the 'low/high' attainers percentages can be accurate. Fewer in those areas are being creamed off to private sector too. Perhaps it's language skills holding them back at primary school and that skews the attainment figures.
3. Perhaps there is also a margin of error in the assessment of Richmond pupils with their level 6 SATs results. I have heard secondary school heads say that on retesting in Y7 about 10% are assessed to be at a lower level than their SATs results. It's to primary schools' advantage that results are high. It's to secondary schools' advantage that they can manage expectations.
4. We don't know anything about family backgrounds but perhaps in Tower Hamlets there are many from immigrant communities with a strong sense of aspiration and self-discipline irrespective of the level of poverty. Studies keep showing how poor white boys generally underperform.
The Richmond academies have changed dramatically from their predecessor schools so I am not sure of the value in dwelling on these 2011 results - 2012 will show a very different picture. These 2011 results reflect the outcomes for students who had most of their schooling pre the launch of the academies. The new systems/approaches which were brought in with the academies started to have much greater impact on outcomes in 2012 because the students have had longer within the academy.
The 2011 results were the first to show the proportion of GCSE 'equivalents' as well as results for those with different levels of prior attainment so will be a useful comparison. Provisional results here on p.9. Full 2012 results come out on 24 January.
Meanwhile Michael Gove TES considers even GCSEs without equivalents to be inferior and apart from the new EBCs is offering only a
sticker certificate of achievement (although his own science education appears to lack rigour). The TES asks whether the new EBCs will be Michael Gove's poll tax.
Well those provisional results illustrate the point that 2012 results are significantly different. RPA pushed up their 5 A* to C with EM by 18 points when the borough average dropped by 1 point (presumably due to the English GCSE grade boundary change.
Yes, RPA is the only sponsored academy to have such a significant rise in GCSE results. But the relatively low Ebacc score of 8% hasn't changed much for three years so I think there may be a lot of equivalents. Chris Squires pointed out an FT blog earlier that demonstrated how AET made most use of equivalents out of all the chains (considered to be 'gaming the system'), and the 2011 results for other schools showed a 10-20% drop when they were removed. It rang alarm bells. I don't want prejudge RPA unfairly though, as it didn't make much use of them last year. There are lots of other measures in the full table which help show where progress is being made.
The problem with the Ebac is that is was introduced retrospectively. So the students taking GCSE's in 2011 and 2012 (in any school) did not know of its existence when selecting options. Generally students were encouraged to select a range of subjects but particularly ones where they enjoyed the subject and performed well.
From 2013 onwards, students have made selections knowing about Ebacc. This should push up the proportions. I think RPA fell down due to lower uptake of languages; they are very strong in humanities. Apparently their uptake of Spanish in particular rose significantly for the cohort this year. Of course the subject which suffer will be the arts. And that is another subject entirely.
I think the number entered for two sciences was also lower than average in 2011. But that could be because they don't have the lab space yet. I appreciate the rebuild is still going on in all the academies and it is challenging for staff and pupils alike.
Am confused about all the concerns in the media about arts suffering with the Ebacc introduction. Isn't it only related to 6 GCSE subjects, so presumably students can still select additional arts subjects, don't many take more than six GCSEs?
English Baccalaureate actually mean two different things. At the moment 'Ebacc' in the league tables means pupils who have passed GCSEs in Maths, English (which usually means Lang and Lit), a foreign language, history or geography and two sciences. This was Gove's quick and simplistic way of imposing a GCSE subject curriculum on all schools. So that's 6-7 GCSEs and already a lot of schools are finding it difficult to timetable art, music, drama, design technology subjects, engineering, computing, or there is increasingly less choice.
But Gove wants to go further. He has suggested GCSEs are broken and need to be replaced with new harder exams from 2015 just in the core subjects above with no coursework assessment, only three hour exams at the end and possibly a return to norm referencing where only 10% can pass irrespective of the cohort. He also wants to limit exam boards to one board per subject. This is before the curriculum itself has been decided so some say it's cart before horse, and by downgrading GCSEs (it's unclear even whether they will be abolished) he is giving a signal that art, drama, engineering etc. has a lesser value. He's said that the alternative to passing the Ebacc suite is a 'certificate of achievement'.
See the debate in parliament on 16 Jan (scroll down to 'Examinations reform'. Even Conservatives are questioning why GCSEs can't just be reformed, whether harder exams will demotivate considering only 50% now pass 5 GCSEs inc English and Maths and he wants to limit that further, whether the right skills can be taught and assessed in three hour exams. During the debate David Laws popped out to meet someone and Michael Gove was looking at his phone.
twix45 In addition to what muminlondon has said part of Goves justification for his changes is that he is introducing the rigour of the private sector and which unis are asking for. My daughters went to a very academic private school, actually one is now at another. The focus in the private sector is on a minimum of compulsory GCSEs generally Maths, English Lang and Lit, double or triple Science and a language , precisely so that there is the flexibility for pupils to focus on their talents and interests. Most also set a limit of 10 as a balance between demonstrating academic ability and doing as well as possible in each subject. It can be a struggle to fit everything in if a student wants to do drama, music (which is actually a very tough GCSE) and art which are talents equally valued in the private sector quite a few will sacrifice a humanity because they want to focus on those talents, not least because they can lead to university studies and careers in a thriving part of our economy. Religion and ethics is given also given equal weight to other humanities especially as it leads on to the popular philosophy courses at A level and uni. I an an academic at a uni specialising in area studies and it is a seen as a valuable Gcse for applicants to have studied.
Indeed the Russell group of unis and private school heads are questioning the speed and radical nature of the changes and pleading for some stability, change was needed but it is agreed that the current system could be improved and made more rigorous without throwing the baby out with the bath water. His proposals on the History curriculum are particularly coming in for almost universal criticism.
Nelsonelson was right to point out that there may be good reasons why Ebacc scores are low for the sponsored academies. But now some of our schools' specialisms no longer have equal weight or count towards the Ebacc, so are already at a disadvantage even if they do amazing things in motivating pupils, developing confidence, creativity and communication skills, or technical project planning expertise, business innovation, etc. Compare:
Hampton - the arts
RPA - English and business with Maths and ICT
Twickenham Academy - Digital Technology and sport
Teddington - Visual arts
Christ's - Humanities
Grey Court - Science, computing and maths
Orleans Park - Maths, computing and language
Waldegrave - science
Jonathan Ive, the iMac and iPod designer, is just one in a whole list of critics. And much of the criticism of GCSEs has already been addressed or could be reviewed gradually, e.g. equivalents in league tables, resits, balance of coursework and exams in English and Maths, etc. They're not broken at all.
Goves other other justification for changes is that we are falling behind International standards. Asian and in particular Singapore's system is one he holds up as a model, and yet, rather like the work of our greatest Scientists (is a similar ignorance of Darwin to blame for the apparent tolerance of creationism in free school proposals?), he seems to have completely missed the controversy that is raging in Singapore over their government's failure to achieve it's aim to ensure it's education system fostered the skills of creatiivity and innovation that are seen as essential to it's future as a world economy. Some (rather dry) background here www.apecknowledgebank.org/resources/downloads/singaporecurriculumreformcreativity.pdf
In fact they are looking to America to provide the education models that will deliver that aim.
Thank you, all very comprehensive explanations! I do find the English system so confusing despite having a child doing GCSEs (He is finding Music one of the hardest). I had a continental European education where we chose the type of college we wanted at 14 and then studied all subjects to 18 - seems simpler to me as what I am used to!
Michael Gove is always quoting international studies like PISA to prove we are behind other countries. But the UK is, according to a Pearson study, sixth in the world and ahead of the US, Germany, France, Canada, etc.
As for ditching tests at 16 altogether and having different school pathways of equal value for 14-18 year-olds, that is what Conservative ex-education minister Kenneth Baker (who brought in GCSEs) is proposing in his new book. And Labour have started talking about a technical baccalaureate too. Successful education reform will only work with consensus. As parents we need to understand and be reassured that our children will not be left out. But in my view Gove is very elitist and divisive, not a consensus builder.
The model I was brought up in was certainly not perfect, very classroom based without all the practical resources here eg science labs, but it was very egalitarian in the sense that going to technical or teacher training college was not looked down on or seen as a lesser qualification, so a technical baccalaureate might be a good idea. It is worrying though that our kids seem to be constantly used as guinea pigs, my youngest will be one of the first to take the new exam if it's introduced - just as I am beginning to understand GCSEs!
I think you've defined the problem here - the headline on this Telegraph article on Labour's technical baccalaureate implies it's for those who wouldn't otherwise pass Gove's new EBCs, rather than an equal alternative (and one taken a different stage). Meanwhile Lord Baker's vision would require a structural reform/redesignation of schools and I can't see how it can be planned or accepted by individual schools. A technical baccalaureate could be a fair alternative if it can be offered in all or the majority of schools but that assumes sixth forms and large size for economy of scale.
In the end Labour will probably abandon Gove's plan but not before he has undermined confidence in GCSEs - wilfully and unnecessarily in my view.
This is very confusing for us parents who are nothing to do with education! Does the current AS level not have any standalone value?
Another very interesting article from Lord Baker www.independent.co.uk/img/rO0ABXQAb2Z7aHR0cDovL3d3dy5pbmRlcGVuZGVudC5jby51ay9pbmNvbWluZy9hcnRpY2xlODQ2Mzg1OS5lY2UvQUxURVJOQVRFUy93NjIwL3BnLTQ2LWVkdS1tYWluLTEtdGVyaS5qcGd9Zjc3NzdmMzIwdA==.jpg . If only he were in charge rather than Gove!
Lottie With daughters having gone/going through A levels I would say there were advantages and disadvantages to AS levels. The disadvantages were that:
*there are three years of relentless exam taking, especially hard if you are moving to a new school / college at 16 and are thrown straight into two terms of covering the syllabus at a fast pace followed by exams, one term if you are taking modular A levels. Latymer and Oratory have already done away with sitting any exams at 17, they sit AS and A2 at 18 on the basis it gives them a third term of teaching in Year 12, as well as takes the pressure off and turns Year 12 back into a year where there is more room for achieving other things beyond the exam curriculum, both academic and extra curricular. Of course it puts the pressure back on at A2 and my daughter said she would not have wanted to do them all at once just because of the sheer workload, but then she did all 4 through to A2.
*I gather research shows boys do seem to do worse by taking AS levels so hot on the heels of GCSEs, especially if they are modular, and a lot under perform. I would say from my daughters peers that frankly it is because they are less mature, though there may be other sound psychological reasons why this might be.
*They can encourage a resit culture, students thinking if they don't do well this time, there is a chance to change it.
* The reason they were first introduced was to widen post 16 curriculum, to have something of the breadth of the IB. In the rest of the world the UK system is seen as narrow, specialising early. It gives students a chance to do a fourth discipline, sometimes something quite different to their main specialism. For instance I think it is quite favourably looked on if a would be medic has studied a humanity or other non Science subject, shows they are rounded. It can also give an academic student a chance to enjoy a talent e.g art, theatre studies. I don't know if Gove plans to have some means of a student doing a half subject or whatever, the Labour party are talking about taking Maths to 18 for instance.
*It gives students a chance to road test four subjects before dropping one, my daughter looks like dropping the subject she most wanted to do at A level, and possibly uni, because it turns out not to be what she thought and it also turns out she is actually doing much better at A level at her other subjects than she did at GCSE.
*It gives students evidence of achievement to offer to universities in their applications to back up predicted grades. Universities do not want to see the demise of ASs for that reason.
* They can act as a kick up the back side for the lazy, room for making mistakes and learning lessons, because they can resit with A2.
I have mixed feelings about what Gove is proposing, it doesn't seem as if it will be as disastrous as what he is proposing at GCSE, and it rather depends on what emerges in terms of the curriculum, workload and implementation plan. I think putting the curriculum in the hands of universities might be a good thing, providing they get the necessary resource, in terms of protecting it from political meddling, the old universities joint matriculation boards did seem to make for a more stable playing field. From the point of view of (an element of) my specialism, at least putting the History curriculum in the hands of universities should proof it from the sort of changes he proposes at GCSE which are out of step with how it is studied in universities, unless he puts Niall Ferguson in charge.......
Very informative as ever Heathclif! Have to say am quite relieved my eldest has just chosen to take the IB rather than A Levels, a known quantity to me which seems exempt from government tampering! But worried my youngest will be one of the first to go through new system if it's introduced, even if it works better fear it will take some years to bed in. Fun and games ahead...
Thanks Heathclif. The idea of roadtesting several subjects in the first year of the sixth form and then dropping one or two seems a good one to me and I also thought it seemed quite a good idea to get some of the assessment out of the way after one year given that there would be internal exams anyway but I can see it must be stressful. The idea of deciding what type of school to go to at 14 as proposed by Kenneth Baker seems quite strange. I would have no idea at 13 when presumably you have to apply whether my child should be going to study how to design pistons for Rolls Royce or staying in an academic setting or learning to grout bathrooms although I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want to go to performing arts college! It seems a bit divisive and not to allow for children who develop at different paces. My old flatmate from University was a disaster at school and only did two A-levels but got taken in for a degree probably because of his lowly parentage (dad a dustbin man) and went on to get a first and is now a Professor at UCL. He didn't really get it until he was about 19 or 20. I'm sure he'd have been pushed into the vocational college and been a very bad grumpy plumber!
Twix45: please correct this link as it it points to the picture only not the article.
Here's his recent Guardian interview: www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jan/20/kenneth-baker-abandon-margaret-thatcher-stood-by-her
Failing schools and top schools:
Chris Cook writes: Today is league table day, when school exam results are published. The most interesting part of the table is the bottom: 195 schools* are below the governments floor targets. These schools are risk of being taken over by a third party to turn them around (if the process is not already underway). Schools in this category have fewer than 40 per cent of their pupils get Cs or better in English, maths and three other subjects. They must then also have fewer than 70 per cent of the schools pupils making expected progress in both English and maths.
A few system-level observations:
- London does really well. Really well. Only 11 of its schools are below target. Only four are in inner London. The outer boroughs are now a bigger educational problem than the inner city . .
For those of you more concerned about ultra-high performers, we can take a look at the other end of the table. One of its oddities of the league table is that it relies on the governments five A* to C measure so about 100 schools are tied at the top with 100 per cent.
To help tell them apart, here is how those schools did, ranked on the FT score;
. . 6 The Tiffin Girls' School Kingston upon Thames ACC Grammar 39.07
. . 43 Tiffin School Kingston upon Thames ACC Grammar 38.01
. . 52 Kingston Grammar School Kingston upon Thames IND 37.69
he doesn't provide a link to the actual league tables.
League table link:
Richmond upon Thames 2012 Performance Tables
Just had a look at the 2012 performance tables. What's fascinating to compare are intake changes from 2011. It's really difficult to know if they're a blip or a trend, but it does underline how results are pretty much a direct reflection of prior attainment (duh!). I've noticed:
- RPA had a much more balanced intake for its 2012 Y11 in terms of ability, close to the national average - but with higher than average GCSE results (with or without equivalents!), despite other challenges, so that's really positive news.
- TA suffered from a much less balanced intake including prior attainment. Its English GCSE results reflect that.
- Despite the English GCSE unfairness, Christ's, Waldegrave, Grey Court and Orleans Park all did very well for 'middle attainers'. Christ's also significantly raised achievement for 'low attainers' along with RPA and TA.
- Waldegrave and Grey Court did even better on the Ebacc than in 2011 (both science specialist schools), and along with Orleans Park and Teddington are well above national average.
There are signs of improvement at Twickenham Academy - 48% of its 'middle attainers' passed 5 A-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and Maths (up from 42% in 2011), beating Teddington on 44% (down 20% from 2011). TA's improvement seems to a result of: more entered for double science GCSE, better Humanities results, more entered/better results for language GCSE. Teddington's dip in results seems to be due to English GCSE and a slight drop in Maths.
Hampton Academy also saw a drop in its English results, which is a shame because it improved its Maths passes.
Picking up on muminlondon's point - looks like Teddington did well with their high attainers who are the easier group to move on (all schools do reasonably well with this group). Teddington had equal numbers of middle and high attainers but only achieved well with their higher attainers. As muminlondon says, only 44% of middle attainers got their 5 with Eng and Maths. That compares to 57% at RPA and 62% at Grey Court.
Then look at the low attainers -some schools seem to be letting these kids down - none of them at Grey Court got 5 with Eng/Maths and only 4% at Teddington (which is one student). On the other hand Twickenham did better with 12% and RPA managed 18% showing that these students can achieve.
I would be careful of interpreting and comparing results where the English GCSE grade meddling may have had an impact, also remembering that it affected pupils at the A*/A/B border as well as C/D. It's impact may well have varied between boards so not all schools were affected equally. www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6292645 Not all schools have details of the boards they use on their website but Teddington and RPA were AQA, Orleans Park and Greycourt WJEC.
Does that mean that OP and GC did not suffer at all from the grade boundary changes?
The Kingston Guardian reports: Kingston Council-backed free school reaches next stage of funding bid (Jan 25):
A Kingston Council-backed free secondary school bid has beaten a church bid to the next stage for funding after gaining the backing of more than 800 parents. A new six-form entry school on the site of the North Kingston Centre in Richmond Road has been submitted to the Government by the Kingston Educational Trust, backed by Kingston University, Kingston College and Kingston Council.
The RTT reports: Extra school places in Richmond under consultation (Jan 25):
. . Vineyard Primary School . . could permanently increase its annual reception intake from 60 pupils to 90, from September 2014, if Richmond Councils plans go ahead . .
Still no 'need' for extra secondary places, it seems.
Nelsonnelson If you remember the welsh government intervened to have the grade boundaries moved back, but that only applied to pupils who sat the exam in Wales. From this www.wjec.co.uk/uploads/publications/16626.pdf it appears they were affected, but if the grade boundaries were moved to the same extent as other boards is another matter.
There is certainly quite a big difference in the extent to which private school results (some have been open with parents, and even the press) were affected in both English and English Literature and in the IGCSE results, which are supposedly immune to political meddling. Here is a local example, look at the Eng Lit results compared to the rest, they don't have 2011 results on the site but they are 40% down on last year, which would be hard to explain by a difference in cohort. www.lehs.org.uk/Exam/GCSE_Results_2012_by_Subject_12.php The Head at Wycombe Abbey went to the press with similar problems.
Of the seven schools that got the best grades for high attainers (A/A-) in the whole of Wandsworth, Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond, two were academically selective and three were VA schools (selective on religious grounds), all with more than 42% high attainers and fewer than 10% low attainers. The other two schools are Waldegrave (girls, with 50% higher attainers) and Orleans Park (the only mixed community school, 38% high attainers).
Interestingly, while those schools also achieved more than 50% Ebacc pass rate for high attainers, they did not always have the highest Ebacc scores in their borough for that ability range. Which just shows how hard it is to get high scores in all of the subjects in that range.
Nelson primary is also consulting on expanding to three-form entry. See Richmond council website.
Kingston council children's services department was on the BBC news yesterday: Kingston Council 'ignored abuse warning' that led to murder.
Gumley House had a similar low 5 GCSE pass rate for middle attainers as Teddington, 45% (same English exam board?). In fact, it was second to bottom of Hounslow schools for that measure. But a comparatively high Ebacc score of 25% for this ability range, about half of those entered. The Heathland School entered 60% of its middle attainers for Ebacc (84% of high attainers) but only just over a third of them passed all the required subjects.
In Richmond Grey Court entered the most middle attainers for all Ebacc subjects - 42% (only 10% at RPA, 27% at Teddington) of which about half achieved passes in the complete set. Good GCSE pass rate for middle attainers too.
From what i have seen and heard of Teddington School so far they have not had a tradition of entering most students into a language GCSE in the past and I think this affects their Ebacc scores. I saw a student poll where the students were asked whether a language at GCSE should be compulsory and there was a large "NO" vote so possibly this will continue!
It would be interesting to know whether all the exam boards marked down the children who did English GCSE exam in June. I'm really surprised that different borough secondary schools don't use the same exam board.
That story about the murdered woman in Kingston is horrific. I am a bit unsure that contracting the whole of children's services out will help though.
All, for info, Richmond Council has published its Children and Young People's plan 2013 - 2017 for consultation here, so take a look if you want to have a say.
Yes, also not sure if contacting out is a good idea, but that Kingston story explains why Richmond staff have been involved in Kingston's children services recently and I don't think I saw the Ofsted report story back in July.
Interesting advice re school league tables...
Here's the exact link: Paul Vallely: Political tinkering is the enemy of education (Jan 27)
Nick Clegg in his son's school dilemma is falling into the politician's trap of using the labels 'good' and 'best' for state and private schools, when he means 'socially and/or academically selective'.
Right now there is a great rift in our education system between our best schools, most of which are private, and the schools ordinary families rely on.
His nearest schools would be Elliott/Ark Putney, Ashcroft or of course RPA.
It is a rift he is widening if he thinks the Ebacc will be an acceptable single exam assessment. The majority of children are middle attainers, having reached what used to be the target standard by the end of primary school. More than half of them will fail the proposed Ebacc and get a 'certificate of achievement - only 15.5% of middle attainers were even entered in 2012 and only 7.1% passed all subjects.
The 'best' state schools will not guarantee success either. Even in grammar schools such as Wallington and Nonsuch a third of their lucky-to-get-in middle attainers (10 girls) failed to pass all Ebacc subjects (7 out of 10 were entered, 5 passed).
Neither will social advantages. If his son is not bright enough for the selective private schools his chance of failure is still high unless the LibDems do something about the Ebacc:
Hampton: 91% passed Ebacc of the 91% entered
Hampton Court House: 52% passed Ebacc of the 90% entered
To be fair I think the Libdems negotiated furiously to water down Goves proposals. www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b6c7774e-fffb-11e1-831d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2JBo6EVqm I also understand that behind the scenes they have stopped some of his more ridiculous proposals on the History curriculum cllrlesterholloway.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/clegg-seacole-stays/?utm_source=supporter_message&utm_medium=email
Paul Vallely is right, Gove is seemingly immune to almost universal opposition to his proposals. My daughter's Head has been very vocal in their criticism, of the GCSE, A level and History Curriculum reforms, though on a parent website so I don't feel it would be right to cut and paste it here.
Although our schools don't yet have sixth forms, this post on the Local Schools Network site 'Shock, horror! Schools do badly at measure that nobody cares about', discussed the retrospective measure in the A-level league tables of 'three facilitating subjects at AAB'. Those are pure sciences, languages, History/Geography, Maths or English lit. I don't think even Music or Art are included, let alone Photography, Law, Economics, etc.
The danger is that students will be pushed into subjects that don't intetest them, or they fail at, and arts, social sciences, technology subjects are further devalued. Coupled with abolition of AS levels, choosing the wrong option could demotivate students over two years of study not just one. The madness is that Russell Group universities, while they do prefer certain subjects and combinations, would still allow one subject not considered hardcore academic from that narrow list. Interested to hear your views on that Heathclif.
What is Nick Clegg is up to? How can he be so vague when it seems that his son Antonio is already in Year 6? Either they have applied to various state schools in the normal way, possibly without NC going to the open evenings as the headmaster of the Ark Putney hasn't seen him and probably would have noticed him but perhaps Miriam took Antonio, so they will get offered a place somewhere in the state system. Or as seems more likely they have applied to lots of private schools and have possibly just filled in the form for state schools just in case Antonio is unable to pass any entrance exams. Personally I think any politician who sends their child to a private school unless there is a very good reason, eg. a disability that can't be supported well in the state sector, is a total hyprocrite. All this fake agonising about having to weigh up what is best for the individual child is crap if the child is just a fairly standard 11 year old. Surely he is just putting off the evil day if Antonio is heading to Westminster/St. Pauls or similar!?
"How can he be so vague when it seems that his son Antonio is already in Year 6?"
Possibly he's hoping for a place at the Oratory.
Had just found the link to the Catholic Herald on Nick Clegg's interest in the Oratory!
Good for Peter Hain for sending his children to Elliott (as was). As Nick Clegg's three closest schools are academies run by three different sponsors, he may offend more than parents and teachers if he ignores the local schools.
Parent fears about local state school although understandable sometimes can be so unfounded. My cousin had to leave Latymer and go to Elliott as was, much to my Aunt's horror. He got great A Levels, went on to a very good University, and his close friends made there include successful musicians, actors and generally lovely young men. No idea if things have changed much since it became an academy but it certainly annoyed me when I read that Clegg may not even have visited it!
And thanks to previous post have realised why he was at a wedding hosted by Peter Hain at Stormont a few years ago!
muminlondon You can add Philosophy and Ethics and Psychology, both extremely popular A level and uni choices to that list of devalued A levels. Frankly it's complete idiocy, I somehow don't think Westminster (38% achieving AAB in facilitating subjects ), St Paul's Girls' (70%), St Paul's (63%), LEH (57%), Hampton (40%) or KGS (32%) will be stressing that they are failing their pupils in ensuring they study the right subjects to ensure they get the best chances of success in their chosen unis/ art schools/ drama schools/ music schools etc etc.
There is a problem with the way some sixth forms are advising pupils on A level courses but the unis have been very clear about what are acceptable combinations, and Gove's latest measure based on his own scholastic success isn't the gold standard!!
To be fair in that list Westminster and KGS to my knowledge do pre U in some of the facilitating subjects so they would not count, but Hampton and LEH do not (although Hampton offering it in History for this Year 12).
The Russell Group advice is from P26 here www.russellgroup.ac.uk/media/informed-choices/InformedChoices-latest.pdf They define facilitating subjects as those which would be a requirement for certain degree courses, but make it clear that other subjects like Philosophy, Religious Studies, Economics are good preparation for university life, even though you can pursue degrees in those subjects without having done the A level (mainly because not all schools will offer them at A level), whilst more vocational subjects like media studies and photography might not be so well regarded. However one such soft subject should not be a problem. It is just another example of Gove's 50s Grammar School blinkers.
I have no idea how it is going to work when the school leaving age is raised to 18. Who will police that? It's indeed no more realistic an aspiration for the majority than appearing on the X-Factor. A bunch of Classics graduates will hardly kick-start the economy - how many Gove-cloned politicians and journalists do we really need?!
Perhaps Gove thinks he is indeed the answer to the country's problems, and is willing to walk all over all over the next generation to get there....www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/27/michael-gove-headline-tory-leader-education
Richmond Council have begun their consultation on the future of Richmond College. See here for more details.
Thanks BayJay a bit scanty on detail! Especially given an in depth feasibility study, presumably they have looked into the issues in a little more depth than this! It reads like an opening salvo in an anticipated planning / union conflict, rather than a consultation on the school proposal. In particular I was under the impression all school funding by the D of E was committed to the Free School Programme, but doesn't that incur a parcel of other processes that have to be gone through? or are they going to dress this up as an expansion / rebuild of an existing school/college, hence the involvement of the skills agency?
Having got on to A level offerings (in the Gove programme anyway) I have had a look at what the schools are proposing at sixth form. It raises again the issue of developing schools that offer a particular educational approach that serves a niche of children as the only option for parents. This is a brief outline of Twickenham Academy's sixth form offering www.twickenhamacademy.org.uk/download/18.1b45ac46139e9d6ff0d800020897/Twickenham+Academy+Sixth+Form+Opens.pdf. There is obviously further detail in the prospectus etc. online. A continuation of the individualised learning approach but also an emphasis on vocational courses. It actually looks as if they have put together an excellent offering building on the vocational qualifications available in their Sport, IT and Health strands. However compared to what Waldegrave www.waldegrave.richmond.sch.uk/Sixth-Form and Orleans (PP presentation here www.orleanspark.richmond.sch.uk/parents-carers are planning, it is a narrow offering for the academic pupils eg no MFL, no Philosophy. The two other academies haven't determined their vocational offering, or finalised the academic one but it looks as if you have by sixth form got academies serving different niches.
It is of course chicken and egg, since TA may well be serving the needs of their pupil body (though I can't find anything on any sort of consultation / rationale). However if LBRUT is hoping TA will win the confidence of middle class parents whose children are high attainers then this is going to be another issue they have with the school.
Of course all pupils now move at 16 so they will have more options but Sixth Forms were supposed to provide continuity at existing schools with more personal attention, and a focus for developing excellence in teaching. This will influence new parents and also bring into question whether subjects like MFLs and Religion and Ethics (which is the precursor to the Philosophy course) are going to be taken seriously and taught well in comparison to the other academies.
Also what happens if, as at 11, the places at schools offering wider academic offerings are oversubscribed, so options for moving are limited? (Although a lot of the more academic pupils are going for Esher College, where incidentally, just to demonstrate the popularity, a couple of years ago there were 21 tutorial groups studying A level Psychology and 18 Philosophy)
Of course we have no idea how sixth form provision is going to be organised at Egerton Road, and whether the students progress into a college environment. Another take it or leave it variation in the school offering?
Sorry, hadn't looked at Teddington which has fullest details of the sixth form proposals and the fact that there is to be a partnership between Waldegrave, Orleans and Teddington to allow them to offer the full range of 24 subjects at A level. www.teddington.richmond.sch.uk/Sixth-Form developed
Using the post 16 choices of previous years' Teddington students, current national trends and surveys of our current Year 11 students
"I was under the impression all school funding by the D of E was committed to the Free School Programme"
It is at the moment. The consultation does say the school would be an Academy, and by definition a newly established Academy is a Free School under current legislation. However, by the time this school is due to be funded we may have a new Government with a new model for creating new schools, so I guess it makes sense for them to be a bit vague about the model in the short term. Especially after the North Kingston experience.
The redevelopment of Egerton Road to provide all these different things (and housing to help fund it!?) sounds like a huge project that will require money from Central Government, LB Richmond and other sources. I expect they are planning to sell the existing Clarendon site, which is in quite a nice residential location in Hampton, aswell. I'm not very familiar with the current Egerton Road site but presumably they will have to build on the existing playing fields at the front of the site on the main road in order to keep the college open whilst they are re-building?
Bayjay They are talking about work starting work in 2014 though which makes sense in terms of the development of Richmond College. In borough demand is bound to shrink when the sixth forms are all in operation. However that suggests they will need funds ahead of a change of government, certainly the assurance they will materialise, and those will in the main be for the redevelopment of RuTC. Since they anticipate shrinking from 4000+ to just under 3000, the 750 new 11-16s still won't match the former college numbers. The more I look at it the more I wonder if they are going to dress it up as redevelopment of an existing educational establishment to try to evade the free school process, especially as presumably if RuTC ceased to be viable it would create a big hole in arrangements for vocational training of 16-18s in South West London? Hence the involvement of the skills agency. They do emphasise the mutual benefit in terms of facilities and finances in having an 11-16 school on site too. That would be the only explanation I can think of for anticipating having an answer from the D of E by March this year. How that stacks up with Gove's policy and legislation I don't know but then he has conceded ambiguity already, especially for Richmond Council! Providing Twickenham already has it's parent led Free School I am not sure I find a pragmatic way of ensuring the new inclusive school places a problem? I can't see it would set much of a precedent since RuTCs current status, outdated buildings, competition from newly created sixth forms, must be fairly unique. Am I missing something?
As far as planning goes the planning framework has for sometime had the Richmond College grounds earmarked for development along the lines of the development in the Quinns ground. We successfully argued some years ago now, in a planning appeal that it focused on that area for developments of modern blocks of flats, and more traditional styles of development in Central Twickenham. I would have thought local residents will struggle to find substantive objections to delay it.
Hi Heathcliff. I was talking about the funding/model for establishing and running the new 11-16 school, rather than the capital costs of rebuilding the college. Yes you're right the grant for the capital costs will need to be secured earlier as per this timetable, presumably from Basic Need funding.
Actually when you read the wording the only references to the school in terms of funding and governance is that they envisage it will be a coed non denominational academy and RuTC will have shared governance with it, and the Council will provide £10m for the school. Presumably the £10m subject to future costings could conceivably be the additional building costs of a school over and above the redevelopment of the college? That could leave the way open to there being a Free School bid for funding if that process is still in place for the timescale leading to the actual opening of the school.
However if it does go through the Free School process we could see parent, or a faith group, or other organisation's bids emerging? Either backed by the Council or in competition with a bid backed by the Council? Obviously it couldn't be exclusive as there is a need, but it could be an organisation like Kunskapsskolan that doesn't originate from the community's "desires"? Or indeed a C of E school with some degree of selection by faith to the 50% limit?
Heathcliff, yes, it sounds like they are planning to put money together from multiple sources to rebuild the college and at the same time, provide accommodation for a school. However, those grants would only cover capital costs.
My understanding is that under current rules, the establishment and running costs of the new school would need to be funded via a Free School bid. For the college to be part-governor, it would logically need to be a member of the non-profit trust proposing the free school, either alone or in partnership with others (e.g. Achieving for Children or perhaps an evolved form of Education Richmond).
There would be nothing to stop rival (e.g. church / parent) free school groups putting in a bid for the same site but I think that would be unlikely.
If we get a different flavour of Government after the next election, then the rules about establishing new schools might change, but at least by then there should be a site in progress.
From today's Guardian: Michael Gove: Labour think poor children should stick to their station:
Labour politicians believe children from disadvantaged backgrounds should "stick to the station in life they were born into", the education secretary,Michael Gove, has said in an outspoken in parts almost openly rude speech outlining his philosophy for learning in schools . . .
Full text of his speech at the Social Market Foundation, Feb 05
Hi, have just started looking at the college consultation and it does raise a lot of questions. Presumably the college will formally reduce its admissions quota so it won't be able to take as many students as it did before even if there was an upturn in the numbers wishing to go there? There seems to be an assumption that many students in Richmond secondary schools will stay there but that is completely untested as yet. Will it give priority to LB Richmond students or is admission all based on academic/other qualifications/predictions/potential rather than distance? Obviously secondary school students in the new secondary and in Clarendon will occupy rather more space than college ones as they have to be in lessons all day Monday - Friday not just drift in and out. It seems to me that proposing to use the existing site for 3 different functions instead of one and selling part of it for housing to help fund the redevelopment is quite a big gamble. Building it up against a busy main road will also make it less attractive to prospective parents. Then there is still the question of a suitable site for the Turing House free school which needs to open more quickly than 2017.
I see Gove has climbed down but only a bit! www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/feb/07/government-denies-u-turn-gcse-replacement
If the Kingston school gets the go-ahead and affects Richmond/Ham, is it likely that two new schools would be approved for Twickenham? Some school expansions won't feed through till 2017. TA and HA are filling up but half of their pupils have until now come from Hounslow where there are more places/schools from this year. If competition is a desirable, does the DfE place sponsored academies on an equal footing with LA maintained schools or academy converters in terms of impact?
An engineering/science specialism would fit in well with the college if there was a possibility of new courses for 14-18 year olds - maybe if Turing House got approved but their preferred premises didn't, the college could be a possibility for a permanent site from 2017?
It's a relief that Gove has listened to the arts lobby and select committee. I'm still a little concerned that his plans for 'rigour' will create a two-tiered system - while he's accepted the importance of Music, Art and Religious Studies, there's no mention of technology subjects. And his plans for a point system putting more emphasis on grades sounds like a bit of spin - you can already find out averages for high attainers/low attainers for state schools. As an overall measure it will just reinforce the divide between what lazy politicians like to call 'good'/'bad' schools (e.g. selective intake/ all the rest). It's unfair that intake information is not given for independent schools - they continue to perpetuate myths about their success being entirely due to teaching rather than due (mostly) to selection by prior attainment and interview.
"If the Kingston school gets the go-ahead and affects Richmond/Ham, is it likely that two new schools would be approved for Twickenham?"
Kingston have always made it clear they needed the North Kingston School to cater for their own bulge, not help to accommodate Richmond's, and of course the current N Kingston proposal is a lot smaller than the school that was originally planned for that area (and which was included in Richmond's forecast). So yes, I do think its reasonable for a N Kingston school, and Twickenham's proposal to be approved.
" maybe if Turing House got approved but their preferred premises didn't, the college could be a possibility for a permanent site from 2017"
The Egerton Rd school will be needed in addition to Turing House. See this link for details.
I think the Kingston proposal is now only a 6 forms of entry school and everyone has agreed that the provision is needed for LB Kingston children due to expansions in primary schools, although I seem to remember that we discussed where the areas of actual need were within LB Kingston a few months ago and we weren't sure that North Kingston was one of them because so many children from there live closer to Grey Court than children in LB Richmond and the Ham primary schools are very small. I was talking to a friend who lives in the Tudor Drive area who is worried that her daughter won't get into Grey Court in a couple of years time but that seems unlikely to me. Of course lots of people are annoyed that they are building on an adult education centre as were lots of people annoyed about the loss of Clifden as an adult education centre, although that perspective tended to get slightly drowned by the horror of it becoming an exclusive Catholic school.
There is a letter in today's RTT objecting to the College proposals on the basis of loss of playing fields. I know that the Grey Court farm planning application has been referred to Sport England because it involves the loss of a small amount of playing fields, although only to grazing rather than concrete!
Today?s RTT has, as well as the letter re playing fields from Alan Winter (p. 24), a long denunciation by David Grice of the DfEs purchase of the United Reform church in Vernon Rd East Sheen for use by the Thomson House school (p. 23).
The school is happy:
Second site approved - 13 January 2013: We are delighted to announce approval of our second site for Thomson House - the United Reform Chuch on Vernon Road. Together, both the Court House and the United Reform Church will ensure a spacious learning environment for our pupils. See our facebook page and Location tab for photos of the Church - it's a beautiful building! We are working with our contractors and architects on plans for both sites. The seedpoint for admissions from which distance from front-door will be measured for 2013 remains the Court House.
No planning permission is needed, apparently, so there has been no opportunity for debate about problems of noise, access, car parking, etc.
If no planning consent is needed to turn a church with no outside space into a school why is planning consent needed to turn NPL building 2 into Turing House School?
It seems mad that there is an official route to query losing a little bit of a large playing field to a couple of sheep but no way of querying opening a school in a building with no playing fields at all!
I notice that the RTT article on page 7 about the cost of the Judicial review says that there were 115 first place preferences for Sir Richard Reynolds but the official LB Richmond admissions table that someone dug up for us in this discussion a couple of months ago said it was 67:
"No planning permission is needed, apparently"
Probably because of this recent relaxation in planning laws for free schools.
Hi LProsser, you make some interesting points - some inconsistency with planning approaches there!
North Kingston would be more feasible as a smaller school but it still wasn't meant to open until 2015 when 30 more from Fernhill or Latchmere come through as a permanent expansion as well as a bulge class. The link policy consultation document identified that 150 pupils from Kingston could have gained places at Grey Court in 2011 and 16 at Teddington. I'm not so worried about Grey Court as there will chance for Richmond/Kew/Sheen children on the 65/371 bus routes to get places there instead of at Christ's or RPA, but even one half empty school would be a waste of resources. I think there are already two headteacher vacancies in Richmond for 2014 and teachers for St RR to be recruited so perhaps there will be some movement of staff between schools. It is not a cheap area for young teachers to move into (or anyone for that matter). The impact of three new schools in 2014 would certainly be felt in other local schools - it would keep the new governors and academy heads busy on top of new financial responsibilities, sixth forms and exam reform.
The St RR applications figure is either wrong or includes lots of late (or amended?) applications - perhaps also from other boroughs with a later deadline?
"some inconsistency with planning approaches there"
Turing hasn't got to that stage yet, so it's a bit soon to talk about inconsistencies. The recently announced relaxation in planning laws would apply to Turing too.
"The impact of three new schools in 2014"
St RR is opening in 2013, not 2014.
Bayjay you are correct, St RR opens in 2013 (and headteacher vacancies at Christ's and I think Orleans Park to be filled by September 2013) and two free school applications for opening in 2014.
Lottie I noticed that. Out of borough applications? Or the applications received by the diocese? ie 115 first preference of Catholic School not counting any non Catholic Schools applicants may have put further up the preferences in the main form?
On the playing fields issue. The College playing fields have been designated in the Planning Framework for development for a long time, it would be difficult to challenge something already in the framework, that should have been done when the planning framework was being consulted on. All that can be challenged is the nature of the building, height etc. but the framework actually specifies multi storey flats modern in design, like the ones built in the Harlequins ground and there are no neighbours close enough to argue damage to their amenity.
In terms of open space for the college it looks as though they plan to use the open land on Craneford Way, currently a rough football field and a playground in an open field. If you look at the map they cover an area greater than the existing College playing fields. If they make them into smart playing fields there will be a fair few dog owners miffed though!
From the consultation,
"Are you proposing to develop on the open space on Craneford Way?
This land has a planning designation of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). MOL has a planning policy presumption against inappropriate development and gives it a similar level of protection as the green belt. Essential facilities for appropriate uses may be considered but that must not have an adverse impact on the openness of MOL. We will be considering proposals to improve sports facilities for both RuTC and the Schools and this may include the provision of some all-weather pitches and other outside sports facilities. All proposals are expected to align with the MOL policy."
muminlondon Yes Gove's concessions are welcome, looks as though he may be making some moves in the right direction on the History curriculum too www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/heres-why-mary-seacole-and-other-inspiring-black-figures-should-stay-on-the-curriculum-8487142.html?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=17910&alert_id=JXTjGArDLR_pnyNdDLWJi
"and I think Orleans Park"
Yep, I didn't know about that, but you're right.
"teachers ... to be recruited"
Of course each of the new schools will only open with a single form of entry, so their staffing profiles will begin quite small and grow gradually as the schools grow.
Turing House will open with 10 - 11 teachers in 2014.
Heathclif, thankfully my DD already knows about Mary Seacole (and Mary Anning, and Emily Pankhurst). I grew up thinking science was for boys and history was about white men and battles - why do I get this feeling that Gove's reforms with regard to exams and curriculum are putting boys back in their rightful position of superiority (and last minute cramming)? Interesting to see Waldegrave's house system role models ...
Goves proposals on the History curriculum are politically driven as well, it is an imperialist powerful white man's history, and yes as you say, boring (I think I studied History at uni in spite of school history, not because of it) as well as totally at odds with the History taught at universities. My daughter is currently studying the colonisation of Africa at A level , and it is far from a celebration of the British Empire, the responsibility for the first concentration camps etc. I'm not quite sure how Gove's proposals would have prepared pupils for a complete shift of emphasis at 16, perhaps that is why he has backed down to some extent.
Re: Thomson House (ChrisSquire2 Fri 08-Feb-13 13:54:52):
From the Planning Portal: Change of Use Planning Permission: Use Classes: 'The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes'.
The following list gives an indication of the types of use which may fall within each use class:
. . D1 Non-residential institutions - Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.
. . Planning permission is not needed when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same class . .
Example: Wanstead: Nursery owners expect planning permission to convert church: . . Mr Samouelle said: We do not have to register for a change of use. But we will put an application in because we are planning on putting another floor in and making changes to some of the walls . .
I wonder how many applications there have been for Thomson House? Capacity is clearly needed in East Sheen but I remember when I was looking around primary schools, facilities and outside space did influence my preferences (of course they are all so oversubscribed you are lucky to get into the nearest).
The annual primary school admissions brochure has never included church schools in its statistics about previous applications - will free schools also be omitted? Yet the secondary brochure has always included applications to Christ's. Data on primary applications has been published in FOI requests and some council reports so I have never understood the omission in a brochure aimed at parents.
That's interesting Chris - no planning application would have been required anyway for the United Reform church to become a school even before the new planning waiver for free schools. The main difference between all these uses is the amount of traffic and noise generated I suppose especially between a closed facility and an active one. It seems odd that there are so many rules about what makes a site suitable for a school in terms of outdoor space but they actually don't matter in practice.
I agree about the dogwalkers on Craneford Way playing fields Heathcliff. Turning open grassland into a fenced off multi use sports area will not be popular! Friends of the River Crane Environment actually applied for Craneford Way West to be given village green status some time ago but not sure if it has been approved yet.
muminlondon They have never managed a year's admissions in Sheen that did not involve giving parents no other option but a last minute portacabin class at one school or another, usually the least popular, plenty of roads are in black holes. I am sure Thomson House will fill up with willing parents anxious to avoid that.
"It seems odd that there are so many rules about what makes a site suitable for a school in terms of outdoor space but they actually don't matter in practice"
Lottie, they do need to provide outdoor space, but it doesn't all have to be on the same site. There's more detail about their plans on their website. Given their strong connection with Harrodian I've always assumed there would be some usage of their facilities.
I can't see that having access to playing fields a couple of miles away where you are taken for organised sport once a week is enough when you are a lively 7 year old - what about being able to run around on some grass outside at breaktime? I think the Government and local authority are offloading their moral responsibility to provide a decent school environment for all children through these free schools and through bending the rules about where the outside space has to be.
LP, yes, its not ideal, but the free school model was always about re-using existing buildings and improvising, to set up schools cheaply and quickly. I'm not defending it ... just spelling it out. In a crowded London where sites are scarce, budgets are stretched, and the population is booming, it's one solution.
Is it more acceptable for a Secondary school perhaps? St RR will use playing fields at St Mary's. Tiffin has playing fields near Hampton Court.
I do take on board that sites are scarce etc. but I thought the model was about letting motivated people set up schools free from the dead hand of the local authority not about setting up schools on the cheap in places that aren't suitable for children!? Clifden has plenty of green space so the Sir RR children won't suffer. I am absolutely convinced about the benefits of outdoor learning for primary school children. I don't think it matters quite so much for most secondary age children and I'm not bothered about sport being practised elsewhere, but not to have any proper outdoor space at school when you are little is very sad. Some of the children will no doubt come from flats where they have no outside space at home either.
"but I thought the model was about letting motivated people set up schools free from the dead hand of the local authority"
LP, yes, that too. In many cases one will compensate for the other, and its certainly the case that Free Schools will get away with compromising on accommodation much more easily than a Local Authority would if it was having to set up schools under the same conditions.
Thomson House has impressive enough credentials, so it's likely to be popular.
I thought it was a teacher-led free school? There's a lot of experience among the governors in multinational companies and civil service but mainly voluntary interest in education. Of course community governors are not usually educationalists either, and this group certainly looks very competent and intelligent and good with finance. But I imagine you are speaking hypothetically with regard to the 'dead hand of the local authority' because at primary school level at least, Richmond LA has been so successful both in terms of results and Ofsted ratings. Thomson House and Harrodian are likely to derive benefit in collaborating with the other local schools - even just as a parent I've heard so much about initiatives for professional development, secondment, battle of the books competitions, etc.
"but mainly voluntary interest in education"
Muminlondon, that's not how I read it at all. There's a "head of prep", a "deputy head of seniors", a "head of seniors", all professional teachers from Harrodian on the Governors. There's also a Headteacher from another independent school.
In addition to the Governors they have an "Education Advisory Board" with more heads and senior teachers from the independent sector on it.
I imagine lots of people will see it as "like a private school, but without the fees" and be attracted to that despite the awkward buildings.
Also, LP referred to "organised sport once a week", but part of their vision is for three hours of PE a week.
(And again I'm not defending it or promoting it, just trying to be accurate and putting it into perspective. I agree with muminlondon about Richmond LA's strong track record).
There's a "head of prep", a "deputy head of seniors", a "head of seniors", all professional teachers from Harrodian on the Governors. There's also a Headteacher from another independent school.
You're right, I suppose that these positions didn't mean much to me as 'head of prep' could be a teaching assistant leading a homework club as far as my knowledge of private school hierarchies go! I'll admit I skim read it and mainly clocked the names Goldman Sachs, Kraft, SOAS and Foreign Office. As I said, many of our community and parent governors have similarly impressive CVs so I'm not knocking their competence or enthusiasm.
However I would agree that outside space is about so much more than organised sport and that would definitely influence my personal choice of school. My memories of school are mainly from the outside - skipping, hide and seek, making daisy chains, endless 'let's pretend', funny shows, etc. while boys organised their own football (or even pretend football) every single break time around their jumpers.
"making daisy chains"
You're luckier than me. Ours was all concrete and stinky outdoor loos. I think they moved the loos indoors halfway through my time there, about 1980ish, but I still have strong memories of the stench.
My DCs have fantastic outdoor space, including wildlife areas, and that's definitely one of the main reasons I chose the school, along with the fact that it was all on one site, rather than two like the alternative. It doesn't have much in the way of free-play grass though - the last little bit is about to be replaced with astro-turf because "mud in winter and dust in summer" leaves it roped off for weeks at a time.
I think I was lucky, although I also feel very lucky so far with schools in Richmond that do still have both concrete and grassy/nature areas and skipping/clapping/pretend games are alive and well. It was a big shock to go to secondary school on a split site - for the first two years we spent hours trundling up on buses to use the sports and science facilities at the Big School. And stinky toilets and mean-sized yards seemed to go hand with stinky mean-minded behaviour. I don't mind the inside of Victorian buildings but break times in the tender early years of secondary school were about glueing myself to massive cast-iron radiators and hoping the teachers wouldn't find me!
Yes, by "dead hand of the local authority" I was referring to the Conservatives overall approach not LB Richmond which I agree has done pretty well with state schools over the years notwithstanding losing the plot recently, thanks partly to the teachers of course. I am genuinely surprised that Thomson House's "credentials" don't include anyone who has worked in state education - it seems very arrogant and that would put me off as a prospective parent but, as you say, there are probably plenty of parents in that area who won't be put off. It does seem that this is a private school in all but fees. I wonder if it will lead to more pupils for Harrodian secondary - presumably the parents will feel terrified of sending them to RPA for secondary after a quasi prep school experience, and scholarships will be awarded to the bright but poor? I imagine that the PE will include one lengthy session a week at Harrodian and a bit of skipping about indoors or in that concrete playground in front of the Court House for the rest of the three hours!
Don't forget that LBRUT have done well in the development of good state primaries but most definitely not in terms of school place planning, and allowing three of it's secondaries to deteriorate. There are plenty of parents in the borough effectively excluded from their provision of good state schools, quite a lot of them in Sheen.
"I wonder if it will lead to more pupils for Harrodian secondary"
They have a "medium term plan" for a secondary free school (see FAQ11). I remember reading something in the past (can't remember where, sorry) that they wanted to create secondary places in time for their first primary cohort transferring to secondary.
" I imagine that the PE will include one lengthy session a week"
I'm pretty sure some of their early adverts talked about an hour a day, but that might have evolved now, along with the realities of site availability.
"I am genuinely surprised that Thomson House's "credentials" don't include anyone who has worked in state education"
Their newly appointed headteacher has worked in the state sector.
not in terms of school place planning, and allowing three of its secondaries to deteriorate
School place planning has been addressed at primary to a large extent through two new schools and numerous expansions, though the borough continues to attract more and more families. It's a complex picture at secondary but this is where you have most political interference on both a local and national level and where the influence of selection and independent schools also comes into play. People are prepared to commute further, and there are historical anomalies such as a concentration of Catholic schools in Hammersmith and Fulham, grammar schools in Kingston and Sutton, etc. With link policies (or not), church influence, sponsored academies and now converter academies on top it becomes a patchwork of provision where 'good schools' depend on intake, and much more competitive between schools rather than collaborative as is clearly the case at primary level and the LA's role much less effective.
muminlondon I do not agree, consistently for the last 25 years to my knowledge they have planned too few primary school places and relied on parents to be deterred by last minute arrangements cobbled together to deal with the pupils without primary schools places. Last year in St Margarets you had children unable to start school until Christmas and then in a church hall a hike from the main school. All over the borough they allow roads and whole neighbourhoods to become black holes of provision, fobbing each new year group off with the explanation it is just a blip, it is the result of too many families moving to the borough, fewer going private (in a recession, there's a surprise). In Twickenham we have been immune to that to some extent, the reason we moved here, but in other parts of the borough, and especially Sheen, there has been very consistent under provision with more than a hundred pupils without places year after year. The new schools, Marshgate and Kew Riverside came too little and too late, to address the continuing problem. I am sure Thomson House, especially serving that area of Sheen and Mortlake will be a very welcome new school, with or without a playground. However I do appreciate that in terms of local residents it is going to be a disaster, narrow residential streets where they already fight over parking spaces.
On the secondary front Shene School does not serve a catchment area that is any different in social make up to the outstanding primaries that surround it. When I moved to Sheen in 1986 my neighbours had sent their children to Shene School because it still had people's confidence and they had done well there, including going to Oxbridge. There was no other explanation for it's downward slide but mismanagement. Parents in Sheen send their children long distances and to private schools because they have felt they had no choice, they differ not at all from the parents who send their children to Teddington and Orleans except in so much as they don't have the choice of an outstanding comp.
My village primary also had stinky outdoor loos! and about half an acre of knee grazing tarmac with some hopscotch marked out on it, encased by what felt like 100 foot drystone walls that regularly claimed victims with broken bones and heads where they smashed into them! If the playground wasn't dangerous enough the Headmaster was a great lover of corporal punishment too.
I did say 'to a large extent' but that may not be comprehensive enough. Near Sheen/Barnes there are now at least Marshgate, Kew Riverside, expansions at Barnes and Holy Trinity and a shared regular bulge class at Sheen Mount/Vineyard/Marshgate and the Catholic schools and perhaps from 2014 a permanent extra class at Vineyard. So that has nearly doubled provision in 12 years. School expansions are not popular and very disruptive so they have to be developed carefully. Thomson House will at least provide a respite from that.
At secondary there's a tipping point where poor results and behaviour drive those with more options away and I don't judge anyone for having avoided Shene secondary in the past.
One additional factor which has affected the ability of LAs to provide primary school places is the legal limitation on class sizes since 2001.
Thomson House may be attractive to some parents because they promise smaller classes, 24 per class (not far off the 22 per class at Harrodian) - so their total capacity is 48. I've wondered how free schools can achieve smaller classes with the same funding per head as other state schools. I was told by a friend of mine who had been teaching in the reception of a private primary (prep? or is that age pre-prep?) that although there was only about 22 in the class there was only one classroom assistant between two classes rather than one per class, so the child-adult ratio was actually larger. And they didn't get as many parent vounteers as in her own children's state primary and less SEN coordination so she had less time for one-to-one support.
This DfE research states at 4.2 that 'Class size is the third most common reason for parents to choose to send their child to an independent school'. While primary class sizes even limited to 30 children in the UK are relatively high, it doesn't affect the UK's comparatively high maths and science scores by end of KS2. And class sizes at secondary level are on the low end of the international scale. I wonder if teaching assistants, volunteers and the size of groups within classes are taken into account in these comparisons? The paper quotes research that concludes 'raising attainment in schools is better achieved through other interventions than class size reduction ... increasing teacher effectiveness represents greater value for money.
Anyway, to link back to school buildings, the way a school is laid out is important - shared areas, quiet rooms, rooms with flexible seating, craft and play areas as well as big halls.
"I've wondered how free schools can achieve smaller classes with the same funding per head as other state schools"
Each one will do it in its own way and you'd need to see the detailed budget in each individual proposal (not currently published, or available via FOI) to see how funds are allocated. That lack of info has led to criticism of Free School policy, and the resulting speculation has given rise to some (probably) unfair innuendo against individual free schools. However on the upside, the individual budgets are closely scrutinized by the DfE, and (crucially) by the Audit Commission, to make sure they give value for money.
I wasn't implying that free schools get more funding per pupil than other schools - but that they may employ fewer classroom assistants or use their budgets in a different way. It's a question for parents to ask when they are considering or offered a place at the school.
"they may employ fewer classroom assistants"
Thomson House's FAQs have some info on that: "Each Reception class will have a full-time teacher and a full-time assistant. They will be supported by a specialist Music teacher and the Head. From Year 1 onwards, each class will have a teacher and will share an assistant with another class. We will have specialist Modern Languages teachers from Year 4"
How the FT analyses exam results; Chris Cook & co. write:
. . For the past two years, the FT has had exclusive access to the National Pupil Database, which provides anonymous exam performance data for every individual secondary school pupil in England . . we have compiled an alternative set of statistics to the traditional measures . . we use this approach to explore the difference in exam attainment between: pupils from different demographic groups; schools in different geographic regions; the impact of academy chains and grammar schools; and the improvement of Londons schools.
This 5-minute audio explainer shows how this was done . .
Fewer teaching assistants but more specialist teachers higher up the school can be a good use of resources. It depends on the schools and the individuals - some teaching assistants are very well qualified and also bring a specialism. The head of Thompson House was a learning support assistant last year. I'm sure she was valued if she was able to teach music.
Chris - thanks for that link. The explanation implies that they've worked out IDACI scores for individual pupils (rather than the score for their school, which I assumed last time when we were discussing this work). That would need per-pupil postcode data. I'd have expected that to be classified as 'highly sensitive' and require the highest level of access on this scale. Or, perhaps the postcodes were re-coded into IDACI scores before they were supplied to the FT, making the data less sensitive.
I've just seen this Ofsted report on Batley Grammar School, a free school that used to be a selective independent school. It's been given 'Requires improvement' including for leadership, achievement and teaching. It's interesting in the debate on relaxing restrictions on schools premises because lack of outdoor space is specifically mentioned as hindering opportunities for outdoor play.
There are some strengths if you read the report in detail but the main problems are insufficient record-keeping and data on progress. Maharishi free school in Lancashire hasn't been inspected under the new regime but they failed to enter their pupils for SATs. It must be a culture shock for ex-independents to get used to the requirements of the public sector.
I think the new Ofsted framework is a challenge for any school but I agree that these ex independents may now discover how much leeway they had in their prior lives. There is no hiding now.
Went to a meeting about the new sixth form at Teddington School today. Was surprised to learn that Teddington has, on average, 200 out of 240 students going onto A-level each year, but that it will only have 130 places on offer. Soon (?) it will be compulsory to stay on until age 18. Apparently only 2 or 3 students don't go onto further education of some sort each year. So if Teddington has more applicants who meet the standard for the A-levels they want to do than it has places, current pupils will get preference and it could go to distance with some current pupils losing out. There were some slightly panic striken parents in the audience when they heard that. There will be very little on offer for those who don't want to do A-levels - a couple of "Level 2" courses. Made clear that the sixth form was for people who want to go to University which is most of the intake apparently - a lot of fighting talk about Oxbridge and medical/dental/vet school too! I'm sure similar meetings are taking place at the other secondaries!
Thanks LP, couldn't go to meeting tonight so interesting to hear, if a little worrying, was expecting an easy choice ahead for my Y7 son! Anecdotally in my Y11's cohort there are quite a few kids choosing vocational/BTec qualifications, and additionally as the A Level subject offering at the new Sixth Form is limited I expect Esher and Richmond will still be popular so maybe the places will be enough to cover at least in school applications. Would not relish the dreaded distance waiting list again!
Teddington will be offering 24 A-levels, possibly plus a couple more with "our partners" Waldegrave and Orleans Park. They had every subject I could think of listed apart from some languages, but there are probably some that I've never heard of! Likely to be a minimum requirement of a "B" at GCSE to study some subjects eg. maths and sciences.
There was mention of the relatively high drop-out rate in the colleges during Year 12 (this was initially raised by parents in the audience) - does anyone know the statistics?
LProsser As I highlighted in my previous post a choice of 24 A levels is a marked contrast to 10 at Twickenham Academy of which only 6 will be in academic subjects, no Chemistry, no MFL.
RPA is inviting interested parents in to meet current Y7 parents this evening at 6.30. A good chance to go and find out about all the improvements first hand
See their website for details
Heathclif - I agree that 10 A-levels doesn't sound enough. It doesn't sound as though there will be room for students to transfer from Twickenham Academy to the other local schools if they would prefer a school-based sixth form experience either. I suppose they are relatively close to Egerton Road so will they be able to split their studies if they want to take one or two subjects at each?
The RTT reports: Waldegrave school in country's top 100 schools:
Waldegrave School has been named among the top 100 non-selective schools in the country. The results are based on five or more good GCSE passes, including English and maths, and on student progress. Headteacher Philippa Nunn told staff she was extremely proud:
"This sort of level of attainment does not come easily without a great deal of commitment, care and hard work from both teachers and students. We are delighted to be named the best 11 to 16 state school in the country. We are certainly not coasting."
Waldegrave has also been ranked the top state school without a sixth form in the country, in the Sunday Times Parent Power Survey.
May I shamelessly hijack the thread for a cause close to my heart.
Gove has issued his proposals for curriculum reform for Key stages 1,2 and 3. and they are open for consultation. https://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/departmentalinformation/consultations/a00221262/reform-national-curriculum
Teachers and academics are united in horror at what it proposes for History teaching and mobilising what is hoped will be widespread negative feedback from teachers, universities and parents . It will not affect our Academies and Free Schools, who are not tied to the national curriculum, and the local indies have made it clear they have no intention of departing from teaching History in the inspiring way that allows pupils to develop historical skills by studying topics in depth and from different perspectives. However as our primaries seem set to remain tied to the national curriculum for some time to come it does seem that the secondary schools will find 11 year olds already switched off History for life, and deprived of the chance to develop critical thinking skills, and to understand that "History" is actually many people's stories by being forcefed the dry facts of a politicised version of our island story It will undo all the good that advances in the teaching of History in the last forty years have done for the popularity of the subject in schools and universities and the development of children's skills in critical thinking, understanding perspectives, forming opinions on the basis of facts and articulating reasoned evidenced argument.
This is the view from the universities www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/12/round-table-draft-national-curriculum My History Department just sent off a similarly worded response to the consultation.
The Historical Association represents the view of subject teachers www.history.org.uk/news/news_1722.html The result of their poll is damning www.history.org.uk/resources/secondary_resource_6202.html
Please let Gove know what you think
Congratulations to Philippa Nunn and Waldegrave though whether it quite qualifies as non selective is another matter Parents of boys may have another view. However this is how they teach History in a school in the top 100 www.waldegrave.richmond.sch.uk/History
When looking at post-16 options, especially for those who are more practically inclined, don't dismiss alternative options. DS has had a brilliant time at Merrist Wood College near Guildford, (http://www.merristwood.ac.uk/Home.aspx) where there were a number of other Teddington & Twickenham based students. BTECs are available in Countryside Management, Animal Management, Equine studies and a number of other practical areas. No exams - not an easy ride as students need to pass 19 modules, but great for those whose inclinations are more practical and less academic. There are routes to University with BTECs, but also routes straight into work.
Thanks Bigbob. I don't know much about the alternatives but I hope somebody gives us a full briefing nearer the time. One possible problem with giving the schools sixth forms is that they will be trying to keep their pupils there to do whatever courses they run rather than laying out all the options at a variety of colleges. I have a bright child who is doing well but she doesn't really seem "academic" to me in the sense of loving learning - perhaps that is normal at 12 though!
The Turing House Steering Group report that they have been invited for interview by the DfE on March 8.
"The Turing House Steering Group report that they have been invited for interview by the DfE on March 8"
And here's an alternative link to Turing House news for people not on Facebook.
Well done Bay Jay! Fingers crossed for you on 8th March.
Sad to see on the cover of the RTT about the Corona Theatre School closing. Not that I had really heard of it but it obviously meets a need for 36 teenagers and all of those interviewed say they weren't happy in mainstream schooling. Presumably a lot of them live locally and will have to be found places in other schools at short notice.
The BBC reports: Corona Theatre School forced to close: . . The school first got into financial difficulties in July 2011 when it could not afford the lease on a building it was renting . . One of the children's parents offered a donation of £25,000 a month to keep the school open [which has ceased] . . Principal Mary Greco said she was devastated, adding: "Unless a miracle happens, we can't open after half-term."
A list of free school bids, including religious affiliation for two out of three waves completed so far, has been published.
The list is here. It's a bit confusing because some schools have changed their name since approval or on second application. Some schools have a religion in their name but not as a religious designation. And I think it's incomplete - I can't see Bradford Grammar School for example.
Michael Gove has published an open letter to the Information Commissioner and certainly sounds brassed off.
Hi muminlondon. Bradford Girls Grammar School is in the 'Wave 3' tab of the spreadsheet, for schools set to open in Sept 2013. See cell A37.
Thanks BayJay - must have got my tabs mixed up!
No surprises for Richmond - no detail we don't already know. I did do a search for IES and found out that the UK Manager has left to join another company.
The Guardian reports: Michael Gove in clash over free schools freedom of information requests
The information commissioner, Christopher Graham, and Michael Gove have clashed over the public's right to know the names, places and religious affiliation, if any, of all the groups who have applied to join the government's controversial free schools programme . . His department had until now fought rulings by Graham on applications fromthe British Humanist Association (BHA), and appealed to a tribunal on the issue "because we wanted to protect public-spirited volunteers from intimidation". He said ministers had heard of instances where teachers had been hounded out of their existing schools by supporting an application and one proposer had told them of a death threat . .
[Graham said] that he did "not for a moment" accept that publication facilitated intimidation. "I will join you in defending the right of anyone to oppose (or support) government policy. But I will also defend the operation of the Freedom of Information Act in the public interest." Graham's office recently put Gove's department on a special monitoring list because it was among public organisations dragging its heels in responding to freedom of information requests . .
Did anyone seen this Independent article yesterday?
Six flagship academies sent warning letters over poor performance
'In the case of the Kunskapskolan-sponsored Ipswich Academy in Suffolk, the latest visit by education standards watchdog Ofsted observed: As a result of infrequent marking students work is often scruffy, poorly organised and frequently incomplete.'
The article implies that Kunskapsskolan as a chain is criticised but in fairness the schools in Hampton and Twickenham are not specifically mentioned.
Today's RTT has a long letter, Church considered for school as demand grows (p 27), from Matteo Rossetti, chairman of the governors of Thomson House School.
Just reading that Independent article again. Interesting to see how figures can be selective. I checked the league tables for a particular sponsored academy in Chatham cited as where 'percentage of pupils achieving the Governments GCSE benchmark shot up from 16 per cent to 42 per cent'.
It must be underlined that all Richmond sponsored academies are very much better in comparison!
Its cohort is disproportionately weighted to low/average attainers: low 23%, middle 70%, high 7% (this is the region's grammar school effect, effectively still a secondary modern). Disadvantaged pupils = 32%, Pupils for whom English is not their first language = 13%.
% 5 A-C GCSEs inc E&M (or equivalent) = 42%
% 5 A-C GCSEs inc E&M (EXCL. equivalent) = 22%
% Ebacc subjects = 0%
% high attainers entered for Ebac = 0%
% entered for languages = 5%
% entered for humanities = 19%
% entered for science = 28%
The BBC reports: Free school applicants' religious affiliation revealed (Jan 21):
A quarter of applications to set up free schools in England over the past two years were from faith-based organisations, official data shows . . The data was published after the Department for Education lost a bid to withhold it and was ordered by the Information Commissioner to release it. As he released the data, Education Secretary Michael Gove said he wanted to be "careful" about the information published on free schools applications.
The material now published by the DfE gives details of free school proposals submitted under the first three "waves" - or rounds - of applications. For each application it gives the name of the proposed free school, the area it would be situated and the name of the independent school involved, if it is converting to free school status. For proposals submitted under the second and third "wave" of applications, it also gives the religious faith of the planned school, if there is one.
The story only links to the DfE homepage: I didnt find any mention of this data release there.
Try under Freedom of Information
The First-Tier Tribunal decision dated 15 January 2013 is here.
It further clarifies decisions made July 2012 - the original FOI request was made June 2011.
There is an FT article which reports one-third of first round free school applications were private schools but this was down to 10% by round three (behind a pay wall).
The Independent comments that one in four applicants had religious affiliations.
The RTT reports: Richmond has London's lowest rate of child poverty:
. . Richmonds rate of 7 % child poverty was the capitals lowest, while Tower Hamlets, with 42 %, was highest . . Within the borough, Heathfield ward had the worst child poverty rate with 21 %, followed by Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside with 16 % and Hampton North with 15 %. Whitton had a 10 % rate, Mortlake and Barnes Common had 8 %, West Twickenham scored 7 %, North Richmond, Kew, Barnes and Hampton Wick had 6 % and Hampton had 5 %. The remaining seven wards of the 18 had below 5 % child poverty rates . .
The full data set = 9400 wards by parliamentary constituency is at:
The median rate = 16 %.
If anyone is interested, Ofsted has produced a data dashboard to check results of schools when compared to similar state schools and progress.
But beware - it produces some bizarre results and looks a tad simplistic. Check out science exam results for Tiffin Girls. Because one poor girl missed passing two science GCSEs (perhaps a multilingual budding novelist and alerted historian for all we know) the school plummets to the bottom when compared to similar schools. No data on how Tiffin Girls is 'narrowing the gap' - it seems poor people don't send any girls there. It's also unclear how some schools are being compared and what the definition of 'progress' is depending on whether they started behind or ahead, and in what proportion ...
This week's RTT has another letter from David Grice (p. 27) responding to Matteo Rossetti's letter last week (see ChrisSquire2 Fri 22-Feb-13 11:56:47) defending the plan to open a new school in East Sheen United Reform Church.
The RTT Online reports: Turing House free school proposers invited for interview:
Amy Dyduch writes: . . The Department for Education [has] assessed the Turing House application and invited the proposers for an interview on Friday, March 8. Steering group member Colin MacKinlay said it was encouraging that they have been given an early interview:
Its almost the final hurdle in that they have assessed the bid and decided its strong enough to be considered. We are really pleased that we have got through to this point.
[ . . they] remain cautious about securing the building as the Government reviewed the future of the site and announced a new laboratory is due to be built, which may mean old buildings could be put back into use.
There's also a letter from Marc Cranfield-Adams suggesting ways for the council to cut its budget, including: 'If he established all our schools (primary and secondary) as free-standing academies he would remove the dead hand of the council's education department.' Obviously, the secondaries already are academies - while primary schools have declined a previous invitation by the DfE/council to go down this route.
Curious to know where the expression 'dead hand' comes from as BayJay used it previously?
"as BayJay used it previously?"
Did I? Where? I can't remember. Perhaps I was having a cynical moment!
It's a fairly common phrase. Here's a thesaurus definition.
muminlondon2: This is from the full OED, free to all library members:
a. = mortmain n. (of which it is a translation).
b. fig. An oppressive and retarding influence. Cf. mortmain n. 3.
1935 Discovery Oct. 301/2 This cannot fairly be described as the dead hand of the National Trust.
. . 1971 Daily Tel. 25 June (Colour Suppl.) 13/3 Eisenhower's dead hand on space was an obvious electoral issue for the two incoming presidential candidates to seize on.
1. The condition of lands or tenements held inalienably by an ecclesiastical or other corporation; lands or tenements so held. Freq. attrib. Now hist.
. . 3. In extended use. The figurative use is often based on the notion that the dead hand refers to the posthumous control exercised by the testator over the uses to which the property is to be applied.
. . 1852 H. W. Longfellow Haunted Houses v, Owners and occupants of earlier dates From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands, And hold in mortmain still their old estates.
. . 1970 R. Lowell Notebk. 22 The horrifying mortmain of Ephemera: keys, drift, sea-urchin shells, Packratted off with joy.
Now I realise it was Lottie (09-Feb-13 18:22:45). BayJay picked up the reference.
thanks for that Chris, am off to write some poetry now and ponder "the dead hand of the National Trust"!
muminlondon2: a tv programme about Knole showed what this means: the young Sackvilles who have come to live in the house wanted to relaunch the cafe with a trendy metropolitan menu and decor: rocket salad and balsamic vinegar and other expensive delicacies that were never eaten by the aristos who lived in the house.
This was vetoed by the NT who decided [no doubt correctly ] that it would not appeal to their non-metropolitan non-young - and non-affluent - members.
An indication of secondary offers in Richmond here - can't find the press release though.
Thanks muminlondon. Interesting, as that does sound like its come from a press release, but its not on the council's website.
RISC are reporting having been contacted by some unhappy Y6 parents on their Facebook Page
We need some context to those figures. This year Tiffin set the first part of their test early so they could shortlist 450 for stage 2 test, so unsuccessful candidates would have put their Richmond preferences higher up. If Waldegrave last year made 29 second pref offers yet were completely oversubscribed that may mean up to 15% of local children had put a grammar or faith school as first choice but didn't get in. If Kingston has a similar jump on first pref offers that would explain it.
RISC are keen to hear from any parents who are unhappy with their secondary school allocations, not just those who are very unhappy to find themselves with no choice but St RR, as they aim to hold the Council accountable for the school place forecasting that was used to justify the proposal to give the Clifden Road site for a Catholic School. www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/our-aims-and-policies/
muminlondon2: Hampton People have just confirmed that their source is a press release not yet on the council website. We'll have to be patient a while longer, it seems - the link suggested is to the admissions home page.
Some more statistics from London Councils Pan-London Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme 2013. I don't see an overall jump for Kingston compared to last year although number of applications is not given.
muminlondon2: your link doesn't work.
Re the "dead hand" I was just quoting some Tory politician when I mentioned that one of the aims of the free school programme was to remove the "dead hand of the local authority" from having any influence over schools. I think Marc Cranfield Adams is a bit unstable - he was the one who switched from the Tories to the Lib Dems (who bizarrely made him the Mayor) and then he switched back again and wrote a rude book about it. He used to say he had been terribly bullied by the ruling trio of Tories but now seems anxious to suck up to Geoffrey Samuels. The only time I met him he went on and on about how he'd once straightened John Major's tie! All the primary schools flatly refused to contemplate becoming academies when it was suggested a couple of years ago - I remember a letter in the RTT signed by about 36 heads.
I am googling 'dead hand of the local authority/state' with interest!
Is this link better?
I think the plan now is to hand the primary schools over to this new arms length non dead hand "Achieving for Children" body run by Nick Whitfield to deliver all children's services in LBs Richmond and Kingston isn't it? Presumably it will be able to procure primary school education from whereever it likes so schools that refuse to become self-governing academies and to participate in the procurement process will find they are being taken over by less dead handed types or educational chains or private schools. Or am I letting my imagination run away with me here?!
The LA can't force schools to become academies - I think it's the DfE that decides, after a bad Ofsted report. In the case of the secondaries, each governing body voted on it after a consultation, there was a financial incentive and academy conversion was associated with success and being outstanding. I think the extra funding available has since been reduced in some cases. Primaries are so much smaller, with no opportunities for economy of scale, and that's why only about 5% have converted nationally. Those primaries that are converting now are being forced to - without any choice of sponsor - so for primaries academy status is associated with failure. I don't think that would be in Richmond LA's interest.
This TES article suggests local authorities will get more control over deciding where new free schools and academies should be built.
Here is the press release, dated March 1 but posted on the February releases page:
Offer day - secondary school places announced: Almost 1,500 Richmond upon Thames pupils will receive offers for secondary school places today (1 March), with 72.4% receiving a place at their first preference school, a rise of almost 10% on last years figures. Overall, 91% per cent of young people will receive an offer for one of their first three preferred schools, a rise of 5% on last years offers and an improvement on the London average of 88%. All parents who have not been allocated a place at one of their preferred schools have been offered an alternative pace within the borough. The number of children 97 in that situation is by far the lowest since pan-London coordination of secondary admissions began, in 2005.
Cllr Paul Hodgins, Cabinet Member for Schools on Richmond Council, said:
I am delighted that so many of our students have been offered a place at their first preference of school and this is a huge endorsement of the improvements that have been made across all our schools and academies in the borough. It will always be a challenge to offer everyone their first preference, particularly because parents will apply to the highest performing, and consequently highly over-subscribed, schools both inside and outside the borough.
However, over the past year nearly all our secondary schools have become academies, we have introduced a new Catholic Secondary, expanded Christs School and others have seen educational and physical improvements. The fact that more of our young people can now go to their parents first preference school is testament to all this hard work and an endorsement that we are providing a range of secondary options that meets the diverse needs of families in the borough. I am sure that next year, with the introduction of sixth forms, our secondary schools will prove even more popular.
For info, the DFE have just published this School Capacity data. I haven't had the chance to look at it myself yet, so not sure if it tells us anything new.
. . the new St.Richard Reynolds Catholic High School seems to have been under-subscribed. We understand that some of the 97 borough children who did not receive offers from any of their preferred schools have been offered places there, even though their parents are not Catholics (new Mumsnet thread). While some of these parents are not unhappy that this is their only option, we have been contacted by others who are exceedingly concerned (Facebook thread).
It seems that parents of the 250 children due to leave local Catholic primaries this year are being cautious about the new school. That may be because it has not yet opened, or because last years court case created some uncertainty. Another new factor is that the boroughs linked schools system has now been dropped, with the result that children from Catholic primaries are no longer disadvantaged if they choose to apply for community secondaries . .
There hasn't been much reporting of secondary offers this year like there usually. Interesting to see the increase in first preference offers in the boroughs near to grammar schools - from the London Councils press release :
Sutton - 9.5%
In Richmond it's fairer that parents have a more realistic idea of whether or not they have a chance of Tiffin - pupils could even take the test without preparation, just to take a punt, so it's no longer a high stakes game (unlike the Oratory from the sound of it).
Areas like Tower Hamlets and Newham have seen a reduction in first preference offers being met - no grammars, 60-75% disadvantaged pupils, population increase: for most pupils their 'choice' has only ever been one local school. They don't make Telegraph headlines though ...
Sorry, meant to link to Telegraph article - the areas with the lowest offers of first choice preference are very noticeably Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminsrer, Southwark. No grammars but lots of the most selective CofE and Catholic schools.
Telegraph (3rd time lucky)
It looks lik OP and Christs aren't the only schools getting a new head this year: http://www.tes.co.uk/job/College-Principal-122335/s_cid/32.
My mistake. Bit confusing, but that's a head of college - essentially a deputy head - rather than the top job.
The Surrey Comet reports: North Kingston free school "a step closer":
. . A new free school in North Kingston is one step closer after campaigners were invited to meet with the Department for Education. The school would be run by the Kingston Educational Trust - a partnership between Kingston University, Kingston College, Kingston Council and school improvement partnership Education Kingston . .
No date is given.
The online RTT reports: Political row over 'falling' GCSEs in Richmond:
. . Richmonds GCSE results fell for the first time in five years last summer - a dip Liberal Democrats blamed on cuts to the boroughs school improvement teams . .
Philippa Nunn, head teacher of Waldegrave School and chairwomen of the secondary head teachers forum, has responded in a letter to the print/pdf RTT (p. 29).
Oh the irony, I'm sorry given that the majority of schools in the country, state and private, saw a downturn in GCSE results as a result of Gove's meddling last year, then Stephen Knight is scoring a cheap political point. However for Paul Hodgins, a Conservative, to acknowledge the fiasco in defence . Perhaps he could have done that a few months ago and made a lot of 16 years feel a bit better.
They could do with someone acknowledging the unfairness, I gather anecdotally the results of the first modules sat by the same cohort for AS are also looking to have been similarly inconsistently deflated
Heathclif: This is what Stephen Knights press release said:
. . Overall the percentage of children at the boroughs schools achieving 5+ A*-C grades (inc English & Maths) fell from 63.2% in 2011 to 62.6% in 2012. This is the first time in 5 years that the borough has seen a fall in results, at a time when results nationally continue to rise . .
and these are the numbers he offers to back this up:
Schools . . . % achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths GCSEs . . . . . . 2012 . . . 2011 . . . 2009
England - state funded schools only . . . 58.8% . . . 58.2% . . . 50.7%
Richmond Local Authority . . . 62.6% . . . 63.2% . . . 55.7%
Richmonds lead over England is shrinking, despite a huge improvement at Richmond Park Academy:
Richmond Park Academy . . . 61.0% . . . 43.0% . . . 45.0%
which is now only just below the borough average.e.
Heathclif, agree that Stephen Knight is cherry picking, ignoring the English regrading fiaco. And why is improvement at Grey Court and Christ's not acknowledged?
Here are 2012 GCSE results 5 A-C inc English and Maths, excluding equivalents, (compared to 2011 in brackets):
Christ's 68% (67%: +1%)
Grey Court 65% (63%: +2%)
Richmond Park Academy 53% (39%: +14%)
Value added (Best 8) - 1000 is the reference point
Grey Court 1004.5
Richmond Park Academy 980.4 (BUT 1009.2 low attainers)
And look at the drop in English GCSE passes at the independent schools (NB: average for high attainers is 94% 5 A-C including English and Maths, so would expect near 100%):
Harrodian 97% (100%)
St Catherine's 97% (100%)
Royal Ballet 76% (96%)
Thanks muminlondon I had to rush out and didn't have time to dig out the stats but hoped *muminlondon would step into the breach . We have gone over the data before especially the fact that indies were equally affected. I wonder if the national stats reflect the fact that across the country there are schools improving on the scale of Richmond Park Academy where deflation was counteracted by the effects of improvement strategies but in Richmond outstanding schools were more vulnerable to it's effects, plus the random effect of the choice of exam boards, who responded to political pressure differently
Heathclif - Would like to oblige but it's impossible to compare converter academies with last year. English results have definitely dropped and independent schools have seen more pupils failing to pass. Nationally, there has been a drop in expected progress in English:
'The percentage making progress in mathematics has increased by nearly four percentage points from last year, while the English measure has fallen by a similar amount'
Provisional results showed a drop in the number gaining 5 A-C inc English and Maths:
'driven by a significant drop in the percentage of pupils in independent schools achieving this standard. A small fall in the figure for independent schools is still evident in the revised results.'
Another factor to bear in mind: there is a 9.5% gap between boys and girls obtaining 5 GCSEs inc E&M. In the 2012 cohort there were more boys than girls at Orleans Park and Teddington due to the proximity of Waldegrave (which the LibDems never addressed). This may also make those schools vulnerable to grading inconsistencies and your point about outstanding schools being vulnerable to fluctuations, because there is less room to stretch improvement, is very relevant here.
Just one more point - I also agree with Cllr Hodgins that the LibDems are not in a position to criticise academies as they handed three over to chains, two of them on the same side of the river. Neither of the Richmond borough Kunskapsskolan schools have improved their results so while intake is an advantage, methodology alone isn't making that breakthrough. They have, however, fared better than the Suffolk Kunskapsskolan school whose 5 GCSE inc E&M results dropped from 25% in its predecessor school to 14% this year. It is early days for them but that school has been warned by Ofsted.
The Turing House team have reported on their DfE interview yesterday. It seems to have gone well:
. . The interview forms part of the assessment process for the groups detailed plan for an 11-18 Secondary School, to serve the Middlesex side of Richmond Borough from 2014, and an approval decision is anticipated in May. . .
muminlondon: it was me, not Stephen Knight, that 'cherry-picked' only part of his press release; here from it is the full set of scores for all the schools for the last 4 years:
% achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths GCSEs:
School name . . . 2012 . . . 2011 . . . 2010 . . . 2009
England - state funded schools only . . . 58.8 . . . 58.2 . . . 55.2 . . . 50.7
Richmond LEA . . . 62.6 . . . 63.2 . . . 61.4 . . . 55.7
Christ's CofE School . . . 70 . . . 70 . . . 64 . . . 63
Grey Court School . . . 68 . . . 67 . . . 54 . . . 46
Hampton Academy . . . 46 . . . 47 . . . 48 . . . 31
Orleans Park School . . . 65 . . . 70 . . . 71 . . . 68
Richmond Park Academy . . . 61 . . . 43 . . . 40 . . . 45
Teddington School . . . 63 . . . 72 . . . 69 . . . 63
Twickenham Academy . . . 46 . . . 49 . . . 48 . . . 41
Waldegrave School for Girls . . . 81 . . . 87 . . . 88 . . . 80
It would be interesting to compare Richmond LEA with its peers, i.e. the other 31 London boroughs, whose scores have been improving rapidly in recent years leaving the Rest of England behind.
This what I wrote on Jan 16:
ChrisSquire2 Wed 16-Jan-13 16:04:17 How well do children perform in England?s boroughs?
Chris Cook writes in FT Data, Jan 16: [Here is] some data that will help explore how well do children do at a borough level
. . The 4 worst performing London boroughs are: . . Richmond upon Thames 0.0 . . Richmond borough is trailing badly vis-a-vis the London average. Why should that be, I wonder?
Then it was the RTT which cherry picked the data and suggested only RPA had improved when clearly two others also did. It seems to have it in for state schools. In a borough where so many more have the means to go private, state school-bashing is unfair.
On a national level I agree academy conversion was costly and the Academies Commission report suggested it was unnecessary because schools already have a great deal of autonomy in England compared to other countries (if that is Stephen Knight's view). But they're all academies now, they have chosen that route, but they have at least established a new professional development partnership.
Why have other boroughs improved so dramatically? The London Challenge targeted key boroughs from 2003-2010 and the results started to come through after several years of hard work. The key to success was peer-to-peer support and collaboration. Some LAs participated but it was funded directly from central government and the effort came from schools themselves, and external consultants like those who are involved in Turing House. I don't think Richmond was part of this (someone correct me if I'm wrong). That would be because they were never below floor target in the first place.
Newham is one fantastic example. As an LA its results have improved from 44% in 2007 to 58.5% in 2011 to 61.9% in 2012. Fantastic news for a borough with the majority on free school meals. But also note:
1. There are no sponsored academies.
2. There are few independent schools (only religious, not academically selective).
3. From BayJay's link above, school capacity data shows their secondaries were 99% full last year. There is no creaming off to grammars or privates, no real choice apart from the local school, lots of untapped potential and massive amounts of collaboration, commitment and specialised targeted support over several years.
That's my view, anyway.
" I don't think Richmond was part of [the London Challenge]"
I've heard anecdotally that LBRuT didn't embrace it, but I don't know any details.
Tower Hamlets is another success story. Like Newham, in GCSE results alone it is now around the level of Richmond and has been growing since 2010. Yet in 2006 it was 15% below. Again, it has no sponsored academies but a majority of pupils on free school meals.
Richmond should probably be compared with other outer boroughs (predominantly white, more affluent although pockets of deprivation, lower population). Merton for example - that certainly has improved since 2010. Still beaten by Newham though, even for Ebacc score.
I think it was a bad year to choose to criticise schools given the GCSE English saga and the Lib Dem press release could have been more balanced, although no doubt the subtleties of all the factors that need to be looked at to see if Richmond is going backwards or not would be far too much for the RTT to take on board. I do think school senior leadership teams are at full stretch introducing sixth forms and becoming academies all at once (they even admit it to parents!) so their capacity to concentrate on improving teaching may be less than in other years so that needs to have an eye kept on it. What exactly does the LB Richmond school improvement team do? Is it mainly about improving teaching?
I'm pleased to hear such good progress is being made in Newham and Tower Hamlets. I wonder if improvement across London is easier for psychological reasons as the children can see more opportunities for jobs they could do on their doorstep whereas children in areas where the economy is very depressed, or where transport to the nearest work is an issue, find it harder to motivate themselves and teachers/parents find it harder to motivate them.
" What exactly does the LB Richmond school improvement team do?"
Until last year the LA employed a full time Head of School Effectiveness, who scrutinised and challenged local schools on performance,and supported them to improve. I don't know how big her team was.
When she moved on, instead of employing a replacement, the funding was used to establish Education Richmond, which is a School Improvement partnership between all of our local schools, led by Maggie B (head of Grey Court). I don't know if the LA retains any in-house school improvement function. My impression is that it now puts all its resources into supporting Education Richmond.
Education Richmond recently gave a presentation on the new model to the Education Scrutiny Committee (see item 73).
I interpreted the Lib Dem's recent statement as attacking the loss of the LA's school improvement function, describing it as a "funding cut". However, Education Richmond is at an early stage of development, so its a bit soon to judge its success.
I've just posted on another Mumsnet thread about this - there is an interesting national picture of attainment and different ethnic groups although it's been apparent for years. White British in general are outperformed at GCSE by Irish, Indian and Bangladeshi, and Chinese beat everyone. The difference is really stark for those on free school meals - Bangladeshi boys are 29% ahead of white British boys.
I'd suggest it's aspiration, parental expectations, work ethic and language ability leading to higher cognitive skills. Particular groups seem to have responded really well to better teaching which resulted from school improvement. I think the picture in Manchester was more mixed. I think that there is wider class divide among white British than in other groups but there may also be more complacency.
TES 9 March article on the need for collaboration.
The Academies Commission report suggested that converter academies may be more reluctant to collaborate where there was competition - Education Richmond is a promising start according to Philippa Nunn's letter. In some chains with more direction from the centre there was less autonomy for individual schools and a reluctance to admit the need for other support. I notice that the representative from the sponsored academies is the end of RPA. I wonder how far Hampton and Twickenham Academies are participating in Education Richmond?
Muminlondon, my understanding is that all of the schools, including TA and HA are participating in Education Richmond. Turing House will undoubtedly participate in it too when the time comes.
BayJay, that's good to hear. I meant to say 'head of RPA' not 'end of RPA'.
Actually, a really good summary of why the London Challenge worked is here:
- it worked in urban areas with clear identities
- aim was to improve all schools across each area, but the most intensive work was in schools that were underperforming
- no set prescription of what would work
- notion that all schools could learn from each other
- weakest schools received the most funding, used to buy cover to release staff to visit other schools
- recognition that individuals and school communities tend to thrive when they feel trusted, supported and encouraged in contrast with common government discourse of naming and shaming failing schools
And in fairness to the academies, political squabbles and delays in school building have created uncertainty. In my opinion, the link system also created a barrier. Even if you believe competition can improve performance, the difficulty in reforming links meant that it has been harder for weaker schools to climb from the bottom of the table.
Education Richmond might do well to adopt this approach, taken from the formal Evaluation of the City Challenge programme p. vii:
. . Raising standards in coasting and satisfactory schools:
. . The key factors in the intervention that [worked] were:
working with other schools (and in particular, schools with similar intakes);
opportunities for middle leaders to work with their counterparts in other schools;
clearly agreed plans, targets and time frame;
a small amount of funding for cover to enable teachers to visit other schools;
a lead headteacher who drove the agenda, and who received appropriate training.
The lead schools benefited from the lead headteacher training; the reflection involved in explaining their practice to others; and the boost to staff morale from being identified as a lead school . .
Minutes of Hounslow's school admissions forum for November 2012 say that pressure on primary school places was so great they were consulting on expanding 17 schools.
However at secondary level capacity was sufficient till 2015:
'In Feltham and Hanworth there was currently significant growth, with three extra forms of entry needed and one needed by 2029/30. The most significant pressure was in Central Hounslow, where the growth would not decline. There was currently estimated to be a shortfall of 102 places in 2014/15 and 223 by 2029/2030. '
For 2012 allocations there was a surplus of 283 places.
RISC report: Freedom of Information response reveals forecast doesn't exist:
A few weeks ago we submitted this Freedom of Information request to Richmond Council:
The Council consultation on the redevelopment of the Richmond College site states, with reference to the proposed new secondary school: the Councils forecast, taking into account as far as it can, the likely establishment of further free schools, suggests that further significant provision may be needed by September 2017 . . Please provide full details of the secondary school supply/demand forecast referred to in the RuTC site consultation.
This was the response they provided on 26th Feb 2013:
. . A report containing revised forecasts may be submitted for Education and Childrens Overview and Scrutiny Committee in due course. There are no revised forecasts that are available for you to view further to those already in the public domain regarding the use of the Clifden Road site. . .
Our conclusion is that while the Council's proposals for Richmond College redevelopment make sense, their consultation documentation is misleading. It says the proposals are on the basis of a forecast of the need for secondary school places. However there is no up-to-date forecast - The only forecast they have was issued in Oct 2011 . . We'll make sure we examine the promised new forecast when it becomes available . .
Mumsnetters will recall that the Oct 2011 forecast was heavily criticised here and elsewhere when it was published. See: New Secondary Schools for Richmond 2 BayJay and akhan Thu 15-Dec-11 and Cabinet meeting Nov 24 2011 #100 Secondary School Priorities
In terms of how this affects Richmond, in the last school census 2012 there were 1081 Hounslow pupils in Richmond secondaries (Table 13b), e.g. approx 220 per year group.
Figures from the link policy consultation suggested 29 fewer would get into Orleans Park from Hounslow without links. The rest will be at the Academies.
It does look like slightly fewer Hounslow applications to Hampton Academy but a slight increase to Twickenham Academy for those who might otherwise have opted for Orleans Park. Maybe we will get more info on offers soon.
Chris, the LA may also need to wait for the school census figures which will be available in June. Table 12 shows that 15.4% of last year's Y5 pupils in Richmond primaries were resident in other boroughs, a little higher than last year's Y6, so this explains the dip in applications from Richmond residents. It drops to 9.4% for reception pupils: while there does seem to be a general trend for families to move further away (to cheaper areas?) as their children move up the school, there is still an underlying increase in Richmond resident pupils.
If a sizeable proportion of that 15% out-of-borough primary pupils are in the Catholic schools (they, of course, are likely to travel further to school than those in community primaries), then perhaps there were even fewer Richmond residents applying to St RR than indicated (67 first Preference). Does anyone know if its priority areas match LA boundaries exactly or do they follow catchment areas of primaries?
muminlondon Aren't it's priority areas Parishes? with a random allocation within each one (if oversubscribed) "parishes of Our Lady Queen of Peace, East Sheen; Sacred Heart, Teddington; St Edmund, Whitton; St Elizabeth, Richmond; St Francis de Sales, Hampton; St James, Twickenham; St Margaret, East Twickenham; St Mary Magdalen, Mortlake; St Osmund, Barnes; St Theodore, Hampton; St Thomas Aquinas, Ham and St Winefride, Kew."
I seem to remember a poster saying the Parish boundaries do not mirror the borough boundaries, therefore it would have been difficult to exclude parents from those Parishes from being eligible to apply for out of borough schools.
Now know of four families in Hampton offered St RR though not one of their preferences, all would be closer to Hampton Academy and Twickenham Academy so it would appear both are oversubscribed on allocations.
The borough boundaries map onto the CofE parish boundaries, which are very old and defined the boundaries of the Vestries that preceded the old boroughs and urban districts.
The RC parishes are larger and recent, reflecting the accidents of settlement by incoming RC populations at different dates, and don't map to the boroughs at all. I don't know whether they cover the whole of Britain or not.
The Standard reports: 'Tens of thousands of extra school places needed by next year' (Mar 150: . . Despite more than 80,000 extra primary spaces being created in the last two years, there are still signs of a real strain on school places, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO). . .
The Guardian has Shortfall of school places to reach quarter of a million
This week's RTT has two letters on the performance of our secondary schools (p 24): one from Cllr Malcolm Eady, the Lib Dem education spokesman, and the other from Julian Gravatt of Teddington.
I have heard of some people being given RR school even though it was not on their list and they are not religious. Not a great start for this "much needed Catholic school"
I am still reeling from reading 'Lord True' - is that man really now a Lord??? He was a useless councillor, and nimbyist to the extent of objecting to speed bumps (sorely needed) being put on my road, on the very derivative reasoning that it would lead to traffic being diverted down his (nearby road)... If a petty nimbyist like him can be a 'Lord' have even less respect for our political system .
Hi all. Just posting a link to the minutes of the latest Admissions Forum which focused on school admissions arrangements for 2014/2015 entry. The discussion was related to the council's recent consultation on those admissions arrangements.
The council is still coordinating the consultation for the converter academies, even though they're now their own admissions authorities. However, as the Admissions Forum meeting took place 2 days after the consultation closed, presumably the forum's views weren't actually fed into it.
'IES, who had proposed a three-form entry primary free school in Teddington/Twickenham, had been bought out by venture capitalists who had decided not to submit the proposal; however, Gems Education, who ran preparatory and other schools in the UK, USA, Middle and Far East, had taken the proposal on.'
So it's still being proposed by the same individual - the ex-UK manager of IES Jodie King. So one woman wants it then, but - it's still a corporate entity in search of business.
And why wasn't this detail mentioned in the Admissions Forum minutes?
(Education Investor is behind a pay wall but the article wax posted 10 January 2013 and is entitled GEMS poaches IES UK boss if you have trouble viewing it.)
I'd like to see the evidence of demand by other parents. And what exactly are they demanding seeing as they thought they were demanding this:
"it's still a corporate entity in search of business"
I don't know much about GEMS, but of course only non-profit trusts can propose free schools, and free school governance arrangements are subject to close scrutiny by the Audit Commission.
"I'd like to see the evidence of demand by other parents"
It will be in the proposal, so the DfE will see it. I believe they have been approaching nurseries directly, rather than holding public meetings, and, whatever their level of parental sign-ups, there's certainly a "needs case" for more primary places.
p.s. For info, I've seen a copy of the leaflet that has been circulated to nurseries, but it doesn't seem to be online anywhere so I can't link to it.
It has information about the school, and an expression of interest slip. At the bottom it says "Recently founded, The GEMS Schools Trust is the not-for-profit arm of GEMS Education Solutions. GEMS currently owns and operates 46 schools and provides education services to 68 private and government schools worldwide, encompassing approximately 130,000 students from more than 151 countries. GEMS also owns a number of independent schools in the UK. "
Does anyone know where the sites that GEMs has earmarked in Fulwell and Twickenham Green are? That area seems quite well served by primary schools having Stanley (4 forms) and St James (3 forms) in Fulwell and Archdeacon Cambridge on Twickenham Green (going up to 3 forms I think?) with Trafalgar Infants and Juniors (3 forms?) in between the two.
What does the request for more information about school places towards the end of the Admissions Forum minutes mean BayJay? Has there been any progress with securing NPL for Turing House?
You can find out quite a lot from googling.
This CNBC article describes the company as a global Dubai-based for-profit education company, with 60 schools across the Middle East, India, Europe, Africa and the US. It is described as 'seeking to ensure a share of 'a $3 trillion global market ... it plans to invest up to $1 billion over the next five years'. However:
'GEMS Education has faced criticism in the past for placing profits before its students following sharp increases in annual tuition and closure of unviable schools.'
Its chairman wrote a Telegraph blog praising James O'Shaugnessy, who as a Policy Exchange director (previously Conservative policy adviser) recently wrote a paper on free schools run for profit. Its previous chairman was Anders Hultin who as part of the Swedish government set up the Swedish free school system then left to run Kunskapsskolan.
Its experience in the UK is of running prep schools with less than 25-30 children per year, many with nursery classes attached.
"Does anyone know where the sites that GEMs has earmarked in Fulwell and Twickenham Green are?"
There are rumours going around, but nothing confirmed, so I won't repeat them.
"That area seems quite well served"
Ultimately they have to go where there are sites. I imagine the Twickenham Green site will be popular with families in Central Twickenham, where children struggle to get places at community primaries (too far from Stanley and Trafalgar).
Archdeacon Cambridge is only 2-form entry (70% faith-based, 30% open admissions). The open places are usually allocated within a very short distance from the school. It had a bulge class this year, but can't expand permanently because its in a conservation area (no portacabins, or extra buildings allowed!). This year's bulge class was only accommodated because they managed to build a new classroom by squaring off an entrance lobby, but it won't be able to accommodate another one until the current one has worked its way through the system.
"What does the request for more information about school places towards the end of the Admissions Forum minutes mean BayJay?"
No idea I'm afraid. Doesn't make much sense does it?
"Has there been any progress with securing NPL for Turing House? "
All the latest info is here.
"GEMS Education has faced criticism in the past for placing profits before..."
Well, they won't be able to do that with a UK Free School. Under current policy, at least.
This is some background on its closure of schools in the UAE and more here. The business also runs a school for 4,800 pupils in Dubai - but despite the scale, will close it because it is not making enough money to afford capital investment.
Another article on expansion plans in other markets is here with interesting reader comments.
'they won't be able to do that with a UK Free School. Under current policy, at least'
If they get approved it will certainly be an indication of the policy intentions of the DfE and current administration.
However, as prep schools are not inspected or assessed in the same way as state primary schools it's impossible to know their track record as a provider. At least with secondary schools it is possible to judge exam results even if it is difficult to find out how selective they are of intake. With an independent school applies to transfer into the state school it is at least bringing premises and require little capital investment.
You can read up on Jodie King at LinkedIn. She has been at GEMS since Jan 01; before that she was at IED for 2 years 4 months; before that she was Associate Deputy Head at an Ealing School for a year. She seems to me to be inexperienced for her present role.
She has an M.Sc. in Social Policy from the University of Southampton.
Her main skill seems to lie in the art of self-promotion: the very crass way she, in her previous job at IES, advertised their proposal as if it was a done deal was roundly criticised here last November: Heathclif Sat 10-Nov-12 10:25:19. She is not someone on whom one can rely in matters of importance, I think.
"She seems to me to be inexperienced for her present role .... She is not someone on whom one can rely in matters of importance, I think"
Woah .... put the brakes on Chris. That's a personal attack, based on very little evidence, and she's not here to defend herself.
She's not putting in the proposal as a one-(wo)man-band. She has an Educational Trust behind her. Part of the approval process for her free-school bid will be to assess Capacity and Capability, but the DfE will look at the credentials of the group as a whole, rather than just Ms. King's.
The timing of the company-switch seems a bit unfortunate, but I think its fair to say it was unforeseen (and perhaps understandable in the circumstances). Given that the proposal would have been prepared, and lots of parents may have already registered an interest to apply for a place at the school in 2014, it seems reasonable to submit it for assessment.
"Her main skill seems to lie in the art of self-promotion: the very crass way she, in her previous job at IES, advertised their proposal as if it was a done deal was roundly criticised here last November: Heathclif Sat 10-Nov-12 10:25:19."
I went along to her first public meeting, and she seemed very pleasant, and not at all how you describe. I agree that the original advert did imply that the school was definitely opening. That's a good way to get taken seriously by parents, but a bad way to introduce yourself to local educationalists. Looking at the new leaflet I can see that it is more balanced. The title is "Proposed new Primary School in Twickenham and Teddington", and there's nothing to imply the school is a done deal.
p.s. For info, here are the directors of the GEMS School Trust, who will be the formal proposers of the school.
It is certainly illuminating to look at the inspections for other private schools owned by the business in the UK. The Independent Schools Inspectorate does visit schools every 6-7 years, it seems, although without the rigorous grading framework of Ofsted.
A list of their schools is here. All its schools have existed previously and were taken over so the staff may well have remained. I picked up this comment several times:
'With such a small number of board members with a country wide brief, it is difficult for them to get into the school during the working day to effectively see its work at first-hand, and to set challenging targets for the head teachers and staff.'
There are also concerns about access to IT facilities, CRB checks and in one case outside space.
GCSE results are availalable for one boarding school in Cornwall. It is non-selective.
Can I just make it clear that I was criticising the misleading tone of the promotion of the school. It came over as a leaflet designed by a marketing person who underestimated the local parents, who I slightly disagree with Bayjay would have found it off-putting and slick, even if they didn't know about the uncertainty of the Free School process. It didn't come from a source that you could trust for those claims. Turing House have worked hard to achieve the credibility that will enable parents to feel they can trust them to achieve their aims. As well as being misleading in terms of process, that leaflet had little substance and did not establish any such credibility. However whatever the decision process that went into issuing the leaflet I wouldn't say it was sufficient evidence to say she wasn't someone on whom you could rely. Incidentally I did email Ms King with my feedback on the leaflet and local conditions, no reply, but maybe she took my advice on board I also suggested she kept an eye on these threads ..................
muminlondon To parents the ISI Inspections feel like a rubber stamping exercise by peers, they are done by other private school heads. It is rare for anything negative to be said, and even rarer for it to be substantive. Here is LEH's
eulogy www.lehs.org.uk/uploads/inspection_report.pdf So that is pretty damning.
The company's first UK acquisition was also a boarding school and its GCSE results are here. The school changed its name in 2011 when its GCSE results would have been below the floor target had it been a state school.
Some background is given in this 2005 Guardian interview with the company chairman where the school is mentioned by its previous name. In this interview he makes a comparison between schools and fast-food outlets.
After reading the Independent today I feel more positive that the DfE will consider the next round of free school applications carefully. In Richmond 90% of primary school pupils are in good or outstanding schools, and that is a high standard to maintain.
Thanks for the update BayJay. Lots of people in Teddington hoping for Turing House to get its site. I assume not in competition with GEMs as they will want a smaller site?
It would worry me if I was hoping to send my child to the same primary for 7-8 years that GEMs are so profit driven. They could shut the school down at short notice if a future Government wasn't paying enough per pupil to free schools. Yes, those GCSE results in Cornwall are pretty average considering they take the children from the age of 3 months according to the website! What are exam results at other non selective private schools like or is that too difficult to get a handle on? Obviously some private schools are providing a refuge to children who couldn't cope at more academic schools or state schools so not fair to judge them against Eton or Tiffins.
Lottie, no, Turing House isn't in competition with GEMS for sites.
Muminlondon, interesting Independent article. It's worth noting that he 2011 wave of free schools are some of the first to be facing inspection under Ofsted's new tougher criteria. There are many established schools that may get a lower grading than they're used to at the next inspection.
Glad to see 6 of the 9 were Good. For the record, the Bristol Free School, which was RET's first school, and shares a lead educational advisor with Turing House, was judged Outstanding in two of the four categories. Overall judgement was Good with Outstanding Features.
" They could shut the school down at short notice if a future Government wasn't paying enough per pupil to free schools. "
Lottie, they couldn't do that without seriously damaging their credibility and creating a lot of negative publicity for themselves. Free schools receive exactly the same funding per pupil as other schools, and can't be run for profit, so there's no reason to assume they're entering the free school sector for anything other than altruistic reasons.
"there's no reason to assume they're entering the free school sector for anything other than altruistic reasons"
But then having just read the 2005 Guardian Interview that muminlondon linked to, I can see why people might be cynical.
Lottie, those boarding schools may well cater for highly mobile families and non-native English speakers, but there are plenty of state schools in that category and the 'floor target' does not take account of background - they are routinely derided as failing schools with no excuses for intake. The interesting aspect of the free school programme is that any private school making a bid will be subject to the harsh light of scrutiny in a way they have never before encountered, and chains may suffer damage to their brand if they do not perform. BayJay, it is encouraging that RET's other schools have made a positive start. I am certain that those schools with full parental engagement AND support from well qualified staff/governors who are fully experienced in the rigorous testing, self-evaluation and inspection regime of the state sector will be the successful schools.
I downloaded the spreadsheet of the GCSE results to see how the independent sector is segmented. I counted:
- 3022 mainstream state schools with GCSE results. Apparently, around 200 schools were below floor target of 40% GCSE inc E&M = 7%
- 739 independent schools (none classified as special) posting GCSE results. Of these, 76 were at or below this floor target = 10%. Many were religious schools, Steiner schools and theatre schools, but among them were the Corona Theatre School in Richmond and St James Senior Boys' School in Surrey.
- 183 independent schools had results at or below 55% GCSE inc E&M (the average for middle attainers in the state sector), so the two GEMS boarding schools is in the bottom 25% of the market.
- 241 independent schools at the top of the market had results of 94% or more GCSEs (the average for high attainers in state schools) = 33%.
- 269 independent schools had results of 80% or more and above 50% for Ebacc which are Waldegrave's results = 36%. However, many/most of these schools will have had a test or interview to get into the school. Waldegrave is non-selective.
A caveat - that's proportion of schools, not pupils - top selectives have 100-250 pupils per year while the lower performing/specialist schools or boarding schools may have 30. But the independent sector does not have quite such a 'long tail' that some politicians are so fond of pointing out in the state sector - schools that perform badly find their pupils will avoid them and go to the state sector.
Finally, the OECD described the UK state sector this way (para 53):
'in the United Kingdom public schools outscore privately managed schools by 20 score points once the socio-economic background is accounted for'
Actually, at the top end, taking account average Ebacc results for top attainers (38.5%) as well as GCSEs overall (94%), there are only 177 at that level or above, which is 24% of the private schools posting GCSE results. Of these approx half are Christian/CofE, in denomination, 8 are Catholic, and about a third of these are in London (half are in or near London - where the wealth is!). I'd guess most of these schools were the original grammar schools established for hundreds of years. So it explains why providers at the bottom end of the market and some in the middle are increasingly squeezed and looking to join the state sector if they see an opportunity.
muminlondon I think your analysis of the independent sector is missing a regional analysis. Around here we have an incredibly segmented market with highly selective schools often former grammars and /or hundreds of years old but also schools like St Catherine's and St James's that cater for a less selective intake often with a distinctive ethos. I know some parents who are very happy with St James's though it's philosophy learning including having Sanscrit on the curriculum must be fairly unique. I am certain GCSE results are not what drives parental choice and I understand that they do actually do well by bright pupils. As you say there is enough affluence around here coupled with in the past a shortage of places in good state schools to support a relatively high proportion of education being accounted for by the private sector.
I don't know the situation at Batley except that Batley was never a particularly affluent place and I doubt it would have supported an independent school if it had not been there historically, and it has apparently increased in size and gone co ed. However Bradford Girls' Grammar School has certainly not lost numbers because of any academic failures. Warning obligatory picture of blonde teenage girl's jumping in air accompany results www.bggs.com/content/exam-results-2012 However competition amongst private schools in the north has increased, not just the impact of the dire economic situation there but there is a pattern of private schools merging and consolidating so they can improve their facilities , in Leeds the boys grammar and girls' high with sale of old sites funding investment in a new state of the art site. Sebergh just merged with another local school, Queen Ethelbergers has funded some extraordinary facilities to target the international market by sale of a site near the centre of Harrogate. However the governing body at BGGS decided that rather than merge with the boys, which had already gone coed, and one might cynically say develop a sound business plan, the free school route was more in line with the original aims and ethos of the school, of providing a good education to girls regardless of parental income (it was formerly a direct grant grammar and the loudest voice on the governing body is an old girl from that era). It is staying girls only. I will be interested to see whether they can adapt to a mixed ability intake and state school targeting but it certainly would not be true to say it was at the bottom end of the private school market academically.
Bay Jay - you are very nice and fair but I can't see why GEMs would start opening free schools for altruistic reasons when they haven't shown any signs of altruism so far. Given they have already been happy to shut one school at short notice why not others? Surely if their motives were altruistic they wouldn't pick on a wealthy part of London for their first free school - they would go somewhere more deprived where standards really need boosting. Isn't it more likely they want to get an easy win free school under their belt in case they need to start converting their failing private schools?
Mum in London - thanks for all that interesting stuff. I was trying to be a bit nice about the private schools that are not selective and help out desperate parents whose children aren't doing well in state sector (eg. because of dyslexia or a learning problem) and I had no sense of how many independent schools actually produce fairly average results. I think there should be a lot more publicity about all this. So many parents assume that any private school must be better than any state school. Maybe private schools that apply to convert should have their OFSTED inspection first as part of the application process?
"you are very nice and fair"
Well, I think all the information that Muminlondon has found is interesting, and potentially worrying, but I think its reasonable to give the people involved the benefit of the doubt when they're not here to defend themselves. They are real people, with real lives and careers, so any destructive comments aimed at individuals need to be based on fact. Otherwise its just cyber-bullying.
There's obviously a lot of negative press about free schools, and a lot of that is down to the radical-ness of the policy, and the speed with which it was introduced. However I do believe that behind every individual free school proposal is a group of well-meaning people. In some cases they might be naive or misguided, or may have misjudged local conditions, and one or two might even be slightly loopy, but I don't think anyone goes into it with pound signs in their eyes (ok,so possibly with the exception of the failing privates that need an injection of government cash to keep them afloat - but from what I've heard they're not flavour of the month with the DfE anyway).
That said, I do think the DfE (and obviously the politicians) have their ear to the ground on criticisms of the Free School policy. As I've said before its a policy that seems to evolve year on year.
Lottie Maybe private schools that apply to convert should have their OFSTED inspection first as part of the application process? I would hope that the process that the D of E goes through to approve Free Schools, whilst opaque, would at the very least be looking for free school proposals to demonstrate the leadership and proposed strategies and processes that would deliver an OFSTED outstanding school, that surely would be the basic criteria, even before meeting need. From what Bayjay has said, and I have read in articles by other Free School proposals, a lot of work is required of Free School proposers to do that. I can think of all sorts of reasons a school might not manage that in the first year especially if it was going through a radical shift in character, in the case of Batley going from single sex selective with a small pupil cohort to larger co ed non selective. Given likely problems with staff skills, turnover, all the careful targeting of teaching to different ability groups, implementation of targeting of different ability groups etc. etc. From the Independent article it sounds as if Batley's leadership was not criticised but the teaching and targeting.
I am also not at all surprised at muminlondon's analysis of the private sector, having looked at the private school league tables over the years. Whichever way they cut it, (and they do, whichever which way, and then the schools quote whichever puts them highest ) we live in a bubble of private school provision. People get hung up about tiny distinctions in performance that put certain schools above others but pretty much all the truly selective private schools around here are in the top 100 in the country, and most of the rest of the top 100 are either the most selective Boarding Schools or the big city Grammars / Highs. I don't make any claims for this table which is based on A/A*s but as an illustration www.telegraph.co.uk/education/leaguetables/9551003/GCSE-results-2012-Independent-school-results-table.html If you look at the bottom 100 though you will see that most schools are in small town/ rural areas. It is interesting that the local schools are Corona and More House (which is of course highly specialised provision for pupils with learning difficulties so severe pupils are often sent there by LA's to meet the requirements of their statement - 20 from LBRUT). My parents live in a rural area and there are some very indifferent private schools and some outstanding comps, but the indifferent private schools seem to survive through a combination of the lack of local competition, people liking the facilities and class sizes, people with less able children being terrified by the prospect of lower sets in the comps, not being quite in catchment for the comps and downright snobbery.
What is interesting though is that a lot of these not quite so sought after schools are long established and sitting in some very desirable properties, the GEMS school in Cornwall is an example. As was Putney Park www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21664277
There are surprisingly few chains in the private sector - and as very few new private schools have been established from scratch, those that exist are takeovers or federations. And the best performing are charitable trusts, not profit-making firms - e.g. GDST (but also selective). The other chains are mainly in the middle/lower end. Woodard is the upper middle (it's Christian charity that proposed the other Kingston free school) but it may still be selective and has not been successful with its sponsored academy which is still in special measures. Cognita is profit-making and has had its problems too - quite a big chain, non-selective, results averaging 80% GCSEs but only 30% Ebacc (Gove's gold standard). Like I pointed out, strip out the socio-economic advantage and state schools still compare well, as fee-paying schools will not have 25% on FSM etc.
I do feel most concerned about rapid expansion of chains and the profit motive. The sponsor of star academy Mossbourne is a charity and not a chain. Meanwhile, commercial sponsors of academies have been ineffective (e.g. Manchester Airport).
Ofsted will judge local schools (RPA is doing well, we know). But it does take time for issues to come to light and many of those googled examples are local knowledge but have a low profile nationally.
Sorry, the Woodard school story is here:
Just to correct an earlier comment, I thought the GEMS Milton Keynes school (mentioned here was also a boarding school (Webber, Bury Lawns until 2011 but it isn't according to the DfE . The 2012 census figures state it had capacity for 492 children aged 1-19, but 168 pupils.
This more recent article is also interesting.
The Humanists have published an analysis of the religious character of the Free School proposals from 2011-13; and a press release.
329 not faith (134 successful)
111 other Christian (19 successful)
80 Muslim (5 successful)
32 Church of England (15 successful)
27 Steiner (2 successful)
15 Plymouth Brethren (0 successful including the "Focus Learning Trust" entry)
13 Sikh (7 successful)
12 Jewish (6 successful)
10 Christian Schools Trust (0 successful including one that is also Accelerated Christian Education)
9 Accelerated Christian Education (0 successful including the "Christian Education Europe Ltd" entry, and one that is also Christian Schools Trust)
8 Catholic (2 successful)
3 Maharishi (1 successful)
3 Hindu (2 successful)
2 Greek Orthodox (1 successful)
1 Satanist (0 successful)
1 Russian Orthodox (0 successful)
1 "Hindu/Buddhist/Ghandian" (0 successful the first ever proposal for a Buddhist state school?)
The success rate of the Muslim bids is strikingly low, considering what a huge pent up demand there must be. There may be good reasons for rejecting them but it must seem very unfair to their promoters. Helping them to raise their game, frame bids that meet the DfE criteria and shine at interview would seem to be a more useful use of Jodie King?s and GEMS?s services than promoting a school in Teddington, which is overflowing with energetic articulate pushy parents quite capable to doing the business themselves.
Chris, there weren't 80 different bids for Muslim schools, as many of those groups bid several times. A lot were existing private schools - and I identified about 75 Muslim private schools where pupils took GCSEs, mostly tiny schools averaging about 20 pupils per year (a lot of them had poor GCSE results and over half did not enter pupils for the full Ebacc range of subjects). Among the bids there were also many different denominations, e.g. Deobandi Hanafi, Sunni, Twelver Shia Islam, etc. which may be in competition with each other.
The schools that were approved were in the North West, the Midlands and London, representing the geographical areas where bids were made, and most are to be run by existing (successful) school groups which are already operating VA schools.
But without more contextual information on the business case, e.g. size of school, management, proposed curriculum, site, etc. I don't think you can draw conclusions about some religions being treated more favourably than others. By the same token you could say the DfE had it in for Montessori nurseries as there were about 20 different bids and only one approved. I imagine the Dfe would have needed to assess how popular and therefore economically viable the school would be, how likely it is to be well run, and how it might impact community cohesion within and between religious communities.
p.s. news of another secondary free school bid (Reading) with GEMS involvement is here:
It seems to have been put forward in a rush by the local Conservative MP. I've noticed there is another free school approved in that area backed by CfBT.
... But it wasn't successful
The Conservative peer Lord Baker made some interesting comments about Muslim private and voluntary aided schools in the 2006 debate on faith schools (Lords amendment only) - see Hansard column 704.
The RTT reports [p. 7]: Eucation leaflets a ?waste of money?: the Lib Dems have pointed out that the glossy leaflet from the boroughs Education Director contains inaccuracies and little useful information about education. For the Tories, Cll Samuel has denounced this criticism as . . a disreputable slur [on] a public servant of impeccable integrity.
The cost is said to be only £7,400 including distribution: this seems much too low and I think is the print cost only.
Just posting this link for anyone interested in reading about the latest evolution of the Free School policy: here.
Happy Easter everyone!
Statistics on secondary offer data were published last week. The BBC reported on it here.
Hammersmith and Fulham has the lowest rates of meeting parental preference in London (and third lowest anywhere) - 57%. 11.9% of residents were without an offer corresponding to preference; 28.7% of pupils offered places in in other LAs.
(North Tyneside in the North East has the highest satisfaction rate (99%) for first choice offers - 0.4% without an offer corresponding to preference. Exam results/Ofsted do not correlate, school autonomy similarly high, no issue with capacity - but big differences in admission policies of local schools ...)
Richmond, Hounslow and Kingston all saw a slight dip in applications in 2013 (2012 figures in brackets):
Richmond: 72.4% first preference met. 1,499 (1,537) applications, 249 (310) offered other LA, 97 (141) no offer corresponding to a preference.
Kingston: 69.1% first preference met. 1,439 (1,465) applications, 327 (338) offered other LA, 59 (45) no offer corresponding to a preference.
Hounslow: 73% first preference met. 2,456 (2,477) applications, 594 (599) offered other LA, 54 (111) no offer corresponding to a preference.
I see more emphasis on meeting demand in the new free school criteria. But free schools alone are not meeting need - the London boroughs not able to provide any alternative offers are Hammersmith and Fulham, Hackney, Westminster and Tower Hamlets.
H&F already has one free school - the other to be approved is a CofE boys school so may still not meet demand and/or may, like Sacred Heart, Oratory and Lady Margaret, select children from other boroughs on religious grounds. Fine for David Cameron and Nick Clegg's children but not other residents. Good to see more rigorous criteria for governance - but it really is insane not to give LAs a role in planning according to need in those boroughs that already have severe shortages.
On school place planning, the National Audit Office has just criticised the DfE for its lack of transparency, clarity and understanding of costs and the impact of its school reforms.
- 256,000 new school places needed by 2014/15; 240,000 are primary places (37% in London).
- Only 8,800 of the 24,500 new free school places are in primary schools and most will not be operating at their full capacity by 2014/15.
- LAs have no powers to direct academies and free schools to expand to take more pupils.
- The 'significant omissions' from the DfE's costings include not making allowance for VAT in VA schools and assuming LAs would contribute 20% of the cost of new places when the actual contribution in 2012-13 was 34%.
- Richmond faces 'high' pressure on primary places along with half of London (less than 5% surplus capacity) but the other half faces 'severe' demand.
The Mirror reports: Free schools files set to finally be released after freedom of information battle:
' . . Scores of [free] schools . . have opened in the last two years . . But the Department for Education has refused to release impact assessments on how other nearby schools are affected. It said the disclosure could inhibit free and frank advice or prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.
Now the NUT has convinced the Information Commission that the DfE should release the documents in the public interest. The union hailed it as a victory for openness and transparency and claimed it would raise questions involving millions of pounds of taxpayers money.
The NUT also revealed research showing that free schools are opening in areas where local state schools have a surplus of places . .
Chris, that NUT research doesn't show anything new or surprising. The free school policy was always intended to cater for more than just "basic need". The latest documentation that I linked to a few posts back defines need as a "combination of parental demand .... basic need for places, or low existing standards."
I suspect that if the NUT had extended their study to look at the average quality of the surplus school places, then the reasons for them remaining surplus would be clear.
Of course there's more than one way to deal with the quality issues, and the NUT obviously feel that opening alternative schools isn't the best way to do that. They might well be right, but its a bit disingenuous of them to not even acknowledge the problem.
It's disingenuous of the DfE to say that 'The majority of open mainstream free schools are in areas with the greatest pressure on places' when the NAO says only 58% have opened in LAs where there is a shortage of places and not the primary places needed - and yet it's the only route for new schools unless LAs have a friendly diocese to work with. It remains to be seen whether they are better quality schools than ones or even if they meet parental demand and fill up. The problem is the targeting of resources and impact on surrounding schools - if they were struggling to attract students and teachers before in rural or deprived areas it may get harder.
"It's disingenuous of the DfE to say that 'The majority of open mainstream free schools are in areas with the greatest pressure on places' when the NAO says only 58% have opened in LAs where there is a shortage of places"
Well, if was being pedantic I'd say that 58% is a majority ... but yes, they're putting a positive spin on it. I think you can expect to see that percentage go up as the DfE respond to the NAO report in future decision-making. My high-level impression is that the early free-school rounds were about a) addressing quality issues and b) aiming for a free school in every LA to avoid them being painted as a middle-class London phenomenon. Subsequent rounds (including the current one) will be more about addressing the need for places.
"It remains to be seen whether they are better quality schools than ones or even if they meet parental demand and fill up. The problem is the targeting of resources and impact on surrounding schools - if they were struggling to attract students and teachers before in rural or deprived areas it may get harder."
I don't disagree with any of that.
Not just a positive spin. I interpreted the NAO as meaning 58% of free schools were in areas of shortages but for a different phase of school, so overall a minority were meeting current shortages.
That's backed up by analysis stating the 100+ second wave free schools were established in only four areas of primary place shortage and three of the areas of secondary place shortages.
In relation to quality, only a minority were in the 20 areas listed by the New Schools Network as worst either for results or Ofsted. Beccles Free School was approved next to a 'good' existing school in an area of a big surplus places (which is why even the Conservative MP campaigned against it).
In Hammersmith and Fulham where West London Free School is, all schools are good or outstanding (though many are difficult to access). Between 2010 and 2013 applications have dipped by 0.5%, places have increased by 17.5% (WLFS accounts for half of them), and 9% more are staying within the borough - but the number of first preferences met has only increased by 1.2%. Surely the satisfaction rate should be 9% higher?
The FT reports: Hospitals urged to help schools search:
Hospital managers are being urged to identify unused wards and outbuildings that could be used to house the coalitions flagship free schools for as little as six months, in a sign of increasing urgency as ministers scramble to find new school places ahead of a looming capacity crunch . . NHS trusts are . . being pressed to tell education officials about any possible locations even if they do not consider them to be suitable.
. . Natalie Evans, director of the New Schools Network, a charity that helps groups wanting to set up free schools [said] that finding suitable sites had been the biggest challenge for those groups trying to set up a school: The demand for free schools remains high both in areas where there has been a boom in pupil numbers, or where parents are unhappy with the schools currently on offer but the supply of suitable sites has struggled to keep pace, . .
Clinics, health centres, day centres, hospitals, ambulance stations and care facilities have all been considered for conversion into school, although the costs involved are significant. Bolingbroke Academy, a free school which opened in September in Wandsworth . . stirred significant controversy given the £13m spent on purchasing the hospital site and more than £12m further on building work to make it suitable for pupils . .
Hi muminlondon. I think the WLFS falls squarely into the 'parental demand' category rather than the 'basic need' category because its raison d'être was to provide something different to a traditional community school. It's admissions policy deliberately opens it up to families in a wider area than just Hammersmith & Fulham, and its certainly oversubscribed.
In general I think it would be a good thing for the free school approval process to become more transparent, including the impact assessments. Lack of openness causes controversy, even if the underlying decisions are reasonable.
Talking of controversy, the Maharishi school is making waves again.
There could be just as much controversy if free schools are used to plug gaps in basic need provision as when they have created surplus places. They can't be directed to expand or take bulge classes, and having them open in inadequate premises with unqualified teachers is a risk and a turn-off. If they are too small they may put a strain on resources, if very large there may be questions about transparency and motives in how sponsors are selected and who approached whom first. Using decommissioned A&E units in hospitals will not go down well ... If parents are allocated alternative offers at a Maharishi school, Sikh or other school not of their religion, one with no outside space, or a head with no teaching experience at that level, there would be a rise in appeals to the LA (or whoever you appeal to).
The Maharishi story is appalling - it suggests they only have 4 pupils taking GCSE. Richmond had a lucky escape.
On another topic, RPA's sponsor AET has been told to halt expansion to focus on existing schools.
Well, yes, I guess there's lots of room for things to go wrong with Free schools, but hopefully lots of room for things to go right too. People will need to look at each one on its own merit, and hopefully won't tar them all with the same brush.
The RTT reports:
School faith places anger campaigners p 11: St Stephen?s voluntary aided primary school has introduced 6 foundation places [out of 60] for the children of worshippers at local churches, primarily St Stephen?s which has a large congregation of young families. RISC objected.
For info, Richmond council have just published their annual report on School Standards, containing the validated Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 (GCSE) results for 2012 .... here.
The Telegraph reports: Nine-in-10 of the Coalition's free schools 'oversubscribed' (Apr 11):
Up to 10 children are competing for each place at the Coalitions flagship free schools amid intense competition for the most sought-after institutions, according to research . . The most popular school, West London Free School in Hammersmith, had 1,196 applications for just 120 places leaving 10 pupils competing for every spare desk.
The DfE surveyed 63 free schools due to open at the start of the academic year. In all, 55 reported that they were oversubscribed and eight were under-subscribed.
- 100% of schools oversubscribed in Richmond: more than three applicants for every place in the borough as a whole!
- Five children competing for every place at Orleans Park!
- Nearly 1,100 applications for Teddington!
- More than two applicants chasing every place at St Richard Reynold's in its first year!
'around 13 per cent of the schools officially had fewer applications than places leaving them standing partially empty in September'
In comparison Richmond's schools are doing fantastically well ... Or are those statistics misleading?
Same sort of article published in Telegraph same date last year - similar proportion reported being oversubscribed.
Then the BBC reported in October that a quarter of free schools were significantly undersubscribed (half or a third of places unfilled).
And the Telegraph still hasn't given first preferences for any of those examples.
"In comparison Richmond's schools are doing fantastically well ... Or are those statistics misleading?"
Statistics are always misleading unless people understand the variability behind them.
I think everyone would agree with you that Richmond's schools do fantastically well on average. However if you want to compare with established schools, would it not be better to use national stats?
Release of the free school stats is obviously a flag-waver for free school policy, and might annoy people who don't like the policy, but I don't think there's anything in there to put solidly performing established schools on the defensive. Some of the schools will be oversubscribed because they're in areas where established schools aren't doing so well, and some will be oversubscribed because they're offering something 'different', and others will be oversubscribed because they're in areas of high demand for places anyway. Others will be under-subscribed, and glossed over in the stats.
"Same sort of article published in Telegraph same date last year"
If its coordinated, rather than coincidental, then it could be some sort of drip-feed of positive news stories in the build up to releasing details of the new wave of free schools in May, although that was later last year (July).
'However if you want to compare with established schools, would it not be better to use national stats?'
Do you have those? I don't think that info is even published by all LAs unless requested specifically.
Some areas allow 6 preferences, some only 3. The offer statistics show total applications to the local authorities but not how many schools to choose from, or how many schools received applications. Some parents use all preferences, some put fewer. But in the way they have been interpreted in ths press release, each preference counts as an application. But this bears no relation to numbers of offered either made or accepted.
I think there were about 250 first preferences last year for WLFS and around the same number of total applications. The LSN network discussed it:
numbers of offers either made or accepted
"Do you have those? I don't think that info is even published by all LAs unless requested specifically."
No I don't, and you may be right that they would be hard to collate and baseline. Probably not worth the effort ... but I don't think its useful to compare the stats with Richmond either. The phrase "apples and pears" springs to mind.
The WLFS admissions policy has a lottery element, which encourages people across several London boroughs to 'take a punt'. I assume that's the main reason its so oversubscribed, along with its high media profile.
There is an article in the RTT here about St Marys Hampton Primary School. It received 100 applications from parents as one of six preferences.
The annual admissions brochure doesn't give total applications for community schools, only cut-off distance (no information is given for any church schools). The only comparable stats were in an FOI request for 2011 applications. In that year Hampton Infants received about 275 applications, although a more appropriate comparison would be Bishop Perrin - also CofE and 1FE - at 138 applications. So 100 sounds about right for its first year.
Any info on the other primaries this year or is it too early?
WLFS admission policy:
120 places will be available at the school each year. Ten per cent of children are admitted based on their aptitude for music and, in accordance with the School Admissions Code, priority is given to children with statements of special educational need and children in care. We also have a sibling policy.
We want to ensure that the school serves local families and after we've allocated places to music scholars, statemented children, siblings, etc, we allocate 50% of the remaining places on the basis of proximity.
The remaining places are awarded by lottery, with a majority being allocated to those who live within a 1.5-mile radius of the school and a smaller number to those within a three-mile radius.
WLFS is a 'prep school on the rates' and so naturally eagerly sought after by parents who will otherwise be shelling out for a prep school.
"Any info on the other primaries this year or is it too early?"
The primary offer day is April 17th, so there should be some news towards the end of next week.
"WLFS is a 'prep school on the rates' and so naturally eagerly sought after by parents who will otherwise be shelling out for a prep school."
WLFS is a secondary school (though they are applying to open a primary in 2014). A 'prep school' is a primary school. In any case, I think Toby Young would argue quite vociferously with your description. He pitches his school at the aspirational working class, who couldn't hope to afford private education, and uses the phrase 'comprehensive grammar'.
From this article: "Theres no evidence that the school appeals only to white, middle-class parents. In our first cohort of 120 pupils, 25 per cent are on free school meals and more than a third are black, Asian or minority ethnic percentages that mirror the social and ethnic composition of the area. It turns out that small class sizes, strong discipline and high standards appeal to parents across the board, not just the privileged elite. "
Toby Young calls it a 'comprehensive grammar' doesn't he? The 'prep' bit of it (i.e. the primary) is opening in September and will take children according to straight-line distance. It will be interesting to see how the admissions policy of the secondary school changes when children at the primary reach 11.
Cross-posted. The primary opens 2013 though, and he is applying to open a second primary (Earl's Court) isn't he? If they were both to be feeder schools with priority that would radically change the admissions policy.
"If they were both to be feeder schools..."
Well they haven't changed the WLFS admissions policy yet, but who knows what the plan is; they have time on their side. My guess is that they'll keep a lottery element, as Toby Y wouldn't want to give ammunition to his critics.
The RTT has a letter from me Schools not achieving p. 27 summarising the results of Chris Cook's analysis of borough performance in the FT Data blog which I set out here in January (Wed 16-Jan-13 16:04:17). I wrote it in reply to an ignorant and complacent letter last week asserting that our secondary schools were rising in the league tables.
Saw that Chris. It'll be interesting to see the impact of Education Richmond in coming years, as it could provide a similar level of support as the London Challenge. It will need to be given time to prove itself though.