Local Talk

New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4

(1001 Posts)
BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:26:33

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 ....

jotwicken Fri 09-Nov-12 22:12:32

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.

BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:19:07

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 10-Nov-12 00:08:37

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'.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 10-Nov-12 01:33:46

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?

muminlondon2 Sat 10-Nov-12 07:46:48

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.

Heathclif Sat 10-Nov-12 10:25:19

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......

muminlondon2 Sat 10-Nov-12 11:04:24

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.

BayJay2 Sat 10-Nov-12 12:26:10

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 10-Nov-12 14:54:20

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 10-Nov-12 23:13:04

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.

BayJay2 Sun 11-Nov-12 09:36:09

"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.

BayJay2 Sun 11-Nov-12 10:15:06

p.s. Also, just posting this link to IES's contact form, so if anyone wants to know more they can contact them directly.

jotwicken Sun 11-Nov-12 16:53:56

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

LProsser Mon 12-Nov-12 13:54:42

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?

BayJay2 Mon 12-Nov-12 14:04:30

"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.

gmsing2 Mon 12-Nov-12 14:42:48

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 12-Nov-12 16:37:30

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 12-Nov-12 17:44:52

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.

BayJay2 Mon 12-Nov-12 18:44:30

"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.

muminlondon2 Mon 12-Nov-12 19:28:43

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).

jotwicken Mon 12-Nov-12 20:23:51

I saw somewhere ( can't remember source) that Maharishi is not applying in Richmond this Dec.

muminlondon2 Mon 12-Nov-12 20:42:18

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.

jotwicken Mon 12-Nov-12 22:17:02

found the article that Maharishi is not applying for Richmond due to lack of sites !


LProsser Tue 13-Nov-12 09:48:21

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.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 13-Nov-12 17:47:11

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.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 13-Nov-12 18:10:55
muminlondon2 Tue 13-Nov-12 23:03:19

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.

BayJay2 Wed 14-Nov-12 09:35:50

"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.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 14-Nov-12 13:46:18

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 . .

Heathclif Wed 14-Nov-12 14:34:32

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 being’s 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.

muminlondon2 Wed 14-Nov-12 23:02:49

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.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 15-Nov-12 00:32:22

(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 . .

gmsing2 Thu 15-Nov-12 07:12:36

Judicial review hearing starts today in around 3 hrs!
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

ChrisSquire2 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:20:55

Mr Justice Sales on video: he seems a sensible chap - not at all like my idea of High Court judge.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 15-Nov-12 13:48:12

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 . .

ChrisSquire2 Thu 15-Nov-12 14:57:47

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.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 15-Nov-12 22:27:55

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 State’s lawyer. And our lawyer will be able to reply.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 16-Nov-12 12:04:26
ChrisSquire2 Fri 16-Nov-12 13:52:24

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 . .

gmsing2 Fri 16-Nov-12 17:56:58

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

Heathclif Fri 16-Nov-12 18:10:24

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 wink

Heathclif Fri 16-Nov-12 18:28:29

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"

NorthSheenisNice Fri 16-Nov-12 18:31:39

very disappointing.

One more vote for the lib dems in this house over the whole debacle

muminlondon2 Fri 16-Nov-12 18:44:29

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 17-Nov-12 01:20:54

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 Council’s decision on the future of the Clifden Site is lawful.

In May the Council’s 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 Westminster’s proposals for the schools.

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“I am delighted with today’s 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 children’s 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 Council’s 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.”

LProsser Sat 17-Nov-12 08:40:06

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.

minglemingle Sat 17-Nov-12 11:52:32

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??

ChrisSquire2 Sat 17-Nov-12 12:23:25

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 Forster’s 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 . . ‘

BayJay2 Sat 17-Nov-12 13:36:03

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 17-Nov-12 14:02:32

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 . .

NorthSheenisNice Sat 17-Nov-12 14:06:10

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.

NorthSheenisNice Sat 17-Nov-12 14:08:18

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.

Hear hear.

Too much to hope that we will go the way of other western counties and refuse to fund religious schools that are not inclusive.

gmsing2 Sat 17-Nov-12 17:06:47

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 17-Nov-12 17:06:49

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: lettersrtt@london.newsquest.co.uk 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.

gmsing2 Sat 17-Nov-12 17:57:41

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!

muminlondon2 Sat 17-Nov-12 18:41:59

Good point gmsing2.

jotwicken Sat 17-Nov-12 22:26:30

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sun 18-Nov-12 01:18:36

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.

concparentt Sun 18-Nov-12 20:44:28

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 .

muminlondon2 Sun 18-Nov-12 23:20:00

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.

BayJay2 Mon 19-Nov-12 13:32:01

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.

Heathclif Mon 19-Nov-12 15:18:18

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 19-Nov-12 23:51:25

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'.

gmsing2 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:04:03
ChrisSquire2 Sat 24-Nov-12 12:48:35

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.

Heliview22 Sat 24-Nov-12 13:51:04

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.

muminlondon2 Sun 25-Nov-12 01:38:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

muminlondon2 Sun 25-Nov-12 09:18:00

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.

ChrisSquire2 Mon 26-Nov-12 11:28:33

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) . .

Key points:
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.

LProsser Mon 26-Nov-12 13:29:36

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 26-Nov-12 15:11:31

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 26-Nov-12 18:17:37

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.

BayJay2 Mon 26-Nov-12 21:21:03

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". smile

BayJay2 Tue 27-Nov-12 10:42:24

Just posting a link to an interesting Telegraph Article.

gmsing2 Tue 27-Nov-12 10:46:49

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 !

jotwicken Tue 27-Nov-12 13:33:19

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 ?

Heathclif Wed 28-Nov-12 08:07:41

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.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 28-Nov-12 10:27:37

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.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 28-Nov-12 10:52:49

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 Cable’s 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 don’t 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

concparentt Wed 28-Nov-12 11:14:55

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!

BayJay2 Wed 28-Nov-12 11:49:41

For info, Richmond Council have just published their 2012 Admissions Report. It also includes preference data for 2013 applications.

BayJay2 Wed 28-Nov-12 12:18:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BayJay2 Wed 28-Nov-12 12:42:11

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.

BayJay2 Wed 28-Nov-12 14:36:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Heathclif Wed 28-Nov-12 14:56:28

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.

BayJay2 Wed 28-Nov-12 15:30:06

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 28-Nov-12 16:21:44

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).

LProsser Wed 28-Nov-12 17:32:17

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!

BayJay2 Wed 28-Nov-12 17:44:41

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 28-Nov-12 19:36:08

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'.

muminlondon2 Wed 28-Nov-12 20:07:12

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.

LProsser Wed 28-Nov-12 21:27:06

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.

BayJay2 Thu 29-Nov-12 09:22:54

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.

Heathclif Thu 29-Nov-12 15:15:11

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.

muminlondon2 Thu 29-Nov-12 19:25:32

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.

concparentt Thu 29-Nov-12 21:15:03

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

concparentt Thu 29-Nov-12 21:42:56

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.

jotwicken Thu 29-Nov-12 22:02:43

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!

muminlondon2 Thu 29-Nov-12 22:38:19

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).

jotwicken Sat 01-Dec-12 18:21:55

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 ?

ChrisSquire2 Sat 01-Dec-12 19:40:52

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.

Heliview22 Sat 01-Dec-12 21:10:28

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sun 02-Dec-12 10:31:14

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 . .

ChrisSquire2 Sun 02-Dec-12 10:48:33

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 Paul’s 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 primary’s 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 didn’t 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 school’s 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

muminlondon2 Sun 02-Dec-12 11:48:26

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.

Heliview22 Sun 02-Dec-12 13:31:09

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.

concparentt Sun 02-Dec-12 16:17:34

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!

gmsing2 Mon 03-Dec-12 00:05:06

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.

gmsing2 Mon 03-Dec-12 00:06:19

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

jotwicken Thu 06-Dec-12 17:38:04

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 ?

muminlondon2 Thu 06-Dec-12 18:04:18

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.

jotwicken Thu 06-Dec-12 23:02:16

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 07-Dec-12 00:05:00

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.

BayJay2 Fri 07-Dec-12 06:36:26

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!

mmptsa Fri 07-Dec-12 09:32:53

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.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 07-Dec-12 09:53:36

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.

Heliview22 Fri 07-Dec-12 12:52:46

"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!)

Heathclif Fri 07-Dec-12 13:08:28

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.

Heathclif Fri 07-Dec-12 13:12:32

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....

BayJay2 Fri 07-Dec-12 13:14:59

"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.

BayJay2 Fri 07-Dec-12 16:00:30

"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.

mmptsa Fri 07-Dec-12 19:13:28

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.

Heathclif Fri 07-Dec-12 20:00:40

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.

Heathclif Fri 07-Dec-12 20:15:39

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.

mmptsa Fri 07-Dec-12 21:36:55

DfE is spending millions on the academies. If there are 200 open spaces in Richmond, it would be poor value to add another 150

Heathclif Sat 08-Dec-12 00:03:31

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?

ChrisSquire2 Sat 08-Dec-12 11:41:13

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 didn’t 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.

Heliview22 Sat 08-Dec-12 12:11:51

"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.

mmptsa Sat 08-Dec-12 15:24:20

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.

concparentt Sat 08-Dec-12 16:02:54

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.

Heathclif Sat 08-Dec-12 17:19:17

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.

jotwicken Sat 08-Dec-12 18:23:01

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.

BayJay2 Sat 08-Dec-12 18:58:22

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.

BayJay2 Sat 08-Dec-12 19:34:56

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.

jotwicken Sat 08-Dec-12 19:56:01

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.

BayJay2 Sat 08-Dec-12 20:14:33

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.

Heathclif Sun 09-Dec-12 13:56:28

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.

gmsing2 Sun 09-Dec-12 14:37:16

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

muminlondon2 Mon 10-Dec-12 08:13:24

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:

2013: 238
2014: 237
2015: 273

ChrisSquire2 Mon 10-Dec-12 14:02:23

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?

BayJay2 Mon 10-Dec-12 16:32:27

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
2012: 1731
2013: 1710
2014: 1854
2015: 1903
2016: 2094
2017: 2168
2018: 2302

ChrisSquire2 Mon 10-Dec-12 17:04:07

The 2018 number pushes the growth rate up to 4.7 % p.a. and the doubling time down to 16 years.

jotwicken Mon 10-Dec-12 18:44:03

Thanks everyone for the data and analysis - all makes sense . When will the Council update the slippery forecast they made last year ?

muminlondon2 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:59:55

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]

ChrisSquire2 Tue 11-Dec-12 12:51:34

From the 2011 Census data released today:

The borough’s 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?

muminlondon2 Tue 11-Dec-12 14:56:08

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).

ChrisSquire2 Tue 11-Dec-12 16:41:58

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.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 11-Dec-12 16:54:27

2001 rates for England & Wales: Christian 72 %; No religion 15 %; Religion not stated 8.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 11-Dec-12 17:39:57

. . 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.

muminlondon2 Tue 11-Dec-12 17:56:07

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.

mmptsa Tue 11-Dec-12 20:04:43

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!

muminlondon2 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:24:38

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.

mmptsa Tue 11-Dec-12 20:38:40

Where is the shortage at secondary level - there are more than 150 spaces in the academies!

muminlondon2 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:35:39

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.

mmptsa Tue 11-Dec-12 21:50:35

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.

mmptsa Tue 11-Dec-12 21:58:40

It would be preposterous to add more capacity whilst there are spare spaces in the system.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 11-Dec-12 22:10:43

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.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 11-Dec-12 22:15:07

muminlondon2: thanks for the correction - an error in transcribing numbers which I should have spotted.

Heathclif Tue 11-Dec-12 22:21:58

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.

jotwicken Tue 11-Dec-12 22:39:11

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.

muminlondon2 Tue 11-Dec-12 23:17:40

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.

jotwicken Wed 12-Dec-12 08:39:26

More information on the Governing Boards at the academies can be found here.

LProsser Wed 12-Dec-12 09:35:33

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!

Heliview22 Wed 12-Dec-12 10:09:33

"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.

jotwicken Wed 12-Dec-12 11:08:28

Then perhaps they need to be doing more and create more awareness. Just being a silent minority does not help anybody.

Veechee Wed 12-Dec-12 11:24:51

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.

Cat242 Wed 12-Dec-12 11:34:36

According to St E's only 4 Y6 pupils transferred to private schools in 2012 (p.9)

St Elizabeth's School Profile 2012

Heathclif Wed 12-Dec-12 12:24:11

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.

LProsser Wed 12-Dec-12 13:05:15

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?

mmptsa Wed 12-Dec-12 13:08:45

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.

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 13:59:16

"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.

Heathclif Wed 12-Dec-12 14:58:07

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 12-Dec-12 16:33:15

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 12-Dec-12 17:27:08

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.

concparentt Wed 12-Dec-12 18:00:49

Bayjay councils could potentially set up voluntary community schools under Sec 11 outside of free school and academy competition.

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 18:22:25

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.

concparentt Wed 12-Dec-12 18:41:24

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.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 12-Dec-12 18:59:46

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.

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:00:24

In the Portsmouth case I assume its the CofE Diocese that's the proposer, so its a VA faith school like St RR.

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:06:25

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.

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:11:59

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.

gmsing2 Wed 12-Dec-12 20:59:51

Bayjay - interesting points. Could there not be a non faith VA or VC school ?

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 21:12:50

"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.

BayJay2 Wed 12-Dec-12 22:29:09

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 14-Dec-12 00:45:12

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.

BayJay2 Fri 14-Dec-12 09:19:08

"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.

Heathclif Fri 14-Dec-12 13:02:32

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?

muminlondon2 Fri 14-Dec-12 13:24:33

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.

gmsing2 Fri 14-Dec-12 15:20:27

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

Heathclif Fri 14-Dec-12 15:31:53

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 14-Dec-12 17:39:31

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.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 14-Dec-12 18:12:27

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 Council’s 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 Diocese’s proposals to establish the two new Catholic schools should be approved and the Site made available for the implementation of those proposals.

71. The Council’s assessment of these matters cannot be impugned as irrational or in any way unlawful.

Heliview22 Fri 14-Dec-12 18:30:57

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.

Heathclif Fri 14-Dec-12 18:55:09

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?

Heathclif Fri 14-Dec-12 19:00:59

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!!

muminlondon2 Fri 14-Dec-12 19:34:30

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.

mmptsa Fri 14-Dec-12 22:08:13

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.

mmptsa Fri 14-Dec-12 22:40:05

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.

BayJay2 Fri 14-Dec-12 22:41:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BayJay2 Fri 14-Dec-12 22:55:51

"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.

BayJay2 Fri 14-Dec-12 23:03:50

"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.

BayJay2 Sat 15-Dec-12 05:50:59

"That process will continue and soon they will be full"

Before JoTwick jumps in to remind me smile 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).

jotwicken Sat 15-Dec-12 10:28:34

BayJay I am impressed by your ability to read my mind and dedication to wake up early to make that post smile

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 10:53:53

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 11:36:48

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 11:41:03

onsite sports facilities -obviously St Mary's are excellent

BayJay2 Sat 15-Dec-12 11:49:23

"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.

BayJay2 Sat 15-Dec-12 12:01:50

"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.

Heathclif Sat 15-Dec-12 12:09:04

muminlondon Yes the indie was a direct grammar when I went there (I am very old blush) 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.

Heathclif Sat 15-Dec-12 12:38:11

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.

Heathclif Sat 15-Dec-12 12:52:15

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.

jotwicken Sat 15-Dec-12 13:51:33

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.

BayJay2 Sat 15-Dec-12 14:11:25

"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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 14:17:14

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 14:46:34

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 14:49:44

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.

BayJay2 Sat 15-Dec-12 14:53:45

"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 smile.

jotwicken Sat 15-Dec-12 15:37:10

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.

Heathclif Sat 15-Dec-12 15:46:49

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 16:01:04

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.

jotwicken Sat 15-Dec-12 16:02:24

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.

Heathclif Sat 15-Dec-12 17:05:34

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 15-Dec-12 17:52:48

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sun 16-Dec-12 13:57:50

Human Rights Blog, written by members of 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers, offers this handy summary of the JR:

The Court’s 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 Council’s 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.

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 14:30:09

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.

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 15:27:55

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.

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 16:12:10

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?

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 16:19:39

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.

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 16:24:00

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.

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 16:31:28

"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.

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 17:16:21

"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?

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 17:37:12

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.

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 18:01:45

"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.

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 18:17:53

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.

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 18:33:20

"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.

gmsing2 Sun 16-Dec-12 18:54:27

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.

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 19:39:30

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.

gmsing2 Sun 16-Dec-12 20:32:55

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.

muminlondon2 Sun 16-Dec-12 21:11:30

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.

mmptsa Sun 16-Dec-12 21:24:05

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.

BayJay2 Sun 16-Dec-12 21:33:12

"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.

Heathclif Sun 16-Dec-12 23:07:19

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 17-Dec-12 00:09:25

BayJay, I'm glad the site isn't the determining factor and while it's logistically difficult without

muminlondon2 Mon 17-Dec-12 00:20:23

(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.)

BayJay2 Mon 17-Dec-12 06:44:00

"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!

gmsing2 Mon 17-Dec-12 07:44:34

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!!).

BayJay2 Mon 17-Dec-12 09:29:38

"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.

jotwicken Mon 17-Dec-12 09:55:53

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.

BayJay2 Mon 17-Dec-12 10:16:48

"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". smile 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.

Heathclif Mon 17-Dec-12 13:53:51

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.

BayJay2 Mon 17-Dec-12 15:43:17

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.

jotwicken Mon 17-Dec-12 16:24:04

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 17-Dec-12 18:23:52

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 17-Dec-12 18:32:25

Unless of course there is 100% take-up of state schools as I underlined earlier grin

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 ...

BayJay2 Mon 17-Dec-12 19:15:26

"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.

concparentt Mon 17-Dec-12 19:39:10

In the spirit of positive and constructive developments- congratulations to all for writing this letter to Gove

Heliview22 Tue 18-Dec-12 13:03:05

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.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 18-Dec-12 18:46:12

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.

Heliview22 Tue 18-Dec-12 21:22:38

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.

mmptsa Tue 18-Dec-12 21:39:19

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.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 18-Dec-12 22:20:31

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.

Heliview22 Tue 18-Dec-12 22:22:48

???"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.

mmptsa Tue 18-Dec-12 22:55:34

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.

jotwicken Tue 18-Dec-12 23:03:17

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!

LProsser Tue 18-Dec-12 23:22:34

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.

muminlondon2 Tue 18-Dec-12 23:45:36

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.

ryelrom Wed 19-Dec-12 00:38:10

- 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?

Heathclif Wed 19-Dec-12 00:43:36

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....

gmsing2 Wed 19-Dec-12 09:25:55

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.

Heliview22 Wed 19-Dec-12 09:33:51

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.

Heliview22 Wed 19-Dec-12 09:43:01

"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.

Heathclif Wed 19-Dec-12 09:51:13

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.

LProsser Wed 19-Dec-12 10:34:33

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?

Heliview22 Wed 19-Dec-12 10:44:40

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.

Heathclif Wed 19-Dec-12 10:48:19

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 19-Dec-12 11:05:47

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%

BayJay2 Wed 19-Dec-12 11:07:57

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 19-Dec-12 13:25:00

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 19-Dec-12 14:45:15

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).

ChrisSquire2 Wed 19-Dec-12 15:27:44

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 19-Dec-12 15:28:31

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.

muminlondon2 Wed 19-Dec-12 16:06:06

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?

BayJay2 Wed 19-Dec-12 18:58:13

"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.

muminlondon2 Wed 19-Dec-12 21:25:50

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.

Heathclif Wed 19-Dec-12 22:23:32

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?

muminlondon2 Thu 20-Dec-12 08:04:49

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.

Heathclif Thu 20-Dec-12 10:42:20

I think they were talking about something more recent but possibly primary. Anyway generally regarded dimly by Senior Mangers in Councils nationwide.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 20-Dec-12 12:03:17

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 don’t know.

muminlondon2 Thu 20-Dec-12 12:44:17

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.

muminlondon2 Thu 20-Dec-12 13:13:09

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:

Queen’s: 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 Mary’s: 24 foundation places (27%)
St Mary’s and St Peter’s: church attendance in particular parishes prioritised over distance
St John the Baptist: link with infant school prioritised over church attendance
St Mary’s 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.

jotwicken Thu 20-Dec-12 15:54:52

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.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 21-Dec-12 11:26:31

Cllr Naylor represents Riverside ward, which is well served by 4 Primary schools: St Mary’s, Orleans, St Stephen’s 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 Stephen’s 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 Stephen’s 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.

muminlondon2 Fri 21-Dec-12 12:45:55

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?

ChrisSquire2 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:00:47

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.

BayJay4 Fri 21-Dec-12 22:50:32

"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 smile. 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)

ChrisSquire2 Sat 22-Dec-12 00:56:05

‘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 didn’t give the winner some real power over resources [and thereby other people’s 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 Cable’s 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.

BayJay4 Sat 22-Dec-12 09:35:19

"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! wine brew flowers. smile

muminlondon2 Wed 02-Jan-13 16:01:11

Happy new year brew

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.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 03-Jan-13 01:27:58

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.

Heathclif Thu 03-Jan-13 10:20:59

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 hmm).

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.....

ChrisSquire2 Thu 03-Jan-13 18:21:54

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 . .

muminlondon2 Thu 03-Jan-13 19:58:19

£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).

muminlondon2 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:58:36

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.

Heathclif Thu 03-Jan-13 23:47:04

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 04-Jan-13 11:56:15

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].

Heathclif Fri 04-Jan-13 13:25:43

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 04-Jan-13 14:52:01

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.

BayJay2 Fri 04-Jan-13 15:50:20

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.

BayJay2 Fri 04-Jan-13 15:57:12

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.

BayJay2 Fri 04-Jan-13 16:20:19

"Richmond Council has a new Schools Forum"

Actually I've realised its not a new forum after all. It just has a new constitution.

muminlondon2 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:13:33

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?!   

BayJay2 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:24:12

"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.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:32:02

MuninLondon: where do the %s of 'high attainers' come from?

muminlondon2 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:55:33

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.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 05-Jan-13 10:36:05

Thanks for this most interesting link, from which comes:

KS4 2011 Results:

Percentage of high attainers, in descending order:

Waldegrave: 57%
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%
Christ's 20%
Hampton 15%
Twickenham 15%
Orleans Park 14%
Teddington 8%
Waldegrave 6%

Heathclif Sat 05-Jan-13 10:51:51

Also Gumley 48% High attainers, 10% disadvantaged

muminlondon2 Sat 05-Jan-13 11:32:25

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%)

ChrisSquire2 Sat 05-Jan-13 12:35:22

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."

muminlondon2 Sat 05-Jan-13 13:23:54

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%)

BayJay2 Sat 05-Jan-13 13:54:24

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.

muminlondon2 Sat 05-Jan-13 17:57:14

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?

BayJay2 Sat 05-Jan-13 18:24:10

"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.

muminlondon2 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:08:09

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.

BayJay2 Sat 05-Jan-13 21:29:22

"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.

muminlondon2 Sun 06-Jan-13 00:01:47

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.

BayJay2 Sun 06-Jan-13 09:03:35

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.

ChrisSquire2 Mon 07-Jan-13 17:50:39

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.

muminlondon2 Mon 07-Jan-13 19:02:08

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.

Nelsonelson Wed 09-Jan-13 15:47:33

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

Nelsonelson Wed 09-Jan-13 15:52:26

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

muminlondon2 Wed 09-Jan-13 23:59:42

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.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 10-Jan-13 11:38:53

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

Heathclif Thu 10-Jan-13 12:57:59

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?

ChrisSquire2 Thu 10-Jan-13 14:23:37

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. . .

muminlondon2 Thu 10-Jan-13 19:32:51

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?

muminlondon2 Thu 10-Jan-13 19:51:12

Apologies, IES have priority for children of staff not of founders. Thomson House has priority for 'children of staff/founders'.

muminlondon2 Thu 10-Jan-13 20:31:55

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.

BayJay2 Thu 10-Jan-13 20:52:09

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.

BayJay2 Thu 10-Jan-13 21:23:50

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).

BayJay2 Thu 10-Jan-13 21:55:45

For info, just posting this link for the primary allocation maps for Richmond Borough's oversubscribed primaries.

BayJay2 Thu 10-Jan-13 22:52:16

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 11-Jan-13 00:27:37

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.

BayJay2 Fri 11-Jan-13 09:48:34

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.

BayJay2 Fri 11-Jan-13 12:20:15

"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.

muminlondon2 Fri 11-Jan-13 15:22:22

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.

Heathclif Fri 11-Jan-13 17:38:37

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.

muminlondon2 Fri 11-Jan-13 18:28:02

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.