Local Talk

Richmond Borough Schools Chat 5

(1000 Posts)
BayJay2 Fri 11-Oct-13 19:52:28

Welcome! This is the latest in a series of threads about Richmond schools, which was first triggered by the council's publication of its Education White Paper in February 2011.

Please do join in the chat. There’s a bunch of us who’ve been following the thread for a long time, and we sometimes get a bit forensic, but new contributions are always welcome, and if it’s something that’s been covered before we can always direct you to that part of the thread.

We generally talk about local education policy, the impact of national policy, the performance of the borough’s schools, and admissions-related issues. We began by talking about Secondaries, but tend to talk a lot about primaries too, so the title of the thread has evolved this time to take that into account.

If you have a few hours to spare and want to catch up on 2 years of local education history, then below are the links to the old threads. We have to keep starting new threads because each only hold 1000 posts. The first two threads run in parallel, as one was started on the national Mumsnet site, and another on the local one:

1a) New Secondaries for Richmond Borough?: Mumsnet Secondary Education (Feb 2011 ? Nov 2011)
1b) New Secondary schools for Richmond!: Mumsnet Local (Feb 2011 ? Nov 2011)

2. New Secondary Schools for Richmond 2: Mumsnet Local (Nov 2011 ? May 2012)

3. New Secondary Schools for Richmond 3: Mumsnet Local (May 2012 ? Nov 2012)

4. New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4: Mumsnet Local (Nov 2012 ? Oct 2013)

5. This thread: Richmond Borough Schools Chat 5: Mumsnet Local (Oct 2013 - ????)

Finally, to find out how to add links, as well as smilies and emphasis, see these Mumsnet guidelines.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 11-Oct-13 20:04:49


muminlondon2 Fri 11-Oct-13 20:20:29


MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 11-Oct-13 20:31:10

just marking place MiL, no comment to make as yet grin

muminlondon2 Sat 12-Oct-13 15:41:16

Doesn't anyone know what happened to the 'headmistress' of Thomson House? One moment she's recruiting teachers, the next she is airbrushed out of the prospectus and list of teaching staff and a new principal is announced. The original head may have left for personal reasons, may have been sacked, whatever, but the school's PR is rubbish if it can't even give a simple account (see e.g. Pimlico Primary).

BayJay2 Sun 13-Oct-13 09:45:02

The Pimlico letter was addressed to parents, and then picked up by national media from their website, and blown up into a big story (which must have been pretty distressing for the original Head). The Thomson House parent newsletters are in a private area of their website, so if there's an equivalent letter you won't be able to see it. Perhaps they're simply trying to strike a balance between "good PR" and protecting individuals from destructive media attention.

BayJay2 Sun 13-Oct-13 10:07:01

p.s. It's worth pointing out that a couple of our local maintained primaries have recently changed Heads without any big announcement beyond their parent community too, so there's no particular breach of protocol in a free school doing the same.

ChrisSquire2 Sun 13-Oct-13 11:36:37

The RTT has Nelson Primary School consultation, Twickenham, begins:

. . Consultation has begun over proposals for Nelson Primary School to become an academy and to join the Waldegrave Trust . . A consultation document has been distributed to parents . . Responses can be made online on either school’s website or by email to academyconsultation@nelson.richmond.sch.uk.

muminlondon2 Sun 13-Oct-13 12:17:33

BayJay, I'm sure the head of Pimlico Primary was distressed but that was an important story as she appointed without classroom teaching experience, completed training (although was being trained) or headship experience, by the DfE minister who approves the funding agreements for free schools including Thomson House.

Thomson House has misjudged the PR though, because at first sight I thought there were two heads (called different things). It's confusing.

BayJay2 Sun 13-Oct-13 12:30:49

"by the DfE minister who approves the funding agreements for free schools including Thomson House"

It would have been the previous minister. I've heard that the approval of headships is one of the things Lord Nash has tightened up on since taking over office. As I've said before, the free school policy and procedures do seem to evolve in response to the intense public scrutiny they're (rightly) given.

muminlondon2 Sun 13-Oct-13 12:54:24

Nelson Primary consultation here. In many cases the DfE has decided the sponsor but there are some examples where a local school has formed a partnership. I noticed one primary in David Cameron's constituency on the list of sponsored academies in development.

muminlondon2 Sun 13-Oct-13 13:01:44

Maybe John Nash just writes the letters to confirm funding arrangements then! Or knows him personally since he addressed him by his first name?


And maybe despite having founded Futures the appointment was made by the chair of governors, his wife Caroline Nash. Perhaps they don't talk business at home.


BayJay2 Sun 13-Oct-13 13:20:13

He became minister for schools in January, so would have signed funding agreements for this year's openers. I'd missed his association with Pimlico, so I stand corrected there! In that case possibly the tightening of procedures has been the result of cumulative experience, rather than just that of his predecessor.

muminlondon2 Sun 13-Oct-13 14:06:43

He may have a local connection and in fact may have met local prep school heads through Alpha Plus, the business he sold in 2007 after five years for four times the original price. This company set up a chain of prep schools including The Falcons in Richmond and Chiswick (now one school sharing a head).

From the article below it looks like Alpha Plus was to be Pimlico's sponsor but he sold the company and set up the Futures Charity. I think that was around the time the rules were changed so that sponsors no longer needed to contribute money to academies.


muminlondon2 Sun 13-Oct-13 14:32:36

The other coincidence is that the head of RPA used to work at Pimlico school but that was before it became an academy!

muminlondon2 Sun 13-Oct-13 18:34:35

Some other background about John Nash and Futures - why Pimlico Primary is such a big media story:

1. Futures beat private schools Westminster School and Haberdashers Aske for this bid. The only secondary school in Nash's Alpha Plus group was Portland Place (2012 academic results well below all Richmond's academies). It was also controversial because he was a Tory donor but had made money from government outsourcing contracts.

2. The Pimlico Academy bid was decided by Westminster's Conservative Council in 2007. Academy status had been opposed by 96% of stakeholders polled. and despite a poor Ofsted, that year the school had produced its best ever GCSE results, in an iconic but neglected building - even Richard Rogers voiced opposition to demolition of the building.

3. The school went on to be judged Outstanding in 2010, although the headteacher left this summer.

4. Alpha Plus (which still owns The Falcons) in August 2006 had a £27.6m turnover. It was, however, making a 797,000 loss with loans of £33.8m. It was bought by John Nash's company for 26 million in 2002 and sold in 2007 for 5.5 times the original investment to a property investment group. While the schools made only a small profit, the property was valued at 131 million.

5. John Nash was predicted in 2007 to become influential if the Conservatives won the 2010 and perhaps made a 'government adviser' . He was appointed to the DfE board in 2011 and promoted to Schools Minister in January this year.

6. His wife Caroline, also a Tory donor, is chair of governors at Pimlico Primary. She also founded The Curriculum Centre which includes David Cameron's ex-Director of Policy among its advisers.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 15-Oct-13 11:28:36

A Lib Dem press statement today says that birth data that has been available since 2011 shows that September 2014’s reception class intake is likely to be around 114 pupils higher than this September’s intake, the equivalent of almost four extra reception classes. However, with less than six months to go before places are due to be allocated, on 16th April, no extra places have been announced.

An official report to the October 9 Finance and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee reported that:

‘ . . 4.6.1 Education: Additional primary places are expected to be needed in the Teddington, Sheen, Kew and possibly Twickenham areas. However the level of requirement is partly dependent on further Free School applications through the DfE. It should be noted that the Council has added a further £61.3m to the capital programme for school places since 2011/12 and the service is regularly looking into the options for further schemes in order to meet the increasing demand on the borough’s schools . . ‘

Yet no plans have been announced.

DonsDrapers Tue 15-Oct-13 13:11:38

I have been partly following this thread (have a child due to start Reception in 2014 and another in a few years time). We are in Kew/Richmond and only really know this part of the borough.

A couple of weeks ago we visited Queens primary. We were told that is expected to be rebuilt as it is a very old building. The site is enormous. A question was asked as to whether it would be expected to expand with a potential rebuild and the answer was 'not necessarily' as capacity in Kew was large enough !? By this I presume this means that the comparatively unpopular Darrel school is undersubscribed. With such a high increase in birth rates I see no reason why this school could not be expanded successfully and it would also be nice to have non-faith places secured at this school too, as this year at the initial stages of offers there was only 1 'community' pupil admitted excluding siblings and faith.

I raised this question with someone at the council and was advised to write to my local councillor which I will do. I think it is very relevant to this discussion and also the faith issues campaign.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Tue 15-Oct-13 15:00:28

if Darrell in undersubscribed, makes no sense to increase Queens...

muminlondon2 Tue 15-Oct-13 23:28:56

Holy Trinity got more applications than Queen's this year (see Appendix 1). So did Kew Riverside. I don't think they've ever taken a bulge class.

DonsDrapers Wed 16-Oct-13 09:07:25

Yes all local schools are popular and there are only a few 'empty' spaces at Darrel, not enough to meet demand in future years I imagine.

It seems like such a missed opportunity to be rebuilding a school as it is in dire need of it but not future proof it's capacity at the same time.

I have also heard that Marshgate which used to take bulge classes on alternate years is only planned every 3 now so there will be less opportunities for sheen/kew pupils there too.

Thomson house catchment has catchment of 664m so that's firmly just reaching Mortlake and a bit of Sheen I imagine.

BayJay2 Wed 16-Oct-13 09:27:32

"if Darrell in undersubscribed, makes no sense to increase Queens..."

Actually Darell isn't under-subscribed. The Admissions Report shows that it got 88 applications overall for its 43 places, and was slightly over-subscribed on a combination of first and second preferences.

As we know that many families across the borough didn't get any of their 6 preferences, even if some of the people who got Darell offers turned them down because they were later offered a higher preference, or decided to go private/move house (and the report shows that 27 families did turn down their offer) their places would have been allocated to others. It's not certain whether there were any surplus places on September 1st, as the report doesn't say that explicitly. It does say the borough had one on-time applicant still without a place at the start of term, implying all places were full at that point, and presumably there were quite a few late applicants waiting for places too.

Darell received a Good Ofsted report in December and was described as rapidly improving, so there's no reason to believe its popularity won't increase further in coming years. There might be a case for delaying expansion of Queens in the meantime, but the shortage of primary places across London overall means that councils don't really have the luxury of letting opportunities for expansion slip through their fingers.

LProsser Wed 16-Oct-13 13:13:30

The report referenced by Chris says clearly that additional places are needed in Kew as well as other locations so I suppose that must be based on actual statistics about population? Amazed to learn that the Council is borrowing so much money - £86.7million and rising. Lucky we don't have the Tea Party here to bring it all to a standstill! The Council is not making its own life easy by consulting on developing/changing the use of many sites around the borough including new residential developments such as the 250 homes at Teddington Studios needed to fund the redevelopment of Egerton Road to provide a Haymarket HQ building, secondary school etc. I haven't spotted any sites earmarked for new schools yet but they are long documents. Comments by 12th November: www.richmond.gov.uk/home/environment/planning/planningpolicy/local_development_framework/site_allocations_dpd.htm

muminlondon2 Wed 16-Oct-13 15:07:25

Good point DonsDrapers about the Marshgate bulge class and the pressure is clearly coming from the North Sheen end. Even with added capacity at Vineyard, I can't see how it is sustainable for Marshgate and Sheen Mount to be offering bulge classes every two or three years. Would like to see Queen's offer to change its admissions policy in return for funding, however.

muminlondon2 Thu 17-Oct-13 16:44:44

Another Ofsted shock, this time Knollmead primary school in Kingston whose Ofsted rating has dropped from 'Good' to 'Inadequate'. Yet there was still praise for all years from nursery to Y3 and the SEN unit, it has met the floor target and there is a new head (the old one retired) and new governors, so it's a very harsh rating.

As it's not quite in special measures, Kingston council is already disputing the need for it to become an academy. But uncertainty was bad for Roke primary in Croydon which lost the battle against forced academisation under same rating.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 18-Oct-13 09:59:03

The RTT has 2 letters (p. 33): Learning to get along from David Klein and Opening up faith schools from Gaurav Mathur responding to the letter from the anonymous Catholic atheist defending faith schools last week; and a news item Tories: no crisis in school places, Paul Hodgins dismissing Steven Knight’s claim that the council is not planning for the 4 extra classes that will be needed next year (see ChrisSquire2 Tue 15-Oct-13 11:28:36).

ChrisSquire2 Fri 18-Oct-13 16:00:07

The RTT online has Is Richmond ready for primary place boom? which has Cllr Hodgins’ response to the Lib Dems’ forecast 4-class shortfall of reception places:

The Lib Dems are doing one of the few things they are good at and conveniently ignoring the mess they left and misleading people. We put in place a 10-year plan. During our term the equivalent of nine new two-form entry primary schools will have been added. We have secured 90 additional places for next year and we are in discussions with other schools about future expansions. We are supporting additional free school applications for the borough, which the Lib Dems have opposed.

The article ends: Pupils starting reception in September 2014 were born in 2010, during which year the borough had the biggest baby boom in 24 years, with 2,992 newborns registered.

The ONS Birth Summary Tables - England and Wales report: 2011 2905; and 2012: 2916

muminlondon2 Sun 20-Oct-13 00:02:27

One more thing that restricts what the council can do is that the targeted basic need programme is only for good or outstanding schools. There are only two not in this category but they've recently had approval to be expanded anyway. But East Sheen and Sheen Mount are among the few community schools that are still two forms of entry and in areas of need. I wonder if pressure on them will increase for permanent expansion or that has been ruled out for lack of space?

muminlondon2 Sun 20-Oct-13 11:40:32

Just read the letters in the RTT. Gaurav Mather says 'It is about time the council used their influence and appointed governors to get local faith schools to open up their admissions.' And I read the piece where Stephen Knight criticises the council for not planning ahead.

I am so sick of the political point scoring despite having voted LibDem in the past. TBH that includes RISC despite the fact I agree with some of their arguments.

The landscape under the coalition government is radically different as the council's only option is to expand, not to open its own schools. This is not always easy as residents often object to expansion or new schools for understandable reasons, and the LibDems were not successful in all attempts to expand the most popular schools, probably more successful in schools they would not have been allowed to expand under the new rules. If Gaurav Mathur and RISC is right, then Cllrs Knight and Eady have been extraordinarily ineffective as governors at St Mary's and St Peter's in getting admission policy concessions in return for investment to expand. Or it might be the case they cannot on their own influence the whole governing body.

Which is it?

Heathclif Sun 20-Oct-13 12:18:02

mum I understand that with the exception of Scott Naylor who actively sought greater exclusivity at St Stephens, those Councillors from both parties who are on governing bodies have tried to achieve greater inclusivity. They are up against powerful lobbies within the churches though. The Anglican diocese have actually said that CofE schools should be more inclusive of the local community but I gather that in many cases the governing bodies argue that by allocating the places to different parishes it stops them having very small exclusive catchments. Obviously implicit in this is they fill up pews and coffers, and gain advantage for parishioners hmm

I tend to agree with you on the political points scoring. I have yet to see any substance to suggest the Libdems will do anything differently to either the Conservatives or what they have done before. Parents will continue to be left without school places or places too far away for them to access.

RISC though is non political and campaigning only on the issue of inclusivity which would at least mean pupils wouldn't be excluded from their local school on the basis of the faith of their parents. They have given the governing bodies of faith schools the evidence of the impact of faith selection and suggested concrete steps they can take to improve the situation.

muminlondon2 Sun 20-Oct-13 12:33:49

I would like to have seen more action on this before. There obviously was a lot of overlap between the interests of RISC in campaigning against an exclusively Catholic school and the interests of Turing House in getting a prime site. Despite the fact I always saw the need for a new community school, particularly one that addressed the Waldegrave imbalance, I'm a little unsettled to see RET had local connections from the start (well, the headteacher anyway) and I'm not sure at what point they became involved in the steering group (there's formal association and there's informal association).

There are lots of groups pushing competing agendas but no real accountability. I'm feeling very frustrated with politics.

BayJay2 Sun 20-Oct-13 14:07:17

"I'm a little unsettled to see RET had local connections from the start (well, the headteacher anyway) and I'm not sure at what point they became involved in the steering group (there's formal association and there's informal association). "

I don't understand what's concerning you muminlondon. The Headteacher grew up in Richmond, and start his teaching career here. His career then developed outside of Richmond, and he became an adviser for RET. The parents on the Turing House Steering Group contacted RET (and other potential sponsors) at an early stage and decided to form a partnership with RET in Jan 2012 shortly before putting in the first free school proposal in Feb 2012.

BayJay2 Sun 20-Oct-13 14:55:58

"at an early stage... "

16th Jan 2012, to be precise. Just looked out the original email contact, which begins ...

"Dear Sir/Madam,
We are a group of parents and educationalists, who have set up a steering group to define our vision for a new 11-18 Secondary School to be located in the south-western portion of the London Borough of Richmond. We are aware of your company's track record in supporting the Bristol Free School, and would very much like to discuss our proposals with you, to see if you might be interested in working with us. ...."

The first meeting with the RET advisers, including CMc, was a few days after that.

muminlondon2 Sun 20-Oct-13 20:03:02

So it was a coincidence that Colin Mackinlay knew the area? Or you selected RET because you thought that local knowledge would be useful?

BayJay2 Sun 20-Oct-13 20:53:22

Yes it was a coincidence that he knew the area. He lives in Sutton, and the RET office is in Leatherhead.

We contacted RET, because of their work on the Bristol Free school, which was the obvious (and at that time only) model for the kind of free school we wanted (inclusive, mainstream, etc). They had worked closely with the parents there to turn their vision into reality, and we talked to those parents, as well as the parents they were working with in Hove. We contacted other potential sponsors too, but they all seemed to be either "one size fits all" operators, or piecemeal consultants. We hit it off with RET from the start, because their partnership model gave us the freedom to shape the school vision, as well as the expertise to deliver it.

BayJay2 Sun 20-Oct-13 20:55:23

"Or you selected RET because you thought that local knowledge would be useful?"

We had enough local knowledge on the steering group already. We didn't need any more, but it's a "nice to have".

LProsser Sun 20-Oct-13 21:15:11

Mum in London The Tories are constantly criticising the Lib Dems saying they inherited a mess and Lib Dems didn't plan so I suppose it's not surprising that Lib Dems hit back all the time saying the Tories are not doing enough. I agree that neither side has covered itself with glory, and the point about building in the 5% margin that would (perhaps) allow children to go to a local school instead of some children being sent miles to primary school is one that neither party seems to accept. I can't see what RISC or Turing House have done wrong however. I am impressed by how calm and consistent their spokespeople have been.

In relation to SMSP, my understanding from parents there at the time was that the expansion to 3 forms was not at all welcome as the site is not really very big. I'd imagine that it was something that the school had to accept rather than it being something that Cllrs. Knight and Eady helped to arrange because the school wanted it. I've visited a lot of the primaries in the Borough over the years and Sheen Mount has fairly large grounds compared to many others, including SMSP, so I can't see why it can't expand to 3 forms by doing a rebuild if the money is available - I seem to remember that it had a number of single storey outlying classrooms dotted about. I've never visited East Sheen so not sure about its expansion potential.

muminlondon2 Sun 20-Oct-13 22:52:39

Thanks BayJay, I feel a little reassured. I'm concerned about many aspects of the free school programme as well as the lack of financial transparency of academy chains in general - as well as the fact that some allow even less autonomy than many LAs (Kunskapsskolan is a very distinctive brand from its vision to its website and range of school trips, for example) . But RET as a sponsor ticks important boxes in terms of trained and experienced teachers, and the aspirations of the school are very sound. I didn't want it to be the case that they targeted the area and tried to drum up the demand accordingly, as I saw with IES/GEMS.

LProsser Sheen Mount has already had considerable building work and has to take bulge classes every two years or something. Whereas Marshgate had to compromise on space from the start. Even with community schools, it's up to Sheen Mount's governing body to decide whether to expand but it makes perfect sense for them to do so.

BayJay2 Mon 21-Oct-13 09:01:28

"I feel a little reassured..."

Well muminlondon, next time you feel a conspiracy theory hatching, get in touch. You'll find we're pretty fast at responding to queries.

LProsser Mon 21-Oct-13 09:48:11

I think so far LB Richmond has been lucky to get 3 free schools (or 2 primary free schools and a hopefully-opening-in-September 2014 secondary free school) that have been responses to local circumstances, rather than outside organisations helicoptering in such as IES/GEMS appears to be, and which appear to agree with the idea that teachers should be qualified and that the important bits of the national curriculum should be followed. The stories from around the country about bad free schools are very worrying though. It's not as if everyone sending their child to a free school has actually made a choice to do so knowing the full facts.

BayJay2 Mon 21-Oct-13 10:08:41

"I think so far LB Richmond has been lucky to get 3 free schools (or 2 primary free schools and a hopefully-opening-in-September 2014 secondary free school) that have been responses to local circumstances, rather than outside organisations helicoptering in ..."

More than just luck. I think in the case of both Turing House and St. Mary's Hampton local people felt they needed to act to prevent outside organisations helicoptering in. The Maharishi experience certainly put the wind up a few people, and it was fairly obvious through local policies and population-trend circumstances that Richmond was "open" to more free school bids.

muminlondon2 Mon 21-Oct-13 19:04:55

The problem is, BayJay, that no other member of a free school group is open to answering questions on Mumsnet - and perhaps you wouldn't even be doing it yourself if you hadn't been highlighting the council's position on academies, the Catholic school debate and contributing some well reasoned arguments yourself.

No one from Thomson House has explained the headmistress/principal switch, for example. Parents of children at Al-Madinah school apparently had doubts even before the Ofsted visit and 60 had asked Derby council if they could move schools. Derby council was not responsible for the fiasco at that school yet will end up picking up the pieces in terms of re-allocating places. The DfE is directly accountable yet for months didn't even answer FOI requests from politicians and newspapers let alone queries from worried mothers.

Schools attached to chains will have more support and back-up but they are still less transparent and accountable than community schools. I completely agree with Tristram Hunt and the late convert Nick Clegg that this is a dangerous ideological experiment. Turing House could have been set up as a Labour's new idea of a parent-proposed academy - or even an older model of a parent-proposed community school like Elm Green in Lambeth. But the Maharishi school or IES/GEMS definitely could not have been.

BayJay2 Mon 21-Oct-13 19:35:59

"no other member of a free school group is open to answering questions on Mumsnet"

That's not really surprising! If you want to ask about Thomson House's headship switch, why don't you email them? It would seem a more obvious thing to do than posting speculation on Mumsnet.

"Turing House could have been set up as a Labour's new idea of a parent-proposed academy"

RET have been referring to their schools as parent-proposed academies from the start. That's exactly what they are.

muminlondon2 Tue 22-Oct-13 00:13:53

If the school had been a community school I would have contacted the LA to find out. I don't think I have posted speculation apart from just posing questions. I will try to avoid expressing opinions in future.

BayJay2 Tue 22-Oct-13 06:06:35

"I don't think I have posted speculation apart from just posing questions. I will try to avoid expressing opinions in future."

That's true, that one was a question rather than speculation, but I don't suppose the school are monitoring Mumsnet, so it's not unreasonable that you haven't had an answer.

Please do continue to express opinions! smile

swgl Thu 24-Oct-13 10:55:41

Hi, does anyone know why Waldegrave has a priority area B - for admissions catchment area - and it doesn't go solely on distance? Are there any discussions to remove that? I find it really odd, it's not a selective school so why a priority area B that's far away? Just moved to Teddington and exploring options for secondary for the future. Teddington school looks alright, entry to Tiffin Girls seems highly competitive, so the only other choice for us would be Waldegrave, but looks like it's not really a choice because of this priority area B. Not sure what chances we'll have for Turing School given that there's no set locationn yet. Thanks!

ChrisSquire2 Thu 24-Oct-13 12:02:37

The Waldegrave catchment areas are described on pp. 19-20 of Consultation on School Admission Arrangements for 2013/14 entry which says:

. . 4. Girls living within the halves (priority area A and priority area B) of a rectangular catchment area – see Figure 1 on page 20. Under this criterion 85% of the places will be given to priority area A and 15% to priority area B . . The shape of the priority areas for Waldegrave was originally determined by the link primary school furthest away in each direction in 1998 (i.e. North – John Betts, Hammersmith; South – St John’s School, Kingston; East – St Faith’s School; Wandsworth and West – Forge Lane, Hounslow). These points were used as a basis for the boundary of the priority areas. Waldegrave is therefore not the central point of the priority areas. A detailed map of the two areas may be viewed in the reception area of Children’s Services and Culture, on the first floor of Regal House, London Road, Twickenham . .

The areas make the minimum rectangle that covers the borough. The 85-15 split may derive from the numbers from each link school in 1998.

BayJay2 Thu 24-Oct-13 12:32:39

swgl - just to add to Chris's explanation, I think it's not considered ripe for review because as a girls school Waldegrave is seen as a "regional resource", rather than just serving a localised area.

It's always been a bit controversial (I think parents in Hampton have challenged it in the past, but I don't know the full details).

swgl Thu 24-Oct-13 13:22:18

Thanks both. I don't get the 'regional' aspect, as it only gives chances to two priority areas, it's not the entire borough.

I find it odd that somebody who lives 4 miles away is given priority over someone who lives 2 miles away - just because of some old link-based system that hasn't been changed after the links have dissapeared.

Anyway I'm probably frustrated that we're 2 miles away and looks like Waldegrave won't be an option so really it will be Teddington School for us, and possibly Turing House. My daughter seems clever but it's too early to know if we can aim for a grammar school. Independent schools are out of reach, financially speaking.

BayJay2 Thu 24-Oct-13 13:52:12

"I don't get the 'regional' aspect..."

No, it's not obvious, I agree. But at the moment it serves both sides of the Borough (Middlesex and Surrey).

Whichever way it was to change there would be winners and losers, and a big fuss, so presumably the easiest default is to keep it as it is.

Here is an old RTT report from 2002 about the challenge from Hampton. However, I don't think anything changed as a result of it.

For what it's worth, many people would consider you very lucky to live within the Teddington School catchment area.

swgl Thu 24-Oct-13 14:08:01

Thanks Bayjay, yes I think Teddington school is a good option and happy to be nearby although haven't really planned for it (mostly looked at primaries when we moved here last year). I like the fact that it's mixed gender, a 10-minute walk, and they've added a 6th form as well - and it has good results and reputation. However it looks like for now it's really the only option and it would be nice to see another one on the list smile

Looking forward to seeing how Turing House will evolve, perhaps that will be a 2nd realistic option for us.

NotatallSnootie Thu 24-Oct-13 14:10:25

BayJay2 do you have any idea when you will be able to announce a site yet? We're not due to apply till next year, but DD is very keen, and I'd like to be able to move the discussion on with her.

I realise my conversations with DD are the least of your worries... smile

Heathclif Thu 24-Oct-13 14:58:02

On Waldegrave it wasn't too long ago that the b area did actually spread into Sheen as far as the borough boundary, I think there are still girls' travelling in on the 33, so then the "regional" rationale i.e the choice of a girls' school for the whole borough might have had some weight, now I agree it is just a bit strange to have two ever shrinking catchments, especially when one now focuses on the most affluent part of the borough, that is an accident of history, but still. That may change though if RPA begins to get the parental confidence that matches all the buzz about it.

muminlondon I just wanted to second bayjay Please do not stop voicing opinions. I always find your posts interesting and informative and you have taught me a lot. Knowing as I do the way in which Turing House was conceived I did think your implication was a bit of a "conspiracy theory" but you are right that is the danger of a still largely opaque process. I do think like you that the whole GEMs thing was hmm, but crucially they were not approved. Possibly between Turing and GEMS we see the fantastic opportunity Free Schools can present for local parents to get the schools they want, because I worry that with it's last bit of power LBRUT delivered some parents choices, or the lack of them, they did not want, but also the pitfalls. But they were not approved and the speed of action on the Leicester School is also reassuring.

Heathclif Thu 24-Oct-13 15:02:32

Notatall Turing have a website www.turinghouseschool.org.uk/index.php If you haven't already you and your DD might enjoy a browse.

Their latest newsletter on there says Site News:

We know that the current uncertainty over our site is the biggest question on everyone’s mind. Firstly, some reassurance; it’s very common for Free Schools to be without a confirmed site at this stage in the process, because negotiations over sites can only begin when school proposals are approved by the Department for Education. Ours was approved in May, and since then the Government has been looking at our options in detail and making approaches to local landowners. We’ve been keeping the Site Page of our website up to date, but commercial sensitivities limit the amount of information we can share (in other words, we don’t want to be gazumped!).

You might have seen a local press report back in May, which said that our preferred site choice of NPL had been rejected. In fact, further discussion took place over the summer. Unfortunately, after full consideration, the National Measurement Office confirmed in August that it can’t make any land or buildings available to us. We’re obviously disappointed about that, but we’re keeping open the possibility of still using the NPL Sports Club facilities, and we’ll certainly still be developing a strong relationship with NPL through their education outreach programme.

Since then, the Government have been continuing negotiations over another very exciting local site, and the landowner has responded positively. We can’t publish details at the moment, but will send out an update as soon as possible. We are, of course, sharing confidential information with the Local Authority on our progress, and they are supporting us where they can.

BayJay2 Thu 24-Oct-13 16:02:15

Thanks Heathclif. Notatallsnootie - I can't really add to that.

It's worth mentioning (for those who haven't been following from the start) that this thread pre-dates Turing House and the idea for the school grew out of the conversation here. However, anything I post here is my own opinion rather than that of the school. It's always worth emailing for an official answer on things, as it is for any other school.

Muminlondon - sorry if I was tetchy the other day. I replied to you after seeing a very silly conspiracy theory on another thread so you probably bore the brunt of that!

ChrisSquire2 Thu 24-Oct-13 18:02:56

Here is some history from Matthew Paul:

From Report on Richmond upon Thames?s mixed community secondary schools? Linked Schools Policy: September 2011:

1990-1991: . . 2.1 The admissions policy for the borough’s community secondary schools for 1990 admissions gave priority to children resident in Richmond upon Thames . .

2.2 By 1990, though, local authorities had absorbed the full ramifications of the High Court Judgement against the London Borough of Greenwich in 1989 (which) established that it was unlawful for a local authority to give priority in a school’s oversubscription criteria on the basis of a child’s residence within the authority’s administrative area. In other words, whilst it was – and remains – lawful to use distance from home to school as a criterion, applicants from outside the authority’s area should otherwise be considered for admission no less favourably than children living within the area.

2.3 Following the judgement, the authority experienced a considerable increase in the number of applications for its secondary schools from out-borough residents. It was feared that the schools’ popularity, the elongated shape of the borough and the schools’ relative proximity to the borough’s boundaries would lead to an excessively large number of children from outside the borough obtaining places in the borough’s schools. This would upset the traditional patterns of transfer between primary schools (both within and outside the borough) and the borough’s community secondary schools, and could lead to a shortage of places for in-borough residents.

The authority therefore established the Linked School Policy (LSP) in order to encourage a fair degree of stability in its admission patterns. The LSP also ensured that a large number of Year 6 pupils would reap the benefits of educational continuity by transferring with their peers. The authority believed that the community at large would be made more cohesive as a result.

2.4 The LSP for 1991 designated certain junior and primary schools as being ‘linked schools’ (incuding some out of borough schools) . . Waldegrave School for Girls was linked to all of (them) . .

2.10 The ‘quadrant system’ – four geographical areas covering all of Richmond Borough and part of the five neighbouring local authorities, to which places were allocated according to demand from each area – was introduced for admission to Waldegrave School for Girls in 1992. However, priority was still given to “girls attending a link primary school” . .

2.16 For 1997 entry, an ad hoc sub-committee of the authority’s Education Committee recommended that the criterion regarding the LSP should be removed from the oversubscription criteria for Waldegrave . .

So the current 'A' and 'B' areas are a simplification of the 4 quadrants adopted 11 years ago. I do not know when this change came in.

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Oct-13 10:11:38

Heathclif and BayJay2 I haven't flounced! I do appreciate the need for sensitivity around individual schools, and that speculation - or even opinions - concerning individuals has to backed up by evidence and respect the private lives of those involved. This is also an anonymous forum and I'm not brave on making a stand or big on volunteering. As you may have guessed, I'm frustrated with so much of Gove's policy and the opacity of the free school process. It's due to his obfuscation that parent-led schools, superhead schools, profit-making schools, religious schools, and experimental labs for untrained teachers and loony curricula (here she goes again ...!) are lumped into the same bucket.

But still, good luck to the schools that I think could have been proposed and would be successful under any government.

NotatallSnootie Fri 25-Oct-13 10:20:04

Thanks BayJay and Heathcliffe, we know the website, newsletters, FB page, and the Twitter feed (need to get out more) - it really was just that specific question of how long till sites can be announced - not actually looking for an announcement!

Fascinating to read how the Waldegrave catchment evolved.

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Oct-13 10:24:33

Googled Waldegrave and found this - the change happened for 2006 entry (page 11):

'The quadrant system is too complicated, and it is felt that having two priority areas rather than four would be much easier for parents to understand. The quadrants have also been criticized because of the difference, each year, between the initial demand for places and their eventual take-up, particularly in the NE quadrant, where for 2003 and 2004 entry 27% of the overall applicants, but only 15% of the intake, resided. (No girls living in the SE quadrant took up places at the school in either year.)'

They proposed abolishing sibling criteria too but that wasn't popular I imagine.

swgl Fri 25-Oct-13 11:01:17

Perhaps they should convert Waldegrave to a regular community school then, mixed gender distance-based -- but that's too much change, isn't it? smile

ChrisSquire2 Fri 25-Oct-13 11:07:14

The RTT has ?Made mess of schools? (p 41), a stinging attack on Cllr Hodgins, the Tory cabinet member for schools by his Lib Dem shadow, Clllr Gareth Roberts (Hampton), who is by nature a much more combative adversary than his predecessor, Cllr Gerry Elloy.

He refers to Appointment Of Consultants Special Educational Needs/14-19 And Phase Two Primary Capital School Building Programmes (Cabinet paper April 19 2010) which sets out the Phase Two Primary School Capital Programme. That meeting, the last before the election in May, authorised the appointment of architects, etc. for 8 school expansions and refers to work already underway at 9 others (Phase 1).

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Oct-13 11:16:17

swgl they can't touch any of the schools now because they are self-governing academies! Only Ofsted or the DfE can intervene where a school starts to fail but they wouldn't change a popular successful school. For fair admissions, we'd need a future government to change the Admissions Code along with the complaints and appeals process, and create new oversight boards to coordinate planning and access to a range of schools within a local area. And regulations on inclusive places in new faith schools including VA schools.

BayJay2 Fri 25-Oct-13 11:16:51

Sorry notatall - would love to help. I know its frustrating.

Muminlondon - brew smile

swgl: Waldegrave have made a small step towards going mixed by allowing boys in their new sixth form. Perhaps they'll go further in future.

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Oct-13 11:54:18

brew thanks

Heathclif Fri 25-Oct-13 12:11:57

bayjay I know that quite a few of the staff are a bit hmm about admitting boys in the sixth. They feel that the school champions girls' education and the benefits, tailored teaching methods, girls being able to assert themselves without the inhibitions that arise with the opposite sex around, giving girls powerful identities to help them assert themselves in the workplace etc (I am not necessarily supporting those arguments, there are valid arguments on both sides but I think they do apply for some girls) and do not see why the governors have chosen to dilute that.

It does seem that parents tend to like single sex education for girls but mixed for boys, hence privately we have KGS and Latymer going, very successfully coed but no corresponding move in the girls' schools. I totally understand the issues for the parents of boys in the area but you are also going to have a lot of opposition from the parents of girls, I am not sure there is a solution that would please the majority of parents either way.

BayJay2 Fri 25-Oct-13 12:40:12

"I am not sure there is a solution that would please the majority of parents either way."

I agree, and that is part of the rationale for the location of the Turing house Admissions Point.

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Oct-13 13:27:13

Just reading the RTT and seen 'Brightest students: GCSE pupils from Richmond are among the brightest in the country, according to the latest results.'

Richmond borough ranked 14th for five GCSEs including English and Maths and second for English Baccalaureate passes, up from 30th and seventh respectively last year. It's really good to see that. And with that success the area will probably attract and retain more pupils in secondaries than ever before.

swgl Fri 25-Oct-13 14:27:53

Oh that's interesting re the 6th form so perhaps I wasn't that far off.

"girls being able to assert themselves without the inhibitions that arise with the opposite sex around, giving girls powerful identities to help them assert themselves in the workplace"

Well after leaving school girls will have to 'confront' boys anyway, in the workplace and elsewhere, so why not start to prepare early for that? and construct those powerful identities in a school environment that mirrors the fabric of the society - different genders, different social classes, different religions? smile

Personally I think both publicly-funded single sex schools and faith schools should be abolished. No matter how you look at it they discriminate against some categories. I do realize it won't happen for a while here in the UK.. but still nice to think about it smile

Heathclif Fri 25-Oct-13 14:57:09

I did say I saw that there were valid arguments on both sides! I have two daughters, single sex education worked for one but not the other. It gave one the breathing space to develop confidence before she encountered the opposite sex, she is a Scientist and the problems girls can have in being motivated to specialise in Science in a mixed environment have been documented. I don't think anything would have put her off but I could certainly see her not asserting herself whereas now she is writing essays about gender bias in scientific method grin (interesting stuff, when you think of conception has your education taught you to think of the egg as female and passive and the sperm as male and penetrating the egg? complete rubbish biologically as both contain male and female genetic material and the process of the cells merging is facilitated by changes in both. ) Like it or not we are still a way from an equal playing field for men and women so perhaps some girls do need space to develop their own identity. For my other daughter coed has given her a social environment she feels more comfortable in, as you say it is the norm they are going to experience, unless they end up in a women's prison......

Totally agree on the faith schools though wink

Heathclif Fri 25-Oct-13 16:04:35

And the key issue is that with a shortage of school places it is totally unfair to privilege any section of the community be they of a faith or have children of a particular gender, with choices others do not have. Hopefully Turing House will help correct the issue for those with boys in the area around Waldegrave.

muminlondon2 Tue 29-Oct-13 13:23:13


'I do think like you that the whole GEMs thing was hmm, but crucially they were not approved. '

GEMS appear to be resubmitting their bids both for Richmond and Kingston:


It's also reported in the Kingston Guardian that 'GEMS had been in discussion with Kingston Council over the move for some months' although it's quoting from GEMs not Kingston.

And then the Schools Admission Forum mentions 'consultations in progress regarding a primary free school in Twickenham' but then confusing under point 6, and the heading 'Turing House', refers to 'proposals for a new primary free school'.

Who knew about this meeting on Monday, 14th October 'with local Richmond residents'?

twick13 Wed 30-Oct-13 18:06:28

Just seen Turing House is running its own admission this year. Isn't that going to be chaos. Families hoping for Orleans will apply to Turing as a back up (I'm thinking Archdeacon and Trafalgar kids)If they get Orleans they will turn down Turing. But more a problem The kids from those two schools and Stanley and possibly Heathfield who get Twickenham Academy will turn down Twickenham Academy. Twickenham academy could loose a significant portion of their pupils after national offer day. Or am I missing something.

BayJay2 Wed 30-Oct-13 18:21:31

Twick13, I think you're assuming too much when you say people will automatically turn down TA for Turing House. TA is on a high, with a brand new building. Both TA and Turing represent an opportunity (or a risk, depending on whether you're an optimist or a pessimist) so people will choose based on their preferred ethos. People who really really don't like the TA ethos won't go there anyway, they will move house or go private ( ok, so many can't afford to do that, but a significant number of people do, often crippling themselves financially in the process).

Dirtyflorrsandhappykids Wed 30-Oct-13 19:30:43

Am I being niave just simply sitting on a waiting list for the local school I want. We didn't get our first choice but were only no. 3 on the waiting list for it. So I've happily sat on said waiting list all Summer and moved down it and back to the same place and yet I never seem to get anywhere closer.
Some say I am niave and I should have carpet bombed the school with fruit baskets and calls. But the head told me to simply ring the council once a week to chase, which I have done. I've also sent the school a letter telling them how keen we are and how we will accept as soon as a place is offered. However it seems that despite numerous departures throughout the first half of term we never get any closer. I do appreciate people move into the area - but surely in my once weekly check on waiting list position I would drop down the list when the register their interest, rather than simply never move whilst they get offered all the spaces. I also know number 2 on the list and they have the same issue.

Richmond Council of course have a standard line. "Madam I can confirm that the last place offered was based on distance from school." But I'm beginning to think it's rather untrue....

muminlondon2 Wed 30-Oct-13 20:27:39

Dirtyflorrs sorry to hear that. The really frustrating thing about waiting lists is that the admissions criteria apply, not the date you registered - so it is about distance and siblings (or both combined).

One thing to bear in mind is that in some parts of the world (Australia?) the school year starts in January. So sometimes you get movement then.

muminlondon2 Wed 30-Oct-13 20:45:23

Was going to add a bit more about GEMS as I've found out it has sold more than half of the 13 UK schools it acquired 9-10 years ago. Nearly all were prep schools and it has generally acquired rather than started from scratch. A few links below:

2003: Acquired first 3 schools: Sherborne House, Bury Lawn (now named Webber Independent) and Sherfield School

2004: Bought 10 more schools from Nord Anglia for £11.9 million, bringing total to 13. ‘hopes to manage around 200 schools in the UK within the next five years’

2005: Aims to have ‘5,000 schools on a global basis in 15 years' time' (from nearly 60). Nearly sponsored two state academies. But pulls out due to bad publicity over Bury Lawn.

See also profile of chairman’. ‘It takes seven to 10 years before you make any money [in a school].’

2007: Sells Kingswood College to developers.

2009: Reported to be interested in acquiring one of 25 schools (no evidence this happened).

2010: Chief Executive quits after 7 weeks

2011: Sells two schools for £2 million. ‘We're looking to buy more schools… we want to buy 20 in the UK.’

2013: Sells five schools in Yorkshire and Lancashire to Alpha Schools for £2.5 million.

muminlondon2 Wed 30-Oct-13 22:01:24

RTT reports on provisional GCSE results:

Richmond pupils prove their brightness once again

Heathclif Thu 31-Oct-13 12:21:20

dirtyflorrs I have lived in the borough for 25 years and have never heard even a murmur that the waiting lists are managed in anything but a transparent and fair way according to the criteria, and believe me, given the pressure on places and the nature of the mother's mafia, any hint of corruption would get exposed. The problem is that with the popular schools people do move to the doorstep to get in, we were No 1 on the waiting list of one of the outstanding schools for the entire seven of my DDs primary school years. It is frustrating, but all you could do is move closer yourself sad . We did however 3 weeks into term get offered a place at a further away but equally popular school, they had gone down the waiting list but no one wanted to disturb their child where they had settled so it can happen......

Heathclif Thu 31-Oct-13 12:25:57

mum I am watching the developments in relation to GEMS with interest and hmm . Of course the mysterious appearance of their website and the apparent holding of a meeting no one knew about would not have anything to do with the Conservatives coming under fire on school place provision in the run up to the election.

bayjay I thought an application for a free school had to show evidence of parental demand? There are some rather staged posts on their Facebook site showing support but they are from the time of their last application.

It is all rather odd.

muminlondon2 Thu 31-Oct-13 12:45:15

I don't know, they've made the same claim for Kingston and I'm not convinced the Lib Dems there would have actively 'identified them as a partner'. They seem to have a history of hyperbole and a record of senior chiefs coming and going, with schools offloaded if they can't run them cheaply enough. I'd be very nervous if I had children in one of their remaining schools.

Another story in Education Investor from (delete your cookies if you can't see it) says February 2012 says:

'GEMS currently runs 10 schools in the UK, but it acquired these schools from other operators, rather than creating them from scratch. It now plans to open six new schools over the next two years ... The group plans to open the first of the new schools, in Hounslow, west London, this September. '

It would be funny if it wasn't so serious IYSWIM.

BayJay2 Thu 31-Oct-13 13:35:51

Heathcliff, to answer your question, unless the rules have changed they would need to have a significant proportion of their first and second cohort signed up to support the school vision, to the extent that they would make it their first choice.

However, maybe the rules have changed and its only necessary to show there's a need for places generally, and perhaps support from the LA. You'd need to check the most recent guidance notes for 2015 applicants to check the latest rules.

muminlondon2 Thu 31-Oct-13 16:47:55

No doubt about GEMS' motives in this:

2005 Sunney Varkey quote:

'Sunny Varkey, the chairman of Gems, predicted that ministers would eventually relax the restrictions on private companies running state schools for a profit. ... Under the plans, businesses will have to set up their own charitable trusts to back the new schools.

"I personally think it's asking me to be dishonest," Mr Varkey said. "I don't want to make a trust for the sake of making money."'

The trust it set up is now headed by Sir Peter Birkett, who resigned from the Barnfield Federation, now under investigation by the DfE.

muminlondon2 Thu 31-Oct-13 23:30:29

DfE FAQs say:

'you do need to show is demand from parents and the local community for the specific school that you want to set up, rather than – not just a demand for any new school' [sic]

No gap in the market as far as outstanding schools in Richmond are concerned.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 01-Nov-13 10:00:19

The RTT has No comparison when it comes to providing new school places (p. 24), a letter from Cllr Hodgson, Cabinet member for schools, comparing the Tories’ achievements since 2010 with that of the previous Liberal Democrat administration.

muminlondon2 Sat 02-Nov-13 00:51:41

You can't compare pre-Gove with what's happening now because councils can't set up new community schools. Paul Hodgins is probably right to suggest that while the LibDems set the ball rolling with primary expansions (although some were rotating bulge classes), the Conservatives implemented them and added a few more (see timeline).

Richmond is in demand because the schools are good and in terms of need is in a slightly better position than Wandsworth, Sutton, Croydon, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Brent, Ealing and Hounslow - have a look at this map.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 07-Nov-13 10:47:49

Parents invited to find out about exciting new secondary school for the borough is a council press release:

Prospective parents of an exciting new secondary school on the Richmond College site in Twickenham will soon be invited to pledge their support for proposals . . Proposals for the school must be signed off by the Department of Education (DfE). If approved, the school will be a five form entry (150 pupils per year), non-selective, co-educational, non-faith secondary school. Sixth form provision will provided via Richmond College.

. . As part of the borough’s application to the DfE, parents are invited to register their support for the school, indicating that if open it would be a credible choice for their children’s’ secondary education. A new website reec.launchrock.com/ will be launched on November 12 outlining more information regarding the partnership and plans for the school. It will include a short survey for residents to register their interest. In addition, two information events have been organised for interested residents to find out more :

14 November or 27 November at Richmond upon Thames College, Egerton Road, Twickenham from 7pm – 8.30pm.

BayJay2 Thu 07-Nov-13 15:08:25

I just got an email launching the following, which might interest some of you. I haven't had the chance to look at it in detail myself yet:

"We are pleased to inform you that the London Schools Atlas has been launched today by the Greater London Authority. This is an interactive online map providing detailed information about London schools, their attendance patterns and future demand for places from 2012-2017. The London Schools Atlas will cover primary and secondary provision, including free schools and academies, and can be accessed here."

muminlondon2 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:26:27

The story in the Guardian may be related to the same data release. While the interactive map of primary place shortages down to ward level shows a couple of pressure points in our borough (Mortlake is the worst), the priority areas in terms of most severe shortages are to be found in neighbouring Kingston, Wandsworth and Hounslow, as well as Merton and Croydon, Hillingdon, Greenwich and east London.

I think there should be some kind of emergency legislation to allow councils to set up LA schools under these circumstances.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 07-Nov-13 19:01:48

Here is a link to the data tables for the Guardian story; it loads and refreshes very quickly and may be downloaded.

DonsDrapers Thu 07-Nov-13 20:22:47

As a prospective primary parent I found it interesting but not that useful in helping me research decisions for the admissions process. The maps of course, do not allow for consideration of the sibling / faith effect wrt distance. I think I am right in assuming that the data covers all ages of the children attending primary schools and not just recent reception year, so it is not highlighting how virtually impossible it is to actually be admitted to some schools and the shrinking catchments?

If I get the time, I may calculate the % of the RuT boroughs that end up in private schools, there must be a link with the availability of places in some of the black holes. That would be interesting

I emailed them asking this so I will see if they respond with anything helpful.

muminlondon2 Thu 07-Nov-13 22:32:42

DonsDrapers if you're interested in the numbers going private, also look at this report about admissions. Some schools (rated outstanding) generate extremely high levels of demand, yet there are parents who would still turn down first preference offers in favour of private schools.

But this is also one of the wealthiest boroughs in London with the most educated population so parents are choosy. Any new school at primary or secondary level would have to prove they have a good track record - not only are they competing against some of the highest achieving state schools in London (and the country) but also against the most competitive selective schools in the private sector.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 08-Nov-13 11:50:29

The RTT has (p. 26) a letter from me Population set to grow:

The Council’s 2010 ‘10-year strategy . . for primary school places’ says ‘each expansion typically takes around three years from inception to completion.’. This implies that the borough’s Conservatives, in office from 2002-2006 and since 2010, can only claim credit for the new places that opened in 2005 - 2008 and in 2013, a grand total of just two forms of entry: Collis Primary in in 2006 and Heathfield in 2013. The other 19 that have been created since 2000 are thanks to successive Liberal Democrat administrations.

Looking to the future, this so-called 10-year strategy in fact only runs to this year, as if that was all that was needed, even though it does acknowledge that ‘The increase in births between 2001 and 2007 (25%) was sustained almost at the same level in 2008 and 2009 and looks set to continue’ and that if demand is ‘exacerbated’ - a strange word to use about our children - an extra 9 classes of entry may be needed by 2019/2020 - on;ly 6 years from now.

The population of London passed 8.3m in April, will exceed 9 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2030 (a 25 % increase in 20 years) unless some way of choking off the growth is found. We must expect this borough’s population to continue to grow, like it or not: where are we going to put the extra class rooms we will need?’
The Guardian story cited by muminLondon2: London's school-age population expected to jump 100,000 by 2017 cites a GLA intelligence unit forecast for Richmond borough which says there will be 1959 more children aged 4-110 and attending a state funded school at mid-2017, 4 years from now, a 15 % increase from the date of the forecast, mid-2012.

Assuming a linear increase from mid-2012 makes the annual increase each year 131, which we may round up to 135 = 4.5 forms of entry extra each year for five years, increasing the capacity of the system by 22.5 forms at mid-2017.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:39:56

The final sentence above should read ‘increasing the demand on the system’ by 22.5 forms by mid-2017’.

I calculate that the increase in annual demand will be 4.5 forms of entry/year for Kingston and 9 forms of entry/year for Hounslow.

muminlondon2 Fri 08-Nov-13 19:10:05

'a grand total of just two forms of entry: Collis Primary in in 2006 and Heathfield in 2013.'

Would the LibDems have counted St RR, Thomson House or St Mary's Hampton? If not, I would like to know how the LibDems would have expanded places after the Academies Act.

The London maps do have percentages of children attending state schools if you look under 'extra info'. For primary it ranges from 94% in Heathfield to 41% in Barnes. Two extremes, but both wards have 'good' or better schools and in neither are there shortages.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 09-Nov-13 11:47:40

muminlondon2: It was I who was doing the counting, of the 21 forms of entry listed on the council consultation page Primary school expansions (January 2013) only.

A Lib Dem council would have used the Clifden Road site for a non-selective, co-educational, non-faith secondary school (i.e. for the purpose for which it was bought in 1925), which would have been a free school. Thomson House and St Mary's Hampton would have had the same help from the council (I do not know what this was) and would have gone ahead the same.
The RTT has Haymarket to present plans for education and enterprise partnership:

. . The development would include . . a new secondary free school to open in September 2017 . . For the free school to go ahead, the proposals must . . gain the support of parents, who are invited to register their interest. If approved, the school would be a five-form of entry non-selective, co-educational, non-faith secondary school with sixth form provision at Richmond College.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 12:06:32

DonsDrapers 'If I get the time, I may calculate the % of the RuT boroughs that end up in private schools, there must be a link with the availability of places in some of the black holes.'

I don't think at primary level the percentage on its own proves there are black holes, so much as the number of nearby private schools and ability to pay. There are lots of prep schools in Kew and Barnes and only 64% and 41% respectively at state primaries. It may mean there is less pressure on the state schools in those wards. Some people will always choose private school - or will only accept first preference (although 6 did turn down first preference offers at Queen's, for example).

You can create your own map of independent schools, too, although primary and secondary are not separated. Go to:


- select Richmond as local authority from the list
- select 'Independent schools' and 'Open', click 'search'
- click 'view on map'
- on the 'layers tab' to the right you can tick 'wards' and uncheck the OS map to see the borough perspective.

Useful also for checking numbers of private school pupils according to age and gender, under school census data.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 12:23:07

Chris: 'A Lib Dem council would have used the Clifden Road site for a non-selective, co-educational, non-faith secondary school'

With hindsight we know only free schools and VA schools are allowed. Kingston had some more coordination in North Kingston but years of planning and high profile support for their bid from MPs and parents alike. For Richmond there was no consensus.

So then would the LibDems have paid £8.5 million for Clifden before knowing what group might step forward to claim it for their free school? In Islington the council made a decision to rebuild a school and redevelop the old site for housing but a free school connected to a venture capital firm was approved and have claimed it anyway. For all we know IES or GEMS could have made a bid for that site not the Turing House group, or it could have been a CofE free school. The council would have spent the money without being in control of the situation. It's clear TA and HA still have places but that would not have concerned IES, for example.

But the RC school is still LA maintained and there was a strong lobby in favour - would the LibDems have been brave enough to ignore it?

BayJay2 Sat 09-Nov-13 12:56:40

"would the LibDems have been brave enough to ignore it?"

It's all speculation, but my bet would be that, after a bit of lobbying from RISC and local debate, the Lib Dems would have insisted on a Catholic Free School proposal rather than a VA school. Essentially, that is the position they eventually took anyway, so its a reasonably safe bet. Of course that would have led to a stand off with the Diocese of Westminster, so its hard to say what would have happened next. Local Catholic parents might have launched their own Catholic free school bid without the support of the Diocese as they have done in other areas. Or they might not have done.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 13:32:49

There are quite a few unknowns unknowns in that hypothesis. I had my own reservations about the Catholic school being a priority (although with hindsight, again, my understanding of the implications of the Academies Act clearly lagged behind the main stakeholders including Lord True). But I would bet that if a VA school only filled up to 80% of capacity in its first year, a different model of Catholic school would have had considerably less support from Catholic parents and without the proven capacity of the Catholic Education Service as a 'sponsor' plus the LA, since it is one of only two 'maintained schools' left in the borough.

It's an advantage for Turing House that RET has started to establish an Ofsted rated 'good' track record elsewhere but that is not true of other sponsors. Parents do not like risk and why would they? Very few free schools have opened with even more than 50% places filled.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 13:40:54

The council hasn't had consistent success or miracle powers of foresight in backing academy sponsors, either, given some control over the process - although there was no track record to assess at the time:


BayJay2 Sat 09-Nov-13 15:34:19

"Very few free schools have opened with even more than 50% places filled"

Not sure I've seen figures on that across the board, have you?

Parents will always need compelling reasons to put their trust in new schools, and it's the job of the proposers/governors to build that trust. Obviously its more difficult when sites are secured late in the process! The Bristol Free School site wasn't announced until 3 months before they opened, and they lost a significant number of families because of that, but many drifted back throughout the first year, and they were oversubscribed in their second year.

It's not just true of free schools though. I expect SRR will attract many more applicants in 2014 than in 2013 because people can now look around it. Similarly Twickenham Academy will attract more families on the back of its new-build.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 16:19:32

Yes, the figures are available in the 2013 school census. And you can look them up on Edubase too although the data matches age rather than curriculum year. The BBC reported on this last year.

Some of the Suffolk free schools had less than 40 pupils in Y7 in 2013. Bristol Free School was rather controversial before opening because there were 300 unfilled places at schools within three miles or something, but it opened with around 70-80 pupils out of 150. If another 30 or so places subsequently filled as people switched schools (from the figures that seems to be the case) that may well have been at the expense of those local schools too. Fortunately there isn't so much of a surplus in Twickenham so Turing House hasn't attracted such criticism, but had Thomson House been a secondary phase school that would have been controversial among RPA governors.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 09-Nov-13 18:15:49

muminlondon & bayjay: a Lib Dem council would not have supported a Catholic bid for either a VA or a free school: the party is overwhelmingly either atheist or nonconformist and anticlerical sentiment is surprisingly strong, particularly amongst those members who are ‘nonconformist atheists’ rather than ‘CofE atheists’. So there would have been no VA scheme, ‘strong lobby’ or not.

The choice of free school sponsor would have been made by Michael Gove not by the Council who would have had to sell or lease the site to them. There might well have been several rival bids and strong competition for parental support but I can’t imagine a Catholic free school bid winning majority non-Catholic support against one or several attractive secular alternatives

BayJay2 Sat 09-Nov-13 18:19:46

Some of the early free schools were approved on the grounds that they would provide some competition to local schools that were stubbornly under-performing, and under-subscribed as a result. Bristol probably falls firmly into that category, and its impact assessment shows it was expected to adversely affect a couple of schools. It's not surprising that was controversial. However, I understand the impact wasn't as great as some people predicted, simply because many of the people choosing BFS would have otherwise moved house or used private schools rather than the under-performing secondaries. Some of the local private schools might have suffered a bit when BFS opened, but the impact assessment doesn't cover those.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 21:13:15

'a Lib Dem council would not have supported a Catholic bid for either a VA or a free school'

I think this statement reflects the LibDem tensions locally and nationally because Vince Cable supports free schools and so does Nick Clegg despite being an atheist but grassroots supporters have other ideas, as over tuition fees. The leaders could not have escaped criticism of being either inconsistent or hypocritical and having supported CofE primaries locally could have been accused of favouritism.

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 21:14:02

Vince Cable supports faith schools and so does Nick Clegg

muminlondon2 Sat 09-Nov-13 21:21:41

BayJay if Bristol Free School had an impact on the private sector I have no objection to this, just as I would happily see less reliance on the private sector in Richmond borough!

Boysmumto3 Sun 10-Nov-13 02:35:30

Did anyone get the letter re. The new proposals for a free school on the richmond college campus? We received it yesterday. Happy to share but guess most of us got it?

BayJay2 Sun 10-Nov-13 08:30:03

Hi Boysmumto3, yes I think all the primaries had letters in book bags (mine did anyway). I also got a leaflet through my door, and there was something in the Richmond and Twickenham Times about it (and Chris linked to the council press release a few posts back too).

I believe they're planning to put the proposal into the next Free School funding round by January 10th, although there's another in May. This year the DfE have broken the process down into three rounds. The first was in September, and that is when GEMS will have put their primary bid in. Not sure when the approvals are being announced, though it might be in the guidance notes somewhere.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-Nov-13 16:27:08

How come GEMS have already put a bid in yet didn't announce any meetings to explain it to parents till October?

BayJay2 Sun 10-Nov-13 18:32:26

muminlondon, I'm speculating, but as they put a bid in last year it was presumably ready to re-submit, with whatever changes they felt were needed. They would have already gathered evidence of parental support for the previous bid, some of which could be carried over. They may have gathered more in the meantime by approaching nurseries etc. Proposers are also expected to continue collecting evidence of support after their bids have been submitted. There's an opportunity to update the numbers before the interview takes place.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-Nov-13 19:41:06

Last time the bid was advertised with a completely different sponsor - so some of the names they gathered may have thought they were getting an organisation with a different track record gained in Sweden!

They do seem to have had a couple of problem schools which they have either sold or renamed. The Webber Independent was Bury Lawn - it's referred to in a 2005 BBC report, and the school still appears undersubscribed). Another that proved expensive to run was Kingswood College (now Scarisbrick Hall (historical report here) which they sold to developers in 2009, although it was later saved as a school by local buyers.

BayJay2 Sun 10-Nov-13 20:52:50

Muminlondon: "Last time the bid was advertised with a completely different sponsor"

That's not actually true. They began promoting the school through IES in Dec 2012, and held 2 meetings, but the change came very soon after that and the bid was submitted very early in January 2013 as GEMS.

I've seen a promotional leaflet that was circulated to nurseries in March 2013 under the GEMS banner, so parents signing up at that time would have been fully aware it was a GEMS school.

In any case, parents sign up to support the school vision, and are not necessarily expected to investigate the trustees' track record (though of course some will!). It's the DfE's job to assess capacity and capability. They've recently approved GEMS as an academy sponsor.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-Nov-13 23:44:46

It's a bit strange why they were turned down as a sponsor on the Wokingham primary yet approved as one only weeks later. The DfE works in mysterious ways.

The Kingswood College school was actually sold in 2007 three years after it had been bought. Lovely building, designed by Pugin, which GEMS sold to developers giving little notice to staff and pupils, it seems. But a local family came to its rescue and renamed the school. It was even mentioned in Hansard last year.

BayJay2 Mon 11-Nov-13 09:10:39

"It's a bit strange .."

I don't know if it's strange or not. I think the fairest assumption, unless there's evidence to the contrary, is that they've been working hard to address any issues that were standing in the way of them being approved previously, and have now made the grade.

LProsser Mon 11-Nov-13 09:56:24

When is new school at Egerton Road due to open? 2016 and even 2017 sounds quite ambitious if they have to get planning consent for the whole site and for Teddington Studios first (once and if it gets through the current stage of site allocations approvals) and then build the Haymarket offices and new 6th form first on the playing fields before they can start developing the front of the site. But maybe temporary buildings for a year or two somewhere else I suppose. Major building site not a very good environment to go to school in especially if you have asthma.

BayJay2 Mon 11-Nov-13 10:54:24

The funding round is for 2015 and beyond. The council press release says the school is planned for 2017.

If it's not feasible to put temporary buildings on the site then they could use temporary accommodation elsewhere. A lot of free schools do that, and temporary school buildings are of a very high quality these days.

muminlondon2 Mon 11-Nov-13 13:01:59

'they've been working hard to address any issues that were standing in the way of them being approved previously'

It did sell five prep schools in July. One of them was Moor Allerton whose ISI inspection in 2012 had noted that 'the governing body, operating at the level of the company running the group of schools, lacks a sufficiently detailed insight into the working of the school'. It also mentioned short-term planning, but perhaps the company's decision to sell the school was the reason for this.

Another sold in 2011, Ladymede, might have been closed if it had not been 'rescued at the 11th hour'.

I don't see how these changes could have influenced the DfE, however. I thought they wanted sponsors with a good track record in the independent sector - Thomson House must benefit from its association with Harrodian, for example.

muminlondon2 Mon 11-Nov-13 13:37:57

On the issue of approving sponsors, a new inquiry by the MPs' Education Committee has been announced on academies and free schools. One of the points on the list is:

'The process for approving, compelling and establishing academies and free schools, including working with sponsors'

So MPs obviously have questions about the whole process too. It would seem more transparent and democratic if the committee is able to report its findings before the next wave of approved bids is announced. If there are three 'waves' of approvals this year, it does sound very much like the DfE is trying to rush the process without scrutiny.

BayJay2 Mon 11-Nov-13 14:14:05

I found the timings for the announcements in the guidance notes. The results of the first wave will be "late 2013", second wave in "Spring 2014" and third wave in "Summer 2014".

"it does sound very much like the DfE is trying to rush the process.."

Muminlondon, I think they're trying to manage the workload efficiently across the year. However, the 2015 General Election is obviously looming on the horizon. Any schools getting approval now will be due to open after that. They'll be aiming to get as many suitable proposals through as possible in these 3 waves, as there may not be any more funding rounds started until after the election.

muminlondon2 Mon 11-Nov-13 17:02:06

'They'll be aiming to get as many suitable proposals through as possible'

grin one way of putting it!

I'm glad free schools and academies are being scrutinised together as the lack of transparency around sponsors may apply even where a council has selected a 'preferred' partner. Several new chains have been set up by Tory donors or advisers who advocate profit-making. In Westminster and Wandsworth the same chains are setting up both academies and free schools.

LProsser Mon 11-Nov-13 22:52:34

Mum in London - I do hope you are writing a book about all this because it's fascinating and I would love to see all this research grouped together. GEMs with their trail of lousy prep schools sound like an outfit that anyone not desperate to float their flagship policy would run a mile from but perhaps the important detail is well beyond me especially at this time of night!

LProsser Mon 11-Nov-13 22:55:25

BTW I happened to look at the main Mumsnet secondary pages the other day and saw a long discussion about the merits of Waldegrave vs the Green School, Twickenham Academy and many other localish schools peopled by knowledgeable but entirely different contributors. Can we tempt them over to join us in this local chaty or have we strayed so far from the realities of who behaves well on the bus (not TA apparently) that normal parents no longer wish to tread this thread?

BayJay2 Tue 12-Nov-13 10:25:19

Feel free to give us a plug LP!

muminlondon2 Wed 13-Nov-13 07:32:54

LProsser people do change usernames over there wink - don't think we can do that on local any more?

I saw a link to a blog by an ex-adviser of Gove who gives reasons for having changed his mind on profit-making in schools. One reason is that doing proper tenders involves a full procurement exercise including advertising in the EU, etc. Still, it makes me even more nervous that the process of selecting sponsors and approving bids lacks transparency and accountability. One for profit company that has just bought a school off GEMS has had approval for a school in Islington but there seems to have been little public information. It's the site Islington council wanted to develop for housing - occupied by squatters at the moment. Worth checking on the maps to see if the ward had a shortage of primary places.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 15-Nov-13 17:32:15

The RTT has Tories are delivering (p 26), a letter from Tony Shoebridge rebutting my letter of the previous week (Nov 08 p.26) asserting that the Lib Dem can take credit for 19 of the extra 21 permanent forms of entry that the council created between 2000 and 2012.

I am not, as the letter asserts, a Liberal Democrat spokesman: all opinions I express are my own.

muminlondon2 Mon 18-Nov-13 18:32:00

Report in the Telegraph: the Catholic Church has ruled out creating new academies or free schools unless the 50% cap on faith criteria admissions could be dropped.

The only Catholic free school backed by the church was a very small private school, which increased in size when it joined the state sector.

muminlondon2 Mon 18-Nov-13 20:08:43

Interesting news about IES, the Swedish for-profit provider which advertised a free school proposal in the RTT last year and is managing a Suffolk free school in a commission basis.

IES Breckland recently dismissed six staff and there were suggestions it employed unqualified teachers, which the principal denied. Now the principal has resigned.

There seems to be a big turnover at West London Free School too, according to a post on a mumsnet thread, although no suggestion that they were unqualified.

LProsser Tue 19-Nov-13 22:35:51

Maybe Ms Zand will be coming to a free school near here in due course if she is relocating to Surrey?!

muminlondon2 Wed 20-Nov-13 23:59:22

There's a suggestion on this blog that she didn't even have deputy head experience, and was on sick leave. I do feel sorry for her from that perspective, but she is, apparently, moving to another role within IES. Other posts/comments on the same site suggest the school was employing unqualified teachers and couldn't offer single sciences.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 22-Nov-13 10:20:09

The RTT has Where are these extra classes? (p 24) a letter from Lib Dem Cllr Malcolm Eady and Focusing on free schools (p 24) another letter from me replying to a letter last week (p 26) from Tony Shoebridge.

Working from borough birth data by ward, Cllr Eady forecasts that the number of places needed next September will increase by c. 110 -.e 3.5 forms of entry; just four extra places over what was finally provided last September are planned. So where, he asks very reasonably, is the Council planning to put the 3--4 extra unplanned emergency bulge classes that will be needed?

My letter sets out the recently published London Schools Atlas forecast for Richmond borough, posted here at ChrisSquire2 Fri 08-Nov-13 11:50:29: 4.5 extra forms of entry each year for five years.

muminlondon2 Sat 23-Nov-13 11:49:32

So you are counting all extra children in all extra wards irrespective of the numbers traditionally going private in those wards? (E.g Barnes has only 42% of primary age children attending state schools yet Lowther has a catchment of over 3km despite being a 'good' school with a new build .. Perhaps because local parents in Barnes are mostly wealthy and privately educated themselves?) I'm sure there are other areas with more pressure but aren't your calculations a little simplistic? And do you welcome all types of free school - because they are many and varied. Turing House is more the model Labour would accept as a parent-led school.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 23-Nov-13 12:36:39

muminlondon2: my calculation included the different participation rates rates for each ward, which are:

West Twickenham95%
Hampton Wick88%
Fulwell and Hampton Hill87%
Hampton North86%
South Twickenham79%
St Margarets and North Twickenham77%
North Richmond77%
Ham, Petersham and Richmond Rive75%
East Sheen75%
Mortlake and Barnes Common75%
Twickenham Riverside74%
South Richmond65%

Average: 78% (Kingston: 88 %)

muminlondon2 Sat 23-Nov-13 13:18:26

But you still took the total number of children and applied the percentage of 78%? That would still be simplistic and you would need to take into account whether it is appropriate to expand schools that take a larger number of out of borough children, which the LibDems may have done in the past. Not that there isn't demand, but funding is applied differently now.

Interesting also that in some areas there is a big disparity between state primary school attendance and secondary. East Sheen and South Richmond have 26% and 32% respectively at state secondaries. I think participation will go up now the link system has been dropped and Grey Court is a magnet school. But if you were planning secondaries in the same way you would have to take account of vacancies nearby and mobility of pupils too (how many of the extra children are from families who rent privately and may move out of the area?).

But I'll leave it up to the council to work it out!

BayJay2 Sat 23-Nov-13 13:23:36

"So where, he asks very reasonably, is the Council planning to put the 3--4 extra unplanned emergency bulge classes that will be needed?"

Chris, ME's comment in the letter that "the administration has known since last December that there was no bid for a new free primary school" isn't accurate. There was the GEMs bid. It wasn't approved, but they didn't know that until May. As we know, it's now being resubmitted for 2015.

I heard this week that there's also another primary free school bid proposed for the St. Margarets/East Twick area, again for 2015.

We know Collis is taking an extra class in 2014, and may be encouraged to expand permanently.

Plus, the (still unanounced) Turing House site may be large enough to provide primary places.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 23-Nov-13 14:32:59

MuminLondon2: Here is the full calculation, ranked by the final column, ‘Forecast increase in pupils’. For Mortlake, = 75% of (1374 - 956) = 314, etc.

Ward Name - Children age 4 to 10 mid-2012 (GLA) - Children age 4 to 10 mid-2017 (GLA) - Change in age 4 to 10 population to mid-2017 (GLA) - % Change in age 4 to 10 population to 2017 (GLA) - Estimated Percentage attending state funded school 2011/12 - Forecast increase in pupils

Mortlake and Barnes Common - 956 - 1,374 - 418 - 44% - 75% - 314
Fulwell and Hampton Hill - 946 - 1,131 - 185 - 20% - 87% - 161
St Margarets and North Twickenham - 1,111 - 1,301 - 190 - 17% - 77% - 146
West Twickenham - 1,033 - 1,182 - 149 - 14% - 95% - 142
North Richmond - 939 - 1,117 - 178 - 19% - 77% - 137
Hampton - 885 - 1,048 - 163 - 18% - 80% - 130
Hampton Wick - 950 - 1,092 - 142 - 15% - 88% - 125
Teddington - 852 - 986 - 134 - 16% - 82% - 110
Whitton - 805 - 912 - 107 - 13% - 94% - 101
Heathfield - 888 - 987 - 98 - 11% - 94% - 92
South Richmond - 773 - 912 - 139 - 18% - 65% - 90
Hampton North - 781 - 880 - 99 - 13% - 86% - 85
Kew - 1,073 - 1,198 - 125 - 12% - 64% - 80
Twickenham Riverside - 840 - 947 - 107 - 13% - 74% - 79
South Twickenham - 816 - 901 - 85 - 10% - 79% - 67
East Sheen - 1,058 - 1,118 - 60 - 6% - 75% - 45
Ham, Petersham and Richmond Rive - 914 - 968 - 54 - 6% - 75% - 41
Barnes - 944 - 977 - 34 - 4% - 41% - 14

Totals: - 16564 - 19031 - 2467 - 15% - - 1959

Extra forms of entry = 65 at 2017 = 4.5 extra forms of entry each year for five years 2012 - 2017.

The average pupil increase = 110/ward = 22/ward/year.

It is mildly irritating that the promoters of the Richmond Bridge Primary School nowhere acknowledge that the school will be in Twickenham and seem unaware that the name ‘Richmond Bridge’ now identifies the very posh gated development on the riverside on the former ice rink site. It is backed by the Bellevue Education Group which runs nine preparatory schools. The news page has a post by Tom Legge - does anybody know him?

muminlondon2 Sat 23-Nov-13 14:42:49

The St Margaret's school doesn't appear to name a site. The partner is a for-profit operator of private schools (one acquired from GEMS) backed with venture capital. It has caused controversy in Islington after taking over a site earmarked for social housing.


muminlondon2 Sat 23-Nov-13 14:55:29

Two of Bellevue Education's schools are Swiss boarding schools. It has been expanding rapidly since 2011:


ChrisSquire2 Sat 23-Nov-13 15:30:45

Tom Legge is Schools' Development Director of Place Group:

As part of its ongoing commitment to building capacity in the Free Schools Market, Place has recently launched a group on LinkedIn specifically designed to build knowledge and capacity in this field.

With a membership that is growing rapidly, The Free Schools Resource Group has already brought together senior figures from the education world and promoter groups. Commenting on the Group, Tom Legge, Place Group’s New Schools Director said,

'The Free Schools movement transcends issues of competition and territory within service providers, our group recognises this through its own inclusive admissions policy. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or a competitor organisation, you are welcome to join the group as it seeks to build a collective knowledge base that will serve the ultimate aim of improving life chances for young people.’

muminlondon2 Sat 23-Nov-13 17:10:44

Bellevue Education used to trade under the name Really Great Education Company. It's mentioned along with GEMS in this 2010 report by a right-wing thinktank as one of the new proprietors in the private school market - still the minority as most independent schools are charitable trusts. It advocates profit-making in schools, unqualified teachers, and praises Kunskapsskolan in the Swedish market, although events have superseded many of its assertions about quality.

muminlondon2 Sun 24-Nov-13 09:46:40

The thinktank report I linked to that looks to Sweden should be read in light of developments there such as bankruptcies of large venture capital-backed chains (prompting new curbs on such companies) grade inflation, increasing social segregation and Sweden's fall in international education comparison tables. Recent Economist article and commentary here.

muminlondon2 Mon 25-Nov-13 17:01:56

The Mayor of London has announced his [[http://www.londonschoolsgoldclub.org.uk/gold-club-members 2013 'Gold Club' members. It is 'annual scheme to identify and celebrate those exceptional schools in London that are succeeding with all their pupils – but especially the most disadvantaged' and to 'share their good practice'.

This scheme is entirely voluntary but schools nominate themselves and only 7% are allowed to belong.

The Richmond schools are: Barnes primary, East Sheen primary, Marshgate primary, Stanley primary. Only two of these schools feature in the top 10 for Level 5 results (2012) for all pupils or disadvantaged pupils, although both have a below average number of pupils on FSM. 2013 results are out in December but the schools with the best Level 5/6 results don't appear to be a Gold Club schools either.

The only secondary in the list is Lady Eleanor Holles. Does it give a lot of bursaries to disadvantaged girls?

muminlondon2 Mon 25-Nov-13 18:10:30

Sorry, I misread the criteria and hadn't meant to post.

2013 Gold Club members

No Richmond state secondaries made it - only Waldegrave passed the pupil premium and 20% Ebacc test, but didn't manage 100% GCSE inc E&M coverage of all except low attainers. To be fair, not many made that list!

Lady Eleanor Holles did make it because it obtained more than 90% Ebacc and 85% A/A*s.

muminlondon2 Mon 25-Nov-13 18:48:30

The primaries which made it all passed the pupil premium benchmark (79% L4). Many of the others which achieved more than 50% at L5 last year (e.g. Queen's, St James's and St Elizabeth's) had only 3 or fewer pupils eligible for pupil premium - all 3 would have needed to pass L4 to meet the criteria.

So well done to those schools which did qualify.

LProsser Tue 26-Nov-13 09:45:07

I should think any organisation that is hoping to acquire a site near Richmond Bridge with room for 420 pupils who won't be paying fees would need to be earning a large profit from Swiss boarding schools! How much is the Dept. of Education willing to chip in for land in such an expensive area?

Are the figures for the increase in the number of children age 4-10 broken down into how many will be starting school each year in LB Richmond and how many are already primary school age when they arrive in LB Richmond or are transferring from private sector? I assume that must have been done or we would be needing 13 new reception classes per year, but I've never seen a reference to needing bulge classes for primary school children of other ages. I have met some parents from Eastern Europe who came here with children of 6 or 7 thinking that they were the right age to start school not realising that they start younger here. My brother in laws ex girlfriend was quite surprised to hear that her son would be in Year 2 as he'd never been to school before (they were from Croatia). I'm sure that situation is more usual in other parts of London than Richmond. Are there figures on how many children leave Richmond primary schools each year for whatever reason freeing up places for new arrivals?

BayJay2 Tue 26-Nov-13 10:34:26

"How much is the Dept. of Education willing to chip in for land in such an expensive area?"

Once the Govt have approved a school they wil pay for the land/buildings - the trust won't be expected to chip in with funds from other sources.

There's no definite upper limit, but there's pressure to keep costs as low as possible (i.e. council owned land, existing buildings where possible).

If they need to buy land commercially then they will look at whether that's a good investment in comparison with the alternatives. They will also look continuously at the popularity of the school (i.e. are those early declarations of support reflected in high numbers of actual applications) as part of that investment decision.

It might be an expensive area, but they still need school places!

ChrisSquire2 Tue 26-Nov-13 10:44:14

LProsser: here are the references for the forecasts:

New London Schools Atlas puts information and transparency at the heart of education in the capital - See more at: http://www.london.gov.uk/media/mayor-press-releases/2013/11/new-london-schools-atlas-puts-information-and-transparency-at#sthash.KHHrq7k6.dpuf London Schools Atlas and Technical Note: Projections for the London Schools Atlas:

‘ . . The population projections are produced by a three stage process:

Stage 1 projects future borough-level populations by applying recent trends in fertility, migration and
mortality to a starting population (a modified version of the ONS 2011 mid-year estimate). Migration flows
are broken down by source and destination, each with their own age and sex characteristics. This is the
lowest level at which regular migration flow data is generally available.

Stage 2 takes the initial borough projections and factors in the impact of housing development. This is an
iterative process that involves converting a given population into households and comparing with the
forecast number of available dwelling spaces. This conversion into households is achieved by applying
borough-specific household formation rates to the population. Domestic migration flows are then adjusted
up or down until a population is arrived at that yields a number of households that fits the available
household spaces. The effect in the model of new housing development is to cause outmigration from a
borough to fall and in-migration to increase.

Stage 3 distributes the borough population projections between wards. To achieve this, a process similar to
that outlined in stage 1 is repeated at ward level and the ward totals constrained to match the overall
borough population. Because annual migration flow data is not available at this geographic level, dwelling
stock changes are used to generate proxy estimates of flows . . ‘

The tables are at All-London forecasts by ward. There are no more detailed breakdowns.

You don’t explain how you get 13 new classes/year. I get 22.5 by the end year, 2017, = 4.5/year over 5 years. 13 is absurd.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 26-Nov-13 10:48:14
Nelsonelson Tue 26-Nov-13 11:45:45

muminlondon - just reading your post
Any idea why Eleanor Hs was singled out as performing well? When you take the top few % as your cohort you would expect to get a minimum of 85% A/A* . These girls would all have left primary with 5As (or more if the L6 tests had been in place. They should all be capable of A/A* and Ebacc. These figures suggest the school is only delivering expected levels. See,s strange that they would be identified as achieving above average

Heathclif Tue 26-Nov-13 14:40:10

Perhaps LEH is singled out because of it's willingness to get involved in outreach schemes, partnerships with local schools, mentoring, sharing facilities, taking activities into schools, the SHINE scheme etc.? The focus of the Club appears to be the fund intended to encourage sharing of best practise? www.lehs.org.uk/pbp/index.php

It does have quite a few bursaries, and it does liaise with local primaries to focus them on the high attainers from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to mentor them to get in. It is trying to raise funds for more, but I don't think it is the richest of indies in terms of bursary funds who would meet the academic criteria, yet it is as far as I can see the only private school on the list. I would have thought eg Westminster, Dulwich College have far more money and give out more bursaries in areas of greater disadvantage. And doesn't City of London Boys do a lot of similar outreach and sharing.

Perhaps it was the only indie that answered the call hmm

Doubtless there will be a press release.....

LProsser Tue 26-Nov-13 21:14:36

Chris - I got 13 classes by dividing 1959 children by 30 = 65 classes ie. 13 per year over 5 years - but you say only 4.5 per year in your posting at 14.32 on Saturday which I didn't quite follow. It doesn't say anywhere in the tables how old these additional children are - surely if e.g. there is a lot of new housing some of the people moving in will have children that are somewhere between 4 and 10 - they won't all be starting reception.

As an old girl of LEH I regularly get canvassed to give them money sometimes for bursaries. I have not found it necessary to put my hand in my pocket to rescue these bright high attaining primary school girls from the horrors of, say, Waldegrave! I think they must struggle to raise much - weirdly nearly all the old LEH girls that I know, especially locally, have children in state schools.

muminlondon2 Tue 26-Nov-13 22:06:30

I think LEH qualified just on results actually - the criteria are here and don't require proof of charitable works. Not sure why Hampton Boys isn't in there too - one of about 5-6 London independents qualifying on both measures according to 2012 results. Westminster definitely didn't get the 90% Ebacc required.

It does look a bit odd to have one independent school among comprehensives like Fulham Cross Girls and Cranford Community College. I think the criteria were drawn up by a committee or on a fag packet.

Waldegrave can console itself with the Times Parent Power award.

Heathclif Tue 26-Nov-13 22:37:05

L Prosser. Very few of the borough's (and beyond's) high attaining girls have a chance of Waldegrave, Teddington or any of the borough (and beyond's) outstanding schools hmm They make up quite a lot of the school's cohorts (on bursaries or with parents just struggling to raise the cash)

Not that we have felt like dipping in our pockets either.

muminlondon2 Tue 26-Nov-13 23:03:14

Heathclif many of the high achieving girls - and boys - in Teddington, Twickenham, Ham, Richmond and East Sheen have a good or outstanding school in their locality now. Twickenham Academy's Ofsted report is due any day so that would make a difference to Whitton. For Hampton they may have to wait for improvements, and it's harder around Fulwell, or Strawberry Hill for boys, and for some parents 'good' may still not be good enough. But I'd say that's the majority of the borough.

Heathclif Tue 26-Nov-13 23:25:35

mum It isn't the majority is it though, when the schools that have parental confidence, like Teddington, Waldegrave, and Orleans have 1000 parents making them first preference, that is approximately 800 parents who are not getting places at each of these schools. If they had confidence in the improving schools they would be filling them several times over. You can't entirely put the reason this borough has one of the highest proportions of pupils going private at 11 down to affluence because it exceeds the proportion in more affluent boroughs. I agree the picture is improving, especially with a new school like Turing following the model of the most popular schools, and hopefully schools like RPA getting to the point of having parental confidence but they are not there yet. We will see what OFSTED have to say about TA but even with a good OFSTED at best it is still offering a different educational approach to the most popular schools........

Plus schools like LEH are also taking girls whose parents are finding themselves in similar positions from Ealing to Windsor to Hinchley and Cobham to Guildford to Wimbledon...... Given what is coming I don't see any reduction in the number of parents feeling they have to find the money to send bright girls there.

muminlondon2 Wed 27-Nov-13 00:02:23

No, those applying to Teddington, etc. are putting it down as one of six choices. The other 800 are as likely to come from Richmond or East Sheen filling up their options as Teddington, despite not being anywhere. The established good/outstanding and popular schools offer nearly 1,000 places, so that's the majority of applicants. Now 150 Catholics have the extra choice of StRR, and on top of that a significant number from Richmond get Tiffin (at least 30). And plenty of people who would still turn Tiffin down in favour of an independent school.

Choices haven't been evenly distributed (the link system prioritised mostly CofE primaries) and still aren't (the schools are not evenly located). But the only places in the country where 99% or higher have been offered first choice only have one school to choose from.

muminlondon2 Wed 27-Nov-13 00:08:11

I looked up more on the Place Group and Bellevue Education - Tom Legge is name-checked by Toby Young in his book How To Set Up a Free School as 'the best project manager in the business' and connected to other high profile founders of free schools such as Katharine Birbalsingh and other projects for the DfE. So fairly influential then.

Bellevue Education has expanded rapidly since 2010 with 'significant financial backing from a small number of British and Swiss families'. It would be interesting to know who they are. I wouldn't like to see the UK follow, for example, the situation in the US where some charter schools have been linked to political party funding, and this has happened in Sweden too.

Heathclif Wed 27-Nov-13 08:10:18

mum I am perfectly aware of how the preference scheme works and that many of the 800 parents disappointed with not getting first preference at each of Teddington Waldegrave and Orleans will be from across the borough, and out of borough. It doesn't change the fact that demand for those schools is overwhelming and that lack of confidence in the improving schools means demand is underwhelming. The reality is that a very high proportion of parents in this borough compared to other, even more affluent boroughs, do feel compelled to go private or move, if they can afford it. There is still an issue with the secondary choices available to many parents in this borough, especially when the educational methods in two of the improving schools, are so different to those in the popular schools. With the pupil bulge coming through, this isn't going to get better either, even with Turing, Egerton and possibly some community places at St RR.

LProsser Wed 27-Nov-13 13:25:24

I recommend the first sketch in last night's Mitchell and Webb Sound Radio 4 at 6.30pm!


Agree that the secondary choices available in Hampton and Twickenham aren't great but still 6 or 7 good secondaries and most children can get one of them. Problem may get worse with more children coming through of course. With removal of linked system would expect to see a lot of children from private system who live nearby apply to the popular secondaries if they are really struggling to pay fees, but I don't think that happened last year. Would like to see evidence of how many girls per year schools like LEH actually give substantial financial help to and where they live.

BayJay2 Wed 27-Nov-13 15:37:07

Both LEH and Hampton Boys ask for £100 up front just to register your child for a place and have the opportunity to apply for a bursary! I imagine that puts quite a lot of people off, especially when the criteria for getting a bursary aren't transparent - there's no published guidance on what level of income might qualify for 100% bursary.

I do know one family who turned down a bursary from Hampton because they still couldn't afford the fees, despite the discount. That's a lot of hassle to go through (form filling, interviews, exams, etc) for such a disappointing outcome. I imagine many people who apply for them are just doing it on the off-chance, and otherwise intend to pay the fees in full.

Heathclif Wed 27-Nov-13 17:00:50

Bayjay In the local primaries they work in, and through the Shine scheme, they actively seek out bright girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and support their girls and their parents through the process. The registration fee would be unlikely to be an issue in those circumstances. They are also part of the London Schools Fees Assistance scheme and certainly I know of pupils from the wider catchment who have found out about the opportunity through that. My impression is that you would find pupils being identified through local schemes within a 3 -5 mile radius but also know of girls from as far as Hanwell benefitting from the bursary process. It is all for obvious reasons not made public with regard to individual girls and I am not prepared to be too detailed but honestly some of the families are not middle class and savvy about what they could get, though perhaps there is a little more preparedness to push through the process amongst families who are from other cultures where the opportunity to get ahead through academic success is strongly valued.

They are fairly open about the process on the website

"Bursary awards are subject to repeat testing of parental means each year and may be varied upwards or downwards, depending on parental circumstances. As a very rough guide parents / guardians whose combined income is less than £20,000 could be offered a 100% discount on the tuition fees whilst those with a combined income of £50,000 + are unlikely to qualify for assistance. Though awards are generally tied to this scale, they may be varied upwards or downwards depending on individual parents /guardians' circumstances (e.g. their savings, investments and realisable assets, as well as their income, the size of their family, any other persons dependent upon them and like factors), compassionate or other pertinent considerations."

"Over 2010/11, some 167 pupils (19.2% of total number of girls at LEH) received financial disbursements, at a cost of £740,087 (6.48% of gross fee income). Of these, 41 receive financial support through bursaries, of which 28 were full bursaries. For 2010/11, bursarial support has been increased to £812,400."

At the end of the day it is a private school, and not a little of it's motivation is doubtless to get the brightest pupils who will keep it's results up top in the league tables (my main source of hmm about what it offers is the emphasis on getting the results that will keep it at the top, can't help thinking of it as a bit of a poisoned chalice for those given the opportunity) but it would not be accurate to say it goes through the motions of charitable status because a. that is part of it's founding ethos and b. it is an ethos many of the staff actively embrace.

I would say knowing the current parent cohort that at a rough guess if every pupil in Richmond had access to an outstanding state school it would lose about 20% of it's pupils.

Whilst there is without a doubt a strong contingent from affluent families
who were always going to go private. There is also a strong contingent from immigrant communities and from the local community who are stretching themselves to afford it, alongside those being assisted with the fees.

BayJay2 Wed 27-Nov-13 17:33:04

Fair enough Heathclif. The family I was talking about were applying to Hampton Boys where the criteria aren't given in such detail.

muminlondon2 Thu 28-Nov-13 00:13:58

if every pupil in Richmond had access to an outstanding state school ...

There are no London boroughs (and London tops the regions) with 100% outstanding schools. Westminster is closest with 9 outstanding and 1 good, but half of their schools are faith schools, they're all academies, their average results are lower than ours and their intake more disadvantaged (with more pronounced differences between schools).

I think Richmond borough is second highest only after Kingston on Ebacc results in 2013, yet Kingston parents look on admiringly at Grey Court and Teddington. The more diversity (selectives, more single sex schools, more faith schools), the less choice people feel they have.

muminlondon2 Thu 28-Nov-13 07:39:55

... But looking at Westminster on the schools map, most of its boroughs have far lower numbers at state secondaries than Richmond - several wards lower than 20%. By 'outstanding' some people also expect 'socially selective'. If one more class of local primary pupils attended RPA it would certainly boost the size of the top set by 20%.

Heathclif Thu 28-Nov-13 08:14:28

mum Hasn't the London Challenge helped unhook that connection between outstanding and socially selective, and proved that you can have a high proportion of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and be outstanding in improving their outcomes. Now in London 29% from the poorest fifth of neighbourhoods get exam results in the bottom fifth compared to 46% outside London www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/londonfacts/default.htm?category=3

I am not going to rehash teh argument we have had on here again and again but it really isn't a surprise that in London's most affluent borough Kensington, almost half of pupils are in private schools. However that the figure is 30% in Richmond, higher than in borough's of equivalent affluence, is I am sure a reflection of an education strategy that has long relied on deterring the parents there are not the places for in good accessible schools, primary and secondary, into going private or moving away.

RPA are an example of how badly the Council have let down parents in parts of the borough. There is no reason in terms of catchment why Shene School should not have been another Teddington, Orleans, Greycourt (which was a popular school for most of the time I have lived in this borough apart from a few years of poor leadership) etc. The reason it does not attract another class out of primaries, in spite of all that is being achieved there, is because for reasons of poor management (and with Lord True in the governing body) it so comprehensively, and for such a long time, lost the confidence which it had within the local community.

BayJay2 Thu 28-Nov-13 09:12:47

Heathclif is right. There is no longer a connection between Outstanding and Catchment anywhere other than in parents' minds. The new Ofsted inspection criteria say pupils need to be showing outstanding progress not outstanding results, and they need to be doing it across the board in order for schools to be awarded an outstanding rating. That's just as challenging with a high attaining cohort as with a lower attaining one.

BayJay2 Thu 28-Nov-13 09:14:33

And its why lots of schools may be downgraded at their next inspection.

LProsser Thu 28-Nov-13 10:02:12

Thanks for that info on LEH Heathclif. Hardly any of it comes out in the marketing they are doing to the people that they want to put their hands in their pockets to pay for bursaries. I suspect they might do better if they did some individual case studies like proper charities do, although not necessarily with the likes of me.

It really sounds from the other thread on RPA as though it is a great place now with features that parents in other schools would welcome around home-school communication, care for year 7s etc. I wonder how long that will take to penetrate the brains of those who could be applying there but are still scared off by its previous incarnation?

I feel from personal observation over the years that some of our local well regarded primary schools do not handle the minority lower attaining cohort very well at all. I have particularly seen how bad they are with dyslexia where wealthier parents are driven to private assessments to get the problem diagnosed, often followed by moving their kids to the private sector, but the less well off are left to struggle. I also think the amount of parental support needed with homework at later primary and early secondary school stages isn't acknowledged and I wonder if they make allowances for it when deciding which children to put in top sets etc. Will be interesting to see how this plays out with Ofsted.

Heathclif Thu 28-Nov-13 12:26:00

lottie I know from personal experience that a lot of schools do not cope well with Specific Learning Difficulties, including Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, state or private, especially in pupils who are attaining at the average or above average. Even now the extent to which new teachers are taught about Specific Learning Difficulties is woeful. One lecture for my niece's peers training at Roehampton (where you would hope of all teacher training places they would still be at the forefront of understanding different learning styles) with no teaching about inclusive teaching methods which can benefit the majority of the class.

So you still have teachers with the belief that you can't be bright and have a SpLD, that you can't be good at literacy skills and have a SpLD etc. etc. Let alone that in many state schools they will openly say they do not have the resources to help those with above average attainment even if they are not achieving their potential. I am going around the universities with my daughter at the moment and it is shocking to see them giving out to everyone a simple list of the symptoms which if a lot of teachers were just to take the time to read them would enable them to get beyond the stereotypes and common prejudices misapprehensions.

A friend who was encountering all this in her DS's school ended up persuading them that it was an area where they were weak (not this borough, in a more disadvantaged borough) . They undertook extensive staff training, and now pride themselves on being a Dyslexia aware school. Not just that but the changes they have implemented as a result have had benefits for the whole school. The teaching methods that don't work for Dyslexics and those with other SpLDs (around 10% at every level of ability) often don"t work with a lot of other pupils in the class either of the class as well.

The sad thing is that after years of progress the Gove regime has effectively done away with the principle that the playing field should be levelled for those with SpLDs when it comes to public examination with new regulations on extra time etc that effectively discriminate against those bright pupils with SpLDs, reinforcing the prejudice you can't be bright and have a learning disability. So it isn't going to improve anytime soon.

muminlondon2 Thu 28-Nov-13 19:48:38

Heathclif the education strategy that may have encouraged more into the private sector was the link policy on top of underperformance affecting Richmond-side schools from 2003 until recently. This side contains areas more affluent than Whitton (with similar underperformance) so links were list quickly and the participation rate also reflects that. They were children locked out of the oversubscribed schools according to that system - i.e. in private primaries like your DCs, in schools that had lost or never formed a link being new, or in Twickenham that were beyond the distance cut-off for their linked school despite being nearer another one - AND the Catholic primaries.

Meanwhile North Kingston primaries expanded in size then snuck in and gained the links to Grey Court thus reducing/eliminating the distance criterion and further reducing options.

Funnily enough, in the wards affected, they tended to vote Conservative, so the LibDems did nothing. I agree the education strategy was unfair.

Shene/RPA is in an affluent ward and has suffered from the problems you mention. But it IS improving, it is 'good' under the new Ofsted framework and and that will not be taken away for a good few years. It was badly managed in the past but both governing body and head were praised in the Ofsted report. Although the sponsor has not performed well across all its schools, it takes a light-touch approach in this case. Branding can be a curse as well as a blessing.

Despite this, I challenge you to find a borough with the same proportion of inclusive schools (i.e. comprehensive and non-faith) yet similarly high academic results from a similar intake in those schools. Compare for example with Kingston (88% state secondary attendance) on 2012 results:

1. More inclusive schools: 7 comprehensive/non-denominational, of which 6 are mixed, compared with 6 in Kingston (only 2 are mixed).

2. Similar pupil profile in those inclusive comprehensives: 14% low prior attainers (13% in Kingston inclusive comps, 17.1% state average), 36% high (33% Kingston, 33.1% nationally), average FSM-eligible rate of 26% (21% Kingston, 25.3% nationally).

4. Results in these fully inclusive comprehensives:

- Low prior attainers do a little better: 14% gain 5 GCSEs including E&M and equivalents (8% in Kingston).
- High prior attainers do very well (94% GCSEs both boroughs - national average), and even better on Ebacc: 52% (44% in Kingston, national average of 38.5%).
- All children do better: 27% Ebacc in Richmond but 19% in Kingston - and that group of schools in both boroughs are above national average (16.2%).

It could get even better, I agree - and in 2013 it has.

muminlondon2 Thu 28-Nov-13 23:25:32

I gather dyslexia is not usually covered on PGCE courses (not just Roehampton) but according to Dyslexia Action, specialist training is given in the form of further CPD. But you need to have QTS plus minimum two years' teaching experience before being accepted on an accredited course. I agree that if this has not been prioritised in the past, Gove - who doesn't even think QTS is necessary for general teaching, let alone minimum experience - is not going to champion it.

This depressing BBC article on teacher training shortages suggests why he is so keen on unqualified teachers: his Schools Direct policy has been a flop and only 68% of places have been filled. There was under-recruitment in particular for maths, physics, modern foreign languages, design & tech or computer sciences places, but over-recruitment on arts subjects such as history.

Heathclif Fri 29-Nov-13 07:34:28

Yes mum one of the worst examples of a teacher not "getting" a dyslexic pupil I have encountered was I am sure a result of a background that was ex armed forces via the schools direct scheme.

With huge respect for your exhaustive research, which I very much value, I will shy from your challenge. I am not sure in any case with huge differences in local conditions, affluence, inheritance of schools etc. it is possible to compare boroughs. I am however aware of the history here which is why I will continue to criticise the record of both parties in local government especially when not just inheriting but adding to the proportion of exclusive faith schooling in the borough when so many parents have been let down in terms of places in good local schools for so long. I don't think we are really arguing anyway. I completely agree that, particularly in Sheen things are improving, even If parental perceptions are taking time to adjust, though I do think the record, and improvements in our schools are to do, with good leadership from Heads like the ones at Greycourt, RPA and Waldegrave and hard work by their staff.

I am already fed up of both parties slinging mud at each other in the lead up to the election when neither as far as I can see is offering anything different to the status quo that will doubtless leave parents without places at accessible good schools and even resorting to home Ed again this round of applications.

muminlondon2 Fri 29-Nov-13 08:21:03

I don't think we are arguing either so I'll take back my gauntlet! I do sympathise with children who have struggled with dyslexia but that may be a national picture. Teachers are wary of giving the wrong labels and Ofsted has specifically picked up schools that gave done precisely that despite some teachers not even having mainstream qualifications.

I think our schools do really well - it's extremely hard to meet all the challenges that the government is throwing at them but they are doing so in the main. And the intake of the schools as a whole is not especially advantaged because of high private school uptake - which we agree has been encouraged by local politicking.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 29-Nov-13 14:40:11

LProsser: re yrs of Tue 26-Nov-13 21:14:36: my mistake: I didn’t clearly distinguish between ‘forms of entry’ and ‘EXTRA forms of entry’. I agree that 1959 more children in school at September 2017 implies 65 more classes than now; and that we don’t know their ages and which year they will apply so we can’t say how many reception classes will be needed.

Spreading the increase evenly over the 5 years gives us 131 - say135 - more than 2012 in 2013, 260 in 2014, etc. implying 4.5 new classes in 2013 followed by a further 9 in 2014, etc. up to 22.5 in 2017 for a grand total of 67.5 (65 exactly).

Such a massive rapid expansion is clearly not being planned or perhaps even thought about: Today's RTT has another letter from Tony Shoebridge (p 30), responding to mine last week which set out the GLA forecast, this time promoting me to the Lib Dem agent at the last election, another fantasy, and one from Cllr Hodgson (p 31) responding to last week’s letter from the Lib Dem Cllr Eady. Neither have anything to say about this forecast.

Heathclif Fri 29-Nov-13 14:53:48

I have just heard TAs OFSTED is out, requires improvement sad

twick13 Fri 29-Nov-13 14:55:27

Twickenham Academy just got requires improvement in its ofsted. Not good for the kunskapskollen model. Shame I was hoping the school would turn around and Whitton would have a good option.

Heathclif Fri 29-Nov-13 16:34:19

The report is here www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/136104 and the TA Heads response is here www.twickenhamacademy.org.uk/news/principalsblog/principalsblog.5.1a58d6e142325ca28280009948.html

To be fair the report does not as such make comment on the kunskapskollen model in the way that the HA one did but it is pretty damning about the standards of teaching, and monitoring of student achievement. In that context the Heads response is very complacent, focusing on how unfair the process is rather than actually addressing the constructive criticism. Doesn't inspire confidence.

muminlondon2 Fri 29-Nov-13 17:34:10

It does require further improvement, but Ofsted did note progress already with better attendance, behaviour and Maths and English results. In this respect they are still improvements on the schools they replaced.

The principal was also correct in pointing out the concern of other heads about constant but no-notice changes to exams and performance measures, including early entry (see comments by Teddington head). Kunskapsskolan's model is based on 'stage not age' but they will have to adapt that further now. In Sweden it appears there is much more teacher assessment which has led to accusations of grade inflation.

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Dec-13 23:47:48

Interesting commentary about Kunskapsskolan.

Some provisional national averages for Ebacc:

Overall average: 22.7%
Converter academies: 29.9%
Independent schools: 29.3%
Sponsored academies: 10.9%
Richmond LA average: 41.2%

All our sponsored academies still performed above average for the type of school - Hampton Academy's result was around 22%.

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Dec-13 23:56:55

And a leading Conservative Local Government Association spokesman has blamed government policy on free schools and academies and free schools (which prohibits new LA schools) for shortages of places.

'"The easier solutions have all been used up by councils. And many parents who say that they want a choice of schooling for their children may find there is only one school that can take a child."'

The local Conservatives can't say that publicly when the LibDems keep blaming them for lack of primary place planning. But perhaps they feel the same.

LProsser Tue 03-Dec-13 10:11:38

Surely the free school and academies' (and voluntary aided religious schools) policy is equally the responsibility of local Lib Dems as they are in the coalition? I agree that not allowing local authorities to open new schools is silly, but, in LB Richmond, lack of suitable sites seems to be a much bigger problem which is partly down to the Council giving away Clifden and not coming up with any alternatives.

The new Fair Admissions Campaign map shows that religious secondary schools of all types take fewer children on FSM than their surrounding population would produce if admissions were open. 10% less for C of E schools and 24% less for Catholic schools:

We have been lucky to avoid most of this in LB Richmond so far - no figures available for Sir RR yet.

LProsser Tue 03-Dec-13 11:03:57

Teddington School has found a new headteacher: Mr John Wilkinson from the Elmgreen School in Lambeth, an 11-18 community school said to be the first parent-promoted school in the UK.

muminlondon2 Thu 05-Dec-13 00:05:46

Well done Teddington School - Elmgreen sounds like a great example of an inclusive local school started from scratch with very democratic local roots.


'It is the foundation trust and governance model that really sets Elmgreen apart, not just from the current wave of free schools, but from many other existing voluntary-aided, controlled or foundation schools. Behind the governing body sits a foundation, to which any local parent of school-age children within two miles can belong. It currently has more than 600 members. They elect five directors to sit on the school's governing body. Seven elected parent governors and eight staff, local authority and community governors mean parents always have the majority, but the original aim of maintaining strong community links is also enshrined.'

muminlondon2 Thu 05-Dec-13 23:11:47

GEMS Education has just lost another CEO after three months. Sir Peter Birkett has resigned after an investigation into grade fixing and finances at the Barnfield academy federation he founded.

Zenna Atkins lasted seven weeks. Anders Hultin lasted a year: he had previously set up Kunskapsskolan and later went on to run JB Education, a Swedish free school chain, until it was closed down by its private equity firm backer, leaving 10,000 pupils to find other schools.

muminlondon2 Fri 06-Dec-13 07:29:02

There seems to be a lot of links from one for-profit education business to another, and Richmond is attracting a lot of attention from them - Anders Hultin from Kunskapsskolan (at the time they acquired TA and HA) to GEMS (then off again), Zenna Atkins from GEMS to Wey Education which tried to buy the Place Group which is partnered with Bellevue Education interested in a free school in Richmond.

LProsser Fri 06-Dec-13 21:20:54

Mum in London. I find it very worrying that these companies don't seem to be very stable. I wish these goings on were more widely known locally. Letter to RTT?

muminlondon2 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:48:50

There's a discussion here about global, for profit groups backed by private equity using a trust vehicle to take over three schools in Oxfordshire. The questions asked are:

'how much will parents really know in the future about: Who runs their children’s schools? Who decides who runs their schools? How those decisions are made? What other interests lie behind the local face of the people who run their schools? Where the real power and accountability (and money) lies?'

Elected politicians are failing us if they are not asking and debating these questions publicly, and well before these organisations are allowed to propose schools.

muminlondon2 Sat 07-Dec-13 14:01:59

The question 'who runs their children's schools' could be taken quite literally. The IES chief operating officer stepped in to lead IES Breckland when its principal resigned - if it was difficult to recruit qualified teachers, perhaps finding a principal is an even more challenging task. The first free school opened thus far by Bellevue Place Education Trust is being run by Bellevue Education's CEO. The trust that appointed IES also keeps it in the family too.

muminlondon2 Wed 11-Dec-13 07:55:03

The Guardian reports that NAO report on free schools has been published

"Over £1bn will have been spent on the free schools programme by March 2014, yet on opening, 1 in 4 desks at free schools were empty and fewer than 1 in 5 secondary places are in areas of high or severe need. "

BayJay2 Wed 11-Dec-13 09:10:15

Yes, I think the first couple of free school rounds were about proving the concept, and aiming for a free school in every LA in the country, to counter the "it's just a London thing" accusation. The focus has now shifted more towards addressing basic need. However, the fact is that in some areas there just aren't groups coming forward to create free schools, so councils are having to use the section 6A route to invite proposals. I think it's take time for councils that need schools to get their heads around the new process (not surprisingly!).

BayJay2 Wed 11-Dec-13 09:15:22

Coincidentally (or not!) the Ofsted Annual Report is coming out today too. The BBC seem to be giving equal prominence to this and the free school report this morning.

BayJay2 Wed 11-Dec-13 09:45:46

From the BBC coverage of the free schools report ......

"It also reveals the DfE received no applications to open primary free schools in half of all districts with high or severe need for new places. This is significant because if local councils want to set up new schools they have to invite free school or academy providers to bid"

BayJay2 Wed 11-Dec-13 09:48:45

And, here's the full NAO Report.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 13-Dec-13 14:06:12

The RTT has Space fears (p 23), an excellent letter from Rob Gray of Friends of the River Crane Environment ([FORCE) reminding residents that no planning applications have so far been submitted for the proposed new secondary school on the College site or the developments that will pay for it.

There are many planning and environmental issues to be resolved before planning permission can be granted. No doubt in the end it will a question of how much amenity should be sacrificed and how much over-development should be permitted to make the scheme financially viable to give us the extra school we certainly need.


muminlondon2 Fri 13-Dec-13 23:51:26

Lots of critical articles on free schools at the moment following the NAO report and Discovery New School's closure. But slightly different angle in this Guardian piece on local battle fronts for the DfE. One is Sullivan primary school in Hammersmith and Fulham which the Conservative council is proposing to close to make way for a CofE boys' free secondary school. I don't see how it's in the LA/government's interest to upset the local community in that way.

muminlondon2 Sat 14-Dec-13 10:34:29

Background to the Sulivan primary story is here - LAs have closed or amalgamated community schools to allow VA school expansions so it's not an issue so much with free schools, but faith schools.

Free schools would be getting better press if the government had been more transparent, separated faith schools from the process, prevented private equity backed organisations from being sponsors, generally selected sponsors much more rigorously (why approve a Montessori school if it was adequate? Wonder what other Montessori schools make of the bad publicity). It should also have allowed the LA route as an option in places of need and supported by parents.

BayJay2 Sat 14-Dec-13 11:04:39

"Wonder what other Montessori schools make of the bad publicity"

There's some info on that in this other Guardian article.

muminlondon2 Sat 14-Dec-13 11:38:08

Interesting - would love to know what Lord True (whose wife runs Barnes Montessori nursery) makes of this.

If they are closing the Discovery New School in Crawley there must be a site going. Wonder if the DfE or EFA has a provider in mind to take over? The project management group behind one of the Richmond primary free school bids (Place Group) has an approved proposal in Crawley in partnership with Mosaica. This was the American for-profit organisation that makes money out of its patented curriculum. But the Place Group seem to be behind nearly 20 approved bids which are quite varied, including a couple of the schools mentioned in the Guardian article on unsubscribed free schools. It was also behind Sandymoor and Rural Enterprise Academy which only had 40 filled places last year according to that article.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 14-Dec-13 12:13:01

Today’s Guardian has Free schools: why the fight goes on by Zoe Williams:

Michael Gove's free schools project has been controversial to say the least. Yesterday, one of the first to open was ordered to close. Meanwhile, fierce local battles continue to rage . .

BayJay2 Sat 14-Dec-13 12:23:26

Chris, yes, that's the same article Muminlondon posted. It seems reasonably well balanced.

muminlondon2 Sat 14-Dec-13 13:38:15

I think I mixed up Sandymoor with Stour Valley in relation to the Place Group. And while it has acted in a project manager role for many free schools, its more direct involvement in trusts are with Bellevue Education (on schools in Balham, Maidenhead and Islington) and Mosaica (on the Crawley/Gatwick free school). So far only the Balham free school has opened so no census numbers on that.

Just an aside on Elmgreen from where Teddington has recruited its new head (also a potential model for Labour if it continues free schools, although it was able to set up as voluntary controlled so is still maintained by the LA). It got a good Ofsted recently with outstanding leadership - so I'm sure they will be very sad to let their head go.

muminlondon2 Sat 14-Dec-13 18:27:16

A worrying issue is the sale of school playing fields under the Coalition as reported by the Telegraph.

So far 57 playing fields have been sold off since May 2010. ... Some 10,000 playing fields were sold off between 1979 and 1997 under the Tories. But under Labour, between 1997 and 2010, only 226 were sold.

One academy sponsor reported to be planning to axe a playground is Lord Nash, Future Academies founder and schools minister.

muminlondon2 Wed 18-Dec-13 00:11:35

That Sulivan primary story was in the Standard tonight although I can't find it online - similar coverage here. This is one of the few London primaries that qualified for Boris's 'Gold Club' despite its disadvantaged intake, many of whom live in flats and benefit from the lovely open space, but Boris and H&F want to force them into a sponsored academy without outside space sponsored by a private school chain - with no experience of running any state school, let alone one with a similar intake. This is to provide a site for a new boys' CofE free school - despite the fact that even the diocese supports Sulivan's campaign.

LProsser Wed 18-Dec-13 09:13:51

Very worrying trend. The £6m quoted to replace the Sulivan school buildings sounds very reasonable actually. There seems to be a new tendency to boast about how much more cheaply you can open a free school than you could rebuild a school properly under Building Schools for the Future. I can imagine the same happening in LB Richmond i.e. primaries with elderly buildings being made to merge to free up sites. I suppose the high % of church schools may be the only thing that makes it less practical as presumably they can't be forced to merge with community schools. There are still schools with outside spaces which are very valuable for education (an example that springs to mind is the Hampton Wick Infants Nature area) but which may be seen as fair game given how expensive land is on the open market. I can't see how else free schools will get sites. What's happening on the sixth form site in Twickenham is a version of this really - it's being talked up as the only thing that can be done without any consideration of the fact that it needs to go through a planning process which takes into account the huge impact on the local area.

BayJay2 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:56:18

"There seems to be a new tendency to boast about how much more cheaply you can open a free school than you could rebuild a school properly under Building Schools for the Future"

Rather than something new, I'd say that was always a fundamental objective of the free school policy. I'm not defending it, but the position from the start was "we will create school places more quickly, more cheaply, and with greater parental satisfaction and quality than the last Government". They've certainly done it quickly, and relatively cheaply, but only time will be able to judge the satisfaction/quality outcomes. I think that's the basic overall message of last week's NAO report.

LProsser Wed 18-Dec-13 16:38:02

I know it was always an objective but cost has become a bit more of a headline message, whereas before the most prominent objectives were more about giving a "choice" to escape "the dead hand of the local authority". But to introduce choice you have to have lots of surplus places and that's plainly not going to happen now in most areas under austerity and there is criticism of free schools opening in areas where there isn't a shortage of places. I can't see how the Government can compare the building programme of the last decade with now other than by reference to cost. I don't think anyone has surveyed the parents of children who benefited from rebuilt schools under the previous Government to see how satisfied they were after the rebuild?!

BayJay2 Wed 18-Dec-13 19:37:11

"cost has become a bit more of a headline message, whereas before the most prominent objectives were more about giving a "choice""

Yeah, I'd agree with that. I think the "choice" message has been toned down as people who are clearly without any choice have become more vocal. Choice will always be a privilege, and unfortunately the Government can't afford to give it to everyone.

"I can't see how the Government can compare the building programme of the last decade with now other than by reference to cost."

Cost and time I think.

" I don't think anyone has surveyed the parents of children who benefited from rebuilt schools under the previous Government to see how satisfied they were after the rebuild?!"

No, by parental satisfaction I just meant the extent to which schools were popular (i.e. well subscribed) by families. I'm not aware of there being any issue with the BSF schools on that front at all. I think the potential negatives of the speedy and cost-effective approach to free schools are intended to be balanced to some extent by their "giving parents what they want" appeal.

muminlondon2 Thu 19-Dec-13 00:18:23

I think the potential negatives of the speedy and cost-effective approach to free schools are intended to be balanced to some extent by their "giving parents what they want" appeal.

But that hasn't exactly worked because many free schools have been undersubscribed (in Suffolk some well under 50% in the respective year groups). In an area where parents are denied choice because free schools/academies are all run by the same sponsor (Pimlico primary schools all now academies run by Lord Nash), but there is still a population boom, the newly but cheaply built free school with no outside space is still less than half full in its first year.

Having said that, I do think a lot of money was wasted under Labour on academies and BSF. There is obviously a cheaper way to build or improve schools and they don't need input from Richard Rogers. It just doesn't follow that all new school building should be restricted to academies outside LA control.

muminlondon2 Thu 19-Dec-13 00:28:17

Of course those examples of undersubscribed schools may never have had parental support in the first place but were a vehicle to insert sponsors from the private sector into a newly created 'market'. And I think it's backfired.

BayJay2 Thu 19-Dec-13 09:32:30

"But that hasn't exactly worked because many free schools have been undersubscribed"

Well that's the test I was referring to, but I think more time is needed to judge the outcome - it'll be true of some schools, and there've already been some high profile failures, but what about across the board? And many of the headlines about empty places have only looked at schools in their opening year, which isn't representative (not even for maintained schools like SRR). For instance Bristol Free School wasn't full in its first year (they only announced the site 3 months before it was due to open), and some people were quick to make hay of that, but it is very oversubscribed now.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 19-Dec-13 18:45:43

The Guardian has: Michael Gove unveils 2.3bn extra funding for new classrooms:

Cash injection on top of earlier allocation of £5bn to meet predicted sharp rise in pupil numbers after recent baby boom.

The DfE website has: Capital allocations for basic need and infant free school meals. Richmond borough gets £0.55mn for free school meals and £9.0mn over three years for school places, of which the 2014-15 amount, £3.7mn, has already been announced, in March.

It also has: School capacity: academic year 2012 to 2013 with forecasts for Richmond borough to 2017/18 at primary level and 2019/20 at secondary level. This is a .xlsx table created in Excel 4 which baffles my 2001 Excel for Mac so someone else will have to get it and tell us what it says.

muminlondon2 Thu 19-Dec-13 20:16:30

Some have very low numbers for a first year though - e.g. Atherton with fewer than 40 pupils but 27 staff. It's may be fairer to judge after two years (same for StRR).

But an example of how false economies on premises, even if oversubscribed, may affect intake is Canary Wharf College which in its first two years didn't have a single pupil on FSM despite being in one of the poorest boroughs. It doesn't seem to have a kitchen so can only give a small contribution towards a packed lunch which parents are expected to make themselves. Many low income families or single parents are already skimping on evening meals, or may not have the time to prepare a very nutritious packed lunch, so it may be the only opportunity for a hot meal all day. That's the whole point of free school meals.

LProsser Fri 20-Dec-13 15:59:26

A couple of very odd statements by the headteacher of Canary Wharf College, referring to her own school as "a big risk" and to the immediate area being "OK" as opposed to a council estate! I would have thought they should be arranging to have hot food brought in from another primary school in the area - would help to create extra jobs too. Or taking the children to the canteen of one of the many huge companies with CSR policies at Canary Wharf?! Presumably Thomson House free school has a kitchen in its converted church with no outside space?

Chris - I looked at the spreadsheet - it seemed to me to show a steady climb in numbers of children each year from now until 2019. There must be a % figure that they apply to reduce the number starting secondary school compared to Year 6.

muminlondon2 Fri 20-Dec-13 16:43:50

Thomson House manages to provide school meals 'through a carefully selected caterer' according to its FAQ - perhaps they are meals on wheels but it's much better than nothing.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 20-Dec-13 18:15:30

The RTT has (p 7): Councillor takes school place row to High Court:

Cllr Morris?s case against the council?s decision (confirmed by the appeal panel) not to offer her daughter a place at Sheen Mount is to go to court; no date is given. This is a good thing as we will get to hear both sides’ evidence and to see it challenged.

We discussed the case September 23-7.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 27-Dec-13 17:52:50

Today’s RTT has two letters (p 13): More school places required and We must work together:

The first is from Cllr Gareth Roberts, the Lib Dem spokesman for schools; he writes . . So far the published number of reception places on offer next year is 28 fewer than this September - 2465 vs. 2493 - while the birth data suggests there will be about 105 more children needing places . . three or four extra bulge classes will be needed . .

The second is from Lord True, council leader, responding to the letter from Rob Gray of FORCE about the College scheme two weeks ago.

The Kingston Guardian reports: Government finally stumps up cash for North Kingston secondary school:

The Government has finally stumped up the cash to renovate the north Kingston centre into a secondary school in time for September 2015, it was announced today. The amount of money from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for construction and refurbishment has not been revealed . .

December 2008 - Council says 'balance has tipped' and new secondary school is needed
July 2009 - Council announces plans for secondary school split between North Kingston centre and Hawker Centre
July 2009 - Residents boo and jeer plans for 'superschool' in north Kingston centre
January 2011 - Church of England loses its bid to open free secondary school in favour of council-led school
October 2011 - Desperate council considers PFI funding for school
April 2012 - Kingston school hit by funding delay
May 2013 - KET free school bid approved for school for 180 children to open in September 2014
July 2013 - Delays to school opening announced as opening set back to September 2015.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 07-Jan-14 18:56:20

The Guardian has: Why is the government being so secretive about free schools?

Laura McInerney is battling with the education department for the right to know how it decides which new schools to approve:

‘I never intended to involve the lawyers. Really, I didn't. I made a simple request for information from the Department for Education, expecting they would just hand it over. But, rather than release it, Michael Gove, the education secretary, has told MPs he will do "everything possible" to stop me getting it. In the coming months, his department is taking the Information Commissioner – and me – to a tribunal in an attempt to block its release under the Freedom of Information Act. This whole saga started 15 months ago . .

And so I ended 2013 much as I finished 2012 – sitting down. . to write an appeal against the DfE's counterproductive desire for secrecy. This one, however, will be sent to a judge in the First-tier Tribunal, who will hear the case brought by the DfE against the ICO and me. These courts are designed with lay people in mind, and no legal aid is available, so I am likely to be representing myself.’

The tribunal is expected in summer.

LProsser Wed 08-Jan-14 17:43:11

Thank goodness for people like Laura McInery. It's unbelievable that Gove would take the Information Commissioner to a tribunal to block the release of information. What's the big secret?!

Any update on whether Turing House School will be able to open this September Bay Jay?

BayJay2 Wed 08-Jan-14 18:39:18

"Any update...?"

Latest update is here LP. smile

muminlondon2 Thu 09-Jan-14 19:13:49

Really interesting opinion from David Wolfe QC to the education select committee on academies, free schools, 'sponsors' and transparency. A few commentators below the Laura McInerney article mention him.

LProsser Thu 09-Jan-14 22:05:50

Very interesting. I didn't realise that academies that are in a chain don't have a separate legal existence. I though that they were all individual entities with governing bodies that had a management contract with the chain. I am not even clear whether the freehold of school premises are still owned by the local authority and leased to the academy chain or if they have been forced to transfer the premises? What a mess they are creating.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 10-Jan-14 10:29:22

The RTT has Concerns over college plans (p 26) from Francis McInerny, raising once again the many planning obstacles that this scheme will encounter and the complete failure of the council to address them.

. . Council officers and local politicians should be in no doubt that this £70-£100m project is very high risk indeed. The current path is simply not the way to go.

The Guardian has Man arrested over Bradford free school fraud claims: Investigation by Education Funding Agency found serious failings in financial management of Kings Science Academy. Channel 4 News goes further and names him as The founder of the Kings Science Academy in Bradford, Sajid Raza:

. . In 2013 an investigation by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) found "serious failings" in the financial management of the school, following revelations that it had claimed tens of thousands of pounds of public money that had not been used for its intended purposes.

BayJay2 Fri 10-Jan-14 11:34:49

"The Guardian has ..."

For balance, it's worth pointing out that financial mismanagement isn't unique to free schools.

It's good that the Bradford issue was spotted by the EFA, and its a shame it wasn't properly dealt with earlier.

LProsser Fri 10-Jan-14 16:13:20

I suppose the fraud potential is higher in a school that is more remote from control by a local authority and/or where a number of people known to one another set up it up and run it.

There do seem to be a number of planning and environmental obstacles to the Twickenham scheme, and the linked Teddington Studios scheme where a total change of use that contradicts existing policy to retain employment land and not build housing on the flood plain is being proposed.

BayJay2 Sat 11-Jan-14 08:11:13

LP: "I suppose the fraud potential is higher in a school that is more remote from control by a local authority"

Well that will be the same for any type of academy, not just free schools. They are regulated, but by the DfE rather than by the LA. Of course, that might change in future, if there's a swing towards Labour in the next Government.

LP: "or where a number of people known to one another set up it up and run it."

I think that's a red herring. Most groups will have been brought together by their common interest in establishing the school. Anything that acts against that interest (such as dodgy accounting practices) would rapidly break those relationships down.

Of course in some cases groups have a common interest in something else, such as a particular faith background in the case of a faith school, but that has long been the case for many maintained schools too.

muminlondon2 Sat 11-Jan-14 11:37:36

It is a wider problem for academies - several chains have been investigated for financial irregularities or even fraud, e.g. Priory Federation, Barnfield Federation, E-ACT, AET. In some cases there are also allegations of nepotism like at Kings Science Academy (where several family members were employed).

Free schools are just new academies but in many cases while they have been set up extremely quickly (60% starting in temporary premises according to NAO report), it's taken a long time for Ofsted to do a full inspection and separate investigations into finance that didn't follow procedure from the start.

One free school in temporary premises has just had planning permission to develop a permanent site turned down.

BayJay2 Sat 11-Jan-14 12:34:15

muminlondon2: "in many cases while they have been set up extremely quickly ... it's taken a long time for Ofsted to do a full inspection and separate investigations into finance"

All free schools have a pre-opening Ofsted inspection, and then another one towards the end of their second year. (The 2012 openers are starting to have their inspections now).

The financial regulation has its own procedures and timetable. In the Bradford case I understand the EFA reported the irregularity at an early stage, but the Gvt agency they reported it to didn't act on it. I expect the negative press they received for that will make them act differently next time.

BayJay2 Sat 11-Jan-14 13:03:47

"All free schools have a pre-opening Ofsted inspection, and then another one towards the end of their second year."

And of course an earlier inspection can be performed if there are specific reasons for concern, as has happened in some cases. It's the same for any new school (SRR will be inspected on the same timetable).

muminlondon2 Sat 11-Jan-14 13:20:52

The Ofsted pre-opening check is a very basic checklist, though, and sometimes with the answer 'not known' or otherwise qualified, e.g 'The procedures in place are likely to meet requirements.' See Kings Science Academy check: suitability of staff, supply staff, and proprietors are assessed according to whether CRB checks have been made, and nothing at all to do with qualifications, any 'fit and proper person' test. No mention of finances, or of governors either, or who chairs them - yet Kings Science Academy appeared to have had no chair of governors for 12 months.

So if the DfE is relying on Ofsted for sifting out risk, it is passing the buck in a mind-blowingly reckless fashion! Obviously there should be other much more 'rigorous' (Gove's favourite word) checks in place. It is scary to think that 17% of free school applications with a low suitability score were approved. Even Discovery New School itself criticises government policy for being 'rushed and ill-considered'.

Another interesting thing about the pre-opening check is that all it concludes is 'is registration recommended? yes' yet several free schools have been criticised or censured by the Advertising Standards Association for claiming they have been rated 'excellent' or have 'passed with flying colours'. These include a Seckford Foundation school in Suffolk. I haven't seen St RR make such claims but there would be plenty willing to report them to the ASA if they did!

muminlondon2 Sat 11-Jan-14 13:47:54

And if the Ofsted pre-registration check is the same for both StRR and Kings Science Academy, the similarity ends there because as a maintained school StRR will be inspected also by the LA, as well as the Catholic Education Service very early on. Free schools or other new academies in chains have the support of the chain but the chain itself may be hiding irregularities from the DfE and until now has not been subject to Ofsted inspection. The middle tier problem.

BayJay2 Sat 11-Jan-14 13:55:56

"... nothing at all to do with qualifications, any 'fit and proper person' test... "

If you're meaning the trustees, as opposed to Governers, teachers etc, then that is assessed as part of the pre-approval process.

"So if the DfE is relying on Ofsted for sifting out risk .."
Each free school has a DfE appointed adviser, who assesses the school throughout it's pre-opening phase. There are milestones along the way (such as appointing governors), so if those milestones weren't met that should have been reported to the DfE via that route. It sounds like some things went very wrong in this case.

"Even Discovery New School itself criticises government policy for being 'rushed ..."

I don't think anyone would disagree that the process is rushed. The ability to create schools "at pace" was meant to be one of the advantages of the free school programme. The big winners of that approach are the families who can benefit from successful new schools sooner (after all, if you have a Y6 child, you can't hold them back a year if the new school you've set your hopes on is delayed), and the big losers are the ones who end up in poor quality schools as a result of it. Time will tell whether there are more winners than losers, and of course people will have strong opinions on whether it's acceptable for there to be anyone losing out at all.

BayJay2 Sat 11-Jan-14 13:58:13

"... as a maintained school StRR will be inspected also by the LA, as well as the Catholic Education Service very early on ..."

That's why I mentioned the DfE adviser, who does the equivalent job on behalf of the DfE. (And presumably faith free schools are closely monitored by their diocesan authorities in the same way as maintained faith schools).

muminlondon2 Sun 12-Jan-14 01:42:11

Other losers as a consequence of rushing the free schools process are taxpayers - because according to the NAO report the government is paying a lot more for freehold when children are already in temporary premises and the clock is ticking - and the estimated total capital costs for schools opened in LAs with no forecast need are 'at least £241 million out of a projected total of £950 million'.

And the reputation of the schools themselves because they recruit a lot fewer than the planned admission number in temporary premises. Which leads to accusations of being less than successful. If StRR was criticised for not being full on opening, we must bear in mind only 16% of free schools were fully subscribed in their first year.

BayJay2 Sun 12-Jan-14 08:25:18

Muminlondon,the taxpayer argument is a red herring too because the taxpayer will lose out with any sub-optimal system for creating and maintaining schools. Are you sure the taxpayer has been short changed more by the free school programme than they were by BSF? Families living close to Teddington school would probably say no, but what about the ones in Whiitton who missed out on the rebuilding pot at the time because only one local school could benefit? Would it have been a better deal for the taxpayer if the pot had been shared? I don't know the answer to that but it's one to think about.

Obviously creating places where there is no need is wasteful. That's a no-brainer, but it becomes more debatable depending on the various definitions of need.

I agree with you that all new schools need to be given time to become established before people draw too many conclusions about their subscription levels.

muminlondon2 Sun 12-Jan-14 11:02:08

As LProsser has pointed out, the argument that free schools are much cheaper than BSF is a red herring too. As they have already changed specifications to make them cheaper, they could and will have applied this to all new schools irrespective of whether free schools or not. In the case of free schools they have cut space by 45%.

But it will take until the schools are full to know if this will have any effect on pupil recruitment, delivery of a full curriculum, or provision of school meals and after school clubs etc. which as we have discussed may affect the diversity of the student intake.

But other issues which point to higher than anticipated costs:

1. The point remains that in when they have opened schools in temporary premises, the government paid 63% over its valuations for these freeholds, compared with 30% on schools that did not need temporary accommodation.

2. Not all the capital costs are known, and are rising - they already spent double the amount intended, around £6.6 million per school. For secondaries this varies from £1.2 million to £36.4 million. I suppose StRR is a good comparison if it will cost £10 million for a 750 place secondary plus sixth form and one form primary. Can't find individual costs now, but both Bristol Free School and West London Free School cost as much or more than that.

3. Even where capital costs are minimal there are other operating costs - for example in converting an independent to a free school, all places are then funded by the state not just Y7 and would otherwise have been private pupils. And the DfE has paid debts as well, e.g. £5 million for a private school in the NE run by the Woodard Trust.

So cheaper overall, but perhaps with false economies, unbudgeted costs (funded by other department 'savings' which could mean cuts to IT provision in other schools for example) and with some potential wastage on places in areas of surplus or school failures like Discovery or Al Madinah. Plus, the NAO doesn't go into the loss to LAs who had closed a previous school on the site and could have used it for other specialist provision, social housing, etc.

BayJay2 Sun 12-Jan-14 11:47:14

"the argument that free schools are much cheaper than BSF is a red herring too"

Yep, quite possibly. Like I said before, no Government seems to have found the perfect model yet.

"when they have opened schools in temporary premises, the government paid 63% over its valuations for these freeholds, compared with 30% on schools that did not need temporary accommodation"

There might be more behind that stat than meets the eye. The ones that didn't need temp accommodation might logically have been in areas where there was good availability of property. Hard to tell without the raw data.

"they already spent double the amount intended.."

The amount intended was ridiculously low. It clearly wasn't as easy to convert office blocks, churches etc as they first thought.

"I suppose StRR is a good comparison.."
Not really, they were in the lucky position of having a building that was already substantially a school building.

muminlondon2 Sun 12-Jan-14 14:03:21

Yes, there is not enough detail on why freeholds were more expensive when schools had started in temporary premises. I read it that the EFA would be in a weaker bargaining position but there could be other circumstances too. Generally I think it is unwise to open a school when the permanent site has not been secured - as a parent I would certainly avoid that extra risk and uncertainty on top of all the other risks - but it's understandable where it fits into a refurbishment timetable.

Very interesting commentary on whether there was effective governance at Kings Science Academy, or indeed whether they had a chair or not, here.

BayJay2 Sun 12-Jan-14 14:44:48

" I think it is unwise to open a school when the permanent site has not been secured"

They won't do that now. It's happened in the past, but its one of the things that has evolved. They'll now only secure temp accommodation once the permanent accommodation is secure.

muminlondon2 Sun 12-Jan-14 15:35:35

Khalsa Secondary Academy may be one of the last schools caught out by this then. Glad to hear it won't happen from this year.

Interesting to see the SATs results for the Maharishi school in Lancashire. 63% level 4 or above. That's just above floor target but below next year's target. Not a single pupil achieved level 5 or above in reading, writing and maths tests (maths was the worst). Batley Grammar School, the former independent school, also scored very average results, beaten by the majority of Richmond schools at level 5 (it appears not to have even bothered entering pupils at level 6). Nothing about their intake would seem to justify this gap, but we do have some exceptionally good state schools and teachers in this borough. grin

BayJay2 Sun 12-Jan-14 15:48:59

"Khalsa Secondary Academy may be one of the last schools caught out by this then"

It sounds like the EFA already owns the Khalsa site (which was the definition of 'secure' I was using), because the school is already occupying it. New rules were recently brought in to allow free schools to open up temporarily on sites without planning permission, giving them more time to secure it. It'll be interesting to see what happens next, but presumably the EFA will address the issues that prevented them from gaining permission and then reapply. (Of course it helps if the local council is generally supportive of the school and its proposed site, which perhaps isn't the case for this example!)

muminlondon2 Sun 12-Jan-14 17:38:11

You are right, the site has already been purchased for £4.5 million. It's still a really uncertain situation for parents and inflammatory issue for villagers. If the EFA/DfE pushes this through against the wishes of the Tory elected council (38 Tory councillors out of 40) it would not do the reputation of this government or the free school policy much good in the Tory party's traditional heartlands... If they are also affected by HS2 the area could become a UKIP target seat!

muminlondon2 Sun 12-Jan-14 18:11:54

There is a very interesting Newsnight report giving background on Khalsa Secondary Academy. It is also a more local issue to us than I thought because some of the intake of the school are expected to come from Hounslow. And there's no mistaking how aghast people would be if the decision were to be overruled.

muminlondon2 Tue 14-Jan-14 22:56:03

Primary schools are full, say head teachers

'More than half of those surveyed thought the most practical way to solve the crisis was to open more local authority maintained schools. Just 4% suggested the government's prefered option, of opening more free schools or academies was the best solution.'

LProsser Wed 15-Jan-14 09:12:20

A subsidiary aspect of the Khalsa Secondary Academy decision that surprised me is the withdrawal of free transport for children living in Stoke Poges, effectively forcing those parents who can't afford to pay for transport to the secondary school that children from Stoke Poges usually attend to go to a Sikh school. I wonder if that would apply even if they have siblings at the usual secondary school or some other strong reason for going there? It would also be ironic if the school moves out of Stoke Poges after a year or so anyway when presumably their transport would become free again. I suspect there is no plan B to move the school elsewhere though when the site has been purchased (incidentally £4.5 million sounds quite cheap!).

muminlondon2 Wed 15-Jan-14 22:52:41

I think this is a problem in a lot of areas - see Essex, Hull, Suffolk, North Yorks.

Axing school transport when new niche and/or small schools have been allowed to open makes no sense - comprehensive mainstream schools rely on a critical mass to deliver a full curriculum. I'm starting to sympathise with the frustration of those in rural areas who say that politicians from right and left ignore the particular problems they have in imposing their blinkered metropolitan solutions on the whole country.

LProsser Thu 16-Jan-14 11:19:47

If it stays there it could turn out to be a great school and the site looks much better than most free schools I have heard about locally. However, from the website photos, it doesn't appear to have attracted 50% (or maybe any) non Sikh children yet. It might have been more tactful to let things settle down a bit and wait till the site was permanent before making it the only choice for all children in the village (unless their parents can afford transport/fees elsewhere). Presumably there is, or soon will be, an overall shortage of secondary places in the Slough area so Stoke Poges' parents may soon have no other option. The axing of transport certainly makes a mockery of free schools providing "choice" for parents. The choice to send your child to a non-religious community school never seems to be respected.

LProsser Thu 16-Jan-14 11:28:10

The axing of free transport in Essex and Suffolk would have a big impact on their current system - there are lots of selective schools. My friends sent their children a long distance across Essex to the Anglo European School in Ingatestone which is mentioned. That school is not a grammar but has specialised admissions criteria and takes children from a vast catchment area stretching into London so might be a bit sniffy about having to take lots of local children who can no longer be transported elsewhere.

BayJay2 Thu 16-Jan-14 17:44:40

Unless I missed it (correct me if I'm wrong), there didn't seem to be anything concrete behind the villagers' fears that they might lose their transport subsidy just because of the new Sikh school. Many LAs are reviewing their school transport costs, but, as it says in that link, they still have a legal duty to provide free school transport for pupils to attend their nearest suitable school, provided the school is beyond the statutory walking distances.

I expect there is room for manoeuvre around the meaning of the word "suitable", and that is what is being reviewed.

My understanding is that LAs don't generally force parents to accept places at faith schools if they don't want them. I'm not sure if there's a legal requirement to offer an alternative community school place, or whether its just considered "good practice" (anyone know?). Either way, I don't think it would be hard to argue that the new Sikh school wasn't "suitable" for people wanting a community school.

BayJay2 Thu 16-Jan-14 18:19:20

"I'm not sure if there's a legal requirement to offer an alternative community school place, or whether its just considered "good practice" (anyone know?)"

To answer my own question, it's apparently not a legal duty to provide a place in a community school, but there has been at least one successful admissions appeal by a family who argued for one in preference to a faith school place. See the fourth question down here. Perhaps it will become much more of an issue in future as faith schools become more diverse.

BayJay2 Thu 16-Jan-14 20:55:40

"I expect there is room for manoeuvre around the meaning of the word "suitable", and that is what is being reviewed."

Actually the fifth question from the link in my previous post sheds further light on why some LAs are reviewing school transport subsidies - the need to treat children from different backgrounds equally has made it less affordable.

Here in Richmond, travel grants are still available to people for travel to both faith and non-faith schools.

LProsser Thu 16-Jan-14 21:15:53

I think there would have been at least one appeal if those allocated Sir RR last year had been forced to send their children there!

I picked up the point about the transport change from the Newsnight report that muminlondon posted a link to on Sunday but that is from last summer so maybe it wasn't implemented. Are children who go to this school from LB Hounslow getting free transport?

BayJay2 Thu 16-Jan-14 21:37:16

"Are children who go to this school from LB Hounslow getting free transport?"

Hounslow seem to do this for low income families only. If a child is from a low income Sikh family, and it's the nearest Sikh school they were offered a place at, then it looks like they would be eligible for free travel (see para b at the top of page 5).

muminlondon2 Fri 17-Jan-14 00:12:21

BayJay there does appear to be uncertainty over the policy by which Bucks County Council would fund school transport for Stoke Poges villagers - their nearest school would be within three miles if Khalsa were allowed to remain so they would be expected to go there and/or might not be funded to go elsewhere. See here.

BayJay2 Fri 17-Jan-14 09:23:04

I'm not surprised there is uncertainty, because the local policy is pretty complex and clearly in flux.

I find it interesting that the policy mostly uses the term "qualifying" schools rather than "suitable" schools. The elligibility criteria (page 5 in this doc) make it clear that religious preference won't be automatically considered, but elsewhere (page 15) it says that some Catholic primaries are eligible, presumably for historical reasons.

I'm not surprised local people are feeling anxious, but I'd say the council would be wide open to challenge if they tried to argue that the new free school was the nearest suitable school for non-sikhs.

In summary, it's another red herring - the policy certainly needs to be sorted out, but it shouldn't be used as an emotive argument for not siting the school there.

BayJay2 Fri 17-Jan-14 10:03:01

"it shouldn't be used as an emotive argument for not siting the school there."

Just qualifying that by saying the issue raised is certainly not a red herring in the debate about whether the Government should be increasing the numbers of faith schools generally; but if we are going to have more faith schools then the free transport policies will just have to evolve to cope with them.

Interesting times!

Heathclif Sun 19-Jan-14 11:04:47

When we went to appeal for Darrell we were told that the fact that the only place offered was in a bulge class in a faith school and we did not want our child to attend a faith school was not grounds for appeal because they would teach the National Curriculum. Just about the only grounds for appeal that stood a chance were medical, that the parents couldn't manage the journey, amazing the number of walking sticks and neck braces in the waiting area!

It's an interesting issue. Presumably Sikh children have had to attend COfE or Catholic faith schools when there were no other places available. I can't see how you could justify having a different policy for Sikh schools?

LProsser Sun 19-Jan-14 11:31:57

I'd imagine that this policy could be really controversial once they start telling parents that their children have to go to a Muslim school in areas where Muslim free schools are opening. I suppose less of an issue in urban areas where there are more schools within walking distance but there are definitely places in Yorkshire and Lancashire where children travel by bus into towns and cities from surrounding villages for school so I assume the bus would only go to the nearest secondary school.

muminlondon2 Sun 19-Jan-14 12:17:15

In the north in some towns there was a fair bit of self-segregation where some comprehensive schools were known to have 90%+ Muslim children. And so there was increasing self-segregation as other children either went private, looked towards a CofE school or moved to outside villages. Or working class families remained on their council estates where their schools became large white working class sponsored academies, continuing to underperform in a sort of island of deprivation.

However, that is NOT a reason to fix that segregation forever by replacing inclusive LA maintained community schools with faith schools. Faith schools can discriminate against even non-practising but cultural followers of that religion (e.g. Islam), mixed race families, Muslims attending mosques not favoured by a particular school and speaking a different language, etc. Who don't want religion to be a central focus in school, genders to be segregated in class, be compelled to go to prayer, be taught a creationist view.

And it is unfair on teaching staff who may suddenly be required to wear headscarves or change their dress, and even practise the religion in order to be principal. Actually, that applies to CofE free schools too which have advertised for principal positions requiring faith adherents.

BayJay2 Sun 19-Jan-14 12:23:08

Muminlondon, its not just CE free schools that restrict headship applicants in that way. Christs did the same.

Heathclif Sun 19-Jan-14 12:35:29

mum Somewhat ironically some of those schools with 90% Muslim populations in Northern towns with large immigrant communities are actually Catholic Schools. They were established in inner city areas to serve previous waves of immigration from Ireland and Eastern Europe. Of course unlike here, they are not oversubscribed by people meeting the faith criteria who have tended to move further out and put their children into the non faith schools in leafier suburbs.

muminlondon2 Sun 19-Jan-14 12:56:13

If the Catholic schools were 90% subscribed by Muslim children you can guarantee that the community schools have a similar proportion. It's actually easier to get into some Catholic schools where you just need a certificate of baptism or prove you are of another faith, than a CofE school where you need a reference attesting regular attendance. Baptism certificates on their own are rarely/never a criteria.

muminlondon2 Mon 20-Jan-14 17:15:03

Just checked the census - there is actually only one Catholic and one CofE secondary north of Birmingham with a white population of less than 50% (the school census does not give religion) and none of them have more than one-third 'Asian' (Indian, Pakistani, Bagladeshi and other). Not convinced many Muslims or Sikh have been obliged to attend Christian schools at secondary level (primary, perhaps) due to lack of places generally.

None of the Sikh and Muslim secondaries have a single white pupil in them - no difference between voluntary aided schools and free schools there.

I'd guess Nishkam (Sikh) school, temporarily in Isleworth but which opened this year, is unlikely to have any non-Sikhs. There are about 300 vacancies in Hounslow for Y7 though, so it's unlikely anyone would be forced to go to faith secondary school contrary to their beliefs. I can't imagine that happening in Stoke Poges either - it would be a better justification for a judicial review than not getting a place near your second home!

Heathclif Mon 20-Jan-14 18:27:41

I was (irresponsibly) regurgitating the 90% figure, and I wasn't implying that pupils were being given no alternative to Catholic Secondaries (in fact I understand that the religious ethos makes them more attractive to Muslim families than a school with no religious ethos so they are actually the schools of choice ). It is just that certainly in the Northern towns I know well, for historical reasons there are a lot of Catholic secondaries serving the areas with high immigrant populations that are considerably undersubscribed by Catholic pupils and therefore have space for the high concentrations of Muslim pupils who live in the area eg from one schools (requires improvement) OFSTED, " The proportion of students who are eligible for the pupil premium is broadly the same as schools nationally.
 The percentage of students for whom English is an additional language is higher than the national average.
 There are twice as many students from minority ethnic families compared to the average with the largest group being from Pakistani heritage. " That is typical for the inner city Catholic Schools, though the (good) community school nearby has a very small minority of white pupils. I was more interested in the contrast between that environment in terms of faith selection and our own.

However the fact remains that given that parents whether they are Muslim, Sikh or of other faiths or none have been expected to put up and shut up when offered no alternative but a Christian faith school I do not see how a Judicial Review can possibly exempt a Christian from a Muslim or Sikh school if there are not alternative places available. That situation is likely to arise eventually. I know the reality is that governing bodies may be more likely to try to influence their schools to implement religious and cultural practises that would be unacceptable to those of other religions but the D of E and Ofsted were unequivocal about the unacceptability of e.g gender segregation and forcing teachers to wear the veil in the case of the school in Derby. It rather goes to the heart of the reality of living in a multicultural society if it is OK to give parents no alternatives but a school where their children will sit through evangelical assemblies (as was the case at one point when Holy Trinity had a proselytising Head) or the Catholic mass on the basis that they have to meet basic standards about what and how they teach that mean there is no grounds for finding their faith character unacceptable but draw the line at giving white parents no alternative but to send their children to a school where they still have to meet those basic standards but will sit through a Muslim or Sikh assembly, even one that may well be focused on common moral and spiritual values shared by all religions? Plenty of Sikh and Muslim children have or may find themselves the only one in a faith school. Surely it would breach racial discrimination laws to make that distinction?

muminlondon2 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:03:27

Yes, the 90% Muslim figure is also difficult to prove as there are no statistics, and there are only a handful of schools with more than 90% Asian. But one of them (a community school) is in an area I'm familiar with, where the Catholic and CofE schools are oversubscribed and comparably very white.

It is different at primary level but in a town, if there is only one Muslim in a CofE school they will have opted to go there. In a village there may be only one school. But generally in towns with large immigrant populations the Christian schools have modified their ethos, there are a number of families together in the school, and it is less likely that there would be evangelical assemblies.

This was a long time ago, but my mum actually appealed (successfully, presumably) for me to go to a non-faith primary on the grounds of belief (she said) and I had to take a school bus to get there. Ironically it was at a time when you didn't have the supposed 'choice' we have today, but I would defend that principle in any appeal.

Heathclif Mon 20-Jan-14 23:56:54

muminlondon Well so would, and did I, and several others I know. I don't think it is right to give parents no other alternative but a place in a faith school, anymore than it is right that they select on faith criteria. However I can assure you that in LBRUT when appealing for a place in a non faith primary school it gets you precisely nowhere, and I am sure LBRUT would throw a lot of money at winning a judicial review because they would need to defend the flexibility to put bulge classers in faith schools and have the flexibility to put pupils in those faith schools that are still undersubscribed. They even put bulge classes in Catholic Schools knowing full well that parents will lose the benefit of sibling priority and may end up in different schools. With the pupil bulge coming through in London I suspect that is going to become an issue for Councils in Secondary Schools as well.

muminlondon2 Tue 21-Jan-14 10:19:43

The important thing is that they expand and/or open a greater proportion of non-denominational schools than faith schools. For many like me, even "inclusive places" in a faith school are still not as good as a non-denominational (LA maintained) comprehensive school.

One of the arguments a Catholic school supporter used in that debate was that it was better to have a single Catholic school than two 'inclusive' faith academies that risk being undersubscribed, unsupported by Catholics and which might be seen as a poor choice for non-Catholics. It's a hypothetical situation (which we now know the Catholic Church wouldn't support). But there is, of course, no point at all in opening any faith school, whatever the admissions policy, that is not going to be fully subscribed. If there was any chance of forcing non-Sikhs into a Sikh school, the school should not have opened in the first place or should have reduced its admissions number.

It's even more unacceptable to close existing community schools to make way for faith schools. See latest news on Sulivan Primary in Hammersmith and Fulham although the faith school in question is CofE not Catholic as stated.

muminlondon2 Thu 23-Jan-14 20:31:39

The GCSE performance tables have been published.

This map of Ebacc attainment illustrates that we are top non-grammar LA in the country on this measure. In fact the converter academies and Christ's have beaten nearly half the grammar schools in England, in terms of percentage of high attainers passing Ebacc, and getting good grades too (Hampton Academy has also done well well for this ability level).

BayJay2 Fri 24-Jan-14 11:13:38

Slightly under the radar (and overshadowed by the news about the GCSE performance tables), the fifth wave of free schools was also announced yesterday. None in Richmond though.

However, there are 3 proposal waves for 2015 opening, and this is just the first set of approvals, so there may still be some new places on the way.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 24-Jan-14 11:50:08

The RTT has Darell Primary School, Richmond, expansion goes to consultation:

People are being asked for their views on the proposed expansion of Darell Primary School. Richmond Council wants to permanently expand the school from September to offer 60 children a place each year, compared with the current 43 pupils . . To view the proposals, visit Primary school expansions . To submit a response to the proposals email Matthew Paul, the council’s head of school commissioning at m.paul@richmond.gov.uk by February 14.

Twix45 Fri 24-Jan-14 23:25:25

St Catherine's seems very low on the results table, is there a reason for this? Great to see such good Ebacc results in our non selective schools!

muminlondon2 Sat 25-Jan-14 00:23:45

Twix yes, it could be that St Catherine's entered half its pupils for the unregulated Cambridge International iGCSE in English Language. There were also AQA and WJEC certificates in English but pupils entered for English language GCSE without an entry in English literatures were disqualified too.

Schools were given a two-year period of grace by Ofqual to move over to regulated exams, but the independent schools were either not in the loop or refused to budge. It's controversial because some of these equivalent exams are considered 'way easier' but as independent schools are taking so many foreign pupils they need to keep their grades looking good. Curiously, St Paul's is affected by this too. See explanation here on p.3.

Heathclif Sat 25-Jan-14 09:37:22

It would also be fair to say that St Catherine's is not a particularly (if at all) selective school and the parents who choose it do so because of it's ethos and small class sizes. I gather it does very well by it's bright pupils and is good at enabling pupils to achieve their individual potential but on the whole the bright girls who are successful in getting into more selective schools will tend to go there. It may not require it's pupils to choose the Ebacc subjects either, few private schools do.

muminlondon2 Sat 25-Jan-14 10:35:36

Have a look at entries for English though - apparently only 54% were entered for the English GCSE. That's not normal - they must have had two sets and put them in for different exams.

This paper from Kings College may explain by Cambridge English iGCSE is not considered of an equivalent standard - because it includes a speaking and listening component and coursework that was dropped quickly last year as well as course work.

Heathclif Sat 25-Jan-14 10:42:46

Yes Mum there is that technicality, I was just adding the extra context. I wouldn't expect St Cs to match say Waldegrave's results because it would be unlikely to have the same pupil profile, especially at the top end of the ability range.

Heathclif Sat 25-Jan-14 11:03:04

I would say that regardless of exam board politics independent schools have opted for IGCSEs because a. the brand value (which may well be at odds with the reality) is that they are more challenging than the pre Gove GCSEs and b. Because they are on the face of it free from political interference. You might be interested in the comments made by the KGS Head (now sadly lured away to City of London School for Boys) www.kgs.org.uk/Mainfolder/pdfsanddocs/Headsletters/Autumn-2013/Week11Headslettertoparents.pdf Her comments on other educational developments in the letters with appropriate Headings are also very interesting. Good to have a Head being so open and prepared to share their views.

Certainly LEH got their toes badly burned when they switched to the English Lit IGCSE and their results deflated by 40% (but that was in the year of the English debacle and other schools were also reporting deflation in English and English Lit results including IGCSEs. )

To be honest I think what has gone on in the last couple of years has undermined all credibility in any form of GCSE (and Gove is probably only too happy with that)

Interestingly those who suffered in the 2012 deflation are currently getting their uni offers and it would seem that unis are ignoring poor English and English Lit GCSE results and even giving offers for students who have gone on to apply for English Lit, something Heads were concerned about. This applies even to the most selective unis like UCL who are said to attach a lot of importance to GCSE results. It is in any case a less competitive environment as a result of changes to student quotas etc but Heads are now advising that they know full well what has gone on. The problem is will employers be similarly aware when considering school leavers who suffered at the C/D boundary.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 25-Jan-14 16:21:27

The Guardian has: Girls' schools lead GCSE league tables amid warnings of maths gender gap - Michael Gove praises teachers after fewer schools rated as failing, but OECD says UK girls three years behind best in maths

. . The results also revealed some good news for Gove's flagship free schools programme, with an unorthodox free school in west Lancashire achieving some outstanding GCSE results. The Maharishi Free School near Skelmersdale was fifth among non-selective state schools with 61% of its pupils gaining A* or A grades in art and design.Its curriculum includes three periods of meditation each day for pupils, which headteacher Derek Cassells said was part of the reason for the school's excellent results in art.

and Watford academy tops GCSE rankings of non-selective state schools (with the) largest proportions of A* or A grades in English, geography, art, maths and music.

Twix45 Sun 26-Jan-14 08:35:08

Thanks Heathclif and Mum, you are always so well informed and helpful in these matters! Still a bit confused on why KGS and St Catherine's results vary so much if both do IGCSE exams, maybe because of the 2 sets you mention? My youngest will have to take the new GCSEs so will be yet another learning curve when the time comes!

muminlondon2 Sun 26-Jan-14 10:42:00

Twix45 not all English iGCSEs were discounted - only Cambridge. Cambridge had introduced a compulsory speaking and listening component, ironically to align itself with the GCSE just before it changed - so it was wrong footed. But it's possible that KGS followed Edexel iGCSE English instead.

It says on the Cambridge website:

'UK independent schools can offer either the Cambridge IGCSE or the Cambridge International Level 1/Level 2 Certificate version of the syllabus. ... From 2013 only the Cambridge International Level 1/Level 2 Certificates will be included in the UK government’s school performance tables and count towards the English Baccalaureate.'

BUT it also goes on to say:

'We have revised the syllabus for first examination in June 2015. The changes we have made involve bringing together our international and UK syllabuses under a single syllabus code (0520) and simplifying the assessment structure.'

KGS has a low entry rate for languages so perhaps some of these were unaccredited exams too.

Other changes to look out for: some BTEC 'equivalents' will be discounted from 2014 and/or will only count as one qualification, not two as previously the case. RPA gained 62% 5 A-C GCSEs including Eng and Maths but excluding equivalents this would be 49%. By contrast for the other converter academies there is little or no different between these figures. BTECs may, of course, be suitable for some pupils as they allow more assessment by course work.

LProsser Tue 28-Jan-14 09:13:12

Thanks for the helpful description of how the English and Maths GCSE courses will change from 2015 Heathclif (and departed KGS headmistress!) I am confused as to whether those starting GCSEs in 2015 (including my dd) will still be taking the old sort of GCSEs in everything other than maths and English? i.e. will they still be doing coursework that counts to the final result in 2015-17 or has the Gove-erment already done away with all coursework so that they will be doing all exams in 2017 in every subject? Or won't that happen until they have changed the syllabus for other subjects a year or so later? And if Labour get in in May 2015 will the changes still be going ahead?

muminlondon2 Tue 28-Jan-14 13:52:07

Just looked up attainment by residence in Table A3 - Pupil residency and school location. The data includes pupils at state schools both in and out of borough, and is a reflection of both opportunities and prior attainment. Compare Ebacc attainment for resident pupils of the following:

Richmond - 50.7%
Kingston - 38.3%
Sutton - 34.2%
Hounslow - 31.6%
Hammersmith and Fulham - 25.5%


Worthing 14.6%
Oldham 13.9%
King's Lynn 11%
Isle of Wight 10.1%

muminlondon2 Tue 28-Jan-14 13:53:07

LProsser a timeline is given on the Ofqual site. Very confusing though!

muminlondon2 Tue 28-Jan-14 14:40:13

And would recommend this blog about the use of equivalents in the GCSE figures, and the emergence of what he calls a new 'two-tier self-selective system of secondary post-moderns and neogrammars'.

LProsser Wed 29-Jan-14 08:42:27

Thanks mum in London - very confusing but I understand it to be saying that GCSEs involving coursework assessments have now finished and it's all exams from now on although the teaching of the new toughies only starts for English and maths in 2015 and in some other subjects, including history, geography and science in 2016? One of my friends who has a son in year 11 says he did some work that was meant to be coursework that counted towards the GCSE (presumably in year 10) but that now he's been told it doesn't count - presumably because he is the first year of all exams. This Ofqual site refers to changes to history and geography exams being introduced this year, but also to the new GCSEs in those subjects starting in 2016, so I assume this year's changes are an interim measure to beef up coverage of the approved view of World War I and learn the principal rivers of the British Isles or something!

ChrisSquire2 Wed 29-Jan-14 10:19:00

LProsser: 'This Ofqual site ' - link missing?

ChrisSquire2 Wed 29-Jan-14 11:58:31

A history teacher tells me:

New syllabus in 2013 and again in 2016. all around. I don't understand the point about One of my friends who has a son in year 11 says he did some work that was meant to be coursework that counted towards the GCSE (presumably in year 10) but that now he's been told it doesn't count - presumably because he is the first year of all exams. Doesn't make sense.

LProsser Wed 29-Jan-14 13:07:37

Sorry Chris I meant the Ofqual site that mum in London posted the link to in the message two above.

On the other point I think the abolition of coursework happened so rapidly that students at the beginning of their 2 year GCSE courses in 2012 did some work that now won't be counted because they will be assessed through exams only in 2014.

NotatallSnootie Wed 29-Jan-14 14:42:57

Going back a little, Watford describes itself as non selective, but I read it selects 25% on academic ability and 10% on musical ability. How do they get away with that, and is it something that other new schools, of whatever flavour are likely to do?

muminlondon2 Wed 29-Jan-14 18:25:46

NotallSnootie 'How do they get away with that, and is it something that other new schools, of whatever flavour are likely to do?'

They get away with that under old rules, but no new selection (new schools or proportion) has been allowed since 1997.

There are a few dozen partially selective schools in this position - background and list of similar schools here.

Not only does Watford Grammar School select 25% through an eleven plus exam plus 10% on musical ability, its 'community places' gives priority to siblings of pupils attending either the girls' OR the boys' school, unlike superselectives such as Tiffin. Consequently they have 2% low attainers and 75% high attainers.

Their Ebacc score is 0% so they must do iGCSEs, apparently in languages and science. But the boys' school gets 82% Ebacc. Three other schools in Watford with minuscule top sets do rather less well so provision is polarised, with the only truly comprehensive school (ability-wise) being a Catholic school. Watford schools area average was 23%.

The nearest partially selective schools to us are in Wandsworth - Graveney, Burntwood and Ernest Bevin - but most of Richmond's full comprehensive schools still beat the pants off theirs, both in terms of Ebacc scores and average point scores.

muminlondon2 Wed 29-Jan-14 18:27:52

Richmonds fully (and full) comprehensive schools, I mean...

BayJay2 Wed 29-Jan-14 18:50:09

"They get away with that under old rules, but no new selection ... has been allowed since 1997"

Actually, some types of selection are still allowed. (See section 1.17 onwards in the Admissions Code).

Muminlondon is right that academic selection is only allowed in a small number of existing schools (section 1.18 - 1.23) and Watford presumably falls into that category. However, any school can select 10% of its pupils by aptitude in music and several other practical subjects (section 1.24). They have to do it on aptitude rather than ability though (section 1.32), so, for example, children who have had extra-curricular music lessons can't be advantaged over those who haven't. Aptitude can be very difficult to test fairly, so its not very common.

Academic selection by banding is also allowed (section 1.25).

BayJay2 Wed 29-Jan-14 19:14:51

There's an example of an art aptitude test (for Holland Park School) at the bottom of this form.

BayJay2 Wed 29-Jan-14 19:16:21

And here's an example of a music aptitude test.

BayJay2 Wed 29-Jan-14 19:31:45

And of course sixth forms can have academic entry criteria (section 2.6).

muminlondon2 Wed 29-Jan-14 23:00:35

One school that selects 10% on music aptitude is the West London Free School. It has been criticised for this as it is seen as a covert method of selection. It must have been reported to the schools adjudicator which partially upheld a complaint on the grounds that it must publish results of aptitude tests before pupils consider applying so they don't 'waste' a preference.

Credit to Turing House for not going down this route.

muminlondon2 Thu 30-Jan-14 07:28:36

Cheam High School has a tennis aptitude test. With half the average number of previously low attainers and disadvantaged, despite being in a grammar school area, this ensures it can attract lots of nice middle class children (from Surrey, if possible) who, aged eleven, have been able to afford tennis lessons.

muminlondon2 Thu 30-Jan-14 07:44:03

That school also prioritises siblings of tennis champs rather than the other way round, thus ensuring as many from such families as it can.

BayJay2 Thu 30-Jan-14 08:18:27

Mum, yes, I'd have thought tennis aptitude would be difficult to assess when comparing children who have had training with those who haven't. There can't be many tennis professionals who only started playing at 11 to act as role models. However, state schools with this sort of entrance policy should be seeking to challenge the status quo on that.

Trouble is, I didn't see anything in that policy to encourage people without previous training to apply, and the description of the test itself wasn't detailed enough to make it clear what they're looking for (e.g. general agility and speed, hand-eye coordination, etc).

Someone would need to complain to the Schools Adjudicator if they wanted to raise it as an issue.

BayJay2 Thu 30-Jan-14 08:37:21

To be fair though, if the school does lots of outreach to local primaries to nurture talent from an earlier age, and encourage children with aptitude to apply, then that makes it a lot more palatable. Not sure if that happens.

muminlondon2 Thu 30-Jan-14 20:22:59

I was trying to find out more on the numbers of schools with aptitude tests - this research in 2006 suggests it was 157, but more academies and free schools may have adopted such tests since then. It suggests:

- Opting for selection by aptitude does not make an unpopular school more popular but may increase the popularity of already oversubscribed schools, and give them more means to 'cherry pick' the 'easier to educate children'.

This would be true for schools that already have a location advantage, like Cheam. But also when aptitude tests are used on top of other selective criteria - partial selection by ability and further rewards for siblings, like the Herts schools, or faith criteria.

BayJay2 Thu 30-Jan-14 21:00:10

There's more about the Cheam High School tennis scholarship here. It looks like the bar is pretty high for entry, and the scheme is attracting applicants from across the country and even abroad, so they're creating something quite special. It's small numbers though; just 50 current students out of 2000.

It doesn't sound to me like something they've created just to push their exam results up.

muminlondon2 Thu 30-Jan-14 21:30:14

Not directly to push exam results up but to give it a middle class USP. The demographic, ability-wise, is ordinary when compared with other comprehensive schools, although with only half the usual number of lower attainers, but is very good compared with secondary moderns (see e.g Kingston schools).

It keeps its level of 'disadvantaged' down to 12% - one-third that of the Carshalton schools. Children from working class families in those areas are less likely even to have picked up a racquet let alone have had lessons, access to courts, and be motivated to apply on that basis.

And how can you justify the sibling rule in connection with those children?

BayJay2 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:22:40

"Not directly to push exam results up but to give it a middle class USP"

Hmm, this looks like a High Performance Tennis Centre wanting guaranteed local school places for its athletes, who are re-locating to the area, rather than something primarily driven by the school.

Putting it into perspective, the tennis coaching seems to me the sort of opportunity that might otherwise only be available to children at private schools, so making it available in partnership with a state school is perhaps a positive step not a negative one. Why shouldn't state school pupils have the chance of becoming a future Wimbledon Champion? Surely state schools can have strong USPs without being accused of base motives?

However, like I said before, I'd ideally like to see the club/school doing lots of community outreach - identifying and nurturing talent through a scholarship scheme for primary-age children who can't afford tennis lessons. That doesn't leap out from the websites, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

I suppose they'd defend the sibling link on the grounds that they want qualifying families to relocate to the area, which might otherwise be difficult.

BayJay2 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:28:30

See here for an example of one of the potential tennis scholars,

BayJay2 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:31:46

And there are schemes to provide grants for financially challenged tennis players. There are a couple of Cheam students on the list.

muminlondon2 Fri 31-Jan-14 00:14:27

Dominic West?!

Yes I think they want to appeal to pupils who would otherwise go to private schools. I can understand they need a buffer against the influence of the grammars - shame they can't provide this expertise to local children without testing for aptitude. It's not the worst example of selection but part of a continuum. The governors of the Oratory may argue that taking children who have sung in church choirs is also nurturing talent.

BayJay2 Fri 31-Jan-14 08:14:37

If you text search the page for "Cheam" you'll find the two I meant. I was just avoiding spreading their names around online. They'll have enough of that in the future if they're successful!

"The governors of the Oratory may argue that taking children who have sung in church choirs is also nurturing talent."

The thing is, if the Oratory were testing for music aptitude, it wouldn't be against the admissions code. But they're not.

I think the "aptitude" concept gets the balance right. It's complicated to test objectively, so it will put off schools who aren't genuinely committed to nurturing talent and providing opportunities ... I don't think it can be considered an "easy" way of changing a school's demographic. If it was then it would be much more common!

Also, I don't agree that those budding tennis stars would all go to private schools if they couldn't get into Cheam. Some would, but many would simply drop out of the system because they couldn't afford it. Isn't that why we haven't had a great track record in tennis over the years? Hopefully that's changing, especially with the Olympic legacy.

BayJay2 Fri 31-Jan-14 09:05:30

".. so it will put off schools who aren't genuinely committed to nurturing talent ...."

Actually, I should have said it will put off schools who don't genuinely have the expertise to nurture talent. I think most schools are genuinely committed to nurturing talent, as they should be. However, a school like Cheam clearly has something special to offer even beyond tennis courts and an aspirational PE department (which many schools have).

ChrisSquire2 Fri 31-Jan-14 10:56:19

The RTT has (p 24) ?Claims have little foundation? from Cllr Gareth Roberts, Lib Dem spokesperson for schools, responding to Cllr Samuels’ letter last week.

muminlondon2 Fri 31-Jan-14 17:32:51

More insight into Watford Girls Grammar by mumsnetters local to that school. BayJay you didn't comment on my concerns about an aptitude test used on top of partial selection by general ability, or how the sibling rule turns it into a closed shop. In the case of Watford Girls/Boys they have 10% music aptitude on top of 25% general ability. Yet with siblings it reduces the catchment to a fraction of what you might find for Richmond secondary schools.

BayJay2 Fri 31-Jan-14 18:23:09

"BayJay you didn't comment on my concerns about an aptitude test used on top of partial selection by general ability, or how the sibling rule turns it into a closed shop"

Well Muminlondon, if it was up to me I'd get rid of that bit of the admissions code which allows academically selective grammar schools to persist in some areas.

The Watford sibling policy is interesting. I'd have thought it was in breach of the spirit of, though certainly not the letter of, clause 1.9j of the admissions code:

"they must not ... in designated grammar schools that rank all children according to a pre-determined pass mark and then allocate places to those who score highest, give priority to siblings of current or former pupils".

(They don't have a pre-determined pass mark, and it's not all of their pupils, so they're ok).

The bit about prioritising siblings from the boys' school is allowed by section 1.12 of the code. I don't particularly have a problem with that (other than, as you say, when its combined with other forms of selection it does create a bit of a closed shop).

I wonder if the proposed Green School for Boys in Hounslow will do the same.

muminlondon2 Fri 31-Jan-14 23:16:25

It does say 'at least 50% of the places at The Green School for Boys will be open to those of all faiths or no faith.'. I remember a discussion on an earlier thread about whether 50% open places could in fact be reserved if siblings were prioritised above that category but original applicants of the school had mainly come under faith criteria. I think it may have been in reference to Becket Keys but I have seen other faith free schools which do the same. There's a subtle difference in emphasis, too, between 'at least 50% of places will be open to those of all faiths and no faith' and 'after llooked after/SEN/siblings etc. up to 50% of the remaining places will be offered to applicants who meet the “faith criterion”'.

Heathclif Fri 31-Jan-14 23:32:30

In reference to an earlier debate
more insight from the Head of KGS. www.kgs.org.uk/Mainfolder/pdfsanddocs/Headsletters/Spring-2014/Week4Headslettertoparents.pdf

Sorry Lottie I was not more helpful on GCSE but mum was as always better informed. I am just grateful that we are almost past Gove's influence.

BayJay2 Sat 01-Feb-14 10:30:49

Mum, I don't think you can read too much into the Green's wording because they're at an early stage and haven't necessarily thought through the nuances of their admissions policy yet. RISC had some interesting correspondence with them. In summary RISC were encouraging them to go for 100% open admissions in line with Diocesan policy. They replied to say that was unlikely because they would want to treat boys and girls across both schools equally. RISC then suggested they increased the inclusivity of the girls' school to 50:50 inline with the cap that will apply at the proposed boys' school. There was no commitment on that, so it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

On your other point about the treatment of siblings, I think the end result is the same whether you do the 50:50 split before or after taking into account of siblings, provided you assume (and it's potentially a controversial assumption) that siblings share the same religious background.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 01-Feb-14 11:07:11

Gove's latest wheeze:

The Guardian has: Reception children to face compulsory tests from 2016 - Four and five-year-olds to face basic literacy and reasoning tests within weeks of starting school:

. . The tests will take place in the first weeks of reception class, when most children will be aged four, and will be designed to give teachers and schools a clearer idea of each child's abilities at the start of their formal schooling. The tests are to be carefully crafted to estimate a child's "baseline" abilities in very basic literacy, reasoning and cognition, rather than testing their knowledge as in a traditional examination.

. . To counter the likely criticism from parents, unions and academics concerned at the additional stress for pupils and teachers, the DfE is likely to abolish the current key stage one tests that take place at the end of year two, when most pupils are aged seven.

. . The coming week is expected to see a series of announcements around education and early years coming from the DfE and No 10 . .

muminlondon2 Sat 01-Feb-14 12:43:26

The position of the sibling priority would make a difference if initial demand from faith applicants was higher but they were still successful under distance criteria. The number of community places would reduce and therefore siblings from that group would stay low. The net outcome may be the same in terms of numbers of available places but if the intake started 'churchy' it would continue that way. The converse is true. Probably hard to shift back again.

If the boys' school took siblings from the girls' school, it would certainly reduce the number of community places from the outset.

Anyway, the intake at girls's school would not change much if it named the boys's school but kept priority within its current categories. Although the specific priority of attendance at a CofE primary could distort things further.

The problem with either Green School prioritising on feeder primary schools or distance is its more more concentrated effect on neighbouring schools. That would include St Margaret's and Twickenham. There's less impact on the make-up of neighbouring schools when there is a faith criterion with a cap on numbers taken from the immediate area, or random allocation - or both, like StRR.

BayJay2 Sat 01-Feb-14 13:13:25

"The position of the sibling priority would make a difference if initial demand from faith applicants was higher but they were still successful under distance criteria"

If, like most schools around here, it is successful and therefore oversubscribed, it's very unlikely that unsuccessful faith applicants would get in under distance criteria. Catchment areas for CE/Catholic faith criteria at successful schools tend to be wider than distance catchments (in fact the general logic for introducing faith criteria is to prioritise faith applicants who live too far away to get in on distance).

However, even if they did, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I don't think schools should reserve places for "non-faith" applicants any more than they should reserve them for faith applicants. The wording of the legislation as it applies to religious free schools is that 50% of places should be allocated "without reference to faith". That's very different to saying they have to be allocated to people without faith.

BayJay2 Sat 01-Feb-14 13:38:13

"The wording of the legislation as it applies to religious free schools is that 50% of places should be allocated "without reference to faith". That's very different to saying they have to be allocated to people without faith."

It's also something that is fundamentally (and possibly disingenuously) misunderstood by many; including by some anti-faith-school campaigners, but also by the Catholic Education Service when they say "Why would we open a free school and end up turning away Catholic pupils on the grounds that they are Catholics while accepting others on the Grounds that they are not Catholics. That's a perverse disincentive ...".

In fact, they would be accepting 50% of children on the grounds that they were Catholic, and the other 50% on the grounds that they wanted to come to a Catholic school whether they were Catholic or not. There would probably still be a lot (possibly even a majority) of Catholics in that second group.

BayJay2 Sat 01-Feb-14 13:52:17

"There would probably still be a lot (possibly even a majority) of Catholics in that second group."

Before someone else points it out, I realise that word "probably" seems to contradict the first para of my 13:13:25 post, where I said it was "unlikely" that faith applicants would trump distance for open places at popular schools.

The extent to which that happens obviously depends on how popular the school is, and what the alternative choices are for distance applicants.

However, I'm also thinking of applicants who would consider themselves Catholic/CE/whatever, but who don't qualify to get in under faith criteria, e.g. a child with Catholic parents or grandparents who hasn't been baptised, and never been to church, but who might nevertheless be interested in attending a Catholic school.

muminlondon2 Sat 01-Feb-14 15:18:49

If you compare Green School for Girls with St RR there's a big emphasis at the former on church attendance and/or attendance at a CofE primary. But at StRR, baptism is the basic criteria. So (depending on demand) it might be easier for lapsed Catholics to attend StRR than lapsed Anglicans to attend the Green School.

I noticed that the Nishkam West London school demands completion of a supplementary form even for 'open' places - which Christ's doesn't do. I doubt many non-Sikhs would even consider putting it down as a preference but if the Green School for Boys required an extra form it would put off some 'community' applicants, for a lower preference at least. Anyway, it hasn't been approved yet, has it? I suspect the girls' school will not change its policy in any case.

BayJay2 Sat 01-Feb-14 15:57:59

"If you compare Green School for Girls with St RR there's a big emphasis at the former on church attendance and/or attendance at a CofE primary. But at StRR, baptism is the basic criteria"

I know some CE vicars prefer not to use baptism criteria, because it would encourage non-believers to explicitly lie in order to get a school place. (When a child is baptised, specific promises are made by their parents in relation to faith).

Some would say non-believers lie anyway when they temporarily attend church to get a school place, but there's technically no more lying involved in that than there is in attending church for a wedding or a funeral. There's not generally a sign on the door saying "believers only beyond this point". In fact, many vicars welcome the idea of encouraging non-believers, because a percentage of families who start attending church in the pre-school years do actually continue to attend after they've got their school place.

Heathclif Sat 01-Feb-14 17:27:54

Mum the selection criteria for St RR is worded "Baptised Catholic children
families," and that is further defined as "A

(sorry I don't know why it has formatted my cut and paste in that way blush) You really do not get very far with entry to an oversubscribed Catholic School in London without a priest's reference to the effect that you are truly a practising family, as well as evidence of baptism . Indeed some priests will not give a reference if a family start turning up in the year or two before the admissions process. It isn't particularly consistent either. However lapsed Catholic families would not stand a chance unless they can pull some strings with a priest.

Interestingly though I have just noticed that the school are not insisting on baptism before six months, something that causes a lot of difficulty for genuinely devout families from Easter Europe where baptism before six months is not the practise, when applying to schools like Gunnersbury, Cardinal Vaughan and Oratory. That may explain why they have pupils travelling from the Gunnersbury catchment.

muminlondon2 Sat 01-Feb-14 17:40:53

At primary level it doesn't matter, does it, if baptism is the minimum criterion, because the school provides opportunities for children to participate in religious traditions and services that the parents might otherwise ignore.

But by secondary school all of this gets too problematic. Firstly because the child is the one attending school, so how often the parents go to church is less relevant than whether the child is interested or familiar with the tradition. And secondly because the dual system of church and community schools is as archaic as the bipartite/tripartite selective system (which never slotted together well in the first place). Now there's further fragmentation with academies and LA-maintained schools as the Church of England and Catholic Education Service themselves have acknowledged, albeit from different standpoints.

muminlondon2 Sat 01-Feb-14 17:45:16

Heathclif I think that defines 'practising' but criteria 3 and 4 are just 'other baptised children'.

Heathclif Sat 01-Feb-14 18:33:21

mum I think we can fairly safely assume, based in particular on the word of the Diocesan Education Officer, that within four years the school will be virtually the only Catholic option for all those families who have met the strict criteria to access the Catholic Primary Schools (and those do require baptism by 6 months as well as a priest's reference to the effect the family are practising) and it is unlikely they will be selecting beyond criteria 2.

BayJay2 Mon 03-Feb-14 14:27:35

For info, the Year 7 applications report for Sept 2014 entry has now been published, here.

muminlondon2 Mon 03-Feb-14 17:33:39

'within four years ... it is unlikely they will be selecting beyond criteria 2'

From the 2014 application figures it does look like StRR has reached that point already, Heathclif as it's even more popular than Christ's. And that's despite little change to the priority Richmond/Twickenham Catholic pupils have at Hounslow RC schools.

Heathclif Tue 04-Feb-14 08:14:20

mum we don't know yet what category under the selection criteria the first preferences were. Parents in Hampton for instance may have been encouraged to put it high in their preferences after pupils at their schools were allocated there last year and they publicised the wide range of schools from which pupils came last year. HA applications are down. It will be interesting to see where the pupils offered a place have actually come from. This is the list from last year www.strichardreynolds.org.uk/images/SRR%20Year%206%20transfers.pdf

ChrisSquire2 Tue 04-Feb-14 11:11:51

Extract from the Year 7 Report:

‘ . . 7. Turing House, the five-form entry free school pre-approved to open in September 2015, received 362 applications by its (separate) closing date of 30 November 2013. Due to uncertainty about where the school will be located, it was decided that, for its first year only, applications for the school should be made direct to the school, outside the normal coordinated admissions process.

Turing House recently updated their website to say that the Education Funding Agency has “begun formal talks with a local landowner who is interested in making a very exciting piece of land available” for a permanent site for the school, but it is as yet unclear when the site will be announced and whether a temporary site will be needed for some or all of the 2014/2015 school year.

8. There are 194 vacancies in the current Year 7 and there is additional provision due to open within neighbouring boroughs in September 2014, so, although the number of in-borough applications for 2014 entry is 219 higher than for 2013, it is highly likely that even if Turing House were not to open on time, there would be more than enough places within the borough to meet in-borough demand . . ‘

ChrisSquire2 Thu 06-Feb-14 14:16:59

The RTT has: School angry after Department for Education mistake sees it cascade down league table:

A Catholic school has hit out at the Department for Education (DfE) after a statistics blunder made out the school’s results had plummeted. In figures released last month, St Catherine’s School’s results seemed to slide from fourth in the borough to third from bottom. Staff at the independent girls’ school in Twickenham said they notified the DfE of the error in November but the wrong results were still published in January . . The school was told it would take two weeks for the correct results to be published on the DfE website.

LProsser Thu 06-Feb-14 20:32:05

I am a bit confused about applications to Turing House. When they allocate places will the Council co-ordinate so that they aren't offering places to children who are also being offered a place at Turing House?

BayJay2 Thu 06-Feb-14 20:38:57

LP, from the website: "On March 1st 2014 parents will get a Local Authority school offer as well as an offer (or waiting list notice) from Turing House. Parents should hold both offers until notified by Turing House and the Local Authority to make a final choice."

muminlondon2 Thu 06-Feb-14 23:45:26

The LA gives you two weeks to accept the offer. Will Turing House be the same - and what if applicants accept two offers?

BayJay2 Fri 07-Feb-14 07:47:54

Mum, there'll be a lot more info going on the website before offer day, and going out with the letters. However, as it says here (last para), the LA and school will be working closely together to encourage parents to relinquish one or other offer as soon as possible.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 07-Feb-14 10:41:09

The RTT has (p. 25) Great school results but ?we have a long way to go' from Cllr Malcolm Eady (formerly the Lib Dem spokesperson for schools).

The St Catherine’s story is on page 20.

muminlondon2 Sat 08-Feb-14 12:11:19

I've just read Councillor Eady's letter. He's good at raining on parades, isn't he? Though he's right to point out that intakes are different for different schools so it's harder to compare GCSE/Ebacc percentages directly, I don't think the value added score means a great deal to parents, but you can now look at progress rates, and percentage passes for three broad ability bands. Grey Court were sent a letter of congratulations by the DfE for being one of the top 100 schools for sustained improvements to exams, so I would suggest it is doing far better than just being 'in the top 30%', however Cllr Eady worked that out - unless David Laws wrote a whole sackful of letters.

What matters to me is whether the school offers a suitable curriculum for all ability levels. If Hampton Academy did particularly well on the value added score for less able children, it should also be credited for how well it has done, comparatively, for higher attainers, with an above average Ebacc pass rate. Not all schools are able to offer more than one language or individual sciences, but HA did manage this.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 08-Feb-14 13:52:55

The RTT has: Government praise for ever-improving Grey Court School:

. . The school’s minister . . David Laws congratulated Grey Court School for its “excellent improvement in GCSE results over the last three years from 2011 to 2013” . . the school had “proven to be one of the top 100 schools in England showing the greatest sustained improvement in the percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and maths”.

muminlondon2 Sat 08-Feb-14 14:02:22

Waldegrave was another of the secondaries to receive one of David Laws's letters of congrats.

QBean Sat 08-Feb-14 14:15:31

Hi all, this thread is a wealth of useful info! Can anyone tell me how one can compare the average spend per child at the local state secondaries- and secondly, I wonder how that compares to the local independent secondaries?

muminlondon2 Sat 08-Feb-14 14:27:48

Hi QBean, the performance tables show that data but only for maintained schools. For secondaries (if this link works) it means just Christ's and not the academies. But there are other data downloads this page.

muminlondon2 Sat 08-Feb-14 14:29:21
QBean Sat 08-Feb-14 22:24:09

Thank you muminlondon2!

ChrisSquire2 Mon 10-Feb-14 01:01:27

The Guardian has: Ed Miliband: Labour will give parents power to oust headteachers: Proposed public service overhaul includes education hit squads to boost performance of failing schools or teachers:

‘ . . Miliband's plans to offer parents a mechanism to force improvements in their child's school is aimed at giving a degree of control over improvements in public services to the people receiving them. He did not specify how many parents would be needed to trigger an improvement team visit but he said the number would be "substantial". The hurdle will be lowered where Ofsted has already classified the school as inadequate.

He will say: "Having promised to share power, this government has actually centralised power in Whitehall and is attempting to run thousands of schools from there. That does not work, and as a result some schools have been left to fail without intervention. . . Parents should not have to wait for somebody in Whitehall to intervene if they have serious concerns about how their school is doing whether it is a free school, academy or local authority school. In all schools there should be a parent call-in."

Remedial action could include drawing up a school standards plan focused on areas of concern; brokering collaboration with another school; bringing in outside teaching and leadership expertise; and changing staff or the school's leadership. The proposal forms part of a wider review into the accountability structure of schools in the aftermath of the reforms introduced by the education secretary, Michael Gove. The review is being overseen by the former education secretary David Blunkett and is reporting to the shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt. Blunkett told the Guardian the current education system was chaotic, but he stressed he did not think the improvement role should be led by local authorities, but by some new sub-regional body, modelled on the success of the London Schools Challenge . . ‘

More interesting times ahead for them at the chalk-face!

muminlondon2 Mon 10-Feb-14 07:59:09

'changing staff or the school's leadership'

Crucial difference when it's a sponsored academy. David Wolfe, education barrister, has pointed out that a sponsored academy in a chain has no legal status and can only be replaced by a new academy in a different chain.

Half the schools that were below GCSE floor target and/or are judged 'inadequate' are already sponsored academies. How many have changed chains so far?

LProsser Mon 10-Feb-14 09:47:36

Thanks for the explanation about Turing House admissions Bay Jay. I hope it all works out for the school as I know a lot of parents are relying on it opening in September.

Mum In London - I agree that the point about progress made by high, medium and low achievers should get more publicity - I was explaining it to a friend with a year 5 daughter (in East London) who is looking at local secondaries slightly fearfully and she had no idea this data was available (and I only know about it thanks to explanations on this thread!). Is it hushed up because too much publicity would lead to parents trying to shop around to send children to schools with more high achievers (even if their children aren't high achievers)?! Does the Government specify how many GCSEs, in which type of subject and at what grade a high, medium and low achiever is expected to get in order to have made an acceptable Value Added amount of progress? I'm sure this info is available to schools and teachers but it certainly isn't spelt out to parents in my experience - nor is how the numbers (5,6,7,8 etc. and a,b,cs) relate to likely future success in GCSEs.