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New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4

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

Welcome. This is the fourth (or perhaps fifth) in a series of threads about Richmond Secondary Schools.

The discussion was originally triggered by Richmond council's publication of its Education White Paper in February 2011. It started with two parallel threads here and here.

In November 2011 the most active of the original two threads reached 1000 messages (the maximum allowed) so we continued the conversation here.

That thread filled up in May 2012, and was continued here.

It's now November 2012, and once again we're at the start of a new thread ....

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

Well done and thanks BayJay. Vince is after all a very senior LibDem - perhaps the next leader and should ensure the Education Act and Coalition agreement is correctly applied in his own backyard.

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

Jo, yes, but the definition of "correctly applied" won't be known until after the judicial review, will it?. I expect he'll be watching the result of that with interest.

In the meantime, I don't suppose VC reads Mumsnet, so anyone who thinks he needs to be taking particular action should be writing to him directly. He's generally pretty responsive to letters from his constituents.

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

Thanks for the thread BayJay. I am always rather hoping ChrisSquires can pass on messages on but appreciate he follows this thread in a personal capacity!

Well done to RPA for their 'good' rating and 'inspirational and committed teachers'.

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

Re: 'I am always rather hoping ChrisSquires can pass on messages on but appreciate he follows this thread in a personal capacity!'

Correct: anything you wish to tell Vince or our councillors please do it yourselves. I am not a messenger to or a spokesperson for anyone else. I expect that what this new lot [I have forgotten their name] are doing is lawful: the fact that it comes across as a bit crass may simply stem from the fact that they have at present no community support for their scheme and little idea of how to create it.

So they are bluffing - who will call their bluff, I wonder?

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

Fair point about messages and sorry about the typos.

IES is advertising directly for interested parents as if there is no doubt it is going ahead - take out the 'free' at the top of the advert and it would be easy to assume this is a new private school.

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

Yes I thought it was crass too. Perhaps if Jodie King read Mumsnet she would realise parents in Twickenham are far from naïve about the approval and funding of Free Schools. Implying it is a done deal undermines their credibility, unless of course it is a done deal......

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

Also IES is owned by one of the largest venture capital firms in the US - TA Associates' other interests include IT, hedge funds, healthcare, pet food, private universities, sportswear and workwear (so uniforms?), McAfee, Monotype, Cath Kidston, Zadig and Voltaire, and Microban, It might buy up other education services companies and with the  state funding it received these companies might subcontract to each other.

I worry about the local press's ability to investigate too. They have taken advertising money. We don't hear about scandals or problems in private schools until later (not suggesting lots of problems but there have been instances of insolvency, abuse, religious sects, etc.)  But this is a proposed state school. The RTT otherwise just relies on council press releases but they are not involved either.

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

Muminlondon, I think the key thing to remember is that the school proposal hasn't been approved yet. Although they have one school open already, that was approved before the recent buyout. No doubt the DfE will be aware of that event, and the criticisms surrounding it. It is their job to only approve schools that represent value for money for the taxpayer, and to preserve the reputation of the Free School initiative, so I expect that the issue will be looked at carefully before the new schools are approved.

As I've said before, the Free School process is rapidly evolving in response to experience, criticisms and feedback, so whereas the DfE might not have predicted this exact scenario before it occurred it would be reasonable to assume they might take a view on it now, and decide whether they want to let it happen again.

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

The RTT reports: Swedish free school in for Twickenham and Teddington opens to parents (sic):

. . Twickenham and Teddington Free School will welcome the first pupils in September 2014 on the split school site in Fulwell and Twickenham Green. There will be 90 reception places available in September 2014 and the school will eventually grow to accommodate 630 pupils on two separate sites . .

To find out more, visit

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

IES has also used the Kingston local press:

New Malden People 8 November

The facility hopes to give Kingston Council a chance to fulfil 300 primary school places across the borough by 2014.

How official does that sound? Therefore, is it misleading? Seven forms of entry in two primary schools in two boroughs going to one profit-making company? I would like to know what Nick Whitfield thinks about this, as he is Education Director of both boroughs.

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

"going to one profit-making company"

correction: "being proposed by one non-profit trust, with a parent company that may or may not make a profit out of the services provided to the schools".

I do think its worth being careful with language until the full facts are established.

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

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

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

Great result at RPA gmsing. Is RPA likely to get oversubscribed this year and with kids from local primaries That could have a material impact on councils forecast that was relying on people crossing the river to go to RPA

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

Just to say that: 1. I am not entirely sure whether only not for profit organisations can bid for free schools - Bay Jay? - but a non-profit making company (or charity) can't be owned by any other company as it has no shares that they can own. So if IES set up a separate charity to bid for the school or schools the charity will theoretically be independent and will be able to decide who gets the contract for services that IES and TA Associates clearly want to profit from. They won't be its parent company. So IES/TA will need to be very sure of the trustees! 2. I wrote to my local ward councillors who are Lib Dems last week and they hadn't heard anything about this development at that point but it was before the RTT came out with the advert.

Is anyone going to the meeting at St. Mary's tonight?

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

"1. I am not entirely sure whether only not for profit organisations can bid for free schools"

Yes, in the UK only non-profit trusts can propose free schools.

"but a non-profit making company (or charity) can't be owned by any other company as it has no shares that they can own. So if IES set up a separate charity to bid for the school or schools the charity will theoretically be independent and will be able to decide who gets the contract for services that IES and TA Associates clearly want to profit from. They won't be its parent company. So IES/TA will need to be very sure of the trustees!"

Yes, I agree. It is the trustees of the non-profit trust that will decide how the money is spent. Those trustees may or may not all be IES employees. The DfE may expect to see some independent trustees, but I don't think there are formal 'rules' about that at present.

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

Jo - RPA is working towards becoming an outstanding secondary school - the No 1 school of choice for the local community. We shall have to wait till Dec to see the preferences parents have stated in their 2013 applications.

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

I have lots of questions but can't go. It would be in the interests of councillors to be fully briefed. I understand IES has a very different educational approach from Kunskapsskolan so one would not feed into the other, therefore such a school could have wider implications for other secondaries in the borough as well as primaries.

On a different topic, it's interesting to note that the schools adjudicator has found the Maharishi free school in Lancashire in breach of the admissions code - once on requiring parents to attend TM open days (it has no religious designation by the way) and another time for naming a private fee-paying school as a feeder school.

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

By a googling chance I also found a freedom of information request on the Maharishi free school:


Q. Can I see the free school proposal, business case, assessments, any final report/recommendation?

DfE answer: No.

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

"DfE answer: No."

Yes, I have heard there have been other similar FoI requests turned down. The DfE are keeping all the proposals under-wraps. On one level it makes sense to protect intellectual property as there'd be nothing to stop successful proposals being duplicated by other groups, but it certainly hasn't helped acceptance of the free school programme by sceptics.

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

It's a huge culture shock for Richmond because I think residents expect transparency. So for Twickenham Academy you got this level of detail published and for RPA you had the expression of interest
and consultation brochure. (The numbers reading these documents or responding to consultations can sometimes be small but hey, local politicians and the press play their part in this.)

We don't see this for free schools. In fact I thought I heard that the Information Commissioner has ruled that the DfE should publish its assessments of the impact of free schools but the DfE has refused (need to check that).

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

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

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

I've just found that decision by the Information Commissioner - it's just for a list of the proposals, not even supporting info:

'The Commissioner therefore considers that there is public interest in increasing the transparency of the programme ... there are strong arguments about the importance of public oversight of education spending and its distribution ... there is a public interest in allowing people who would be potentially affected by such a school to be able to have an informed debate on any application that would affect them, or to be able to make informed representations to their local council or MP ... the public interest in maintaining the exemption does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure. Therefore the requested information should be disclosed.'

I think appeals are still going on. I don't know what 'paper consideration' means but it's happening on 5 December. So maybe we'll be allowed to find out whether the Maharishi school is applying again.

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

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

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

Hallo, I see from the updated IES website that the Admissions Policy says that "Impact Trust" is running the school but Impact Trust doesn't appear to be registered at the Charity Commission yet (there are a few other organisations with similar names). I had a look at 27a High Street, Teddington, yesterday as I walked passed. It seems to be the rooms over Teddington Instant Print next door to Budgens. So not wasting money on plush offices! They have a picture of a generic primary school with international flags on their website but nothing about the actual sites yet.

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