New Secondaries for Richmond Borough?(171 Posts)
Richmond Council recently published a White Paper outlining plans for Secondary education in the borough (http://cabnet.richmond.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=23719). They want new 6th forms in every school, and would need to decrease current Yr7 intakes to accomodate that. To offset those decreases they are talking about creating two new secondary schools. One of those new schools would be a Roman Catholic school.
The Roman Catholic community in the borough are currently disadvantaged by the "link" system (http://www.st-marys.richmond.sch.uk/Newsletter%20Link%20letter%20for%202011%20links%20(2).pdf). Because the Catholic primaries are not linked to any secondaries in the borough, their children tend to go to a combination of out-of-borough Catholic secondaries (which are mostly rated as Outstanding), grammar schools and private schools, though some of the girls do go to Waldegrave, which is not part of the link system. Note that there is no reason, in principle, why the Catholic Secondaries couldn't be linked to local community schools, but because many of their children have other options, they simply don't meet the "25% rule" required to form a link. (See an example set of transfer figures at http://www.st-james.richmond.sch.uk/Admin/Uploads/Docs/StJamesSchool_Parents_NewsLetter_270910.pdf).
This raises several questions in my mind:
1) Does the problem necessarily need to be solved by providing a Catholic Secondary, or are there alternative solutions that would benefit the community as a whole (e.g. reforming the link system)?
2) Does the majority of the Catholic community specifically want to be educated separately from the rest of us, or is it the case that, like everyone else, they simply want an outstanding education for their children, and find that the Catholic route is often the best way of achieving that?
3) If Catholics had more options for transferring to outstanding community schools locally (as many already do, to Waldegrave), would they choose those options over travelling to a single-faith school in a neighbouring borough?
4) I accept that there will always be very religious people who want to segregate themselves, but would I be right in asserting that there are also large numbers of Catholics who would be happy to attend community schools, provided that gave them the same level of academic excellence that can be found in many Catholic options?
5) If a new Catholic secondary school is created, it is likely to have an entrance policy that requires a priest's reference (as per the majority of existing Catholic schools). How do people feel about that?
6) If a state-funded Catholic School is created in the borough, would non-Catholic parents also like the option of sending their children there, provided they weren't barred by the admission system?
I'd be interested to hear your opinions!
If a new Catholic secondary is created I assume that it would want to take Catholics if oversuscribed as it will be paying for a proportion of the ongoing costs.
Rumour is that the Oratory Fathers are talking to Richmond to create a Richmond Oratory School. That would be good for
Richmond education service and good for Catholics at least those who weren't concerned about providng a quality of education
that might be dubbed ' free private education'.
I don't know of any catholic schools that need priest reference to get in - that would be interesting! In our area the catholic schools are 50/50 catholic/non-catholic, ok schools but definitely not outstanding. In a more "affluent" area in a different LEA the catholic/non-catholic ratio is very different almost 100% Catholic and both schools are rated outstanding! Families will apply out of the "catchment" to get the better school on the "faith" criteria because that comes before distance to the school - but all you need is baptism into the faith no letter from the clergy required here! Hence people have their DC's baptised and off they go!! So the true catholic ethos of Catholic schools has gone IMO. Therefore, certainly to me, a good education always comes first. Religion can be taught in the home and at church!
Bayjay - thanks for raising this.
Here is an easy link to the The White Paper.
I couldn't find the catholic secondary school link. And your link doesn't work for me.
I don't quite think its fair for a new Catholic secondary school to be built in the area. This will further segregate education in the borough especially for boys who already have very limited choices.
Why can the Catholic Schools not link into the non secular schools in the borough like the many C of E schools we have. IMO being Catholic is an amazing way of getting an outstanding education for your children which doesn't seem fair. Especially - and correct me if I am wrong - no spaces are open in St James School for non practising children in the way say Archdeacon Cambridge School has. I presume this is also much the case in Catholic Secondary Schools unless they are undersubscribed which would be very unlikely to happen.
Before the shortage of places for excellent Catholic Secondary Schools for Richmond Borough children in Hounslow borough and also the Oratory, Many Catholic parents I know were falling over themselves to travel or very happy for their girls to attend Waldegrave. Now many parents seem less keen on the other options shortage of places have left them with ie. new academies which many West Twickenham and Hampton parents have very little choice over, other than to move or send their children there. Why should Catholics get an outstanding option (which the school is very likely to be pretty quickly if past form is anything to go by) when so many other local non Catholic children are denied admission often to their most local school.
If a new Catholic secondary school offered maybe 50% non Catholic places and 50% religion based this to my mind would be more acceptable. However, if it were to be built I very much doubt this would happen.
I think in Richmond lots of people who opt for catholic primaries arent particulary the strictest of catholics pre kids, but on discovering they have access to some of the best (on paper) primaries in the borough if they go to church they do so. Some then do re find catholism. On the whole I think many St James's parents have a comitment to finding the best education for their children above a commitment to the church. Many would naturally choose to go out of borough for secondary to find the best . If there was a catholic secondary within the borough that wasnt up to the standard of the Oratory or at least St Marks it could cause ruction, as no doubt this is the school the kids would get.Many more might go private. I think it is interesting that most of the girls used to go to Gumley, but now Waldegrave is the better (again on paper) school many are now choosing this. I think St James has a slightly different demographic than say Archdeacon in that it has more who plan state for primary then indie secondary, but it also currently has some who opt for indie once they realise there sons cant get Orleans or Teddington leaving them with Twickenham academy if they want to stay in borough.
I think it would be an excellent idea to have 6th forms in schools in Richmond, I am sure it will be to late for my boys though, currently year 6+9
I find it quite offensive in this day & age that new 'faith' schools are being mooted. Better to educate children of all faiths and none together, and any 'religious'
indoctrination instruction to be conducted outside school.
Agree with some of gegs and mrs guy points- yes to more secondary options but not more faith school.
This issue has been generating some heated debate in the Richmond & Twickenham Times over the last few weeks.
Indeed - lots of hand-wringing over the fact that Richmond is "one of only two London boroughs without a Catholic secondary". Like that's a bad thing.
If there's one thing this country definitely doesn't need it's more "faith" schools, i.e. state-funded schools that (legally) operate admissions policies that discriminate against children on the basis of their parents' religious beliefs/ability to get themselves to church often enough.
Kingston managed to see off an attempt by the C of E to run the new secondary down the road. Mind you their proposal was pretty rubbish.
Oh, it's such rubbish, isn't it? How many children who leave a Catholic secondary school go to a Catholic university or Catholic college of further education? How many go to work for a Catholic business? Why on earth do we need to segregate children according to the credulity (or otherwise) of their parents?
We don't have a Jewish secondary school either, or a Moslem one, or a Hindu one, or a humanist one, or one for vegetarians, or one for left-handed children, or one for those with outie belly buttons....
A friend of mine lives in Richmond and she says parents there choose to send their children outside the borough to a Catholic school rather than send them to a non catholic school nearer home.
So they put their DC's on a long commute on 2-3 buses to send them to Gumley House or Holy Cross. IDGI!
Richmond borough secondary education had a reputation locally of being poor quality (excluding Waldegrave but that is only for girls). The council have tried to address this as it's primary education is, I think, the best in the country OFSTED wise. The current thinking is that many people use the state primary system but then a high % go privately at secondary level, creating a kind of brain drain away from the state sector.
So I think parents without the financial clout to go privately, look towards the best that they can get. The catholic schools perform extremely well when it comes to grades at GCSE and they also provide sixth forms. None of the borough secondary schools have sixth forms. Parents are trying to get the best education they can and if they have the catholic option available, then can they be blamed?
innertiger, the borough's existing secondary schools are rapidly improving. Orleans has recently been upgraded to Outstanding, and Christs (which already prioritises entry to Catholics) is 'Good with Outstanding features'. All of the non-Academy schools are over-subscribed. I guess the question isn't whether we should blame people for choosing existing Catholic schools, but more, would a new Catholic school be the best option for the borough as a whole, bearing in mind scarcity of land and resources? If the problems with the linked school policy (which currently prevents children from most Catholic primaries going to local schools) were addressed, could that be a better all-round solution than provision of a new Catholic school?
There's going to be a council debate about this school on Tuesday.
Hi Looks like there is a consultation about sixth forms in Richmond schools
sorry dont know how to link it
There's now a growing campaign against the Catholic school.
And bumping again for anyone opposed to this to sign, as it's now all over the front page of our local freebie rag -claiming amazing support for a Catholic secondary.
I still fail to understand in principle why teh state is fundng a specific education for minority religions. Personally I'd like to see the end of state funded religious education in th eUK but at least there is some rationale to funding the authosied religion of the country. Can't see any in funding a minority religion. are there any otehr countries who do this (just out of interest)?
Can I also suggest that the status of Waldegrave school is considered? How is that the borough provides a single sex girls school but no equivalent boys school?
If Waldegrave was co-educational then that would surely create further equality within the borough.
I hadn't realised that Christ's prioritised catholics - I am not aware of any catholics who know that. Many moons ago, it was a full catholic school when it was St.Edward the Confessors.
Innertiger -Teddington school was boys only when I was a lass. I don't remember any groundswell of opposition when girls were admitted.
Is it the case that girls do better in girls only schools but being in a single sex environment doesn't have such a great effect on boys?
my sons primary doesn;t have a linnked secondary - its nothing to do with being a catholic primary as ours isn;t - its a straightforwards mathematical calcualtion of how many pupils go to that secndary (and frankly a stupid system that doesn;t seem to be used in any other borough)
I think CHrists prioritises any christian pupil
wasn;t it a failing school when it was catholic?
Bayjay - sorry i meant to respond to your comment about the link system.
I agree that a possible solution would be to link all the primary schools to secondary schools - as is the case for all the other state schools (non-denominational and C of E).
Sacred Heart is linked to Teddington but only because the governing body took the LEA to the schools adjudicator. This was important not only for the non-catholic pupils at the school but for those who wanted to chose a non-catholic secondary school - of which, I understand, there are a significant number. I also believe this number will increase as it is getting harder each year to gain entry to the Catholic schools in other boroughs as everyones catchment areas shrink.
So if they were to link all the catholic primaries then that would create more pressure on the over-subscribed secondary schools, which will create more headaches for the council as they have failed to plan for the increase in children in the borough. They may well find that the current system therefore serves them best!
What really concerns me is that I cannot see how they will ever afford to build 2 new schools....and where would they place them? It may be that if the Diocese is willing to cover the costs of land purchase and build, which I believe it is (though that could just be a scurrilous rumour!) then the council would benefit by having the obvious cost savings of someone else picking up the bill and would have a provision for catholic children thus keeping a potential 280 children out of the current secondary system.
Am I being too cynical??
not all state schools are linked to a secondary. We are not. It is not unique to catholic schools.
Corlan - I remember Teddington Boys too and I think the situation then was rather different.....couldn't you essentially choose the school you wanted. And yes I understand that girls allegedly to better in single sex schools but what then do we do with the boys? I just think its a logical continuation of the inclusive access arguement to extend it to gender.
Kewcumber - yes I think it was definitely failing but I'm not sure if that was after it had merged with another local school and taken on the Christs mantel and the broad Christian status (back in the mid-70's). And yes, not all schools are linked in the borough. A strange system to say the least but one that can be fought succesfully with the schools adjudicator!
Kewcumber - I appreciate your point, I hadn't meant to imply that it was a problem peculiar to only catholic primary schools, just that the initial thread was realting to that. The link system does appear to be problematic and should be considered along with the other strings of the arguement.
I thought it was jointly run by CofE AND Catholics after the merger in the 70's when the school was failing I gater the catholic management team withdrew and submitted a plan to clsoe the school which was refused by the Education minirter when CofE took the running over.
Not a great advert for Catholic secondary! The Cathlic camp keep very quiet about ti!
There is mixed covert intelligence about whether the cathlic church have a possible site and the money to build so it may all be moot point anyway.
I don't know the details of what happened in the 70's so I'll bow to your knowledge on that . However, I didn't think it was under catholic management when it tried to close a few years ago.
There are plenty of under performing Catholic secondary schools and i don't think they promote themselves as being the great provider of first class education. In fact the local priests promote attendence at a catholic school, irrelevant of Ofsted rankings etc.
The real debate is about whether the borough should direct funding to a school that limits access to children based on religion.....and I think it should be logically extended to gender also.
I think Sacred Heart in Teddington did manage to get a link to Teddington School a couple of years ago. I believe it was hard work, but the council had to see sense in the end that one of the closest primaries wasn't getting pupils into secondary, because of the link system.
Many problems might be solved in the area if Waldegrave became mixed. The suggestion in the Borough consultation document for federated sixth forms is interesting though. Since Teddington, and presumably Orleans don't have the physical space for any expansion, that might be workable.
the link system is rubbish (as I said we don't have one and normal state primary not religious) and I don't understand teh point of it. Can anyone explain why Richmond use it rather than normal admission policies that other boroughs have?
I think it is just a really really old system that lots of people try to hang on to because it helped ensure that children on the fringes of catchment to the "better" secondaries had some chance of getting in. Everyone acknowledges it is rubbish, but there is massive resistance in some vocal quarters to getting rid. With ever shrinking catchment areas though, the link system still isn't enough to guarantee a place.
If they used the admissions system that other boroughs use then that would mean that children in North Kingston (who aren't at St Paul's) would be able to get into Teddington on distance, via the footbridge. I heard Richmond were very concerned that this would leave Grey Court undersubscribed. I'm sure this isnt the only reason they stick to this system though. Is the link system even legal? It does discriminate against children not at certain primaries and practically impossible to get in from neighbouring boroughs. Not sure this will be relevant anymore when the new secondary is built in N. Kingston.
A lot depends on what type of Catholic school it is going to be. If it is a Voluntary Aided school (like all other local Catholic schools) then the church would only need to fund 10% of the capital (building) costs, and the general taxpayer would fund the rest. The taxpayer would also cover 100% of the running costs, and yet would have no say in the school's admission's policy. If that policy followed the pattern of other VA schools, then it would prioritise out-of-borough catholics over in-borough non-catholics, so could conceivably become a net importer of pupils.
On the other hand, if it is an Academy, then current rules state that at least 50% of the admissions would need to be open (i.e. non faith-based). Would that make it less controversial?
Note that all faith schools have an opt-out of equalities legislation when it comes to recruitment. For example, they could refuse to employ somebody who is non-catholic, gay, or divorced. They also set their own RE syllabus, which is not inspected by Ofsted. What do people think about that?
Was under the impression that the land was owned by the catholic schools and that the government footed the bill for the actual build costs....can anyone verify that? I think its quite important.
Don't see why the taxpayer shouldn't pay for 100% of the running costs - they do in every school. And these children will be educated somewhere so the cost needs to be met. My taxes pay for Waldegrave and I don't have the option to send my son there. (Perhaps the 2nd secondary school could just be for boys?)
Academy status could be interesting......run along similar lines to Christs admissions presumably?
Historically, voluntary aided schools have been built on church land and the buildings have been owned by the church. Ongoing capital (maintenance etc) costs are shared at a ratio of 90:10 between the local authority and the church. In reality, the church's contribution is largely covered by a levy on parents of children at VA schools. At my own dc's VA school, this is about £45 per year, per child. The levy is officially voluntary, and so is no longer allowed to be mentioned as part of the admissions procedure, but I'm not aware of any regulation that prevents schools from omitting to mention that it is voluntary once their children are at the school. Our own payment letter is certainly very strongly worded to imply an obligation.
As regards the new Catholic school, it remains to be seen who will purchase the land. As far as I'm aware, the Catholic church does not own an obvious site at present. Land clearly doesn't come cheap in this area, so it will be interesting to see what the proposals are.
Sorry Innertiger, I forgot to answer your question about Christs. That is a Voluntary Aided Church of England school, rather than an Academy. Interestingly, it used to be a joint Catholic/CofE school, but the Catholic church withdrew from the arrangement in 1997. In common with most CofE VA schools, it reserves a proportion of its places for churchgoers in this case about 60%, with the remaining places being left "open". Within the churchgoing, or "foundation" places, highest priority goes to CofE families, and subsequently to a wider category of Christians, which includes Catholics.
Catholic VA schools do not generally provide a proportion of open spaces. Schools converting to academy status in future will be allowed to keep their existing admissions arrangements. With regard to new academies, the government originally stated that they would have to "admit 50 per cent of their pupils without reference to faith" but having just searched for that phrase using google I see that it has recently been deleted from the online documentation. I have heard that it is under negotiation, and it is certainly something to keep an eye on!
Here is the briefing paper produced by the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign laying out the case for preferring a fully inclusive new school to a Catholic one. I'd be interested in everyone's thoughts.
Bayjay- thanks for that. I think the percentage of children attending schools out of borough (and I assume private schools within the borough) has dropped in recent years, I seem to remember it was about 33% a few years ago. I live in the borough and I agree that if they are thinking about a new secondary they should only consider a school which is inclusive to all. I remember the old Teddington boys' school, so if they were building a new school perhaps a boys only one may be useful? Think the council should prioritise sixth form at existing secondaries as the current arrangements are not helpful for students in the south of the borough.
I am a practising Catholic and we moved our children from local catholic schools to private non-catholic schools so I follow this thread with interest.
St Paul's in North Kingston is not the only school to have a link with Richmond schools, St Agatha's in North Kingston already has an agreement with Gumley which guarantees places for pupils applying from the Southwark diocese, I believe that 17 places at Gumley were given to St Agatha's girls this year.
Catholic primaries are under no obligation to link to their nearest catholic secondary, St Pauls in Thames Ditton is linked to Saleasians in Chertsey - which is a some distance away. If a new catholic school is built in Richmond schools like St Pauls may try and change links as the new school will be considerably closer.
For anyone with views on the provision of 6th Forms, there is still time to respond to the council's consultation. The deadline is May 6th.
I'd be interested to know how many Richmond parents have heard about this consultation via their schools? It began just before Easter, so it hasn't made it into our school newletter yet. I'm curious to see if it appears this week. In the meantime, I've been spreading the word, because I think it's important that people have the chance to express their views over this sort of thing.
I understood Catholic primaries in Richmond do not 'refuse' to link up with Richmond secondaries. I thought the reason that they do not have a link is because they don't send enough pupils to a Richmond secondary to create/maintain a link with a secondary as so many pupils transfer to Catholic secondaries out of the borough... except Sacred Heart that links with Teddington, but I thought that they had an appeal for that as they couldn't get pupils admitted in the first instance to establish a link. Is that correct?
There are several out of borough primaries that have currently link with Richmond secondaries:
Grey Court - Fernhill, Latchmere, St Luke's (Kingston schools)
Hampton Academy - Forge Lane, Oriel (Hounslow schools)
Orleans Park - Ivybridge, The Blue Primary, Worple (Hounslow schools)
Richmond Park Academy - Alton (Wandsworth), Brackenbury, St Paul's, St John's (Hammersmith and Fulham)
Teddington - St Paul's (Kingston)
Has anyone worked out what Richmond primaries do not have a link to a Richmond secondary? Is it just the Catholic primary schools then?
I think Marshgate and Kew Riverside may also have no link school?
Cheers h20hno! I'm going to sit down and work it out!
Having just worked it out from the admissions booklet currently published on the Richmond Council website, it would appear that the following Richmond primaries do not have current links to any Richmond secondary:
Kew Riverside, Kew
St Edmund's, Whitton
St Elizabeth's, Richmond
St James', Twickenham
St Osmund's, Barnes
Could change when they publish the 2012 booklet this year.
(Makes mental note to think about taking up a hobby of some sort! )
Cat2405, you are correct that Sacred Heart gained a lik to Teddington by appealing to the Schools Adjudicator. The Adjudicator said that the lack of a link to a local school discriminated against the "small but significant minority" of pupils at Sacred Heart who were not Catholic, because they would not be able to get into Catholic secondaries, or a local school.
You might think that, based on that judgement, the Council would have subsequently created links for all of the Catholic primaries, but that has not been done, and the Catholic primaries have presumably not asked for links, because the adjudicator's judgement would have backed up their case if they had.
The implication from the Adjudicator's report is that many non-Catholic children who find themselves at Catholic primaries (presumably mostly through in-year transfers as they'd be unlikely to get into Reception) find it necessary to transfer (again?) to non-Catholic schools before they apply to Secondary school.
Theoretically, that may explain why the highly oversubscribed St James' RC Primary in Twickenham only had 78 pupils transferring from Year 6 last Summer, when they have a capacity of 90 (i.e. they are 3-form entry). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is such a reduction in numbers typical of all local primary schools or peculiar to this one?
Bayjay thanks for posting this - I think it's really important people at aware of debate and if they have questions or points they need to raise try to speak to their councillor as there seems to be a lot of rumour etc.
St James's often has fewer pupils than the maximum in KS2, i believe because pupils leave (a high turnover due to the high numbers of non British at the school who return home) and there is no waiting list - because there is no clear secondary school. Some boys are actively withdrawn at year 5 to attend primaries near Teddington School - nb eldest boys so the sibling link then covers the others.
I had heard that the council are abolishing the link system. Does anyone know anything about this?
oh i hope so, it is ridiculous. keep us posted.
According to paragraph 4 of the latest Admissions Forum minutes the impact of removing the link system is to be considered at the next meeting (June 15th).
Note also that those minutes say "there had been no responses to the [last admissions] consultation, probably because no changes had been proposed to the admission arrangements." Did anyone know there was a consultation about admissions in December/January? Details were published on the Council website, but I didn't see it publicised anywhere else. Are people generally aware that the policy is opened up for consultation every year? Do you think this should be publicised more widely? Even if the system doesn't change, the cohort of parents does, so perhaps more publicity is needed?
Oops, re-reading those minutes more carefully, I realised the review was going to take place at the September meeting not the June one.
Just to let you all know I'm having a meeting with my local councillor to discuss his views on new secondary/catholic secondary.
Did you know there is talk of a Free school too? 4-18 yrs. I'd think it won't help increase state places though, just mop up some who would go further away to private.
Just an update on the Richmond Free School. They have submitted their application to the DfE and are wanting to build their school on the Twickenham Sorting Office site opposite the station.
The council has just announced it has a site for the new Catholic school, in central Twickenham. See here for details.
Honestly I dont know if the Coalitions plans for schools make sense or not. They will certainly make a difference. GetKenny Logans wife on the job.
There are lots of interesting comments being posted about the Clifden Rd school site story on the RTT website. Apparently all that is being proposed so far is that the site should be bought for a school. The type of school is yet to be decided. Let's hope there is a full consultation on that.
Speaking of consultations... Anyone know when we can expect to hear the results of the sixth-form consultation that was done earlier this year?
Please sign this petition to the Council if you live in Richmond Borough & agree with it:
'We, the undersigned, petition the council to ensure that every state-funded school opening in the borough from now on is inclusive, so that no child can be denied a place in a good local school because of the religion or belief of their parents.'
It needs 1000 signatures to trigger a mini-debate at a council meeting this autumn, which will bring the issue to the attention of parents across the borough whose children will be affected by what is decided.
This is not about the merits or not of religious education: it is about what to do with this site, in a borough that needs to open two new community schools open to all by 2015 to keep up with rising numbers. No other sites for new schools have been found, or even suggested.
The petition has almost 600 signatures already. It is at:
There are lots of interesting comments on last week's Richmond and Twickenham Times article about the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign. It looks like the comments of one contributor (against the campaign) early in the thread were deleted by the moderator as they were pretty offensive, so if it reads a little strangely that is the reason.
The ePetition now has 940 signatures & so needs just 60 more by September 3 to make it onto the agenda for the September 13 meeting of full Council: if you know anyone who hasn't signed yet but is sympathetic to the cause please nag them to sign pronto!
Thanks for bringing this petition to my notice. Have just signed and that brought signatures to 1067. More than enough to trigger the Council mini debate I hope.
The 'Inclusive Schools' petition opposing this plan will be submitted to Council on the 13th and briefly debated.
The latest news on the Catholic School debate is that the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign are inviting people down to York House from 5.30pm on Tuesday 13th Sept, to show their support ahead of the Council debate that will start at 7pm. It sounds like a child-friendly event with balloons and t-shirts and the like. I expect more details will be posted on their Facebook page or website over the coming days for anyone thinking of going along.
For anyone from LBRUT interested in this thread, note that there is also a parallel thread in Mumsnet Local that has been more active recently, so follow this link if you want to find it.
I went to the protest with Inclusive School campainers just before the meeting on Tuesday and we did have a big turn out and certainly made ourselves heard...also took my two children into the gallery (thankfully they were very well behaved) and from what I could tell most of the people in the gallery were pro-inclusive and not many pro-catholic school which was interesting.
The gallery was effectively closed to the public from about 6pm because a number of families with children in Catholic primary school uniform arrived from 5pm onwards and filled it up. There were approximately 20 children in the gallery during the debate. They were mostly well behaved, though some of the younger ones were asleep and some of the older ones were playing on their game consoles. There was also a Catholic priest. The number of Inclusive School supporters that were able to get places in the gallery was in single figures, and they were all adults. However there were large numbers of families with children outside.
Azalia67, it sounds like you are talking about a different public gallery (perhaps the one where they were showing the live webcast).
As mentioned in my last post but one, there is another thread on this subject that has been more active lately, so check it out.
As a catholic parent I would support an inclusive school campaign if it were truly inclusive. This would me (for me anyway):
1) No discrimination on gender. Waldegrave Girls school made co-ed
2) No link system
3) Abolish current distance rules which create 'rich ghettos' whereby parents rent properties close to the school or buy. Maybe have a lottery system (like Brighton?) within a pre-defined radius?
Just my thoughts.
So dindongbell, I'm not quite sure that I quite get the point you are making. From what I have gathered, the Richmond Inclusive Schools campaign hasn't set the admission policies of existing schools within its target.
I'm very bemused by your "rich ghettos" statement. Have you looked around the Borough of Richmond lately? It's pretty uniformly affluent! Sure there is social housing; but it's fairly evenly dispersed. All a lottery could achieve would be to increase traffic, destroy community links and create uncertainty. Which would probably result in those wealthy Richmonders moving to the shires or going private. (This is what happened in the past, incidentally. The fact this isn't happening so much now is probably why Richmond secondaries are finally catching up with the quality of the primaries.)
Am I to take it that you actually only support catholic schools because they discriminate and are even more exclusively middle-class? At least that's honest, I suppose.
The reason people are so upset about the proposed Catholic secondary is because everyone knows that funds and sites are limited. The community (and CofE) primary schools all have bulge classes and are bursting at the seams. This is a challenge that isn't being shared by the RC primary schools. It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to realise that there could be a massive shortage of community secondary places in a few years' time. I'm quite sure you would prefer your daughter only has (say) 1.5 miles to travel to Clifden Road rather than 2.5 miles to Gumley House, but do you really think this "need" for convenience outweighs the need of all the non-Catholics to not be stuffed into portacabins like sardines?
LittleMrsMuppet sorry if I haven't made myself clear on where I stand. I thought I had stated what I think 'inclusive' means. At no point in my post did I indicate that I 'only support catholic schools because they discriminate and are even more exclusively middle-class'. I don't think that at all and it's quite presumtious on your part. My child's school has children from all walks or life and there are non-catholics who attend.
If Richmond Council give the go-ahead for a Catholic Secondary of course I would want my children to attend. If it doesn't happen so be it, that's life. I can see both sides of the argument.
I know that you didn't say that - it was mischief and conjecture on my part. It was in response to your rather strange argument for not backing the Richmond Inclusive Schools campaign. As in, it's all unfair anyway, so why should it matter if admissions criteria based of parental religious belief are fair or not.
Unless I have misunderstood your position. Are you backing the campaign but you just want it to go further than already stated? (Although Jeremy Rodell already mentioned that the link system unfairly discriminates in his speech to the council.)
LittleMrsMuppet - I am backing the Catholic school campaign because I would be a hypocrite not too! Like I said if Richmond Council wants to build a Catholic Secondary I don't personally have a problem (but yes I can understand why others do). I just think if Richmond Council do decide to make all new schools inclusive they have to go the whole hog and remove links, make single-sex schools co-ed etc. Who knows they might convert me then (no pun intended!).
Does the inclusive campaign go far enough for you? Would you want Waldegrave to be co-ed for example? I am genuinely interested in people opinions because we all have been let down by the neglect of Richmond Council with regards to Secondary provision.
Littlemissmuppet stop hectoring and creating mischief (your own words). You say you want an inclusive school when really you mean a secular school.
Dingdongbell is quite clear: if there is a Catholic secondary school she will send her DC there - she pays her taxes just as much as anyone and she has the right.
Besides I have seen no evidence on this thread to suggest that a Catholic school would not be as representative of the local area as a community school in terms of class, social status, ethnic minority: if anything one could suggest reasons why the Catholic school might be more "inclusive" than the community school in leafy Richmond.
There is a parallel thread to this one, which I hope everyone who has posted here today, or has an interest in this subject, will go and read.
The Richmond Inclusive School Campaign are defining inclusivity as non-discrimination on grounds of religion. They are also arguing for reform of the link system, which currently discriminates against a number of primary schools, including, but not limited to, Catholic primary schools. In my view the council urgently need to address the link system issues, and they are due to be reviewed by the Admission Forum this month so anyone who has strong opinions on that should contact either their own councillor, or one of the councillors on the committee.
There are many people who feel that Waldegrave has a detrimental effect on local admissions, and I have heard some people calling for the new Clifden Rd school to be a boys' school to compensate for that. If and when the council do actually hold a full consultation on this issue, then people will undoubtedly let them know how they feel on that.
If you read the other thread, you will see some discussion about the possibility of a Catholic Academy, which would have 50:50 admissions. That would go halfway to satisfying the wording of the RISC petition, and give the Catholic community the local Catholic option that they are asking for too. Dingdongbell, I would be interested in your views, and the views of other local Catholics, on that idea.
dingdongbell, sorry, I also meant to address your point about distance. In my view distance should be the only criteria on which admissions should be decided. Councils should then deal with the associated housing issues through its planning policies by making sure that affordable housing is well distributed throughout the borough, including in areas close to good schools.
Where there are pockets of deprivation within the borough, the coalition government's Pupil Premium policy should also help.
Hi Bayjay. Yes a Catholic Academy with 50:50 admissions sounds like a good compromise. Catholic parents will have some choice on the continuation of their child's education within their own borough then. Not sure how many people from either side would go for it though. Cost of the site development will always be a factor. The council massively overspent on Teddington school (were the architect fees really £2m?). Also interested to see comments regarding ring fencing of school places in Richmond borough for residents. I have friends (non catholic) whose children can't get into their local secondary yet children from Kingston do. What are your thoughts?
The Greenwich Judgement, 1989, prevents ring fencing at borough boundaries. That was the main reason for the council introducing the linked school policy in the first place. I would provide a link for it, but I haven't found a really good one yet. However, if you google Greenwich Judgement you can find information about it.
Why would it mean being a hypocrite not to back a Catholic secondary school campaign? As a Catholic I'm not sure why I'm not allowed to put the needs of the wider community ahead of my own. I might even send my own children to this school (should it be created) as I pay my taxes too. Doesn't mean I think it was wise spending by the council though. A Catholic school is an expensive luxury that won't help the anticipated problem of a shortage of community places across the borough.
deadbeatdad - you are intentionally missing my point. I was trying to emphasise how peculiar I found dindongbell's reasoning. And whilst I'd entirely agree that leafy Richmond community schools are far from "inclusive" when compared to the national average, they do still have a higher free-school-meal percentage than the LBRuT Catholic schools. Read into that what you will. And no, I don't want all schools to be secular. I've already mentioned that I'm Catholic myself. I'm in favour of Catholic schools, I just dislike their admissions policies.
The saddest thing is that there's now a real anti-Catholic feeling across the borough. It really was quite unnecessary and could have been avoided if the council had bothered to properly consult the populace before making such a big decision.
DinDongBell - how do I feel about Waldegrave? I'd be wary of making it co-ed. It's currently a successful school, and the current staff are experienced with girls, so its excellence might not carry through if it was co-ed. Should there be a boys equivalent? Yes if it's what people actually want. And if there's any money left... Should they abolish the link system? Yes. Unreservedly. It's ridiculous! Should there be a lottery? I wouldn't support one, no, for the reasons I've already given.
BayJay - you seem to be a font of all knowledge, so I'm wondering if you can answer my question? Faith schools ring fence along Parish boundary lines. Does the Greenwich Judgement not apply to them?
No, the Greenwich Judgement only refers to Borough boundaries. Other geographical boundaries can legitimately be used in admissions systems. That is why Sacred Heart primary school was able to succesfully argue for a link to Teddington School using ward boundaries. If parents at other Catholic primary schools want links to local community schools then they should let their councillors know and quote the Sacred Heart judgement as evidence that the current Linked School policy is a bad policy. The Schools Adjudicator was quite scathing about the method used to establish links.
p.s. I'm off to the cinema this evening, so will have to continue this discussion tomorrow.
Dindongbell, just belatedly picking up on your point about funding [dindongbell Tue 20-Sep-11 17:16:02], if the proposed school is Voluntary Aided, then the church would only be required to contribute 10% of the capital costs (and none of the running costs). As the council has bought the land, and there is already a viable school building on it, those capital costs are likely to be minimal. Many people may consider them worth writing off in the interests of community cohesion.
For those of you reading this thread who are Catholic, I am interested in your views on the increasingly competitive admission criteria that are being used by some of the more popular Catholic Secondaries. For example, here is a link to the London Oratory's Admission Criteria. They use a points system which takes into account regularity of mass attendance, baptism date, and additional service to the church. Do you think people feel under pressure to change their behaviour in order to compete with other families for places. In your experience, what effect does this have on your community?
Bay Jay - As a Catholic i think you are coming across more like a reporter than a parent.
Jay if it is a catholic school surely it should be for practising Catholics - not only for the benefit of the Catholic school but also for the community schools. I am not sure what the problem is you are seeking to understand/report
Bayjay re the funding issue, so if the proposed school is 50:50 admissions and a Catholic Academy would that mean the council would meet all costs? Would the RC still have to contribute 10%? Do you think that would be an acceptable comprise for most of the RISC? Apart from the whole catholic secondary question, are there plans for any more secondary schools in the borough? Given the increasing birth rate and bulge classes in primary, one new school won't be enough anyway.
h20hno/deadbeatdad, I'm not a reporter, and I am a local mum. I'm genuinely interested in what people think, and see this as a space for people to chat across the divide and understand each other's point of view. My own children go to a Church of England VA school in Twickenham, and I know that as the admission criteria have become stricter over recent years people have changed their behaviour in order to meet the new criteria. Many people find that controversial, and the Church of England is taking steps nationally to open its admission policies so that all parents have the opportunity to choose their schools if they wish to, no matter what their religious background. The Catholic church has so far not moved in that direction, but if it were to consent to a new Academy on this site, then that would set a precedent. Personally I find that interesting, and wonder what local Catholics think of the idea.
dindongbell, I don't speak for RISC, so I don't know what percentage of its supporters would be happy with an Academy. My best guess is that some would and some wouldn't. I think its worth raising awareness of the possibility among people on both sides of the debate so that people can start to consider it ahead of any consultation that might take place.
The 10% of capital funding obligation is only required for Voluntary Aided Schools. Academies have a different funding model. If the Catholic church wanted to 'sponsor' an academy then it would presumably need to make a financial contribution, but I think that would be arranged at a local level. If anyone knows more about that, then perhaps they can dive in with some references.
Just out of interest, here is a BBC link to an article about a newly opened Faith Academy, in this case jointly sponsored by the Church of England and Catholic Church.
Just following on from my previous post, here is a link to the Dept of Education's information about Academy Funding. However, it is focussed on schools converting to academy status, rather than new academies.
I haven't looked into it in depth, but essentially each academy has its own unique funding agreement depending on its circumstances, and is negotiated between local authorities and academy sponsors. Here are some examples.
In last week's council debate, Councillor Hodgins (the final speaker) referred to the fact that a Voluntary Aided model would be cost effective for the borough, but there is no evidence that any comparision has been done with a potential academy model.
There is some news about the Linked School Policy. The minutes for last night's Admission Forum meeting have been published. The forum is recommending to the council that it consults the public on removal of the Linked School Policy for 2013/2014 entry to Grey Court, Orleans Park and Teddington.
BayJay, in answer to your question about admissions policies. In my own parish, we are sufficiently far from the Oratory that very few people even consider it. In fairness, I'd say that the ones that do probably are very useful to the community. Whatever their true motive, it's always good to have volunteers to do those much needed jobs that most people can't be bothered to do.
Its hard to judge how helpful it is to have those families that only turn up for the crucial 6 months before school applications and whilst their children prepare for their sacraments. How people choose to follow their own faith is entirely their own business, but it's interesting that many of these "seasonal" churchgoers that I know have put their names to the petition that is calling for the Catholic school.
Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the fact that the Clifden site is very close to both St Mark's and Gumley House. Both of these schools have excellent sixth forms. Unless the new school is going to provide one it is going to be at a significant disadvantage. If it does get a sixth form, the council are going to have to be absolutely sure they can deliver one to all the other Borough Secondaries; otherwise I imagine we haven't seen anything yet in terms of opposition to this school.
LittleMrsMuppet, good point about 6th Forms.
Another thing that is interesting, is that the original press release about the purchase of the Clifden Site talked of creating a primary school as well as a secondary school on the site. Everyone has been focussing on the secondary school issue, but its not clear what type of school the primary will be. Central Twickenham desperately needs more Community primary places, but it would seem strange to consider a community primary school on the same site as a Catholic secondary school. It would also seem to be a missed opportunity for an all-through school.
LittleMrsMuppet, sorry, I also meant to respond to your point about admissions. I picked out the Oratory because it is an extreme example of an admission system that has become increasingly prescriptive as the school has become more popular. Other local Voluntary Aided schools' policies (CofE as well as Catholic) may not be so extreme, but they too have gradually become more complicated. It has become a national pastime to critically evaluate other people's motivations for going to church, which I think is bad for our society. I realise that the churches benefit from the increased attendance, but at what price? It seems to me that if more faith schools had inclusive admissions, so that people could choose them for their own personal reasons (whatever those may be), then a lot of sniping could be avoided.
BayJay - I can only agree. I found simply asking for baptism awkward. Was the priest thinking I was only doing it because I was a middle-class Mum who wanted to send my child to the attached school? It even made me question my own motivation.
A central part of Jesus' teachings is that we shouldn't judge others. Yet, that's exactly what the current school admissions make us do. It's so desperately unChristian, isn't it?
unChristian, unHumanist, unMuslim, unJewish ..... and just generally unpleasant.
Just adding a link to the latest local press coverage about the Catholic School debate.
Many, many upset parents at dd's primary (SW13) at prospect of a selective Catholic secondary in Richmond - am reading to try and educate myself and catch up.
BayJay, you make a lot of sense!
Just wanted to add my thanks to Bayjay for her/his efforts here. I first heard about this on Mumsnet and have since been following with interest.
Some great impassioned arguments against the Catholic school in the comments after that article.
(Atheist mum with three children who lives a few minutes from the Clifden Rd site!)
No prob . Don't forget to read the other thread in Mumsnet Local too. The two threads cover some of the same ground, but they've both gone through phases of being quite active, with some different voices in each.
An interesting debate; when are the issues expected to be settled? I think of Richmond as an easy-going place with never a whimper of discourtesy or lack of harmony. A model district of the capital.
Its been a fairly courteous debate actually. There's been the occasional rant on both sides, but generally people have stayed calm and stuck to the facts.
The Catholic Church will need to obtain Michael Gove's special permission to set up a Voluntary Aided school without any sort of competition. The fact that there is local opposition will no doubt influence his decision on that. If he waves it through, then there will still have to be a consultation process (though many people think the consultation should happen before that stage). If he refuses permission, then the council will have the choice of either having an open competition for the site, or working with the Catholic Church to set up a Faith Academy. Academies are exempt from competition, but the leadership of the Catholic Church may not be keen to go down the academy route because of the rules that say new faith academies can only select 50% of their pupils by faith. They may decide to walk away from the opportunity, rather than set a national precedent on admissions. That's why I think its important for Catholic parents to make their views on a potentially inclusive Catholic school clear, both to the council and to their own leadership.
Another thing to bear in mind is that there is an Education Bill going through parliament at the moment. I haven't quite got my head around what bearing that will have on the debate. Thoughts welcome.
BayJay, I wonder if you would mind giving a brief summary of the background and issues on this thread please? I have a Y5 DC in a local (but not LBRuT) RC primary and have been looking at RC secondary options. Anecdotally, there are LBRuT children who travel to our local RC secondary, and I'm curious as to how this proposal might affect that school's intake.
Another question from me, BayJay or anyone else who knows - and apologies if its a very basic one (have googled and can't find answer). What percentage of the costs, if this does turn out to be a RC school, are paid for by the Church as opposed to the State?
I had lunch with a RC friend, who said her view was that the percentage of RC places at the school should reflect the percentage of costs paid for by the Church - but she had no idea what that might be. We're both curious!
ChippyMinton, hello, I just wrote a long reply, but lost it when Mumsnet logged me out (grrr), so give me a little while and I'll get back to you.
Elibean, there are different types of faith school. The council is proposing a Voluntary Aided (VA) school. In VA schools the church pays 10% of the capital (building) costs. The council pays the other 90% of the capital costs, and 100% of the running costs. In return the church gets full control over admissions. In contrast to CofE schools, which often provide a percentage of places that are open to the community, Catholic VA schools always prioritise entry to Catholics (unless they are undersubscribed, in which case their surplus places may be filled by non-Catholics, but that is different to the concept of providing open places as a priority).
If the new Catholic school is an Academy then it will have a different funding model that would be agreed between the church and the local Authority. It will be less cost-effective for the council, but the trade-off would be that the Catholic church would need to provide at least 50% open places. That would arguably satisfy many (but not all) supporters of the RISC campaign.
ChippyMinton, here goes .....
1. The Catholic community in LBRUT would like an in-borough Catholic Secondary school, and have been lobbying the council for many years. They recently submitted a petition to LBRUT council, which triggered a mini-debate in which there was cross-party support for the "principle" of a Catholic school. However, no commitment was made on timing or priority.
2. Currently children from LBRUT Catholic primaries transfer to a mixture of out-of-borough Catholic secondaries, private schools (mostly non-Catholic), and in-borough Community schools.
3. Anecdotally they are finding it increasingly difficult to get places at the out-of-borough Catholic secondaries. (Although the Archdiocese of Westminster claims on its websie to have enough Secondary School places for every Catholic child).
4. Until recently there was no site available for any new secondary schools, but LBRUT council have now purchased a site in Clifden Road (central Twickenham) that is large enough for a Secondary and Primary school, and already has a viable school building on it (though it will need refurbishment),
5. LBRUT council have given the Catholic Church first refusal of the site for the creation of a Voluntary Aided Catholic Secondary School (I'm not sure if they are also being offered the Primary school).
6. The Richmond Inclusive School Campaign (RISC) has been set up by local people (backed by the Accord Coalition) to campaign for all future new borough schools to have open admissions. They have said that they would not oppose a Catholic School that had an open admission policy, fair employment policies, and an OFSTED inspected curriculum.
7.The campaign is gathering a lot of support because school admissions are a big issue locally, with lots of pressure on the admissions of popular community schools. Primary schools are expanding and the potential future introduction of 6th forms will lead to even more pressure for space.
8.Apart from Waldegrave (girls only), there are 3 popular LBRUT Secondaries: Orleans Park, Teddington & Grey Court. They each operate admissions under LBRUT's Linked School Policy.
9. The Linked School Policy was introduced in 1992 to try and counteract the effects of the Greenwich Judgement which prevents Local Authorities from prioritising admissions to in-borough children. The Linked School Policy has been controversial for many years, and the LBRUT Admissions Forum recently recommended that a consultation should be held on its removal.
10. The Linked School policy currently prevents many children from Catholic primaries from transferring to the more popular community secondaries. That is one argument for them wanting a Catholic Secondary, but that argument will no longer be relevant if the Linked School policy is stopped or reformed.
11. There are also 3 under-subscribed Academies in LBRUT, all close to borough boundaries. The council is putting a lot of effort into helping them improve, and progress is being made. The Government is unlikely to give LBRUT any money for new secondary schools while those Academies are undersubscribed. (That is one reason why the Richmond Free School bid failed).
12. There are currently two related petitions available for signing on the LBRUT website. The first is from RISC, arguing for inclusive admissions. It was briefly debated last month, and is still gathering support. The other is in support of the Catholic school, and is a copy of their original petition (see point 1), but presumably by re-creating it as an epetition they are aiming to reach a wider audience. That one will be debated (again) in November.
13. The council debates are leading to a lot of publicity, which may affect the outcome, but none of them affect the process. They don't result in a vote or a decision. The current status of the process is as described in my last post but one [BayJay Tue 04-Oct-11 16:53:29].
I think that's everything. Let me know if something isn't clear.
Excellent summary, many thanks BayJay. Have been following this story with interest.
One query I have is about the last RC secondary in Richmond. Wasn't Christ's for some time a joint Catholic/CE school but then the Catholic church pulled out and it got reborn as a Church of England school? Someone on this thread also mentioned St Edwards but maybe that was the same school.
muminlondon, yes you're right, Christs did used to be a joint CofE/Catholic school, after merging with a Catholic school called St Edward the Confessor. The Catholic church pulled out of that in 1997. However, that was a long time ago and isn't generally considered relevant to the current debate.
Note, however, that Christs entrance policy does give priority status to Catholics (after CofE) in its criteria for its 70 Foundation places. They also provide 50 Open places.
It's worth adding to point 12 in my summary post above [BayJay Tue 04-Oct-11 21:30:01] that ahead of the second council debate, the Lib Dems clarified their position. They now say that while they support a Catholic school in principle, pressure on school place means that the Clifden Rd site should be prioritised for a community school.
However, at that debate, none of the councillors, on either side, addressed the main point of the RISC petition, which was related to inclusive admissions.
Thank you so much, BayJay - really helpful, and can relate info to other local parents now
Given the funding facts, I am clear that I am totally opposed to a VA school then. Academy, less so.
Hi, interesting read! ... I wondered though if 'In VA schools the church pays 10% of the capital (building) costs [and] the council pays the other 90% of the capital costs, and 100% of the running costs' then what percentage of the total (capital and operating) costs does the church pay? Sorry I couldn't work the maths out.
Well that depends on how much building work and maintenance is required. In this case there's already a viable school building. Some conversion will be needed but it won't be as expensive as a new build. I think I have some numbers somewhere that can give a national overview for the financial contribution made by the Catholic church to its schools so I'll dig them out later if I can. (I'm at DC2's swimming lesson at the mo).
Bear in mind also how the church raises that money. Much of it comes from parents at the schools who contribute to a central fund for maintaining the schools and churches. My own children go to a CofE VA school that works the same way. Parents pay approximately #65 per child per year to the "Diocesan Maintenance Fund". A proportion of funds from church collections go into the same pot. The funds then act as a central pot for maintaing churches and making the 10% contribution to school maintenance. Some schools may sometimes get back more than they put in, but essentially it all averages out. Contrast that with community schools which often have their own contribution schemes (in addition to the PTA). In prosperous areas those schemes raise an equivalent amount of money for their schools (the disadvantage being that the money is not shared with schools in less prosperous areas).
Thank you very much for the summary BayJay. I will take some time to read and digest all the links.
Tahdah, you wanted to know what percentage of total (capital + running) costs the Catholic church contributes to its schools. Looking at the numbers, the answer seems to be somewhere between 0.5% and 0.7% depending on which of the following two methods you use to estimate it:
1. Department for Education numbers indicate that capital costs for schools for the next four years will be about 7% of total costs. Given that a VA school has to contribute 10% of these costs this works out to 0.7% of total costs.
2. The Catholic Education Service claim to put £20 million into their schools nationally. They have 784,808 pupils, so that works out as £25.48 per pupil. In contrast, LBRUT contribute £4,814 per secondary school pupil. So the Catholic contribution is 0.5% of the total funding per pupil.
Of course, since some of that money is recovered from parental contributions (as described in my previous post) the true amount could arguably be closer to zero.
I didn't really think or care about faith schools much as they're often small so don't represent a lot of capacity, and I assumed the church put in a lot of the funds. But the idea of my taxes funding a school my child couldn't access in a time of recession seems unfair and a terrible waste of money. I'd rather the money went on special needs provision or the bringing up standards in the most deprived areas. I don't understand the business case here!
To be fair to the Church, they do own most of the land that Church schools are built on, and historically they were set up with the good intention of providing education to the poor. However, its a very different world now, and faith-based admission systems are very much a modern concept, that are proving divisive in areas like ours where there is so much competition for space.
In the case of Clifden Road, the council has bought the site. We don't yet know the details of the deal it is proposing to the Catholic Church, i.e. whether the church will pay 10% of the land purchase costs as well as 10% of the capital costs required to convert the buildings. The advantage to the council is that it gets a 10% discount on the cost of creating a new school, and can more-or-less guarantee that with the church in control it will be high-performing. I presume, though don't know for sure, that they are happy to let it be exclusive to Catholics, because any other admissions model would impact on Twickenham Academy, which they are trying to turn around. Of course, Twickenham Academy should ideally be able to stand on its own merits. There's some discussion about that in the other thread.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has been campaigning about Faith Schools for many years, and would like to see them abolished completely. That goes too far for some people. However, the Accord Coalition, of which the BHA is also a founding member, along with teaching unions and some religious and political groups, have more moderate (and, in my view, pragmatic) aims. They are campaigning for all faith schools to have open admissions, fair employment policies, and an OFSTED inspected curriculum. They have tabled some amendments to the Education Act that is currently going through the House of Lords, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. Both organisations appeal for funds via their websites to help them with their campaigns, so anyone who feels strongly about this issue may be interested in contributing.
For info, it is the Accord Coalition that is endorsing the local Inclusive Schools Campaign.
Update: the church has made a formal application to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, for consent to "publish proposals" for a Voluntary Aided school on the Clifden Road site. This is required to avoid the Council having to hold a competition for the new school, or having to set it up as an Academy (which would have a maximum 50 % faith-based admissions). His decision is a closed process and we don't know what's happening. See: twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/article/2011/512963/the-new-school-for-twickenham-what-happens-next for more detail.
Gove will not respond to letters from the public but he will to a letter from an MP on their behalf. So if you object to the churchs application and live in the Twickenham constituency, please write to Vince Cable [email@example.com or by letter to: 2a Lion Road,Twickenham TW1 4JQ] copying firstname.lastname@example.org . A letter is better, if you can make the time to write it.
So Bajyay ... taking the idea that the percentage of places at the school should reflect the percentage of costs paid for by the Church then 0.5% or 0.7% or whatever implies ... er just doing my mental maths ... 1 (?) child per yearly intake? Is that right?
Tahdah, that depends on the size of the school. If it has 2 forms of entry (with 30 in each class) then that works out at 0.4 of one child. If it is 3-form entry then 0.6 of one child. Rather than trying to chop up our children, perhaps fully open admissions would be a better idea.
Of course, if you subscribe to the notion that a significant proportion of the people contributing to church collections would not be there if they weren't trying to gain a school place (and who can blame them when there is so much competition for a places in schools), then it could be argued that it is the schools that are supporting the churches rather than the other way round.
The Church of England are moving towards completely open admissions in their schools. The Catholic church is so far not inclined to do the same.
There are lots of letters about the Catholic school issue in this week's Richmond and Twickenham Times. See pages 28 -31.
For info, on page 31 there is a question from a reader wanting to know the names of the 8 Catholic Secondary schools within 5 miles of the centre of Richmond Borough. If you're interested in the answer to that, here is a link to the map produced by the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign.
The same letter also questions the 10% figure that RISC has been quoting for the percentage of Catholics in the borough. This document contains their explanation for that number.
Just a note about factual information: assuming that circle shows the 5 mile radius, that map misses out at least one RC secondary school - St Pauls, Sunbury. Cardinal Wiseman is only just beyond, too.
A further note on that RTT letter on pg 31. It complains about a partial quote from the Westminster Diocese, which said it had enough secondary schools to accomodate all Catholic children. The explanatory note that he refers to has recently been added to this page. However, the original statement that was quoted remains in the Secondary School Prospectus on page 4.
Of course the Diocese is perfectly entitled to update its information, but the inference in the letter is that RISC was making a deliberate mis-quote, which isn't the case.
Unbelievable. Catholic VA school application to Gove includes primary school. Please write to Michael Gove and your local MP Zac Goldsmith or Vince Cable to not grant consent to Catholic VA school in Richmond. ‎2 new schools, 0 consultations!! 90% of the borough excluded from both. Justification for the secondary is weak at best but what is the possible justification for the primary !!!!!!
gmsin, do you have a link for that information?
Being new to the borough, and with two children in an RC primary, I am very keen on finding a suitable secondary school for my children. The oldest is in year 5. I understand that we are in the catchment area of only one RC secondary, in Hounslow, now that both Cardinal Vaughan and the Oratory have made changes to their admissions policy and cathcment area.
My nearest secondary school require a substantial police force in the streets at home time. I am therefore quite reluctant to send my children there.
Personally I would consider both a non Faith school or private, if the school seem right for my children. However, I like a school with a Christian ethos.
I am following this with interest.
Hello QuintessentialDead, and welcome to the borough! You'll find everyone else is very keen on finding a suitable secondary school for their children too, which is at the root of all this controversy.
If you check risc website there is an update on catholic primary school. As I understand it there are sufficient catholic places St primary level in the borough which is Not the case for inclusive primary places.
But would not a new Catholic school free up other school places in the borough?
I have just today been on a school open day, and there were nearly 1000 applications for 200 places.
It is a shame one cannot have both. Clearly there is a need for schools!
"But would not a new Catholic school free up other school places in the borough?"
Not necessarily, as out of Borough Catholics will get priority and Clifden Road is not so very far from the Richmond/Hounslow boundary. Besides, it does seem a bit unfair that all the community primaries are having to expand to three (or even four) form entry whilst yet another nice small one form entry Catholic primary gets set up. It really doesn't make any sense to me, surely if they need more Catholic places they should be
inflicting adding bulge classes on all the existing schools first? Just like they are at all the non-Catholic schools.
I'm a bit confused as to why you consider it to be a bad thing that you are only in catchment of the one Catholic secondary? I assume it is St Mark's that you are talking about. In which case it's a fantastic school and of a standard that most people in the Richmond Borough would be delighted about having the choice of. As BayJay has already said, though, concerns about the quality of some of the schools is something shared by everyone.
I hadn't heard that the Oratory was changing its admissions policy - when is that due to be implemented?
QuintessentialDead, perhaps it would free up some spaces, and perhaps it wouldn't. The council is certainly claiming that it would, but haven't published any numbers to prove it. No consultation has been done to determine whether those Catholics who currently choose community secondaries such as Waldegrave do so because they believe in inclusive education at secondary level, or because they couldn't get a place in a Catholic school. The council is simply assuming the latter. Similarly, no consultation has been done to determine other types of demand in the borough that may be equal to, or greater than, the demand for a Catholic school (remember the Catholic community has a strong leadership behind it that can lobby on behalf of its community, but other groups, such as parents of boys, don't).
What would your view be on the question of an inclusive Catholic school, i.e. one that ringfenced a certain percentage (say 50%) of its places for the local community? As discussed earlier in this thread, that is the direction that Church of England schools are moving in, and many (but not all) people who support the RISC campaign would welcome a Catholic school wth that sort of entrance policy.
My son is in year 5, and from what I understand, The Oratory will no longer be an option when he is due to go to secondary. The only Catholic school we are in catchment of, is Gunnersbury. I am sure it is a good school, but it is really far away.
My local secondary is a school that this is said about "Her Majesty's Chief Inspector is of the opinion that the school no longer requires significant improvement. .....School now provides a satisfactory education for its students. "
Great. I want better for my children than just "satisfactory".
It seems our choice is limited to a school that has just come out of special measures, or a school that is miles away. There are plenty of good schools in Richmond, but due to Link and Catchment and lack of siblings, our options seem rather limited.
BayJay, to answer your question, I would be positive to a school that is inclusive, as long as the school keeps it Catholic ethos, and that all the parents regardless of their Faith or lack thereof, are keen to support the school, PTA and school life.
But the question is, would the parents of non-catholic children support the liturgial events? Would they insist that the children are kept out of Harvest mass, or other significant events that otherwise the whole school would participate in? Because if they dont, it is really ruining it for the rest.
Would they want to fund raise for Catholic charities?
QuintessentialDead, my own children go to a CofE primary school that has 30% open places. All parents sign an agreement to support the ethos of the school. It is very oversubscribed, and people wouldn't apply to go there if they weren't happy with the ethos on offer. If it was undersubscribed, and non-CofE families were only allocated spaces there because they were unable to get places elsewhere then the situation could be very different. Nobody wants to feel like a second class citizen in their own school.
My children's friends include Christians, Muslims, Jews, Seikhs, and children from non-faith families. None of them are withdrawn from RE, or other events. However, they are encouraged to talk openly about their own beliefs in RE lessons, and the children are taught to listen respectfully to other views. That is a skill that they will benefit from for the rest of their lives. There are also many Catholic families at the school, some of whom have signed the RISC petition.
I went to a Catholic secondary school myself, back in the 1980s when their admissions weren't so "controlled", so I certainly would consider it for my own children, even though we aren't Catholic. Clifden Rd would be our nearest Secondary, and in future our only other alternative may be Twickenham Academy, which is also currently rated as 'satisfactory'. It may improve, but that's not guaranteed.
Oh, I totally understand your wish to send your child to a better school than one just out of special measures and that's now simply satisfactory. I suppose my point is simply that it's probably the hobson's choice of many in your locale, not just the Catholics. Hopefully the link issue will be sorted out, although I do fear that if the links get removed the catchments of Orleans, Teddington and Grey Court will shrink significantly.
I personally can't see why having non-Catholics in a school needs to ruin the Catholic ethos for everyone else. I was educated at private Catholic schools which were always happy to take non-Catholics. Everyone took part in the life of the school whatever their backgrounds.
Having said that, I can see a potential issue if this new school was to be a more inclusive Catholic school. It would have a more socially selective catchment than the nearby academy due to its location. Therefore it may possibly get people applying who aren't just non-Catholics, but are positively anti-Papist. This is why I think it's essential for the council to address the shortage of good quality schools for the 90% of children who aren't Catholics first. I suspect most people in the Borough haven't ever thought too much about the selection policies of existing Catholic primaries; for the simple reason that ALL the primaries are pretty uniformly excellent.
The way I see it, the borough needs more than just ONE new secondary school, then. If non-Catholics are struggling to find a good secondary school for their children, and Catholics are having the same struggle and have to send their children miles away out of the borough for schools, it really just shows the precarious needs for good schooling!
After all, there are more mainstream schools to chose from than there are Catholic schools!
Like I say, I am not against an inclusive Catholic school. I just want the religious life to be upheld.
Most of the parents at my childrens school are exploring all the options, not just Catholic secondaries. I can see why most people would be against a minority getting a brand new school "just for themselves".
Indeed, there needs to be another new school. But with resources limited, and given that it wouldn't exclude Catholics - it should be the priority.
I am in favour of Church schools. My concern is that the nature of their admissions policies means that they lose sight of what Christianity should be about. It becomes a game to be played. Just the fact that someone has chosen a Catholic school should be reason enough for a child to be able to go to one.
I think the problem is that just because there is a greater number of mainstream schools, it doesn't increase choice in any meaningful way because of catchments. You complain that you have the choice of a recently failing school or an excellent boys school that's a bit of a trek. It's not a great choice, granted, but it's better than that of your atheist neighbour - isn't it?
There are some numbers in a freedom of info request on RISC's website (useful links). These suggest that on average 200 RuT RC primary pupils find places in catholic schools out of the borough and about 30 have gone to Richmond secondaries (with an upward trend due to rising birth rates). That suggests to me that the biggest beneficiaries of a new catholic will be Catholics in Hounslow who will have more choice. But little difference for Richmond schools. It's incorrect to say you have a choice of 8 schools if you are not catholic - you are restricted by (a) link school (b) gender (c) proximity. If your only choice is Grey Court - which has a real buzz, restored reputation, best GCSE results for 16 years - you have one more choice than many.
Muminlondon - it hasn't escaped my notice that the new school is within a couple of miles of St Mark's and Gumley House! Even Gunnersbury isn't much further. How lovely to be a Catholic living somewhere in the middle of all of them!
QuintessentialDead, Richmond council have said that they have no plans for any other new schools in the foreseeable future. The 3 academies are undersubscribed, so there will be no money for new schools until they are full. Even a Free School was recently turned down because they could not demonstrate enough evidence of a lack of school places in the borough.
A lot of effort is going into improving the academies, and the council is hoping that more borough families will choose them in the future. However, nobody wants to be 'forced' to go there as their only option. That's another reason why many people resent the ring-fencing of the Clifden school for a select few.
Gumley seems to be the local school for many Richmond Catholic girls, from both sides of the river. But while popular oversubscibed popular schools are a self-fulfilling prophecy the opposite can happen - if it becomes easier to get into Gumley, will popularity (or even attainment) fall? Not Richmond council's problem.
It would make a big difference if the children at the three CE primaries linking with Orleans had another choice, e.g at a faith academy with a Christian ethos as they are already used to that?
That's what could free up places at Richmond schools. What the council fears is the effect on nearby academies - having no choice is what keeps families taking the risk there.
Sorry, I crossed your post BayJay but same point about the academies.
So if there was a general Christian secondary catering to both denominations, and others, space would be freed up in general for those those who are atheists? Orleans is an Outstanding school. But does not link with our school, and we are outside catchment, so not an option for us....
QuintessentialDead, the Link System is being reviewed, so may be abolished for current Year 5s and beyond. A consultation is due to start on that soon.
I wouldn't agree with your statement that "a general Christian secondary catering to both denominations, and others, space would be freed up in general for those those who are atheists". Many atheists (and other non-Christians) choose to send their children to church schools that have Open admissions (and where people feel those admission policies are not open enough they sometimes take matters into their own hands and do what they need to do to get a Foundation place). There will always be people who are adamant that they don't want to use church schools, and enough community schools need to be provided to cater for them. However, people choose schools for other reasons than religion. There are many people at my own children's school who chose it because of its location, facilities and reputation rather than because of its faith ethos, and in my view there is nothing wrong with that, so long as they accept the faith ethos. Most faiths, and other philosophies have enough in common that people rub along just fine. A Humanist at a faith school may not share other children's belief in God, but they would share other core values (e.g. treating people as they would like to be treated), and at least by attending the same school they may learn to understand why it is that other children do believe in God.
Linked schools: I have published on the borough Lib Dem website (which I edit) an article describing the likely effects on Orleans School of scrapping the linked schools policy: twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/article/2011/523396/abolishing-the-linked-schools-system-who-gains-who-loses-a-forecast-for-orleans-park
Thanks ChrisSquire. In the interests of housekeeping (and because its difficult to find) here is some info on how to embed a link.
I've posted too much to put it all again on this thread, but come and have a look at my views over here
Would be really interested to know if anyone else, particularly those on 'the other side of the borough' share my opinion
For info, Richmond Council has published a detailed report about the Linked School Policy.
Here's something interesting. Another new Free School is interested in setting up in Richmond. Looks like it has inclusive admissions, though presumably the ethos wouldn't appeal to everyone.
There's lots of coverage on the Catholic School issue in this week's Richmond and Twickenham Times. There's an article on Page 2, and letters on page 29.
Plus, on page 13, there's also some coverage of the excellent exam results achieved this year by the three LBRuT academies (Twickenham Academy, Hampton Academy and Richmond Park Academy).
There's continued coverage of the Catholic school debate in the latest edition of the Richmond and Twickenham Times. There is an article on page 13, and more letters on page 26.
There is also an article on page 11 about primary school places in the St Margarets area.
Just adding a link to the other thread on this subject, which has been more active than this one lately.
The linking of primary and secondary schools cannot be the main issue here. It does not affect the strong reasons for building a Catholic Secondary school in the Borough.
Currently ours are the only Catholic primary schools which do not have a Catholic secondary school within borough to offer to their pupils. This is unfair.
We want to keep our Catholic children within borough rather than cause unnecessary travel to faraway schools with all the environmental problems that causes.
There is no need for more community places, as there are plenty spare, but a great demand for CATHOLIC places.
Let us respond to that demand and provide what people want - a Catholic secondary school in Richmond Borough.
I think you'll find it's only what Catholics want longlizzie.
The rest of us just want a decent school that our children have a chance of getting into and we don't see why we should be funding a new school that will automatically exclude our children because they are the wrong religion.
Hello longlizzie, and welcome. The points that you make have been covered quite extensively here, and in the other thread that runs parallel to this, and has recently been more active. I suggest you read all of the background discussion to prevent too much repetition. In answer to your specific points:
"Currently ours are the only Catholic primary schools which do not have a Catholic secondary school within borough to offer to their pupils. This is unfair. We want to keep our Catholic children within borough rather than cause unnecessary travel to faraway schools with all the environmental problems that causes"
There are many boroughs nationally that don't have Catholic secondary schools. Richmond is one of two in London, but London has a relatively high number of Catholic schools. Some of those schools are close to Richmond borough borders and would be closer than Clifden Rd for many people. Catholic schools are organised by Diocese not borough.
"There is no need for more community places, as there are plenty spare, but a great demand for CATHOLIC places"
Please see my answer to florist in the other thread (Mon 07-Nov-11 06:52:28) and then maybe we can pick up the conversation from there.
IF RISC is not prepared to put run a secondary school on the site as a free school - the site is ideal for such a free school - and if the council struggles to run first preference secondary schools then it makes it an easier choice for the Catholic option.
I might want my children to go to a grammar school but if I don't meet the criteria they don't get in. Or, if I can't or won't move school to postcode and socially selective schools such as Camden School For Girls favoured by Accord types they don't get in.
I don't say children at those schools shouldn't be funded by the state.
Catholic schools were around alot longer than state education itself and if the option for Richmond makes sense on financial and educational grounds that should be the option.
It is perhaps a pity that CofE parents on the Middlesex side of the river (that therefore have no access to Christ's) are not as organised at the RC ones. I would imagine that a great number of them would love a CofE Secondary choice. Equally, parents of boys have no boys-only school option.
I would think a little more highly of our elected representatives if they had ever done any research into what most people really want. It seems that the only ones that matter to them are those with the the loudest voices.
florist - are you trying to confuse me by switching thread? .
"IF RISC is not prepared to put run a secondary school on the site as a free school"
I didn't say that. I don't run RISC, or speak for them, so don't know if they're considering it. However, until this week there was no inkling that the council might be prepared to consider other options anyway. If they open up the site to competition I expect quite a few providers will come forward. There are certainly at least two Free Schools hoping to set up in this borough (details elsewhere in the threads), and probably more. Howeer, Free Schools are usually just 1 or 2 form entry, and the Clifden site has space for a 5-form entry secondary school and 1-form entry primary school.
"I might want my children to go to a grammar school but if I don't meet the criteria they don't get in"
Yes, but you are able to try. You are able to aspire to getting them in. Nobody is telling you that because you are a Jew. Hindu. Seikh, Humanist (whatever) you might as well not bother even applying. That is what is so offensive to people.
"I might want my children to go to a grammar school but if I don't meet the criteria they don't get in"
Wow, you've really got it in for those "Accord types" haven't you? I repeat my answer from the other thread at Mon 07-Nov-11 06:52:28.
IF RISC is not prepared to put run a secondary school on the site as a free school - the site is ideal for such a Free secondary school - and if the council struggles to run first preference secondary schools then it makes it an easier choice for the Catholic option.
I might want my children to go to a grammar school but if I don't meet the criteria they don't get in. Or, if I can't or won't move house to postcode and socially selective schools such as Camden School For Girls favoured by Accord types, they don't get in.
I don't say children at those schools shouldn't be funded by the state.
Catholic schools were around alot longer than state education itself and if the option for Richmond makes sense on financial and educational grounds that should be the option.
innertiger - nail on the head. Let the RC Archdiocese chip in 8 million and build the Catholic Secondary as promised by the councillours. The tax-payer's happy, Richmond parents would be happy with the increased secondary school places freed up by Catholic kids attending the Catholic School. Catholic parents would be happy to be on an equal footing with other Catholic Londoners in having Secondary provision in their Borough One snag is that this doesn't meet the Humanist agenda behind the narrowly worded anti petition - i.e. to remove state funding for any faith school - oh well let the consultation begin. That's why Jeremy wouldn't be happy.
Yes I do find the Accord types rather hypocritical - inclusive schools for everyone (except their own darlings);
florist, as I said in the other thread, I suggest you contact the individuals you refer to directly so that they can defend themselves.
hamptonhillbilly, what is your source for the £8 million that you refer to? My understanding is that no figures have been published.
All taxpayers contribute to the cost of the nation's schools; Catholic taxpayers no less than any other taxpayer. The suggestion, therefore, that Catholic schools are being unfairly funded by taxpayers is entirely fallacious. The Catholic community actually pays more for its schools as 10% of the capital expenditure has to be provided from the Catholic community, whereas it is provided by the Government for other maintained schools i.e. they receive 100% funding. In addition to their taxes, the Catholic community provides in excess of a further £20 million per annum to its schools for capital expenditure. It should be remembered that 30% of pupils in Catholic schools are not Catholic and this is therefore a contribution that could be viewed as to the good of society. It also saves Government and arguably other taxpayers money, which they would have to find, were pupils in Catholic voluntary-aided schools to be educated in community schools.
hamptonhillbilly - I've just answered that one in the other thread (Mon 07-Nov-11 20:24:26). I believe most people are following both threads so there's no need to double-post.
oh sorry for double commenting on the double thread
oops no I'm sorry BayJay I can't see your response to the funding answer on these various threads of yours - which ones it on exactly?
hamptonhillbilly, hello again. There are only two threads. This one is in the Secondary School Forum. The other one is here, in Mumsnet Local. Unfortunately its not possible to link to a particular post, but look for Mon 07-Nov-11 20:24:26.
Settle down please. Can you stop mumbling. Please switch that mobile phone off at once. Thank you now I will begin. Have you all handed in your homework. Did any of you watch Educating Essex the other night?
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