RICHMOND - Richmond Park Academy

(118 Posts)
kylesmybaby Wed 03-Oct-12 22:11:42

can any parents let me know about this school. i think it must have been pretty bad in the past just from way HT spoke. its really close to me so am thinking of it for ds. HT said something about 'when we took in the kids that hadnt been to school for a very long time'! something just didnt seem right at open evening tonight. thanks

It used to be Shene School, it was a failing school according to Ofsted. It became an academy a few years ago changing name to Richmond Park Academy, and they have been trying to turn it around since. The latest report JUST made "satifsfactory".

We might put it as number 6 on the list, as there are worse schools to be "allocated" if we dont get our choices.

What other schools are you looking at?

greengrape Wed 03-Oct-12 23:43:48

That's a misleading statement about Ofsted because the school has not yet been given a rating under its new academy status and the head is predicting a 'good' rating for any inspection this year - recent visits have praised inspiring leadership and majority of teaching good or outstanding. I was there but maybe heard a different speech - they've had a massive improvement in results in just two years of being an academy, 63% 5 gcses at A-C for 2012 including maths and English. Was particularly impressed at the way they are rigorously assessing both teaching and pupil progress, streaming from year 7, and have introduced subjects like Latin and have done really well in subjects like Maths, Art and Drama GCSEs, even compared to other 'outstanding' schools. One of the successes of last year's Y11 has gone on to St Paul's. And they are spending £10 million on school rebuilding and a separate £1 million on ICT. So definitely very ambitious and the head of governors was really on the ball.

What I'm saying is don't look at the previous school because this one is looking forward.

Was the Satisfactory grade before they turned into an academy?

I was impressed with the speech from both the head and chair of governors.

I think it has so much to prove, and will work very hard to achieve it.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 04-Oct-12 10:48:56

Yes, satisfactory was before the relaunch as it were. It should do much better this time round.

Elibean Thu 04-Oct-12 16:43:17

I think they had an unofficial OFSTED visit (a check-up on progress, so to speak) and were rated 'Good' - last term. Something like that, have to confess I'm not at secondary stage yet so didn't quite take it in blush

Definitely a LOT of work going in to improving the school on all levels, and I know many local professional people who plan to send their kids there - and are therefore motivated to support all efforts to improve. I do think they will get there, too.

Kids from our primary school (local to RPA) used to actively avoid it, when it was Shene School, but every year more are choosing it over other options - ditto the other local primaries, I believe.

It was pretty bad in the past, the HT is not kidding sad

Copthallresident Thu 04-Oct-12 17:35:54

It was a nightmare in the past. When it was an option for our DDs it wasn't the nicities of OFSTED ratings that worried you, it was the issue of their safety, incidents with knives at the school gate etc. The school had completely lost the confidence of local parents and so it's pupils bussed out from inner London and local parents went to all sorts of extremes to educate their children elsewhere. Christ's had a similar problem and nearly closed. It was absolutely criminal that a community's schools were allowed to deteriorate to such an extent and it is really good that someone is finally turning it around and that the community will finally have a good secondary school again.

RPA did have an interim visit from OFSTED to assess their progress towards improvement and it was assessed as "good" in contrast to Twickenham Academy whose progress was rated "satisfactory". In addition they highlighted that "The strong and clear leadership of the headteacher has galvanised self-belief in staff and students." It's here [[ http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/136208]]

Copthallresident Thu 04-Oct-12 18:24:44

It was interesting how the chair looked around the crowd and said he was pleased to see so many children from " list of local primary schools" but he did not mention the 3 Catholic primary schools in the area.

Maybe they did not expect any to turn up. grin

Maybe that is why they brought on stage a bunch of boys and girls dressed as nuns to sing some godly hallelujah before breaking into a merry song and dance.

Dont get me wrong, the performance was very nice. The children did a good job! smile

greengrape Thu 04-Oct-12 20:28:50

I thought it was the Latin Choir with costumes from Sister Act! Fab though.

Had an interesting chat with an impressive woman in charge of pupil assessment. They really have worked hard at tracking progress, giving individual tuition where necessary. It was hard to visualise the rebuild but there will be a new library, drama and dance studios, music rooms, science and technology labs, etc. It will take about 18 months. It does sound exciting.

I am very annoyed I missed the open evening for this
DD is at the nearest primary and I really wanted to see what progress they had made. Hearing very good things from other parents, even those who a couple of years ago would never have considered it.

They do open mornings two days a week, so you might be able to arrange to pop by another time.

I was impressed, and liked what I saw. The children were as courteous, polite and well behave as their contemporaries at independent schools. The learning facilities as good as the others we have seen.

CD, you might find this thread about south west london secondary schools interesting. Lots of people have shared their experiences.

Elibean Fri 05-Oct-12 11:50:24

I can't tell you how nice it is to hear all this positive stuff - it definitely makes me feel the tide has turned smile

dd is only in Y4, and dd2 in Y1 - lots of time, but friends have kids in Y5&6 now and I shall pass this on to them.

And I must get to an open morning myself...

warwick1 Fri 05-Oct-12 12:34:46

Be careful how you interpret 'massive' improvement in exam league results. Look carefully at the exam courses, quality of courses and course standards. Academy chains are adept at guiding new academies into courses and systems that produce better results for the schools but don't neccessarily do much for their students future prospects if they are not valued by higher education or employers. Setting up their own low qualification sixth forms and apprenticeship schemes which accept the lower quality qualifications to hide the fact that their students can't progress elsewhere is a short term solution which parents should be wary of. If an academy can't get its students into higher standard sixth forms, colleges, apprenticeship schemes or university somebody should question why. They are also masters at producing the required documentation for Ofsted category improvement, documentation doesn't make a 'good' school in reality though. This ability to 'quick fix' in order to obtain superficial improvement is probably why chain academy groups appear to be growing at such at rate. Always look beneath the surface to find the truth, remember what they say about statistics, and carefully examine any assessment systems presented as they can be used to manipulate in favour of the schools rather than track and improve student achievement honestly - just data remember, its the interpretation that counts. These chain academy groups can afford and do employ highly paid expert consultants (and staff) to present themselves and their 'school achievement' in the best light possible. Don't be dazzled by the 'spin', academy chains are lucrative businesses and becoming very self-serving it would appear. Sadly students aren't always at the top of their list, other than increasing numbers to improve revenue. Getting at the truth in these days of lack of accountability isn't easy. If you are dealing with a chain, look into their history using independent sources - it will often make interesting reading.

greengrape Fri 05-Oct-12 13:16:48

I take your point but all Richmond secondaries will soon be academies - the difference is, this one is getting a big injection of cash and expertise. The sponsor is Academies Enterprise Trust and the CEO also gave a talk in the evening. He is an ex-headmaster, which is a better than a hedge fund manager (ARK), carpet salesman or evangelical Christian. He also explained that they do not produce identikit schools but work with the local community according to what they need, and the fact that the chair of governors is ex-chair of governors of East Sheen primary seems to reaffirm its local links.

Anyway, compared to the Swedish ones over the river it has produced really good results in just two years. We've yet to see any evidence in Twickenham and Hampton that the new management has made a difference but you can't argue with a rise of 21% in 5 GCSEs A-C including Maths and English in just two years. In such a short time it has nothing to do with a change in intake and everything to do with better teaching, EVEN if that means teaching to the test.

I personally think it is better for 91% of children to come out with 5 GCSEs in whatever subjects - or even BTEC equivalents - than anything less, like a quarter of 'outstanding' Orleans Park School's pupils (which may get better Ebacc results overall having had years of a stable middle class intake, but whose GCSE score this year has gone down to 64% because of English regrading).

warwick1 Fri 05-Oct-12 16:07:55

Academies Enterprise Trust the fastest growing trust 66 academies open or in pipeline. See Guardian: www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/sep/26/academies-sponsors-list-map?INTCMP=SRCH

Take a look at how its first academies fared in essex, academies opened in 2007. Six years later, still only just Satisfactory Ofsted and struggling to get up to national average in GCSE results.

CEO is still Princpal of sponsor school but has directorships of supplier companies.

Check the consultants used, including trust board members.

Academies run by AET board, local governing boards implement strategies of main board, they are not autonomous.

See link below. Ignore source, facts are still correct even without the opinion.
antiacademies.org.uk/2012/03/spotlight-on-sponsors-academies-enterprise-trust/

Copthallresident Fri 05-Oct-12 16:38:07

warwick1 I take your points and I am cynical about the national picture, in fact anything Gove related, BUT there are local differences. RPA should never have been a failing school. It is surrounded by highly successful state Primary Schools. In other parts of the borough we have outstanding state comprehensive schools serving similar communities. Parents around here really care deeply about their children's education and a high proportion send their children to state primary schools but in RPA's catchment a lot of parents who wanted to send their children to state comprehensives have felt they only had the choice to move, go private or send their children long distances to other schools, even if that put immense pressure on family finances. The history of RPA's governing body is littered with the bodies of parents who thought they could change it from the inside (not to mention our Council leader ) but without investment and leadership there is only so much a governing body can achieve. I know some of the governors and they are local people intent on making RPA into a school that serves it's local community and now they have the investment and an inspirational head all the signs are that they are on the way to achieving the vision and gaining the confidence of local parents. I can assure you that local parents will not fall for spin, there are three Mumsnet threads on New schools for Twickenham with 2,800 posts and rising if you want to see just how every aspect of schooling in the borough gets forensicly examined, a terrible thorn in the side of out Head of Education who always has more than a touch of the air of the martyr to him, as in "It is great that the parents in this borough care so much about their children's education --but why, of why are these people sent to try me--"grin

greengrape Fri 05-Oct-12 17:43:11

We won't know the 'equivalents' until the official results go up on the DfE website. But it's not the worst offender in the borough (according to 2011 results, and it's still the best of the sponsored academies for Richmond LA.

'Equivalents' aren't always a bad thing. Better to have a BTEC than a fail. Same for Ebaccs, if they happen. But I agree that there's an issue if pupils are being held back from entering GCSEs because they'd be borderline. I've spotted that in one of the more popular schools, only 20% are entered for pure science GCSEs so consequently they have fantastic A/A* results (and no BTECs!). All schools manipulate figures to their advantage.

happilyconfused Fri 05-Oct-12 21:32:30

Not a expert on Richmond Schools but I was under the impression that a lot of investment is going on and a lot are opening up Sixth Forms including Orleans and Teddington

Busyoldfool Sat 13-Oct-12 21:30:04

There is a lot of investment and the HT is very committed as are the governors. A lot of kids there are doing well and they are turning the school round. I am still not convinced though.

I think if the child is bright, confident, organized etc they will do well there, (because they will do well anywhere). If the child is struggling, has difficulties, is shy and doesn't push forward then he will sink and fail.

The school are still far more focussed on getting local kids in by selling to the parents and on the whole PR thing than on communicating properly with the parents of kids who are there and on catering to individual childrens' needs.

They have to get the numbers up within a certain number of years, (they were very open about this last year), or they start to lose money - and the investors won't let this happen.

They want the postergirl/boy kids; the ones that they can parade round as their successes and who will tempt the middle class parents in the borough to trust them with their own kids.

Most people I know there are pleased with the school and their kids are happy. Those whose kids are having problems feel that the school isn't interested, (but that may change in time).

Sheenee Mon 04-Feb-13 12:34:02

Hi - I realise this was a little while back but I was wondering if anyone had any update on RPA.In particular anyone whose kids are currently there. We live nearby and would ideally like to send our two there but wanted to see if anyone had heard any news (other than the 'Good' ofsted report and the A level accetpance). Thanks

Have you seen the league tables?
RPA is still at the bottom for Richmond. Other than that, I dont know anything new. But it looks like they have improved since last years league tables, and that is good news!

Sheenee Mon 04-Feb-13 14:53:01

That's very helpful - we still have a couple of years before our eldest needs to move, so if they carry on like that it would be great! I'd really like it to work. I'd much prefer not to go down the private route (and almost certainly won't be able to afford it anyway) and the primary ours are in (which is very local) is brilliant.

Elibean Mon 04-Feb-13 15:34:45

Sheenee, your kids sounds much the same age as mine - dd1 is Y4 - and we recently had a visit from RPA to talk to our primary school parents. I met the Head, a Parent Governor (I had already met, in fact) and a teacher, and talked at length with all three as did many of my friends.

I also talked to some of our primary's kids who started at RPA last September, and to a parent/friend whose dd is in Y5 at our school - and whose eldest started at RPA last term, after being moved from another Richmond school he wasn't happy at.

My overall impression is that things are definitely on the up. My experience with schools turning things around is that, once confidence starts to build in a few parents, there is a snowball effect and things get better fast - it happened at our primary, and it took about 5 years for the reputation to catch up with reality smile

That said, I did wonder a bit about 'poster child' sales pitches - not from all three of the RPA people I met, but definitely from one. I know the AET people say 'the middle ones' matter hugely (ie not just the brightest or the most in need of help) but I don't know if reality has caught up with sales pitch here.

I do know that there are many, many interested parents in the area who are planning, or at least hoping, to send their kids to RPA. I am probably one of them (though still will investigate other options).

Sheenee Mon 04-Feb-13 16:46:14

I really really hope it works out. I'd love for my two to go to a great quality local school which is strongly supported by the parents, where they feel happy and end up getting reasonable results. (If only I lived in Scandinavia - actually it's dark there all winter so maybe not).
We will also look at other options but I think the private route will be a) unaffordable and b) even it if wasn't I'd rather they went to a local school with a wider social mix and less intense pressure.
Let's see how things work out.

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