RICHMOND - Richmond Park Academy(118 Posts)
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?
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.
Yes, satisfactory was before the relaunch as it were. It should do much better this time round.
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
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
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]]
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.
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!
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.
I can't tell you how nice it is to hear all this positive stuff - it definitely makes me feel the tide has turned
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...
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.
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).
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.
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--"
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.
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
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).
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!
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.
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
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).
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.
Sheene, you would not want to live in Scandinavia, not if you want a good school (Finland is not Scandinavia, btw )
Horrible bullying. Teachers and schools just toe their hands, there is NO discipline, and parents could not care less, as children have so much autonomy...
Many schools follow the idea that learning should not progress faster than the slowest pupil in the class, which means that a lot of children are bored and restless. It follows this pattern all the way through to 13+ where suddenly for 6th form lessons are taught at rocket speed only allowing the very brightest to keep up (At least thats how it is in Norway)
wow, Quint, I didn't know that. I shall stop carping on about our schools then!
Sheenee, I feel the same way. Hence choosing lovely local state primary for dds, and would really like to do the same with secondary - not least because dd would get to stay local, and hang out with the same girls. They have all been friends since Reception.
I have a good feeling about it.
Fingers crossed - we've both got a couple of years to see how things progress. We were thinking about moving out as a possibility but I think it would be too much of a wrench for the eldest as she had a really nice circle of friends, some of whom will be going to RPA (although others are heading private/out of London).
There is a meeting there tomorrow night 6.30 til 8 to talk to existing y7 parents and about the school and how it is improving if anyone is interersted
Aaargh, why are open evenings/talks always on the days I have no childcare?!
Thanks for letting us know anyway
Random Question: Where can I get good Fish & Chips locally now that the Fish Kitchen is closed?
Things have changed enormously at RPA thanks to the determination and leadership of the HT. My daughter, in Y7, settled very quickly, has lots of friends from local primaries, walks to school, loves the lessons and has made fantastic progress thanks to inspirational teaching. She announced the other day that Latin is her favourite subject now.
I notice further up people talking about fixing the figures to get an Ofsted good - that Ofsted inspection was incredibly thorough and a good rating was truly deserved by RPA. (And schools can't hide failure by not entering kids into GCSE's which would be immoral. The 5 A* to C % figure is based on the total kids in the year not the number sitting GCSE's)
I would say go and see for yourself - don't listen to gossip. You will be pleasantly surprised. In fact tonight they are inviting primary parents to go in and meet staff and Y7 parents so that they can ask questions of the parents who are already at the school. It's at 6.30 this evening - entry on Hertfors Avenue and you can just turn up
Sorry - that should say entry on Hertford Avenue @ 6.30 tonight
I have been watching this thread and I went along last night. There's
a lot of good things going on there. The staff were very impressive and I guess they are one of the most important elements. Good teaching gets good results from happy kids. I remember my school days - my best subjects were the ones where I had great teachers so worked hard and did well.
I have two children who started at Richmond Park Academy in January - we moved from Gloucestershire due to my job. One child (girl) is in Y7 and one (boy) is in Y10 - they are both getting on really well, have made lots of friends and are benefiting from the extra tuition the school provides on Saturday morning among other things. Am really impressed with level of communication home by the teachers and the behaviour of the pupils at RPA - my two were at an outstanding school before so I have something to compare it with. You should consider it, as would be great if all the local parents supported it.
Shame I missed this last week or I'd have gone along on Wednesday. All sounds very positive.
The head will do a tour for you if you contact the school and say you missed the evening last week. I hear they are getting quite a few requests
You might like to ask questions based on DFE performance data:
Particularly the average point scores percentage of GCSE only entries against all (including equivalents).
Also Ofsted's Data Dashboard:
You may find it interesting to compare other schools against the bench marks you think important. Also remember to check the courses entered at GCSE and A Level to ascertain if the academy/school is guilty of any league table manipulation at the expense of attaining pupils full potential.
I think you will find it very interesting.
Interesting - some positive, some less so. We're in the fortunate position of having another 2 and a bit years to wait before making a decision but I really want it to work
Remember some of these stats can be misleading when taken at face value. You always need to look at the context.
Look here at the figures for tiffin girls - quite a surprise
They are in the third quintile of sinilar schools for English and Maths and the lowest quintile of similar schools for science. I don't think that is what we would expect to see
I've just been looking at another thread on the dashboard that gives a splendid link explaining why the progress comparison is too simplistic. It doesn't take into account uneven progress or other factors causing attainment gaps - e.g. between girls and boys (9.5%), English not mother tongue (3%), those on FSM (26.3%). Even the most popular comp in the borough produces bizarre results if you look that one up.
At the same time don't forget that the intake in 2013 may be very different from the intake that sat GCSEs last year or will sit them in two years' time.
I'm going to RPA this evening: they have invited Y6 parents to go and meet staff and students and to find out any more info to help make the final choice of school. Great idea. It's 4 -6.30pm tonight
Do post afterwards, please, Decision time
I am definitely not going to choose on stats, for the reasons Annie gives. Look at them yes, decide on them no.
We're organising a group of interested parents from all different year groups at our primary, to go and visit one morning - with our Head, and RPA's Head. I'm looking forward to it.
Looking at the performance tables and dashboard, I was disappointed to find that for KS4 pupil progress neither middle attainers nor high attainers reached 1000 for Best 8 value added (1000+ I understand denotes that the academy/school has maintained the average national value added expected or has added value, less than 1000 means that the school has failed to meet or add value). For both groups the academy has scored significantly less. Does this mean that the academy is focussing effort on the low attainers which have a score above 1000 or is the school using a disproportionate number of equivalent courses to increase the league table position at the expense of adding value to mid and higher attainers, in other words concentrating on the C grade borderline.
Given this I fail to understand why the school received a 'good' Ofsted rating recently, was it just a paperwork 'good'.
The dashboard information re TGS is interesting. Just for comparison's sake I looked at Nonsuch, Wallington Boys, Colchester Royal GS and Pates - a fairly random selection of well perceived grammar schools. The results were equally odd. I wonder exactly what the "similar" schools are then?
fingertips I was suspicious about the use of equivalents, but no - their GCSE results are solid, particularly for middle attainers. Grades are a little low but their intake has been very diverse up till now. They seem strongest in Maths and Humanities. I guess the science labs are being completely rebuilt so that will help.
Another odd result for a grammar school ...
I went along to their 'Friendship party' last night - for Y6 people with an offer. Must say I was very impressed - a hall full of enthusiastic people. And staff are very impressive. With the new facilities due to open ready for our kids - this seems like a great time to be joining. The cakes were lovely too!
I was at their "Friendship Party last night. My dd will be starting in September, as it is our local school. I have been round the school a few times before, and know a couple of staff members well. I was a bit about a choice of song which contained the lyrics "baby when I make love to yoouu", sung by a quartet of 13/14 year old girls. It would not have been my first choice for a "welcome to our school!" showcase.
muminlondon - thanks for that link - very useful. I agree there is great danger in misinterpreting all these stats. And school is about so much more than how many A to C you get at GCSE (but I do agree that is an important factor)
How funny, now Ofsted admits a cock-up:
'A number of schools have contacted us because they were surprised by their quintile ranking compared to similar schools. As a result of these enquiries we have reviewed the quintile methodology and updated the dashboards...'
It is definitely on the up. I visited it last week a different context. When my DC were of secondary age it was nowhere on the radar for local people- having seen it last week 'from the inside' I was impressed with the progress, and I have been in numerous schools that parents fight to get their DC into. There is still a looooong way to go before it as sought after as tiffin , but the 'tipping point' has been reached in terms of intake from the Sheen primaries. In 2/3 years I predict parents will be lyng about their address to get in (btw, have no axe to grind, not associated in any way with the academy or LA, and my DC are now well beyond that...)
Hi - just thought I would see if anyone had any updates on this thread. We still have a while to decide but I wondered if any parents of yr7/8 children had impressions positive or negative.
Sheenee - yes now at the end of my daughter's first year there and it has been a huge success. Rapid academic progress, lots of friends, many trips. And much more liberating and enjoyable than primary (even though that was at an outstanding local primary). Very pleased we made that choice.
It seems to be undersubscribed. My friend is still trying to get her son in to Christ and they've just reoffered RPA.
anniesw - many thanks. We're at a very local primary that is outstanding and RPA is our obvious choice - most parents I've heard from who have children there seem very positive (with one exception) - I'll go along to the open evening in October (and have been round the school with the head fairly recently) and keep asking as many people as possible.
kylesmybaby - thanks, that's a shame if correct - it would be nice to see it becoming more popular
Hello - my daughter will be going back to yr 8 at RPA. She is very very happy there. Has made some lovely friends, does a variety of after school clubs most days and is still home by 4.30, and she's loving learning. At Primary - a local outstanding school - it was hard to get her to read, but with the quiz at RPA she's voracious. As a parent, I'm so impressed with the teaching staff, they give their own time so generously - wish I'd had teachers like them.
My daughter has been a student at RPA for the last three years, is just about to start in year 10 and is extremely happy in her second home. We had wanted a local state school education for our child but felt the limited choices in the area would deem independent schooling the only way to go - until we visited RPA (still Shene at that time). It became our first choice and we have never looked back. The head teacher is amazing and she has built and developed a fantastic team of teachers. There is a real community vibe at the school and its parochial care, I believe, is second to none. Communication regarding the children's progress is excellent - half termly reports, target setting days termly, parent consultations and specific meetings and presentations delivered as appropriate as your child progresses through the school, e.g. GCSE option selections; special projects your child may be selected for. The kids are treated as the individuals they are and credited as thinking human beings, they are challenged and encouraged to achieve their potential at each turn. There is an expectation of mutual respect between the adults and children and between each other. I would urge you to check out their website, visit the school at the upcoming open evening and read the latest report from Ofsted. By the way, the jolly girls performing for you in nun's garb were, of course, players from their production of 'Sister(s) Act' and, indeed, were fabulous!
I do hope this helps!
That is very helpful - I really like the school (I went to see it a little while ago) and the fact that it is very local is important for us. I'll certainly be at the open evening and will continue to keep up to date on developments over the coming year or so
Latest update on the Academies Enterprise Trust is that according to the AET.
David Triggs will be stepping down from his role as Chief Executive Officer of Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) from September this year. The AET Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Ian Comfort, currently Group Secretary and General Counsel, as Interim CEO.
This is following a period of specific criticism as seen in links below:
and general criticism of chain academy group practices:
The Education Funding Agency is currently carrying out a review of some aspects of financial management and governance as part of a wider review of the AET. When finalised this report is due to be published. Mr Gove and the DFE have insisted that they will take action to hold the AET to account for any underperformance and ensure that they make the necessary improvements.
Don't let that distract from the fact that this academy is doing weel and is serving its pupils very well. Happy kids, great and committed staff doing an excellent job. They just had their best GCSE results with 64% at A* to C with Eng and maths so that is up on last year when they had a massive improvement. Things have got a lot better since being an academy
There is an opportunity for my daughter to start now going into Y8...I am not very happy with her current school with regards to how they delt with a bullying issue...I don't want to be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire! If anyone could let me know more about that side of the school I would be very grateful, thanks.
My daughter is in that year group and I think you will find them a lovely year group. The staff are very caring and nurturing too. Loulou, above, mentions that the children are treated as individuals and I agree with that. Have you visited or met the head.
I haven't got that far yet! I remember the school from its Shene days, but have heard that it has turned around a lot in the last three years. I think the open evenings are coming up over September and October, but I think the offer could be on the table much sooner then that if I want to go ahead with it. My DD had such a hard time at the end of last term that she will be going back into a new form! She is dreading it so I have been finding out about any spaces that may be available in schools around me, even though both schools are out of my borough! I'm in two minds to see how she goes when she returns to a different form, but I don't want to leave it too long into the term if she is to move! Arrrrrggghhh it's just one big headache! Thanks for the reply though.
I'd say go and look now. If dd is unhappy open days are going to seem a long way off. A fresh start might be what she needs
we are Americans who have been living in Zurich the past three years. We found out at the beginning of July we'd be moving to London. I have two girls, Year 8 and 10. They had been going to an International school in Zurich, we didnt know enough German to go local. But had been very happy in public schools in the US.
We hired an education specialist and housing specialist to help us place the girls here in London. It was also important to us, they be in a school with boys and girls, but that is a discussion for another time.
I wanted to consider local as well as private. But really wanted to get out of the International or private bubble you can sometimes get in. I had lots of feedback on the private and international schools from the international community, some of my friends also having experience. Suffice it to say, big costs does not always equate to a better education and non bullying.
The specialist probably could have made even more money on a private placement as I know that sometimes commissions are paid. But he really did his homework and provided options, both public and private with scores and parents I could speak with. We only had one trip here to decide.
Richmond Park Academy impressed me. and it continues to do so the more parents and staff I speak with. It also has an involved Parents Association which I feel is important. I am very involved in my children's education and like to support the school my children go to.
It was not an easy decision, i know it just went to academy status a few years ago. But sometimes the challenge of moving forward offers more of a chance of involvement. And weak teachers can't hide there. And the turnover has been minimal from what i can tell.
Of course my children don't start until tomorrow, thank god, longest summer ever. And im happy to offer my unblemished opinion in a few months. But my children have already met friends going there and they are excited to start.
I wish your girls all the best on their first day at school here in the UK. My dd has been back for two days and they have been really positive thankfully. I am still going to the open day at RPA on 26th Sep and very much keeping it as an option.
tennisjen7 - I think our daughters are at school together! We just moved to the UK two months ago, and our oldest daughter is in Year 10. She started at RPA yesterday, told me that she met a very nice American girl who lived in Zurich for the last several years.
So - what are your impressions of the RPA so far? I must say, I am in complete shock, and trying to find out how to appeal and where to move my daughter asap. Meeting your daughter yesterday was the only bright spot in her day
My daughter started RPA in April 2012. I was extremely skeptical about her prospects at this school as she had spent all of her school life in private education. The last school she attended was Putney Park which has subsequently closed down. However my point is that RPA has erassed all doubts and exceeded all of my expectations. My daughter (who is now currently in yr 10) has improved more in the last 18 months than she did the whole of the time she was in the private Sector. Math which she struggled with continuously through school is now one of her strongest subjects and she is currently in the top set thanks to the wonderful support and encouragement from the teachers at the school. RPA will soon be the school which parents are scrambling to get their children in to. The support, encouragement and belief they have in the children is exceptional, but most importantly it is installing respect into its pupils. coming from the private sector this is generally standard among pupils, but it is wonderful to see teens opening the door for teachers when they pass and standing to attention when the head walks into the room. They may mis-behave at the bus-stop or scream down the road but what teen does not loose control a little once out of the school gates? The important thing is that whilst in school they have respect for those in authority and have the desire to learn and do well. This is all present at RPA. Of course you have a small selection of pupils that challenge the rules of the school but is that not present in almost every school, even the private sector! My second daughter is currently in year 6 in Sheen Mount and I have had no hesitation in putting down RPA as my first choice
HannahCh hope you're okay - what happened to make you want to move?
SDhopeful - our first impression was that nobody really cared about DD moving from another country and having adaptation difficulties, as well as language ones. Plus she was given approximately five minutes to choose her GCSE subjects - this after she got a very brief explanation about the GCSE system. The first few days she just cried all the time, which was heartbreaking. But the things improved tremendously! I guess it was just the chaos of the first days, maybe? Now, when everything calmed down a bit, all teachers ask her whether she needs help, she will have an assessment of the level of her English, and she did manage to choose the subjects she likes for GCSE. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be ok! The only problem that still remains is, of course, the distance - both the very long travelling time, and the fact that her schoolmates do not live in our neighbourhood.
Did anyone go to the open evening last week? What did you think? Especially versus other open evenings
I didn't, because I'd already been round the school (and dd1 had a day there in Y4, last year). But I'll probably go to one of their Tuesday morning tours.
Hi. I've been trying to gauge local thoughts on RPA, Christs, etc via MN and have been to 3 open evenings so far (RPA, Waldegrave, Grey Court) with Christ's tonight. I have a yr6 dd at a local primary and am now soul searching on the whole secondary thing. I also did a Tuesday head tour at RPA. I have to say I wasn't blown away by the RPA head, she doesn't come across well at times but she has obviously done a great job and built a good team around her. At the open evening I was very impressed by the teachers I spoke to. They were so full of enthusiasm and absolute belief in the school. I thought the head of governors was excellent and also the head of the new sixth form. I was also very impressed by the 3 different pupil ambassadors that showed us around. This included the deputy head boy who was fabulous! It is still difficult to know what to do because it still feels like a leap of faith. We can't really see what we'll be getting with the building work on going. What was a shame is a real lack of insight into the school that you get from looking at the class room walls which were pretty blank (I suppose understandable with the building works) but this was really emphasised after visiting Grey Court yesterday. I really liked this school but with its new ofsted outstanding and it's great results I think this year we'll be outdistanced. A teacher we spoke to anticipated a lot of children applying from Kingston. Waldegrave I also think we're outdistanced for but I liked the head. I'm still not sure an all girls school is right for my DD. I do know some parents with kids at christs and seem very happy. I don't know anything about the new head, who was the deputy. I went to christs open evening last year and was not particularly enamoured of the previous head but quite liked that the school was smaller. It did appear to lack the ambition I've seen at all the other schools. Both RPA and Christs are walking distance for us and tbh I don't believe we will have much choice in reality. We didn't with primary schools as it was such a bulge year and we ended up at a primary that had, like RPA, a poor rep but has turned around completely with a new head and new build. We love that school now and wonder whether we'd have the same kind of luck with RPA. It needs the faith of the local community to make it happen. I'm looking forward to comparing RPA and christs after this evening and hearing what the new head has to say.
Not sure that you can really judge effectively based on the OE, better on the daytime visits. One of the advantages of RPA is that they have massive amount of funding to improve their situation, not just the new build, but lots of free after school activities. If you live in Sheen/Mortlake then realistically you have a choice of Christ's or RPA, as Orleans is impossible. Grey Court a possibility, but much less so than in previous years. If you get GC - a better bet, but between Christ's and RPA not much to choose, so proximity would be the factor I would go on.
The best thing to do is do your own thorough research on this school, which will lead you to decide whether it is right for your child. Anecdotal evidence is sometimes partial and not always helpful. Have a look at www.how-to-choose-a-school.org. It attempts to be impartial, and will guide you through to make the right decision, I think.
sorryI'mlate we may have dds at the same primary
I have several friends who looked at Christ's and RPA, and others, and the ones who like Christs also like RPA and vice versa.
I so agree about the faith of the community getting behind a school. The RPA Head is a bit marmite-like, people love her or really don't, but I think at Secondary I'd go on what she's done and what she's likely to do next, rather than personality.
We've still got time (Y5) and are looking at some indies as well as state, but in terms of state options - for us, it probably boils down to RPA. So I'm watching this space and keeping my fingers crossed.
OK...so we have been to see RPA and DD really liked the look of it and has decided she wants to take the plunge and join after half term! It's heartbreaking to see her so unhappy at her current school when all she wants to do is get the most out of her education with a good bunch of friends. If any of you have Y8 kids at the school, please ask them to be a friendly face to any newbies starting after half term! ;)
Hi One4 - I will certainly pass that message on to my DD. I am sure there will be many friendly faces
Thank you...she is bricking it somewhat, but very excited...I feel like I'm in the movie Sliding Doors!!!!
wow = how people get things WRONG
My son just started there and its fab - he loves it and the teachers are wonderful - met the year head once and he remembered my name and was able to talk fluently and knowledgeably about my son! The OFSTED report was GOOD not "just satisfactory" as one person said.
The headteacher is great and caring - please don't believe those who say its a poor school - its not
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That sounds like a different school to the one several of my friends have described :-0
Anniesw...I need you to help me work out the above post!!! It really does sound like kewmommy is talking about a different school to the rest of the thread. Surely if you feel so strongly about the things you have mentioned you would have had meetings with the school??? What an awful experience for your DD. I would have been down there like a shot...The response to contact I have had so far has been amazingly quick...I'm talking replies at 7.39 in the morning!! Latin was definately an option according to the HT, and today at home time the kids I saw leaving were calm and happy! I do know the saying "You can't polish a turd!" But I have really got the impression RPA has turned itself around. The school you are describing is the Shene of the past....supposedly! Now I'm sweating....
"Most of the pupils comeback from the next door estates" .... And you know this how ???
I do not recognise the school you are describing and do not believe this account. (DD in Y8) Why would you post on here so freely and not take all this up with the school?
Just to pick up on a couple of points -
Humanities is a huge strength for the school for example and the male history teacher is fantastic and produces excellent results from a standard comprehensive intake.
The school do not sell most of the uniform - only a few branded items, and the winter coat is warm, durable and good value. Is it such a bad thing that the school has high standards and checks up on them each morning? Kids have more respect for teachers if the rules are reinforced rather than loosely applied. Perhaps your DD hasn't liked being reminded of the uniform rules but I think I speak for most parents when I say that it is no bad thing for our kids to learn how to follow the rules. It is a good lesson for life but also helps to make for a better school for all students.
And the headteacher is there for everyone to see/meet. I have never known one to be so open. Much more so than you would get in most schools.
If anyone has been concerned by the long post above from I suggest you also look at this thread on the local Richmond website - several RPA parents have been posting there too.
Kewmommy's comments have greatly saddened me especially at this crucial time when other parents are considering school choices. To any other prospective parents I'd like to say... I am a very happy parent at RPA and cannot begin to praise this school and the staff enough. I know many other parents who are just as happy with the hard efforts of all the staff and the children at RPA. I know my child is extremely happy and very well looked after on all levels. Mrs Kirby is an amazing head, she is warm and approachable, with a fabulous team around her. I cannot believe Kewmommy would have failed to address such concerns in the appropriate manner, and has chosen instead to air them on a public forum?
I am a parent who is passionate about our local school of choice. In fact I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the RPA team for all their ambition and hard work. I'd like to congratulate RPA on its overwhelming success with their latest GCSE results, and for continuing to perform at such high standards during the building work which is beginning to look very smart. The teachers are what drew me to this school and they have proven to be inspirational to my child, and instrumental in my child's phenomenal success.
Phew! That sounds more like what I've heard
There are always a few unhappy ones in any community, and I really hope that Kewmummy has taken up her dissatisfaction with the school and gets the support she needs.
I agree JWhizz - my children are very happy at RPA. Didn't see Kewmommy's remarks so can't comment. My kids are certainly being stretched by some brilliant teaching.
I'm glad to read your responses! This could be the single most important decision I ever make!! Can any of you tell me anything about the streaming as I have never experienced it before. Is there room to move about if you progress or are finding it too advanced? I'm not sure if I agree that the CAT's are a good indicator or not. I look at some of the NV reasoning and see hieroglyphics, yet I wouldn't consider myself a dummy!
They assess frequently - so there would be scope to move if DD was in the wrong set
Hey, there's always one, isn't there! My daughter is in Year 10 being challenged, stretched and inspired by a brilliant teaching staff and on target to achieve excellent grades in 10+ GCSEs (fingers only slightly crossed!). I know many parents from a range of year groups, sets and social backgrounds. I work in a local primary so get regular updates on ex pupils progress at RPA and not one child or parent has expressed that they're any less than thrilled with the school. Lesley Kirby is a legend - Fact!!
P.S I live on the local estate, don't have 2 heads, an ASBO, wouldn't harm a fly and never, ever say 'innit' - am I letting the side down?!
By no means loulou63 are you letting any side down! You are championing excellence and challenging perceptions of narrow minded stereotyping...well done, and every success to your very bright daughter.
Hahahaha...Thanks for that loulou63. Am also estate fodder!!! It is a friendly, safe environment that I am looking for most...the parents here seem to tick that box so I'm sure the kids will too!
Well, they are sending Latin homework to us for dd to do over half term and bring in with her on her first day!!!! I just knew I was going to like this school!! hahahahaha (She is not so impressed!) So not what I was expecting!
Just to say that my daughter has had such a wonderful first week! I haven't seen her this happy in a while. RPA were very much expecting her and had a timetable and a buddy waiting for her when she arrived on day one! Academically I can't pass judgement just yet but she has enjoyed all of her lessons so far. I think she is a little bit like a new toy at the moment but I am hoping the friendliness continues!
That all sounds good - do let us know how she gets on with things - my daughter is in year 5 and the general news I've heard (both here and through people I know with children at RPA) has been positive.
One4, I've recently been chatting with some friends who have been hearing great things about RPA from ladies they met through their Church group with dds there. One in Y8, in fact! I hope your dd is as happy as theirs clearly are.
One of these mums apparently said that she feels that at the moment, due to their need to promote themselves amongst the local families, the more able children are getting an extra-huge amount of support (targets regularly reviewed, academic support etc). She didn't sound as certain about SEN or lower ability groups, but I hope they get some good attention too.
We're still looking at/preparing for a couple of local indies, but in my heart I'm hoping RPA is still sounding as good next year - and that dd chooses it for herself.
Do you think there is a case of keeping the hype up and glossing over anything that could be negative?
I am thinking in terms of bullying, behaviour upon leaving school etc.
Possibly - but I think the general trend seems to be in a positive direction. I've no idea about bullying but most of the behaviour I've witnessed upon leaving school has been fine recently. We have an allotment opposite the main gates and from what I have seen the behaviour has a) improved over the last few years and b) now seems to be pretty similar to most other schools (private included).
Quint, I think there's bound to be a certain amount of hype. There usually is, IME, when schools are growing and/or changing - I suppose it's natural to want to combat the outdated reputation (like marketing/re-branding!).
But I don't think the parents I've spoken to are either given to hype or gloss. They are genuinely very happy. I have to say, though, that they tend to be the parents of very bright kids who are being stretched and guided beyond the parent's expectations.
I also think communication between home and school is supposed to be very good, and I trust my sources on that one.
And at the same time, I would bet that there is still plenty of room for improvement on many, many issues!
My daughter suffered verbal bullying and constant bitchiness at the 'outstanding' all girls school she was at. It was the one thing that was concerning her the most when she moved and I can honestly say that she hasn't had a negative feeling yet! I ask her if she feels safe - Yes! I ask her if anyone else is ever left out or teased - No! She has commented on the fact that the older boys love to wrestle each other and play fight, but I told her that that is just the way boys are! Get used to it!
I get the feeling that the able kids are pushed, and I am happy to see she is in the higher groups. I only know this as she is doing Latin which is for the top sets. From what I gather the lower sets are doing more literacy and small group work. I think the school will see the benefits of this in 2-3 years time results wise.
What I care about the most is social well being and overall happiness and she is feeling that 100% more at RPA then she was at her old school. Long may it continue!!!
just to add a note about bullying at RPA, This is something that the school is very quick to deal with when it becomes an issue for any child in the school. My daughter who is in year 10 at present has excelled academically at the school since she started. But last term she had a few issues with some of the girls in the school and judging the school on its previous standards I did consider moving her again. I was torn between how well she was doing academically and how unhappy she was socially. I approached the school and am pleased to say that they dealt with the problem swiftly and in a way which had no further repercussions for my daughter. The pastoral support was outstanding during for her during this time and she and I are both very pleased we decided to stay put. This term she is thriving socially as well as still being on track for outstanding GCSE results. My other daughter will be leaving Sheen Mount next year and is heading straight to RPA. Her choice as well as mine.
That's very reassuring, Lila, thanks for posting that
Lila. Many thanks for the post - I had a question on a different topic. You mention that your daughters were/are both at Sheen Mount and I've heard anecdotally that a high proportion of each year from SM go private for secondary schooling. With regards to your daughter in year 10, how have you found her experience at RPA (particularly academically) compares with her peers who went down the independent route? (I fully agree with One4theroad that happiness and social wellbeing are key but I was curious on this point).
What's happening at Richmond Park Academy this year? Any new news? Missed the wine and cheese last week so didn't get a look at all the changes I'm hearing about.
Crawfordsburn - look at the thread RPA v Christ on Richmond local...lots of up to date info there. DD started in oct Y8 and is very happy.
Feel free to PM me with any specifics!
Awaiting news of Richmond Park Academy. Anyone visited the school lately? Hear it's changing - 6th form and all that.
There is a lot of recent up to date info on the Richmond local thread! Many happy kids and parents. If you read it it will save people repeating themselves here! I think you will be pleased and reassured - it's all good!
Thanks, One4TheRd. Just seen your post and read the thread. Sounds interesting. Glad DD is happy, most important. How's the teaching - and class discipline?
There are clear ability groups and from what I can tell teaching is very good - Discipline seems good too, kids are respectful of teachers, standing up when one enters the room etc. Like I said before, I can't speak for lower sets, but I believe there is movement between sets if progress is made, and support is given to those that need it.
I also agree with Shenee and Onefortheroad that happiness is key (we met on the local thread mentioned above!)
Lilaray, like Shenee I would also be grateful to hear how you think your DD's education is comparing with friends who may have gone down the independent route....
Like Sheenmount my kids' state primary has a significant proportion of children going independent, which makes me feel that by staying in the state system my child is almost "opting out"! Although it would involve massive financial sacrifice and other fundamental adjustments to send our DCs down the independent route, given the fever pitch panic surrounding independent admissions I wonder if either I am missing something very fundamental indeed or if I just know a well kept secret that RPA actually seems a great alternative...
Crawfordsbun, there is also this thread
I was hoping to elicit some feedback on other options too by posting on the main, rather than local, education site.
My DD went to state primary in Putney where 24 out of 30 went private...of the 6 going to state secondary 1 was grammar! It was tough as there was no "group" of friends to move up with. One of the girls started at Ibstock but has already been moved to Surbiton girls as parents weren't happy!
Private was never going to be an option for us and "choice" is limited in my opinion! I am lucky that I have a child who is keen and eager to do well at school, and I believe that that is the key!! Private or state - if they want to do well and learn, they will wherever they are... Hitting level 6 & 7 in most subjects in Y8 would have happened for DD in any school, in my opinion. As someone who works in the private sector at primary level I can honestly say that the provisions for less academic children or children with SEN can be far better in a state school then private.
The social mix is also important, and DD has friends who live in tower blocks and friends who have birthday shopping trips to Harrods and Harvey Nicks (that was an expensive sleepover)!!!!! We are somewhere in between!
I believe that the sooner the local primaries start feeding into RPA, the quicker we have a very amazing school on our doorstep! It's already happening...the primaries are full of like minded parents who just need to have a little faith!
Thank you Onefortheroad, your posts always reassure me by confirming my impressions of the school! Although my next question is part of a much wider debate (and I am sure many other threads!) I wonder if you can share any insights based on your DDs direct experience as to whether you feel RPA girls are as keen/confident on science/maths as they might be at DD's previous all girls school. My DD is a 'tom boy', has many friends who are boys, and has had some difficulties in past with groups of girls which make me reluctant to send her to all girls school. She is very sporty, she also is likelier to go down the maths rather than literacy road. There are persuasive arguments on both sides, I know, but I would be interested to hear your experience...
Science is important to DD as she still has aspirations to become a vet!!! I know that maths and science have always been boy dominant but the split, in the top sets at least, are pretty equal. I know that the sets are based on maths ability over literacy, which worried me when DD had to sit a CAT test when she started - English would definitely be her strongest subject. We are still "early days" but I am confident that she will be able to get where she needs to be! That may be based on my belief of her abilities rather then the school as a whole, but I haven't encountered any issues yet. Secondary is so different to primary, and the contact I have with the school is next to nothing compared with Y6, so homework is the only time I get to see what is happening in lessons (a quick flick through the books!). There are a lot of high achieving boys though, which is very positive in my eyes.
The chance to shine in all areas is there though - drama is an important part of school life. The school production is very popular and Y8's are up there with a chance alongside GCSE students, and sporting achievements are mentioned heavily on the website and fortnightly newsletters - DD not so sporty!!
I think it's important as a parent to believe in the school your children attend, and until I have reason to otherwise, that is what I will continue to do. She comes home happy with a funny story to tell most days, and we are all happy. Good luck with your choices and decisions.
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