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Richmond Borough Schools Chat 7

(1000 Posts)
muminlondon2 Sat 09-May-15 11:29:45

Lots and lots of discussions on local schools and education issues preceded this thread, including Richmond Borough Schools Chat 6.

Anyone who wants to carry on that discussion, and offer information and opinions (without being moderated by any particular individual or interest group, bearing in mind all the usual mumsnet guidelines about respect and not getting personal, etc.) - feel free.

JWhizz Sat 09-May-15 23:13:06

Thank you muminlondon for keeping this thread open, appreciate your time and knowledge.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-May-15 12:14:55

The discussion on Turing House's SEN policy has continued on a different thread - with a bit of digression from me on inclusiveness generally and admissions policy that had to change at another RET school.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 07:31:06

It's obvious parents are being kept in the dark about the site because if a Whitton site were to be announced now, plenty of parents would try to get their children into alternative schools. Not much they can do if they change their mind in the school holidays. Too late, no schools open then.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 07:46:22

Parents are going to be furious, especially since the Whitton site wasn´t announced until after the applications were in. The site notice was accidentally leaked and they still are trying to give parents false hope of a Teddington site by not ruling it out.

bluestars Tue 12-May-15 08:28:08

GrahamH2 - Thanks for moving over smile

TH are in the dark about site too. Let's hope IC make a call soon.

muminlondon2 Tue 12-May-15 08:45:56

GrahamH2, I still wonder who leaked the story of the Imperial College site last year just before the deal fell through and the school failed to open. If it was someone close to RET or the head teacher, they were misleading parents and/or being indiscreet. If it was an enthusiastic parent supporter, they obviously had been given false hope. If their hopes are dashed again this year, many will find it hard to trust the school.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 08:53:18

^TH have identified an area of shortage, the council agree. This was the initial impetus for the idea, not some ideological motive.

TH have tried to place it's admissions point as far away from other schools as possible so as to limit the impact. There is lots of the website about that.

´While some areas are enduring serious school place shortages, elsewhere free schools are opening in areas which have either sufficient numbers or a surplus of places in the phase of education provided by the free school.´

According to Edubase there are currently 788 children on roll at Twickenham Academy with a total capacity of 1050.

The council are supportive of TH and agree with it's assessment of need. They built a free school opening into their forecasts before TH was launched.

There is a serious democratic deficit in the mechanism for opening a free school. The Secretary of State alone decides whether to approve an application to open a new free school, or to convert an established private school to free school status, with little or no regard for the views of local authorities or local communities.

Even Cllr Hodgins agrees in his statement that concerns have been raised by the council ´The Council made our concerns known during their consultation, well before any petitions were launched.

The other schools have spent time, money and energy expanding sixth forms, they have no real capacity to expand.

But there are sites left vacant such as the Clarendon School site in Hampton.

The RET schools have excellent Ofsted reports, I see no reason why TH would be any different.

It is easier to achieve excellent Ofsted reports if schools are selecting their students such as with other RET schools e.g. The Bristol Free School. The Bristol Free School and the Nishkam Sikh primary free school had clauses in their funding agreements which exempted them from the requirement to consult on their admissions. Just 12.5 per cent of the Bristol Free School’s intake are eligible for FSM compared to a rate of 23.3 per cent across the local authority. Plus, there is no reason to claim or assume that Turing House will be Outstanding.

The free school process is bonkers, sometime schools have no option but to open in temporary accommodation.

It doesn´t mean it is suitable for the students though. These students may well be in temporary school accommodation for the majority of their time at Turing House.

The health and safety of children in schools should be paramount. Safeguarding the well-being of children and school staff is not ‘red tape’. On the contrary, local planning authorities provide a crucial role in ensuring school premises provide a safe and secure environment in which children can learn and staff can work.Furthermore, children should have the right to suitable school premises providing, for example, outdoor play space, library facilities, a school hall and other facilities accepted as standard in maintained schools.

TH admissions is well explained on the website and debated on the thread above, best read that.

Will do.

The admissions have been very well discussed on the NUT website also.

While free schools must abide by the School Admissions’ Code, there are a number of aspects of the admission arrangements for free schools that militate against inclusive and representative intakes:• The lack of local involvement in the decision to open a free school makes it less likely that initial applications will be genuinely representative and more likely that they will be dominated by those involved in setting up the school. The first year of intake is important because most schools place siblings at the school high on their list of oversubscription criteria. Therefore, the first year intake can heavily influence admissions in subsequent years.• The speed at which free schools are opened means that consultation over admissions cannot follow normal timetables.• Free schools are not required to participate in the local authority co-ordinated admissions’ process in their first year of operation – increasing the likelihood of applications coming from a limited section of the community.• The Secretary of State can vary the admissions’ arrangements of free schools through the funding agreement that she signs with the school. Annex B of the funding agreement can set out derogations to admissions’ law and DfE codes of practice. Annex B can itself also be varied by agreement with the Secretary of State at any time and without consultation. These derogations have been granted to enable free schools to, for example, prioritise the children of their founders in the school’s oversubscription criteria or to exempt them from the requirement to consult over their admissions.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 09:11:04

MuminLondon2, it is hard to know. Either way it is the parents dealing with all of the unknowns. Teddington parents are hoping it will be in Teddington of course and should be told now if that is not a possibility. Of course, if the Whitton site falls through it could be even further away. There´s a lack of suitable sites in the borough, so they will have to look elsewhere. I imagine that will be even less popular.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 09:19:25

RET and TH of course are hoping to retain as many students as possible, so it´s not in their interest to announce that now.

Likewise, they won´t give Whitton parents any promises of admissions policies changing as that may upset the apple cart also. In any case, 20% Whitton admissions doesn´t mean 20% of intake. The 20% quoted is 20% of the remaining places after siblings etc. which as I said earlier after 3-4 years of a Teddington admissions point could end up being a very small percentage indeed. Plus those local admissions include Hounslow/Hanworth and not just Whitton due to the site location.

Heathclif Tue 12-May-15 09:23:56

Given how RET and Turing have remained discreet under fire and I know no Turing parents who have had any more clue on site than was available on the website, I think that I favour the rumour that the leak came from the Council, the usual sort of "don't tell anyone else as it is confidential" gossip that got out of hand.

Heathclif Tue 12-May-15 09:31:11

Graham The EFA manages the process of obtaining a site and demands confidentiality until it is secured, RET and Turing have no option but to comply. Imperial also demanded confidentiality because they had their own political situation to manage, there was widespread opposition to their plans elsewhere in London.

If you want examples of how the EFA manages the process ask the residents adjacent to the Vernon Road, Twickenham Green and A316 sites Free School sites who were also pretty pissed off with the level of communication.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 09:49:23

Heathclif you are right about the level of communication being insufficient.

The National Union of Teachers document also comments on the lack of consultation with local communities:

Local communities have even fewer consultation rights. Section 10 of the Academies Act 2010 merely requires the free school proprietor to consult as they see fit.

As a result, free school consultations are rarely meaningful. Many free schools consult via a simple questionnaire posted on their website which only those familiar with the plan would ever see.

A high profile local community campaign opposed the opening of the Beccles Free School in Suffolk. Cross-party opposition included the local Conservative MP and the Leader of Suffolk County Council.

The formal consultation report produced for the DfE by education consultants Cambridge Education admitted that: “A majority of people who responded to the public consultation did not support the proposal that The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust should govern Beccles Free School on behalf of the Department for Education.”

*The report also acknowledged a petition signed by 3,000 local people opposed to the free school.*

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 09:50:43

3,000 local people!

Heathclif Tue 12-May-15 09:58:05

Graham As I have said up thread I have every sympathy with the Whitton residents on both the Planning and admission criteria issues but knowing that the parents who set up the school have worked very hard indeed within an imperfect process to realise their vision for a school that serves the community in the way the existing mainstream inclusive outstanding comprehensives do, and been as open as they can be given the process, I find this Turing bashing really unedifying. I note the petition has moved away from the original negative wording to expressing understanding of the issues Fullwell residents face.

Why have you not looked a bit further into the proposed Old Deer Park and Twickenham Green Schools, and their sponsors? They do not originate in the community, indeed the Old Deer Park School is now in an area already well served by Darrell which it's admissions criteria do threaten but they are not going to change them because they just want bums on seats. There would be some cause for cynicism about their motives. Although of course it has all been discussed at length on this thread already, and neither sponsor has broken it's silence.

I am not a Turing parent, just someone who understands how it feels to not be offered a school place for your child and so admires and supports what they have done. It feels a bit like Turing are now in a bunker with waves of attackers coming on here trotting out the same allegations and negativity without any reference to all that has been discussed on here over many years now. I am not surprised Bayjay retreated to focus on actually welcoming the pupils through the door in September.

GrahamH2 Tue 12-May-15 10:19:43

Neither sponsor has broken it's silence.

Whereas, TH have been very vocal. There's no debate otherwise is there. TH supporters are fuelling the debate here.

bluestars Tue 12-May-15 10:51:06

Just trying to set things straight GrahamH2.
But maybe you are happy in your incorrect assumptions, misunderstanding of the figures and the educational landscape, maybe you don’t want to know or understand the bigger picture (answers to all your points are in these threads, you just need spend a couple of hours reading). In which case I will try to stand back and let the conversation dry-up. Hopefully the thread will move back to more general borough-wide educational issues.

Heathclif Tue 12-May-15 11:00:17

Graham strange post confused, are you implicitly saying that you have come on here and made unfounded allegations based on inadequate local knowledge because you are sure of a rise? That you would not be interested in debating the issues in relation to schools where your points might apply because you would not get a rise?

So now what to do? Follow mumsnet advice and ignore your posts, however unedifying and inaccurate in what they imply, and hope you will go away.

Or keep this thread as it has always been, for constructive informed debate of the issues affecting all local schools, involving over the years a lot of local people who felt passionately about them. Because in that guise it is actually we are reliably informed not just a source of information, advice and support for parents but also read by the people who actually make the decisions, and of course it prompted the birth of a school...... So all a local community thread should be.

muminlondon2 Tue 12-May-15 12:33:36

I favour the rumour that the leak came from the Council

It's interesting to read that article again. The 'source' was clearly in support of the school. The tone was informal, so it was definitely not the EFA, and an official spokesman for the Council was quoted, . Imperial College was also quoted. It's a very startling omission not to have sought a quote from RET or a head teacher. This story did not appear online although as you can see from my link, it is easy to link to a page PDF which you can read on a phone (that's an interesting trick I've learned today).

I can only guess that sources close the school offered this story just before offers were made. If that is an unfounded allegation despite my logic being based on the points above, you are still making an unfounded allegation that it was the council - and illogical as it was already quoted.

Heathclif Tue 12-May-15 16:06:04

I can assure you that it is not unfounded but comes from more credible sources, staff within another school who are aware that there was certainly indiscretion, though not with any malice, within the wider schools community, the information was not just percolating to the RTT, than the usual rumour mill or the conspiracy theories / speculation you are offering. And also easier to suspect RTT reporters failed to do a belt and braces again, even if they had asked presumably neither Turing or RET were in a position to comment other than what was on the website and that wasn't "news".

As to who actually went to the RTT with the story then several suspects could be spun into a conspiracy theory, feelings were running high post the Judicial Review, and it was also certainly in the interests of Udney Park residents to mobilise support and scupper the deal. Who knows, apart from the person concerned and the RTT? It certainly defies logic that the few Turing Parent Proposers / RET staff who were in on the negotiations would leak the story presumably knowing the extreme sensitivity of the Imperial College situation (that was common knowledge within the University of London / London Sport's Organisations community) and the risk it would pose to negotiations, and securing the site. They were not exactly struggling for support at that stage, 356 applications for 150 places.

However neither party is able to defend themselves, and this is another one we can argue until the cows come home other than in the unlikely event the guilty party decides to own up. We certainly neither of us want to put the prospects of the UP site being put to educational use at any more risk, the fact that moment was lost has clearly paved the way for Imperial with time to manage the situation in order to be able to go to a full commercial auction and that was never in anyone's interests, which rather justifies the EFA's position on confidentiality. I suggest that having swapped opinions we leave it at that.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 12-May-15 16:24:24

Hester Huttenbach commented on Twickerati this pm:

Please be aware that work starts on Heathgate House primary school in two weeks time regardless of objections which have obviously been overruled by someone. The first intake of two forms begins this September 2015!! It will be called Twickenham Free primary or similar and they are also advertising for staff.

Heathclif Tue 12-May-15 16:28:38

Here is the rumour emerging from Teddington Town on Twitter on 10 February, a forum that, as is evident from the replies, was certainly not favouring Turing's interests

And I have just clarified that I can share, without anyone getting into trouble because it is widely known, that the information percolated out of the Council via various Head teacher and Governors meetings. Local Councillors are also probably aware of all this.

However to be clear by this point the Council were onside with Turing, and as you know have supported it since. It was, though the consequences were disastrous, just a case of Chinese whispers.

auntieC75 Tue 12-May-15 19:44:12

The setting up of Free Schools is very secretive. The first local residents knew of the proposed "Deer Park" School at the totally unsuitable site of London House on the busy A316 was a leaflet through their doors (together with leaflets advertising pizzas etc). This came more than half way through the so called "consultation" period process which consisted of a few vague questions not really relevant to the actual site. It has been admitted by all those concerned that the site was obtained as it was the only one available at the price they were prepared to pay. This site should be opposed on the grounds of pollution, health concerns, road safety, even more traffic chaos on the A316 by Manor Circus and other local roads plus the lack of any suitable outside space for a playground. Surely people responsible for the education of primary school children should have more sense than to place a school for 420 children at such an unsuitable site - which is also close to other existing primary schools. The children of Richmond deserve better

AbsintheAndChips Tue 12-May-15 19:46:28

I haven't even had a bloody leaflet! And I live less than five minutes' walk away! Although, to be fair, if it came with pizza leaflets it may have gone straight in the recycling without me even noticing.

auntieC75 Tue 12-May-15 19:53:08

AbsintheAndChips - If you Google Deer Park School Find a different location - This is an on line petition

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