New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4(1001 Posts)
Welcome. This is the fourth (or perhaps fifth) in a series of threads about Richmond Secondary Schools.
The discussion was originally triggered by Richmond council's publication of its Education White Paper in February 2011. It started with two parallel threads here and here.
In November 2011 the most active of the original two threads reached 1000 messages (the maximum allowed) so we continued the conversation here.
That thread filled up in May 2012, and was continued here.
It's now November 2012, and once again we're at the start of a new thread ....
Re the "dead hand" I was just quoting some Tory politician when I mentioned that one of the aims of the free school programme was to remove the "dead hand of the local authority" from having any influence over schools. I think Marc Cranfield Adams is a bit unstable - he was the one who switched from the Tories to the Lib Dems (who bizarrely made him the Mayor) and then he switched back again and wrote a rude book about it. He used to say he had been terribly bullied by the ruling trio of Tories but now seems anxious to suck up to Geoffrey Samuels. The only time I met him he went on and on about how he'd once straightened John Major's tie! All the primary schools flatly refused to contemplate becoming academies when it was suggested a couple of years ago - I remember a letter in the RTT signed by about 36 heads.
I am googling 'dead hand of the local authority/state' with interest!
Is this link better?
I think the plan now is to hand the primary schools over to this new arms length non dead hand "Achieving for Children" body run by Nick Whitfield to deliver all children's services in LBs Richmond and Kingston isn't it? Presumably it will be able to procure primary school education from whereever it likes so schools that refuse to become self-governing academies and to participate in the procurement process will find they are being taken over by less dead handed types or educational chains or private schools. Or am I letting my imagination run away with me here?!
The LA can't force schools to become academies - I think it's the DfE that decides, after a bad Ofsted report. In the case of the secondaries, each governing body voted on it after a consultation, there was a financial incentive and academy conversion was associated with success and being outstanding. I think the extra funding available has since been reduced in some cases. Primaries are so much smaller, with no opportunities for economy of scale, and that's why only about 5% have converted nationally. Those primaries that are converting now are being forced to - without any choice of sponsor - so for primaries academy status is associated with failure. I don't think that would be in Richmond LA's interest.
This TES article suggests local authorities will get more control over deciding where new free schools and academies should be built.
Here is the press release, dated March 1 but posted on the February releases page:
Offer day - secondary school places announced: Almost 1,500 Richmond upon Thames pupils will receive offers for secondary school places today (1 March), with 72.4% receiving a place at their first preference school, a rise of almost 10% on last years figures. Overall, 91% per cent of young people will receive an offer for one of their first three preferred schools, a rise of 5% on last years offers and an improvement on the London average of 88%. All parents who have not been allocated a place at one of their preferred schools have been offered an alternative pace within the borough. The number of children 97 in that situation is by far the lowest since pan-London coordination of secondary admissions began, in 2005.
Cllr Paul Hodgins, Cabinet Member for Schools on Richmond Council, said:
I am delighted that so many of our students have been offered a place at their first preference of school and this is a huge endorsement of the improvements that have been made across all our schools and academies in the borough. It will always be a challenge to offer everyone their first preference, particularly because parents will apply to the highest performing, and consequently highly over-subscribed, schools both inside and outside the borough.
However, over the past year nearly all our secondary schools have become academies, we have introduced a new Catholic Secondary, expanded Christs School and others have seen educational and physical improvements. The fact that more of our young people can now go to their parents first preference school is testament to all this hard work and an endorsement that we are providing a range of secondary options that meets the diverse needs of families in the borough. I am sure that next year, with the introduction of sixth forms, our secondary schools will prove even more popular.
For info, the DFE have just published this School Capacity data. I haven't had the chance to look at it myself yet, so not sure if it tells us anything new.
. . the new St.Richard Reynolds Catholic High School seems to have been under-subscribed. We understand that some of the 97 borough children who did not receive offers from any of their preferred schools have been offered places there, even though their parents are not Catholics (new Mumsnet thread). While some of these parents are not unhappy that this is their only option, we have been contacted by others who are exceedingly concerned (Facebook thread).
It seems that parents of the 250 children due to leave local Catholic primaries this year are being cautious about the new school. That may be because it has not yet opened, or because last years court case created some uncertainty. Another new factor is that the boroughs linked schools system has now been dropped, with the result that children from Catholic primaries are no longer disadvantaged if they choose to apply for community secondaries . .
There hasn't been much reporting of secondary offers this year like there usually. Interesting to see the increase in first preference offers in the boroughs near to grammar schools - from the London Councils press release :
Sutton - 9.5%
In Richmond it's fairer that parents have a more realistic idea of whether or not they have a chance of Tiffin - pupils could even take the test without preparation, just to take a punt, so it's no longer a high stakes game (unlike the Oratory from the sound of it).
Areas like Tower Hamlets and Newham have seen a reduction in first preference offers being met - no grammars, 60-75% disadvantaged pupils, population increase: for most pupils their 'choice' has only ever been one local school. They don't make Telegraph headlines though ...
Sorry, meant to link to Telegraph article - the areas with the lowest offers of first choice preference are very noticeably Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminsrer, Southwark. No grammars but lots of the most selective CofE and Catholic schools.
It looks lik OP and Christs aren't the only schools getting a new head this year: http://www.tes.co.uk/job/College-Principal-122335/s_cid/32.
My mistake. Bit confusing, but that's a head of college - essentially a deputy head - rather than the top job.
The Surrey Comet reports: North Kingston free school "a step closer":
. . A new free school in North Kingston is one step closer after campaigners were invited to meet with the Department for Education. The school would be run by the Kingston Educational Trust - a partnership between Kingston University, Kingston College, Kingston Council and school improvement partnership Education Kingston . .
No date is given.
The online RTT reports: Political row over 'falling' GCSEs in Richmond:
. . Richmonds GCSE results fell for the first time in five years last summer - a dip Liberal Democrats blamed on cuts to the boroughs school improvement teams . .
Philippa Nunn, head teacher of Waldegrave School and chairwomen of the secondary head teachers forum, has responded in a letter to the print/pdf RTT (p. 29).
Oh the irony, I'm sorry given that the majority of schools in the country, state and private, saw a downturn in GCSE results as a result of Gove's meddling last year, then Stephen Knight is scoring a cheap political point. However for Paul Hodgins, a Conservative, to acknowledge the fiasco in defence . Perhaps he could have done that a few months ago and made a lot of 16 years feel a bit better.
They could do with someone acknowledging the unfairness, I gather anecdotally the results of the first modules sat by the same cohort for AS are also looking to have been similarly inconsistently deflated
Heathclif: This is what Stephen Knights press release said:
. . Overall the percentage of children at the boroughs schools achieving 5+ A*-C grades (inc English & Maths) fell from 63.2% in 2011 to 62.6% in 2012. This is the first time in 5 years that the borough has seen a fall in results, at a time when results nationally continue to rise . .
and these are the numbers he offers to back this up:
Schools . . . % achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths GCSEs . . . . . . 2012 . . . 2011 . . . 2009
England - state funded schools only . . . 58.8% . . . 58.2% . . . 50.7%
Richmond Local Authority . . . 62.6% . . . 63.2% . . . 55.7%
Richmonds lead over England is shrinking, despite a huge improvement at Richmond Park Academy:
Richmond Park Academy . . . 61.0% . . . 43.0% . . . 45.0%
which is now only just below the borough average.e.
Heathclif, agree that Stephen Knight is cherry picking, ignoring the English regrading fiaco. And why is improvement at Grey Court and Christ's not acknowledged?
Here are 2012 GCSE results 5 A-C inc English and Maths, excluding equivalents, (compared to 2011 in brackets):
Christ's 68% (67%: +1%)
Grey Court 65% (63%: +2%)
Richmond Park Academy 53% (39%: +14%)
Value added (Best 8) - 1000 is the reference point
Grey Court 1004.5
Richmond Park Academy 980.4 (BUT 1009.2 low attainers)
And look at the drop in English GCSE passes at the independent schools (NB: average for high attainers is 94% 5 A-C including English and Maths, so would expect near 100%):
Harrodian 97% (100%)
St Catherine's 97% (100%)
Royal Ballet 76% (96%)
Thanks muminlondon I had to rush out and didn't have time to dig out the stats but hoped *muminlondon would step into the breach . We have gone over the data before especially the fact that indies were equally affected. I wonder if the national stats reflect the fact that across the country there are schools improving on the scale of Richmond Park Academy where deflation was counteracted by the effects of improvement strategies but in Richmond outstanding schools were more vulnerable to it's effects, plus the random effect of the choice of exam boards, who responded to political pressure differently
Heathclif - Would like to oblige but it's impossible to compare converter academies with last year. English results have definitely dropped and independent schools have seen more pupils failing to pass. Nationally, there has been a drop in expected progress in English:
'The percentage making progress in mathematics has increased by nearly four percentage points from last year, while the English measure has fallen by a similar amount'
Provisional results showed a drop in the number gaining 5 A-C inc English and Maths:
'driven by a significant drop in the percentage of pupils in independent schools achieving this standard. A small fall in the figure for independent schools is still evident in the revised results.'
Another factor to bear in mind: there is a 9.5% gap between boys and girls obtaining 5 GCSEs inc E&M. In the 2012 cohort there were more boys than girls at Orleans Park and Teddington due to the proximity of Waldegrave (which the LibDems never addressed). This may also make those schools vulnerable to grading inconsistencies and your point about outstanding schools being vulnerable to fluctuations, because there is less room to stretch improvement, is very relevant here.
Just one more point - I also agree with Cllr Hodgins that the LibDems are not in a position to criticise academies as they handed three over to chains, two of them on the same side of the river. Neither of the Richmond borough Kunskapsskolan schools have improved their results so while intake is an advantage, methodology alone isn't making that breakthrough. They have, however, fared better than the Suffolk Kunskapsskolan school whose 5 GCSE inc E&M results dropped from 25% in its predecessor school to 14% this year. It is early days for them but that school has been warned by Ofsted.
The Turing House team have reported on their DfE interview yesterday. It seems to have gone well:
. . The interview forms part of the assessment process for the groups detailed plan for an 11-18 Secondary School, to serve the Middlesex side of Richmond Borough from 2014, and an approval decision is anticipated in May. . .
muminlondon: it was me, not Stephen Knight, that 'cherry-picked' only part of his press release; here from it is the full set of scores for all the schools for the last 4 years:
% achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths GCSEs:
School name . . . 2012 . . . 2011 . . . 2010 . . . 2009
England - state funded schools only . . . 58.8 . . . 58.2 . . . 55.2 . . . 50.7
Richmond LEA . . . 62.6 . . . 63.2 . . . 61.4 . . . 55.7
Christ's CofE School . . . 70 . . . 70 . . . 64 . . . 63
Grey Court School . . . 68 . . . 67 . . . 54 . . . 46
Hampton Academy . . . 46 . . . 47 . . . 48 . . . 31
Orleans Park School . . . 65 . . . 70 . . . 71 . . . 68
Richmond Park Academy . . . 61 . . . 43 . . . 40 . . . 45
Teddington School . . . 63 . . . 72 . . . 69 . . . 63
Twickenham Academy . . . 46 . . . 49 . . . 48 . . . 41
Waldegrave School for Girls . . . 81 . . . 87 . . . 88 . . . 80
It would be interesting to compare Richmond LEA with its peers, i.e. the other 31 London boroughs, whose scores have been improving rapidly in recent years leaving the Rest of England behind.
This what I wrote on Jan 16:
ChrisSquire2 Wed 16-Jan-13 16:04:17 How well do children perform in England?s boroughs?
Chris Cook writes in FT Data, Jan 16: [Here is] some data that will help explore how well do children do at a borough level
. . The 4 worst performing London boroughs are: . . Richmond upon Thames 0.0 . . Richmond borough is trailing badly vis-a-vis the London average. Why should that be, I wonder?
Then it was the RTT which cherry picked the data and suggested only RPA had improved when clearly two others also did. It seems to have it in for state schools. In a borough where so many more have the means to go private, state school-bashing is unfair.
On a national level I agree academy conversion was costly and the Academies Commission report suggested it was unnecessary because schools already have a great deal of autonomy in England compared to other countries (if that is Stephen Knight's view). But they're all academies now, they have chosen that route, but they have at least established a new professional development partnership.
Why have other boroughs improved so dramatically? The London Challenge targeted key boroughs from 2003-2010 and the results started to come through after several years of hard work. The key to success was peer-to-peer support and collaboration. Some LAs participated but it was funded directly from central government and the effort came from schools themselves, and external consultants like those who are involved in Turing House. I don't think Richmond was part of this (someone correct me if I'm wrong). That would be because they were never below floor target in the first place.
Newham is one fantastic example. As an LA its results have improved from 44% in 2007 to 58.5% in 2011 to 61.9% in 2012. Fantastic news for a borough with the majority on free school meals. But also note:
1. There are no sponsored academies.
2. There are few independent schools (only religious, not academically selective).
3. From BayJay's link above, school capacity data shows their secondaries were 99% full last year. There is no creaming off to grammars or privates, no real choice apart from the local school, lots of untapped potential and massive amounts of collaboration, commitment and specialised targeted support over several years.
That's my view, anyway.
" I don't think Richmond was part of [the London Challenge]"
I've heard anecdotally that LBRuT didn't embrace it, but I don't know any details.
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