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 ....
The RTT reports: Judicial review backs Richmond Council on Catholic school
The judicial review into the Catholic school has been found in favour of Richmond Council. Mr Justice Sales made the unusual step of making an announcement today because of the children awaiting confirmation of a place at St Richard Reynolds school. Mr Sales stated the council had acted lawfully in its processes . .
A fresh vigorous exchange of views is under way, with Philip Taylor leading for Lord true . .
that press release shows Lord True's true colours (no pun intended!). Tasteless comments and side swipes at individuals which do him and his party no favours at all. One interesting side effect of the whole debate has been that I have watched some of the council debate online and it has affected my opinions of certain local politicians. I had not realised there was so much blustering and buffoonery in local politics!
Mingle - I think thats a fair point about inclusivity - you either agree with it or you want an education for your child exclusively for those of your religion. In theory an application limited to those exclusive schools only does seem tempting but ironically it offends my principles of inclusive education for all regardless of beliefs.
Its also interesting that when the local Catholic/CofE secondary in Richmond started deteriorating the local catholic primaries couldn't desert it fast enough - which kinda makes a mockery of the insistence that is only because they need a Catholic education that a catholic secondary school is required.
The RISC committee can be very proud of themselves for uniting people from so many backgrounds over this one common theme, and I still think the day will come before too much longer when all of our schools, whatever their denomination, are open to everyone from all faiths and none.
Too much to hope that we will go the way of other western counties and refuse to fund religious schools that are not inclusive.
I respect the judgement of the High Court to allow the state funded Catholic schools in Richmond and wish these schools well. However sadly this judgement seriously undermines the Governments flagship policy of free schools and makes a mockery of the Coalition agreement for promoting faith schools with inclusive admissions. Whilst every new free school application for which parents and sponsors put in a lot of hard work, will have to compete for limited funds and sites, there remains a back door for religious groups to to set up new schools with discriminatory admissions policy.
As a local parent, along with thousands of people in Richmond, I am extremely disappointed with this judgement. We still believe - in common with the vast majority of the British public that 'state funded schools, including state funded faith schools, should not be allowed to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds in their admissions policy' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9670234/Selection-by-religion-should-be-banned-in-state-schools.html). Our key point all along has been that it's simply wrong to set up a new state school in the borough that will discriminate against most local children simply because of their parents' beliefs. That remains just as wrong now as it was before.
RISC has brought together people all across the borough who are deeply passionate about education and communal harmony and we will continue to campaign "to ensure that every state-funded school opening in the borough from now on is inclusive, so that no child can be denied a place in a good local school because of the religion or belief of their parents". This Big Society campaign has people from all backgrounds, with a lot of them tirelessly working in Richmond's state education sector to improve our existing schools and set up new inclusive schools. We are all in it together and will continue to work at the grass root level for the benefit of everyone in our community.
I hope that as my kids continue their education in state sector, religious discrimination will end in our state schools. One day, in our multi cultural and diverse and tolerant society, religious discrimination will be as illegal and unacceptable as racial discrimination is today. We brought this challenge to help to bring that day closer and our campaign will go on locally in Richmond and hopefully inspire millions nationally.
The RISC group page on Facebook links to items in ITV News and BBC TV News.
Mumsnetters who would like their opinions to reach a wider audience should write to the RTT Letters page: firstname.lastname@example.org which will be glad, I am sure, to publish the views of anyone who hasn't written in before.
Mumsnetters who think that they could better than the present bunch of councillors (or who would like to join Lord True's platoon as an act of gratitude for what he has done for the borough) should note that now is the time, 18 months out from the next elections, when the local parties start actively recruiting new would-be-councillors. So now is the time to make yourself known to the party of your choice.
For the Liberal Democrats I have created a page of information and useful links.
Chris - perhaps the political landscape needs to change in Richmond. What we have seen from both parties is not healthy and further eroded peoples confidence in party politics
Why should there be councillors from only 2 parties ?
Perhaps 2014 will be more candidates from other parties or a group of independents!
Both our MPs should resign for letting Lord True Divide and Rule us and failing to safeguard the promise of the Coalition agreement in their own backyards.
gmsing2: I agree that there will be more candidates from the other parties (Greens, Labour, UKIP, BNP and the Christians) and Independents than last time, when there were already more than you probably realise. If that is what suits you then do go ahead and put yourself forward - the campaign only lasts 3 weeks and then you can return to your normal life. Have a look at past results in your ward, which you can access via twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/page/wards to see how they have fared in the last 3 elections.
But if you actually want to get elected and serve then you must choose Tory or Lib Dem: both are broad coalitions of more or less like minded people. Both are constantly looking for fresh faces as the turnover of candidates at each election is about one third, I reckon.
Chris - Thats good historical analysis of election result. Seems like people vote have in the past voted along party lines. But will history repeat itself? Never before in this borough has there been such a powerful voluntary campaign. Even those of us in the education sector who could not come out in the open, supported it. Infact some of us regret letting down our parents and students by not openly endorsing RISC.
These two national parties and coaltion partners have both let us down in the education sector. Its a shame that again at the next election it will be Tory V Lib Dems. Their mess may just discourage many genuine and passionate people to join politics and instead keep on working in the voluntary capacity to deliver change. After all we need people to spend more time on pavements and working with residents, instead of sitting in Town Hall abusing each other .
Politics is exciting when you get a break from tradition and determined tactical voting, usually in university towns. The Greens seem to do quite well in Twickenham (2010 results here). Most Labour supporters have been tactically supporting LibDem for years. I don't think they can take that for granted, and there are a fair few Green-minded Conservatives too.
It seems to me that our local political parties will only ever be as good as their members, who are mostly fairly ordinary decent people, trying to stand up for things that are important to them. Personally I don't really care who stands for which party - I just want to see good people standing as councillors, of whatever colour, and for local voters to look at councillors' personal track records and philosophies rather than the team they're on (or not on).
Chris is probably right that the most pragmatic option for anyone wanting to be elected in Richmond is to represent a political party. However, if parties want to attract good people they do need to allow them to speak openly on things they feel strongly about, rather than wielding a strong whip to gag people during times of controversy. It does amaze me that councillors frequently don't express their views openly, even in committees.
Well put BayJay I must admit I thought my politics were clear, and I even had a vague notion it might be a way to make a difference, until I got involved in local issues, since when my faith in local politicians and bureaucrats has slid downhill. I actually feel a bit sorry for our local Conservative Councillors who are clearly not personally supportive of this Council's policies on Twickenham and actually had done a good job on the local planning issues that were under Lord True's radar, on which the policies of the Libdems, and some of our local Libdem Councillors, were certainly out of step with local people. The frustration of having to deal with the bearpit of the Council Chamber and wading in the treacle of bureaucracy is off-putting for most of us.
Meanwhile in Westminster David Cameron wants to clamp down on judicial reviews and consultations and make it more expensive for the public to challenge the powers that be. Apparently the DfE can get a consultation 'done and dusted in two weeks'.
Press coverage and letters in todays RTT www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/files/view/press-cuttings/RTTcoverage23Nov.pdf
This extract from Education Bill: Report (3rd Day) (26 October 2011) makes it clear that the Act (as it now is) was intended to make it easier to set up new voluntary aided schools:
Amendments proposed by Baroness Massey Of Darwen 71 Page 87, leave out line 11; 72 Page 87, leave out lines 35 to 38; and 73 Page 87, leave out lines 42 and 43:
Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour): . . My main concern is that some measures proposed by the Bill may further fragment education on the basis of religion or belief. I have serious concerns about how the Bill makes voluntary-aided faith schools the easiest type of school to set up. I am also concerned about voluntary-controlled schools converting to academies, then being able to choose to increase their religious discrimination in admissions.
Currently, when a proposer wishes, for whatever reason, to establish a new foundation, voluntary-controlled or aided, or foundation special school outside of a competition, they need the consent of the Secretary of State. Following consent, the local authority runs a consultation on the proposals. The Bill, if passed in its current form, will change this, as I understand it, so that consent from the Secretary of State would no longer be needed for voluntary-aided schools, but it would still be needed for foundation, voluntary-controlled and foundation special schools.
I see some problems here. Almost all voluntary-aided schools-99 per cent of them-are faith schools. Admissions are determined by the school, which can discriminate against all pupils on religious grounds. In voluntary-controlled schools, local authorities set admissions and only about a quarter of local authorities have chosen to allow some or all of their voluntary-controlled schools to discriminate religiously, either in whole or in part. Mr Gove has made it clear that he wishes to make it easier to set up voluntary-aided schools, which can discriminate . .
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench): My Lords, I hope that the Minister, when he comes to reply to the amendments in the name of . . Lady Massey, will think carefully before agreeing with the premises which have been laid before your Lordships' House this afternoon . . I would say this to (her) on the possibility of creating new faith schools. In parts of London there are large faith communities-for instance, of Polish people or people from the African and Asian communities-and in the Borough of Richmond, for instance, a petition has been laid before the council urging the creation of a new faith school. To restrict the opportunity to do that would be to deprive us of something special.
. . in 1944 . . RA Butler brought before the House the (Education Act) that allowed the state to contribute towards the creation of Catholic schools. The Catholic community of that time . . was mainly an immigrant community -many were from the west of Ireland, as my late mother was. Those were schools for impoverished communities . . Around 2,500 schools have been created in the years that have passed, mainly though the efforts of those local communities, and they have enriched our education system. I urge your Lordships not to tamper with the settlements that have been there ever since 1944: that these schools are normally over rather than undersubscribed and that there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that denomination provision is not increased or decreased where it is inappropriate . .
. . Lord Touhig (Labour): . . I shall say a few words in response to the three amendments of my noble friend Lady Massey of Darwen. The Bill provides that where a new school is required, the local authority must consider the establishment of an academy or a free school before consideration is given to any other type of school. From the point of view of the Catholic education authorities, that would be a disadvantage. In any entirely new academy or free school, priority can be given to children of faith in relation to only 50 per cent of the places in cases of oversubscription, and that would clearly be a disadvantage. The Bill therefore sought to compensate for and counter that disadvantage by making provision to allow voluntary-aided schools to be established more easily. (my emphasis)
The amendment moved by my noble friend would effectively limit the opportunity to establish new voluntary-aided schools. That would be a handicap, especially where there is a demand for them-and there is certainly demand in parts of London where there has been a rapid growth in the Catholic population in recent years. The other disadvantage of my noble friend's amendment is that, as I understand it, if it were part of the Bill, academies and free schools would be the only schools that could be established, and I do not think that that is the policy of our party.
Schedule 11 : Establishment of new schools: Amendments 70C to 73A not moved . .
And the House moved on to something else. The issue does not seem to have been raised at all in the debates on Schedule 10 in the House of Commons committee: March 29 and March 31 2011.
Thanks for digging that up Chris - very interesting. It might have saved a bit of time if it had come to light at an earlier stage!
I predict that the focus of groups like Accord will now move to campaigning for VA school faith admissions to be capped at 50% to bring them into line with academies. It would seem a logical move, and Michael Gove's comments about the Richmond school (that it should voluntarily have a 50% limit) suggest he wouldn't oppose it.
It doesn't seem a long debate, and no vote. Interesting local connection: Lord Touhig stood for election as a Richmond & Barnes Labour MP 20 years ago but polled just 5.8% of the vote.
Establishing a new school advice for LAs and proposers is non-statutory advice from the DfE:
What legislation does this advice relate to?
The Education Act 2011 (EA 2011)
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006) . .
The new 'presumption' for an academy/Free School requires LAs to seek proposals to establish an academy/Free School in the first instance where they identify a need for a new school.
. . Despite the academy/Free School presumption, in certain exceptional circumstances it is still possible to publish proposals for a new maintained school outside of a competition, under sections 10 or 11 of the EIA 2006.
Establishing new maintained school:
22. It is still possible to publish proposals for maintained schools in certain circumstances as set out below. Flow chart B at Annex A of this document sets out the statutory process for establishing a new maintained school under sections 10 and 11.
Annex A says:
Process to establish a new school introduced by s37 and Sch 11 of the Education Act 2011 amending the Education and Inspections Act 2006
A. Local authority (LA) decides, under its duties to plan and secure sufficient schools, it needs a new school.
Academy/Free School presumption (s6A of EIA 2006)
LA to seek proposals to establish a new academy/Free School . .
. . B. There is a separate process for the establishment of new schools in certain limited cases, which are (sic) outlined below:
s11 proposals including new VA schools: SofS consent no longer required to publish certain new school proposals, which can be proposed at any point:
- new VA school; . .
. . Decision: LA is decision maker unless it has published proposals or involved in a foundation school's Trust, in which case the Schools Adjudicator is decision maker. LA must decide within 2 months.
This guidance is not exactly clear! It doesn't say what a local authority has to do where it has a need for a new school and a VA proposal comes along at the same time that doesn't meet that need. I also think it is assumed that VA proposals will be more self sufficient in terms of supplying their own sites so that a local authority will not be forced to pretend that it doesn't need a school when it does so that it can prioritise the VA school. The two are supposed to chug along in tandem uncontroversially.
I think the policy was made deliberately unclear. The HL speakers were well aware of the implications (and of Richmond's Catholic school proposal). But the lack of a vote on the issue, and the government's more neutral line about 'reducing bureacracy', suggested a lack of willingness on the part of the government to call attention to the implications of the policy until legally challenged.
I did find this BBC article on the 2006 proposal to impose 25% quotas in faith schools which was dropped very suddenly. Again, no vote, just agreement behind the scenes. What surprised me most was the council's lawyers argument that the new Catholic school was not 'needed but wanted'. Either they didn't use the right arguments, or they had to establish a precedent because the drafting of the law had holes in it. That in itself justified the judicial review.
From the point of view of Catholics who have been working for the school, they demonstrated their strong support, and the decision is confirmed to be legal. I don't think either political party is prepared to legislate for a 50% limit on faith admissions, and the reality is that not all religious schools are likely to attract non-faith applicants.
In fact, there was a vote on the 25% open places quota in faith admissions in 2006. But it was in the House of Lords, as an amendment tabled by Lord Baker, the Tory peer and ex-education minister. The debate is fascinating - see 30 October 2006. It got defeated with peers in both main parties for and against, and the LibDem position was that an imposed quota is unworkable.
Thanks muminlondon. I liked the following line from Lord Taverne "It strikes me how much this place, the House of Lords, is out of touch with what the people as a whole think".
Just posting a link to an interesting Telegraph Article.
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