New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4

(1001 Posts)
BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:26:33

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 ....

muminlondon2 Wed 07-Aug-13 00:16:59

The saga of the Wokingham primary that GEMS very nearly bagged for itself (after its failed free school bid in Richmond) has a new twist. The BBC reports that the newly built split-site school will lie empty for a year because only three children have accepted places.

Wokingham council blames the DfE for delays in confirming the sponsor (it took 2-3 months). The DfE blames the council for putting in its application late in the first place (and presumably for nominating a sponsor that it did not approve of). In any case, parents had no idea who would be running their school when they put their applications in. Whether it's the fault of the council or the DfE, they seem to think that children can be moved around like sheep - there's no requirement to consult parents them on who is to run their local school yet this has led to chaos and inefficiency. By contrast there was a consultation over StRR and one run by the council not just the diocese - not perfect, but the court confirmed that the process was democratic.

The process for setting up new schools is a shambles. Free schools are being approved without a building. Buildings are being constructed by local councils before they have a provider. But councils cannot run their own schools despite years of expertise. I doubt that Wokingham parents would have deserted the school if it had been clearly intended as a community primary from the start. Or to be run a sponsor on which they had been actively and democratically consulted before the deadline for applications.

muminlondon2 Wed 07-Aug-13 11:56:22

Interesting (and reassuring) to see Waldegrave named as an official academy sponsor. Along with Russell Education Trust, Kunskapsskolan, AET, etc.

GEMS isn't included, as we have seen.

Projects in development are listed here - updated recently.

Heathclif Wed 07-Aug-13 12:09:13

mum the court ruled that the Council did not have to follow the Free School route, and that the decision making process relating to establishing a VA school remained valid. It made no comment about he Consultation which given that paper copies of the consultation document were only distributed via Catholic Churches would be unlikely to stand up to any test of democratic validity that pertains anywhere but a banana republic....

muminlondon2 Wed 07-Aug-13 14:57:38

True, and the only reason the council was forced to conduct its own separate consultation was as a result of pressure from RISC - otherwise it would have relied on the very biased one conducted by the diocese. So well done to RISC.

But the point is, statutory consultations under the new Academies Act are just as biased as one conducted solely by the diocese because they too are run by the provider (e.g. Harris has been accused of sham consultations). Ideally a consultation should be well publicised, with very high participation rates, carried out before the decision is formally determined by a council or DfE, and before parents are invited to apply for places.

Turing House is yet to carry out its own consultation but its evidence of parental support, in terms of expressions of interest, is arguably as good as a consultation that receives less than 20 responses (even where this was open to the wider community), like for the Kunskapsskolan academies when the LibDems were also accused of trying to prejudice the outcome. And while Turing House lost out on the site, it did gain credibility on the back of the council-run consultation in terms of support expressed for a community school. Meanwhile, the council wouldn't have made the Clifden site available without the Catholic school as its priority. The DfE may have taken it over anyway, but I think it would have taken longer and there may have been more as much concern from local residents as we have seen in the planning process so far.

I wish both St RR and Turing House well (providing they don't poach staff or pupils from other local schools grin).

muminlondon2 Wed 07-Aug-13 17:22:14

Come to think of it, the Diocese's consultation contained more questions than this consultation by Harris, while the council's online survey was impeccably drafted in comparison!

'Questions asked of parents by the Harris academies chain in its consultation for a new free school in East Dulwich, south London, seem designed to avoid negative responses.

"The aim of the new school is to prepare its children for happy lives and academic success. Do you agree that this is a suitable aim?" begins the brief five-question survey.

It goes on: "The new school will encourage children, in work and in play, towards the traditional values of good manners, enthusiasm for learning and recognising right from wrong. Do you agree that this is a suitable ethos?"

One local source comments: "How meaningful is a consultation when the questions are like the ones in here?!"

A Harris spokesperson says: "The consultation has provided a formal opportunity to engage with parents, and others, about the school. The form was one way of participating and other people have written, emailed, called or met with us at our public meeting."'

ChrisSquire2 Mon 12-Aug-13 10:48:57

The Guardian has: Rise in number of teachers claiming they are under pressure to inflate grades: Charity concerned that increase in complaints from teachers at academy schools points to lack of oversight in new system:

A significant number of teachers at academy schools have contacted a confidential helpline to claim they are being pressured to artificially inflate pupils' grades by the school authorities, Britain's biggest whistleblowing charity has claimed. Public Concern at Work (PCW) has seen an 80% increase in the number of complaints from the education sector over the last 12 months, boosted by a noticeable increase in calls from teachers at academy schools. Many say they have been asked to ensure that marks for coursework and internally assessed exams remain high, even if the marks are not deserved.

. . It follows previous complaints that some academies are enforcing a culture of unwarranted sackings, "unethical" sickness policies and heads who "rule through fear".

Francesca West, PCW's policy director, said . . "Many of these concerns have come from teachers within schools with new academy status that are under pressure to maintain high results, We think that a lot of teachers are looking for support from us now because of the removal of oversight by local authorities . . “

BayJay2 Mon 12-Aug-13 12:51:44

"boosted by a noticeable increase in calls from teachers at academy schools..."

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of academies, so they would need to show that the increase in complaints from academy teachers was significant over and above that trend.

From the DfE response given in the article it sounds like they haven't done that.

muminlondon2 Thu 22-Aug-13 14:34:34

Some excellent GCSE results for schools in the Twickenham/Teddington area have been posted so far. Well done to all those pupils and teachers who have worked hard this year and good luck for the future.

Teddington has received its best ever results and Twickenham Academy has shown a significant improvement (its English GCSE results are above the national average).

2013 GCSEs: proportion achieving 5 GCSE A*-C inc Eng and Maths (2012 in brackets)

Waldegrave 86% (81%)
Teddington 74% (63%)
Orleans Park 70% (65%)
Twick Acad 56% (46%)

muminlondon2 Thu 22-Aug-13 16:42:00

And more fantastic results from Grey Court and Christ's to add to that.

2013 GCSEs: proportion achieving 5 GCSE A*-C inc Eng and Maths (2012 in brackets)

Grey Court 78% (68%)
Christ's 70% (70%)

BayJay2 Thu 22-Aug-13 20:53:09

Hi muminlondon. There's some borough-level GCSE result information here that looks like it's based on a council statement. Can't see the original statement on the council website yet though.

muminlondon2 Fri 23-Aug-13 00:05:07

Thanks BayJay - the Ebacc borough average of 40% is a significant achievement considering overall GCSE pass rate is also up.

Hampton results here.

Still to see results from RPA.

muminlondon2 Fri 23-Aug-13 12:12:28

Best ever for RPA, 64% 5 A*-C including Eng & Maths.

Well done to all schools on particular successes for individual measures, subjects and pupils.

muminlondon2 Fri 23-Aug-13 17:04:12

Richmond council has published a press release attached to which is full list of provisional 2013 GCSE results including Ebacc, English, Maths and 2 x Science pass rates.

It would be worth asking if BTEC science is taken into account in this table - it may count as 2 passes now but from 2014 would only count as one. TA has not only double the pass rate of RPA but also appears to have achieved a better pass rate than Waldegrave.

In 2012 the Ebacc pass rate was 16.2% nationally but I'd guess it will rise to about 28% this year.

That's because entries for French, German and Spanish GCSEs have increased by 17% and history by 17%. Pass rates are about 70% in French and History.

muminlondon2 Tue 27-Aug-13 23:44:33

The secondary school admissions 2014 brochure, along with allocation maps for 2013 are now all online. This includes the allocation map for Christ's open places catchment area.

LProsser Wed 28-Aug-13 18:44:10

Very interesting. For Teddington School shows clearly the black hole developing in North Teddington/Fulwell for boys as the catchment area has shrunk back to close to central Teddington despite only a quarter of the places going to siblings this year. Surprising that so many from Ham/Kingston who could have gone to Grey Court are still applying to Teddington. Roll on Turing House School!

muminlondon2 Thu 29-Aug-13 07:27:38

LProsser - not really surprising that a few from Ham applied to Teddington, although nearly three times as many opted for Grey Court. Their Outstanding Ofsted rating was only confirmed in March after offers were made. But Grey Court's catchment didn't extend far into North Sheen this year and only three from the Richmond side of the bridge were offered Orleans Park. As you say, the Middlesex black hole is mainly for boys.

LProsser Fri 30-Aug-13 10:31:18

It would be interesting to know how many of those getting places in the popular secondary schools like Teddington, Orleans and Grey Court are coming from outside the local state system now that the linked schools system has been abolished.

There is a story on the front cover of today's RTT about a family in Twickenham with no primary school place - they are non-religious and refuse to pretend and have turned down a place 5km away - quite reasonably I think!

ChrisSquire2 Fri 30-Aug-13 10:35:19

The RTT leads on Classless society: a 4-year old living near Richmond Bridge in East Twickenham still has no school place despite, it is claimed, having 5 schools within 1 km of her home. Unfortunately her address is not given but it must be by the river between Richmond and Twickenham bridges . Instead she has been offered and her parents have rejected a school 5 km away.

It seems that the recent expansion of the area’s primary schools has failed to keep up with the flood of families coming in.

LProsser Fri 30-Aug-13 11:28:24

Thanks for posting the link Chris - I must learn how to do that! The article is now on the website for comment aswell. I would be interested to know how many of the places in the religious primary schools close to this child's home have been given to children travelling further to get there than she would have had to. This is an acute problem in Teddington now aswell with non-religious families living very close to SMSP having to travel to Buckingham in Hampton (no direct bus route although probably not quite as far as 5km).

ChrisSquire2 Sun 01-Sep-13 12:54:00

Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign have published a new report Faith-Based Discrimination in Richmond Primary School Offers 2013?and how local church schools could become ?more community-minded?.

They write:

Over a third of the borough's primary places are at its 16 church schools, 13 of which are over-subscribed. Data on the initial offers made to parents for September 2013 entry show that nearly 80 % of places at those 13 schools were allocated on a faith basis. The majority of the borough's community schools are also over-subscribed, making the effect of restrictive entrance policies at church schools more acute. RISC calls on church school governing bodies to act to make their schools more community-minded.

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Sep-13 00:27:22

The RTT article is here. While I have lots of sympathy for the family not getting a place the, RTT quotes them wondering what the council is doing about this but doesn't make clear that the LA has no control over admissions policies of faith schools (or academies/free schools). RISC does makes it clear in the report that it's up to governing bodies to decide this, but one thing not mentioned is the how willing schools have been to provide bulge classes (i.e. be community minded). Sacred Heart has been much criticised for its siblings policy but at least it has put on a bulge class, whereas Queen's hasn't done this in the last seven years as far as I can see.

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Sep-13 08:16:54

There are increased problems of uneven choices/skewed intake when faith schools expand, however.

BayJay2 Mon 02-Sep-13 08:50:43

"RTT quotes them wondering what the council is doing about this but doesn't make clear that the LA has no control over admissions policies of faith schools"

Hi Muminlondon. The council still has responsibility for the overall provision of places.

I think the RISC press release hits the nail on the head when it says "We also hope that Richmond Council will acknowledge the general pressure on primary school places and actively encourage governing bodies to do the right thing".

As people have pointed out in this thread before, there's a lot of church school representation on the Borough Admissions Forum, so church school Governors should be aware of the pressure. I'm not sure they are though. I think council press releases like the one from last year which generated this RTT story, mask the underlying stress in the system. It's easy to sit back and think that everything is under control when (nearly) all children have places at the start of term. However, if people are being offered places 5km away there is clearly something amiss. And if they are also being told (as implied in Friday's article) that if they turn those places down the council have no further responsibility to provide them with a place closer to home, then it's easy to see why people feel forced into the private sector, or out of the borough. They leave the system, and from the council's perspective the problem goes away.

In my view it is that underlying stress that needs to be acknowledged, highlighted, and waved in front of the noses of Governing bodies who have the power to help. I hope the council do acknowledge that, rather than denying there's an issue.

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Sep-13 10:27:01

BayJay, I agree that the council, perhaps through its admissions forum, should acknowledge pressures on the system exacerbated by admissions policies and ask governing bodies to justify their policies.

I'm wondering now how St Mary's and St Peter's was allowed to expand from one form entry in 2000 to three forms without ensuring that they have a clear allocation of open places. It's not clear how wide its catchment area is - could it even be having an adverse effect on schools further away, such as Buckingham?

The other thing that is clear to me is that the link policy masked some of this pressure as it gave some CofE schools an advantage where linked with popular community secondaries, although I understand St Stephen's had a fairly inclusive policy. St Mary's and St Peter's lobbied hard against the dropping of this policy but they have one of the most selective policies. Its governors have included influential LibDem councillors Stephen Knight and Malcolm Eady for many years. If they didn't have enough influence over other foundation governors even when they were running the council, it suggests council officers would have even less influence. I'd certainly like to see them comment on the RISC report publicly.

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Sep-13 12:44:07

I realise LProsser has commented on St Mary's and St Peter's before:

LProsser Wed 12-Dec-12 13:05:15

The church places are tied to specific Teddington parishes so Buckingham is further away from catchment. Still, time for another review - it would fairer if they had a cap on faith-based places.

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