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 ....

BayJay2 Mon 02-Sep-13 14:48:38

A big part of the problem is the (understandable) cost-driven reduction in surplus places. This LGA report says:

"Due to increase in demand, some local authorities are running on a much lower surplus than is recommended (5 - 10%). Maintaining a surplus is important to allow for parental preference. ..... There are [also] difficulties when the surplus places are in the wrong area."

If councils want to provide ring-fenced faith places to cater for parental choice, then they really need to allow for greater surpluses too, to make sure everyone's needs are met in a way that isn't discriminatory.

Richmond's target surplus for Reception places seems to be 0%.

ChrisSquire2 Mon 02-Sep-13 18:16:33

The RISC report (above Sun) has a table on p. 5 setting out the admissions criteria that our faith schools will apply this time and a map on p. 3 showing where they are. St Stephen’s, which has become an all-through primary this year, will reserve 6/60 2014 places for faith candidates; however the 2013 places were allocated to ‘faith based priority with no upper limit’. Before that all its pupils came from its feeder, Orleans Infants, a community school which has now also become all-through. The effect of this changes is to increase the two schools’ combined capacity from 3 classes/year to 4/year.

I think the RTT family must live by the rive near Twickenham bridge. In past years they might have got into the Vineyard school on the Hill which now allocates no places across Richmond bridge; or into Orleans Infants. Next year a sibling should get into St Stephen’s. This years, however they have been crowded out by faith based candidates from all over - St Stephen’s is a flourishing evangelical church with a large congregation of young families.

St Mary's and St Peter's is also classed as ‘faith based priority with no upper limit’; in 2013 62% of its offers (exc siblings) were faith-based. Stephen Knight and Malcolm Eady have said that they have repeatedly urged their fellow governors to adopt a more inclusive policy - to no avail.

The Council guide Admission to Primary School for September 2014 entry does not spell out what happens if the offer of a place is made at the start of the year and refused. It does give details of admissions criteria and past catchment areas.

The Admissions Forum has published no minutes for a year. Does this mean it has stopped meeting?

BayJay2 Mon 02-Sep-13 18:44:10

Chris, the table on page 5 shows that St. Stephens allocated 0% faith places in 2013. Presumably the temporary policy they put in place for 2013 only didn't have time to impact its admissions (e.g. perhaps parents had to prove 2 years' church attendance).

muminlondon2 Mon 02-Sep-13 20:04:50

The Admissions Forum is due to meet 25 September and last met in February.

The primary allocation maps seem to apply to 2012 - they haven't been updated for 2013. RISC published primary offer data here and four times as many parents have opted for Orleans Primary as first choice compared to St Stephen's. Could be exacerbated by Ofsted report magnet effect and bulge/sibling distortions. Vineyard's catchment is down from 1200m in 2007 (2500 in 2008 but it was a bulge year) to 300m this year.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 03-Sep-13 01:34:26

BayJay2: I was referring to footnote 4 on p. 5 of the RISC report which says that the '2013 St Stephens' entry priority was Type 3 . . ' (= 'faith-based with no upper limit').

I now see that the primary offer data shows that there were 1st pref places to be had at St Stephen's which this family could have applied for - and should have if well-advised, living as far from Orleans Primary as I think they must be.

So this family's predicament is the exceptional result of their choices and not, as they seem to think, because they live in a 'black hole' that the Council should do something about.

BayJay2 Tue 03-Sep-13 06:47:56

Chris, you're wrong about that. The RTT report says they followed council advice and listed their 6 closest schools, which presumably included St. Stephens.

The appendix to RISC's report shows that St. Stephens offered 11 sibling places and 49 community places.

The application data you're referring to shows that it had 24 first choice applications, 78 second choice applications, and 123 other applications. In other words it was well oversubscribed.

The family in the report will have missed out on a place by distance. Presumably it accepted a lot of second choice applications from people who didn't get into Orleans or St. Mary's.

Richmond operates an "Equal Preference" admissions system, so the order of choice makes no difference to whether families are admitted to schools or not. They are allocated the highest choice that can offer them a place. You can read more about how it works in this document.

In other words, putting St. Stephen's 1st wouldn't have helped the family one jot if they happened to live further away than 60 other people who put it as (say) 2nd choice but didn't get into their 1st choice.

muminlondon2 Tue 03-Sep-13 08:30:00

I feel really sorry for the family. But there are blackholes now between Vineyard and Marshgate and half of Richmond centre, as well as the perennial Mortlake and East Sheen problems.

Something really weird is happening with the oversubscribed community schools if their catchment areas can shrink to a third of their size in just two years. That's not three times as many babies. And that's not much to do with the effect of church schools here as St Elizabeth's is only one form but Marshgate had a bulge class this year. There are problems with the after effects of previous bulge classes but also huge numbers of in-year admissions of families who bring new siblings.

There are frustrating restrictions on all councils in creating new places and lack of cash as these Evening Standard articles show.

ChrisSquire2 Tue 03-Sep-13 09:58:07

BayJay2: thanks once again for putting me straight on this important matter; I naturally assumed that '‘first preference first’' was the rule. Here is how your link explains it:

. . The scheme that was introduced for 2006 entry and has been used since operates on an ‘equal preference’ basis, rather than ‘first preference first’, to determine offers, and with an earlier closing-date so as to enable the consequently larger number of GIS measurements that the LA would need to make.

Under ‘first preference first’, the LA would only measure distances from home to school for parents’ first preferences unless a school is under-subscribed with first preferences in which case measurements may need to be made in respect of subsequent preferences.

‘Equal preference’ means that, although parents will be asked to rank up to three preferences, those preferences will be considered against the admissions criteria of all three schools simultaneously and the ranking will only be used if more than one potential offer can be made, at which point the highest-ranked of those potential offers will become the actual offer . .

Consultation on School Admission Arrangements for 2012/13 entry 9 December 2010

BayJay2 Tue 03-Sep-13 10:19:18

ChrisSquire: "parents will be asked to rank up to three preferences..."

They're actually asked to list 6 preferences, not 3. Which just makes it all the more shocking when people are left without a place (provided they follow the council's advice and list their 6 closest schools).

LProsser Tue 03-Sep-13 17:25:22

I wonder if some parents are confused about whether they should even bother to list any religious schools as one of their six when they aren't religious and don't want to pretend? I'd imagine Orleans is particularly popular as a first choice because it's a community school surrounded by religious schools so it must appear that it is the only real choice for a lot of parents.

ChrisSquire2 Fri 06-Sep-13 11:20:50

This week?s RTT covers: the shortage of primary school places: ‘baby boom means Richmond needs 660 extra places next year . . and 1489 by 2016-17’ (p. 2); the RISC report (p. 2); and publishes three letters responding to last week’s news story (pp. 19-21).

There is no sign that anyone is making plans to tackle this problem before it hits us.

LProsser Fri 06-Sep-13 14:55:05

I can't believe Richmond needs 660 extra primary places all next year - that's 22 more bulge classes (maybe it doesn't count this year's bulge classes only permanent places?). Does this include places in other years? There are obviously very few vacancies in years above reception as poor "JustMoved" from the USA on another thread who can't get a year 1 place anywhere at all has highlighted.

In terms of secondary schools I assume those moving mid-year or anytime after the start of year 7 get allocated the less popular schools? At Teddington only one child out of 240 left at the end of year 7 this year (to move to Thailand). Someone I know who moved back to the area a couple of years ago with a year 9 child had to wait a year for a place at Teddington or Waldegrave to come up (was top of the waiting list for Teddington all year). But presumably there aren't that many spare places overall as the number of staff in secondary schools that have a smaller cohort in the older year groups will have been reduced accordingly.

muminlondon2 Fri 06-Sep-13 17:33:05

Not underestimating the crisis, but I think it must be a NewsQuest drive to republish variations of that LGA story for every newspaper. Kingston Guardian is running a similar story using the same source.

Coincidentally, the RTT has a glossy Independent Schools supplement. Useful timing.

Kingston's primary admissions booklet is interesting because, despite the crap production values, it gives numbers of pupils admitted under different criteria into faith schools. But also shows there were seven undersubscribed schools after allocations in 2013, mostly in New Malden (where IES/GEMS wanted to set up?).

ChrisSquire2 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:20:00

Councils warn of rising demand for primary school places - LGA press release 3 September 2013 is the source of this story; it says:

. . Methodology: Data was taken from the DfE's School Capacity Survey, covering numbers of school places and forecasts of pupil numbers until 2016/17 for each local authority, split by primary and secondary sectors [], and lower-level planning area data [] covering current estimated school capacity and forecasts of numbers of pupils in 2015/16.

. . Looking further ahead to 2016/17 . . Hounslow Council (is) set to see (one of) the biggest (increases in) demand for primary places across the local authority area with the need to increase school capacity by 25 per cent or more by the start of the 2016 school term . .
There is no table of detailed results by council but the BBC, who ran the story with an interview with Simmonds of the LGA, provide a chart showing that the increase in primary capacity needed by autumn 2016 is 6-10% for Richmond and Kingston and 25%for Hounslow. It doesn’t translate that into a forecast of how many more reception classes will be needed at that date.

The Kingston Guardian has Kingston facing shortfall of 1,000 primary school places within four years:

. . Kingston is predicted to have a shortfall of more than 1,000 primary school places within the next four years. The September 2014 intake will leave 405 children without a primary school in the borough, according to predicted figures by the Local Government Association (LGA). If no more primary school places are created this number is expected to rise to 1,301 by 2016-17 . .
This is a cumulative total I think not the actual shortfall each year.

muminlondon2 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:51:28

Minister dismisses fears over school places

'Mr Gove said: “We haven’t had what Labour predicted, which are problems with primary school places, even though they were the people who failed to invest in primary schools last time around, wasted money on vanity projects.”'

So, no problem then. Those pesky councils and their warnings, eh?

muminlondon2 Sat 07-Sep-13 10:24:20

The school place story is also repeated in the Sutton Guardian. Sutton is highlighted in the BBC report as one of the most overstretched areas.

The problem there is that even if the council had the land and funding to build new schools, it would find it hard to get a suitable sponsor. It recently asked the DfE to consider an academy converter school (comprehensive secondary) as a sponsor for a primary which had failed an Ofsted. But it its only 'good' not 'outstanding' according to Ofsted and the DfE rejected their choice and confirmed Harris as a sponsor despite a local survey showing 99% of parents were against it. Presumably the grammars were not willing to sponsor a failing primary. A new academy chain sponsored primary would not be a popular choice among residents. So they are stuck.

LProsser Sun 08-Sep-13 21:27:13

Thanks - it sounds as if the figure of 660 new primary places needed in Richmond by next September is based on the number of places two years ago rather than the number of places now, which makes it sound a little less impossible. I don't have the exact figures but I'm sure at least half that amount has been added in the last 2 years if not more, but there is obviously still a major problem in various parts of the Borough.

It would be interesting to see the same data for Richmond as is available in Kingston on admission to religious schools, but most needed is one of the maps showing exactly where all the children who were offered and refused places live such as is available for secondary school admissions. That would highlight the schools that are drawing in pupils from a long distance and where they come from in relation to other primary schools that they could have got into on distance.

The Sutton case is pretty extreme - these favoured chains will probably turn into the Sercos, A4Es and G4S' of the future.

BayJay2 Sun 08-Sep-13 21:55:26

"It would be interesting to see the same data for Richmond as is available in Kingston on admission to religious schools"

That data is in the appendix to RISC's recent report isn't it? The footnote to the table says the data comes from FoI requests to individual schools.

muminlondon2 Sun 08-Sep-13 23:36:01

BayJay that's really interesting, thanks. The sibling rates for SMSP and St Mary's seem very high and explains why so few new entrants/first born are getting places there, even for churchgoers. As always, a more complicated picture than it first appears - the distorting effect of past bulge classes.

muminlondon2 Thu 12-Sep-13 20:03:11

Saw a link to some interesting research about bids for free schools.

- a quarter from parent groups
- a fifth from state school teachers, often aspiring to lead the school
- a third in London
- a quarter partnered with or led by ' philanthropic or for-profit edu-management organisations'
- 10% from faith organisations, mostly primary.

ChrisSquire2 Sat 14-Sep-13 14:16:06

The RTT (p. 4) has: Admissions: ‘Hands are tied’ and ’New free schools key' interviewing Matthew Paul, the borough’s head of school place commissioning.

An anonymous letter (p. 29) attacks Cllr Chappell for claiming the credit for recent school expansions; it points out that they are the fruits of the expansion strategy adopted by the previous, Liberal Democrat, administration in 2009 and says that most of the credit should go to the borough’s ‘enormously dedicated’ education professionals.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 18-Sep-13 10:10:04

The Local Guardian reports: Cabinet member takes Richmond Council to High Court over schools admissions:

A cabinet member has stood down after taking Richmond Council to the High Court over failures to find her daughter a school place. Councillor Virginia Morris said she has battled with the council for the past eight months to try to apply for a school for her four-year-old, Bluebelle Hills, but has made no progress. She said: “We are not satisfied that they have dealt with our application in the correct manner so we are now challenging them on this issue. As a result the leader of the council has asked me to stand down as a cabinet member.” . .

LProsser Wed 18-Sep-13 10:19:48

This definitely falls into the "you couldn't make it up" category! I thought, remembering the controversy about her planning troubles a few years ago, that she lived in Buckingham Road, Hampton which ought to be the only place in the Borough where you are guaranteed a reception place on your doorstep at the moment? Maybe she has moved since.

LProsser Wed 18-Sep-13 10:20:21

PS. this really belongs in the thread about primary school troubles not this one!

ChrisSquire2 Wed 18-Sep-13 17:29:24

The RTT has Cabinet member takes Richmond Council to High Court over schools admissions

. . Coun Morris said her case was unique and not driven by the “black hole” situation some families face, but said another 100 children may be affected by her problem, which is down to admissions criteria . . She said: “Since we have pursued court action we have discovered that what has happened to us has also affected many families within the borough. Maybe this way we can not only get answers for our daughter but also enable those other families who have been affected to understand what happened to them.” . .

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