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New Secondaries for Richmond Borough?

(172 Posts)
BayJay Wed 23-Feb-11 20:56:38

Richmond Council recently published a White Paper outlining plans for Secondary education in the borough ( They want new 6th forms in every school, and would need to decrease current Yr7 intakes to accomodate that. To offset those decreases they are talking about creating two new secondary schools. One of those new schools would be a Roman Catholic school.

The Roman Catholic community in the borough are currently disadvantaged by the "link" system ( Because the Catholic primaries are not linked to any secondaries in the borough, their children tend to go to a combination of out-of-borough Catholic secondaries (which are mostly rated as Outstanding), grammar schools and private schools, though some of the girls do go to Waldegrave, which is not part of the link system. Note that there is no reason, in principle, why the Catholic Secondaries couldn't be linked to local community schools, but because many of their children have other options, they simply don't meet the "25% rule" required to form a link. (See an example set of transfer figures at

This raises several questions in my mind:
1) Does the problem necessarily need to be solved by providing a Catholic Secondary, or are there alternative solutions that would benefit the community as a whole (e.g. reforming the link system)?
2) Does the majority of the Catholic community specifically want to be educated separately from the rest of us, or is it the case that, like everyone else, they simply want an outstanding education for their children, and find that the Catholic route is often the best way of achieving that?
3) If Catholics had more options for transferring to outstanding community schools locally (as many already do, to Waldegrave), would they choose those options over travelling to a single-faith school in a neighbouring borough?
4) I accept that there will always be very religious people who want to segregate themselves, but would I be right in asserting that there are also large numbers of Catholics who would be happy to attend community schools, provided that gave them the same level of academic excellence that can be found in many Catholic options?
5) If a new Catholic secondary school is created, it is likely to have an entrance policy that requires a priest's reference (as per the majority of existing Catholic schools). How do people feel about that?
6) If a state-funded Catholic School is created in the borough, would non-Catholic parents also like the option of sending their children there, provided they weren't barred by the admission system?

I'd be interested to hear your opinions!

zanzibarmum Wed 23-Feb-11 21:28:06

If a new Catholic secondary is created I assume that it would want to take Catholics if oversuscribed as it will be paying for a proportion of the ongoing costs.
Rumour is that the Oratory Fathers are talking to Richmond to create a Richmond Oratory School. That would be good for
Richmond education service and good for Catholics at least those who weren't concerned about providng a quality of education
that might be dubbed ' free private education'.

MyDearGirl Wed 23-Feb-11 21:28:58

I don't know of any catholic schools that need priest reference to get in shock - that would be interesting! In our area the catholic schools are 50/50 catholic/non-catholic, ok schools but definitely not outstanding. In a more "affluent" area in a different LEA the catholic/non-catholic ratio is very different almost 100% Catholic and both schools are rated outstanding! Families will apply out of the "catchment" to get the better school on the "faith" criteria because that comes before distance to the school - but all you need is baptism into the faith no letter from the clergy required here! Hence people have their DC's baptised and off they go!! So the true catholic ethos of Catholic schools has gone IMO. Therefore, certainly to me, a good education always comes first. Religion can be taught in the home and at church!

jackstarb Wed 23-Feb-11 21:54:22

Bayjay - thanks for raising this.

Here is an easy link to the The White Paper.

I couldn't find the catholic secondary school link. And your link doesn't work for me.

gegs73 Thu 24-Feb-11 12:46:52

I don't quite think its fair for a new Catholic secondary school to be built in the area. This will further segregate education in the borough especially for boys who already have very limited choices.

Why can the Catholic Schools not link into the non secular schools in the borough like the many C of E schools we have. IMO being Catholic is an amazing way of getting an outstanding education for your children which doesn't seem fair. Especially - and correct me if I am wrong - no spaces are open in St James School for non practising children in the way say Archdeacon Cambridge School has. I presume this is also much the case in Catholic Secondary Schools unless they are undersubscribed which would be very unlikely to happen.

Before the shortage of places for excellent Catholic Secondary Schools for Richmond Borough children in Hounslow borough and also the Oratory, Many Catholic parents I know were falling over themselves to travel or very happy for their girls to attend Waldegrave. Now many parents seem less keen on the other options shortage of places have left them with ie. new academies which many West Twickenham and Hampton parents have very little choice over, other than to move or send their children there. Why should Catholics get an outstanding option (which the school is very likely to be pretty quickly if past form is anything to go by) when so many other local non Catholic children are denied admission often to their most local school.

If a new Catholic secondary school offered maybe 50% non Catholic places and 50% religion based this to my mind would be more acceptable. However, if it were to be built I very much doubt this would happen.

mary21 Thu 24-Feb-11 14:03:45


I think in Richmond lots of people who opt for catholic primaries arent particulary the strictest of catholics pre kids, but on discovering they have access to some of the best (on paper) primaries in the borough if they go to church they do so. Some then do re find catholism. On the whole I think many St James's parents have a comitment to finding the best education for their children above a commitment to the church. Many would naturally choose to go out of borough for secondary to find the best . If there was a catholic secondary within the borough that wasnt up to the standard of the Oratory or at least St Marks it could cause ruction, as no doubt this is the school the kids would get.Many more might go private. I think it is interesting that most of the girls used to go to Gumley, but now Waldegrave is the better (again on paper) school many are now choosing this. I think St James has a slightly different demographic than say Archdeacon in that it has more who plan state for primary then indie secondary, but it also currently has some who opt for indie once they realise there sons cant get Orleans or Teddington leaving them with Twickenham academy if they want to stay in borough.
I think it would be an excellent idea to have 6th forms in schools in Richmond, I am sure it will be to late for my boys though, currently year 6+9

BayJay Thu 24-Feb-11 17:41:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Sat 26-Feb-11 22:04:13

I find it quite offensive in this day & age that new 'faith' schools are being mooted. Better to educate children of all faiths and none together, and any 'religious' indoctrination instruction to be conducted outside school.

Hardandsleazy Sun 27-Feb-11 09:27:35

Agree with some of gegs and mrs guy points- yes to more secondary options but not more faith school.

BayJay Sun 27-Mar-11 20:21:34

This issue has been generating some heated debate in the Richmond & Twickenham Times over the last few weeks.

littleomar Sun 27-Mar-11 20:35:02

Indeed - lots of hand-wringing over the fact that Richmond is "one of only two London boroughs without a Catholic secondary". Like that's a bad thing.
If there's one thing this country definitely doesn't need it's more "faith" schools, i.e. state-funded schools that (legally) operate admissions policies that discriminate against children on the basis of their parents' religious beliefs/ability to get themselves to church often enough.

(and breathe)

Kingston managed to see off an attempt by the C of E to run the new secondary down the road. Mind you their proposal was pretty rubbish.

singersgirl Sun 27-Mar-11 21:25:16

Oh, it's such rubbish, isn't it? How many children who leave a Catholic secondary school go to a Catholic university or Catholic college of further education? How many go to work for a Catholic business? Why on earth do we need to segregate children according to the credulity (or otherwise) of their parents?

We don't have a Jewish secondary school either, or a Moslem one, or a Hindu one, or a humanist one, or one for vegetarians, or one for left-handed children, or one for those with outie belly buttons....

A1980 Tue 29-Mar-11 22:31:22

A friend of mine lives in Richmond and she says parents there choose to send their children outside the borough to a Catholic school rather than send them to a non catholic school nearer home.

So they put their DC's on a long commute on 2-3 buses to send them to Gumley House or Holy Cross. IDGI!

innertiger Wed 30-Mar-11 14:08:13

Richmond borough secondary education had a reputation locally of being poor quality (excluding Waldegrave but that is only for girls). The council have tried to address this as it's primary education is, I think, the best in the country OFSTED wise. The current thinking is that many people use the state primary system but then a high % go privately at secondary level, creating a kind of brain drain away from the state sector.
So I think parents without the financial clout to go privately, look towards the best that they can get. The catholic schools perform extremely well when it comes to grades at GCSE and they also provide sixth forms. None of the borough secondary schools have sixth forms. Parents are trying to get the best education they can and if they have the catholic option available, then can they be blamed?

BayJay Thu 31-Mar-11 18:38:49

innertiger, the borough's existing secondary schools are rapidly improving. Orleans has recently been upgraded to Outstanding, and Christs (which already prioritises entry to Catholics) is 'Good with Outstanding features'. All of the non-Academy schools are over-subscribed. I guess the question isn't whether we should blame people for choosing existing Catholic schools, but more, would a new Catholic school be the best option for the borough as a whole, bearing in mind scarcity of land and resources? If the problems with the linked school policy (which currently prevents children from most Catholic primaries going to local schools) were addressed, could that be a better all-round solution than provision of a new Catholic school?

BayJay Sat 02-Apr-11 16:57:13

There's going to be a council debate about this school on Tuesday.

mebaasmum Tue 05-Apr-11 15:12:49

Hi Looks like there is a consultation about sixth forms in Richmond schools

sorry dont know how to link it

BayJay Wed 06-Apr-11 12:58:32

There's now a growing campaign against the Catholic school.

singersgirl Thu 07-Apr-11 19:23:54

And bumping again for anyone opposed to this to sign, as it's now all over the front page of our local freebie rag -claiming amazing support for a Catholic secondary.

Kewcumber Thu 07-Apr-11 22:25:49

I still fail to understand in principle why teh state is fundng a specific education for minority religions. Personally I'd like to see the end of state funded religious education in th eUK but at least there is some rationale to funding the authosied religion of the country. Can't see any in funding a minority religion. are there any otehr countries who do this (just out of interest)?

innertiger Thu 07-Apr-11 22:27:05

Can I also suggest that the status of Waldegrave school is considered? How is that the borough provides a single sex girls school but no equivalent boys school?

If Waldegrave was co-educational then that would surely create further equality within the borough.

I hadn't realised that Christ's prioritised catholics - I am not aware of any catholics who know that. Many moons ago, it was a full catholic school when it was St.Edward the Confessors.

corlan Thu 07-Apr-11 22:43:49

Innertiger -Teddington school was boys only when I was a lass. I don't remember any groundswell of opposition when girls were admitted.

Is it the case that girls do better in girls only schools but being in a single sex environment doesn't have such a great effect on boys?

Kewcumber Thu 07-Apr-11 22:43:58

my sons primary doesn;t have a linnked secondary - its nothing to do with being a catholic primary as ours isn;t - its a straightforwards mathematical calcualtion of how many pupils go to that secndary (and frankly a stupid system that doesn;t seem to be used in any other borough)

I think CHrists prioritises any christian pupil

Kewcumber Thu 07-Apr-11 22:44:34

wasn;t it a failing school when it was catholic?

innertiger Thu 07-Apr-11 22:56:54

Bayjay - sorry i meant to respond to your comment about the link system.

I agree that a possible solution would be to link all the primary schools to secondary schools - as is the case for all the other state schools (non-denominational and C of E).
Sacred Heart is linked to Teddington but only because the governing body took the LEA to the schools adjudicator. This was important not only for the non-catholic pupils at the school but for those who wanted to chose a non-catholic secondary school - of which, I understand, there are a significant number. I also believe this number will increase as it is getting harder each year to gain entry to the Catholic schools in other boroughs as everyones catchment areas shrink.

So if they were to link all the catholic primaries then that would create more pressure on the over-subscribed secondary schools, which will create more headaches for the council as they have failed to plan for the increase in children in the borough. They may well find that the current system therefore serves them best!

What really concerns me is that I cannot see how they will ever afford to build 2 new schools....and where would they place them? It may be that if the Diocese is willing to cover the costs of land purchase and build, which I believe it is (though that could just be a scurrilous rumour!) then the council would benefit by having the obvious cost savings of someone else picking up the bill and would have a provision for catholic children thus keeping a potential 280 children out of the current secondary system.

Am I being too cynical??

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