School debate gets El Brute airing

The big debate about a revolution in Borough schooling will not be televised. True, but you will be able to see it on a webcast via El Brute’s site tonight. And it’s not really a revolutionary debate either. More of an airing in the ‘chamber of secrets’ at York House. You’re now thinking, “That made no sense whatsoever”. You could well have a point. No, you DO have a point.

So, to summarise where we are in the great Roman Catholic secondary school debate, coz that’s what we’re talking about…

The number of signatories on the online petition for an inclusive rather than a faith-based secondary has now topped 1,000 which, under El Brute’s rules, requires a debate in Council. That will take place on Tuesday September 13th. The meeting starts at 7.00pm and the Inclusive Schools brigade are calling for a show of support (and photo opportunity, of course) outside York House from 6.00pm. Their petition now has over 1,500 signatures.

At the session, petition instigator Jeremy Rodell of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign will present his petition after which councillors will discuss it. There’s no actual vote involved but the Council can take decisions on what, if anything, to do next on the issue.

Meanwhile he pro-Catholic school lobbyists now have their own petition which is busy racking up signatures. This is in addition to the previous one which earned the photo opportunity with Lord True earlier this year. Funny dat.

So if you would like to see a Roman Catholic secondary established in the Borough or if you think that, particularly at a time when school places are in short supply, any new school should be open to all children regardless of their faith (or, the faith of their parents), then you can still add your names to the petitions.

LINKS:
* Webcast live on www.richmond.gov.uk from 7pm.
* True’s view on the webcasting is here
* LBRuT Calendar of meetings here
* Richmond Inclusive Schools
* Previously on twickerati
* El Brute’s petitions page

16 Comments

Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Schools

16 responses to “School debate gets El Brute airing

  1. Linked schools: I have published on the borough Lib Dem website (which I edit) an article describing the likely effects on Orleans School of scrapping the linked schools policy: http://twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/article/2011/523396/abolishing-the-linked-schools-system-who-gains-who-loses-a-forecast-for-orleans-park

  2. Update October 06: the church has made a formal application to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, for consent to “publish proposals” for a Voluntary Aided school on the Clifden Road site. This is required to avoid the Council having to hold a competition for the new school, or having to set it up as an Academy (which would have a maximum 50 % faith-based admissions). His decision is a closed process and we don’t know what’s happening. See: http://twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/article/2011/512963/the-new-school-for-twickenham-what-happens-next for more detail.

    Gove will not respond to letters from the public but he will to a letter from an MP on their behalf. So if you object to the church’s application and live in the Twickenham constituency, please write to Vince Cable [cablev@parliament.uk or by letter to: 2a Lion Road,Twickenham TW1 4JQ] copying ministers@education.gsi.gov.uk . A letter is better, if you can make the time to write it.

  3. People might want to take a look at more on this point from Glen and his poll on 2011 admissions (albeit with just two voting options) on the St Margarets hyperlocal site: http://www.stmgrts.org.uk/archives/2011/09/school_anxiety.html

    Or perhaps some sites like For Sanity’s Sake, Richmond NCT or Richmond Net Mums have discussions on this. Links??

    Meanwhile… Needless to say admissions are skewed by a number of things (the presence of church schools, borough boundaries, school location vs baby boom areas). It should not be beyond the ability of the Council to have a system, perhaps using one of those humming boxes – or “computers” as some people call them – to prioritise things such that it does not simply come down to footsteps from the school but also takes account of the risk of children being falling between the cracks. Or something along the lines of no child will be required to travel more than 2 miles to school. The policy might lead to strangely shaped catchment areas (such as they are) but it would broadly be fairer than trekking across the borough.

    Or, do like some people and simply go to church a lot for a year.

  4. Glen Collins

    Based on the fact that everyone is saying that schooling is an issue, out of interest where are people ending up having to take their kids? The council have an obligation to get all 5 year olds into a school within the borough – is this not acceptable to people?

    Or are people finding they have to travel right across the Borough to get to the school that the Council have put them in?

    I have a daughter due to go to school next September – we live on Northcote Road, St Margarets (right on border with Hounslow) so we are in one of the worst places for Richmond schools as its all based on distance from schools (and our area strangely has pretty much nothing nearby)

    So, are other people (particularly from this area) having to ship their kids half way across the Borough to go to a school that no-one else wants to go to? What are these schools?

    • Northcote St and the rest of North St Margaret’s were in Hounslow borough until 2000; several Hounslow schools are in walking distance and entry to them does not depend on which borough you live in.

      • Glen Collins

        Are you sure this is the case Chris? I have been told that Hounslow are under no obligation to school Richmond children, but Richmond does have a legal obligation (from the age of 5).

        I’ve also been informed that Hounslow has a list of roads which link with schools. For example, our road which is northcote road, is linked with Ivy Bridge School, so applying for (say) Worple is unlikely to be successful unless it has spare places (which is unlikely) as Hounslow put Northcote Road kids into Ivy Bridge.

        Compared to Richmound Council schools (where I pay extortionate council tax for the honour of living within its boundaries…) The Ivy Bridge school (and to a less extent the Worple school) do not get highly recommended by Ofsted or other metrics, thus I would be pretty disgusted if I am paying council tax in Richmond and having to go to a school in Hounslow – I might as well move and save some money if tha’ts the case…..

        One of the key reasons for moving into Richmond council was to get the high quality of schooling available in the borough.

        • Two separate issues:

          1: Richmond has a duty to offer your child in a borough school, but NOT one that is convenient or ‘good’ or available at the start of the school year (30 kids won’t start at Orleans Infants until their new classroom is ready in January).

          2: Schools are not allowed to use borough of residence’ as a selection criterion (the Greenwich judgement) but they can used ’linke schools’ as Richmond currently does (but may soon abandon).

          You will find the criteria used by Hounslow schools on its website. Allocating roads to schools is just a simplified version of the usual distance criterion which has the advantage of giving certainty and getting all the kids in a street into one school.

          15 years ago a child living in Northcote Rd would have got a place at OI but since then 100s of young families have moved into St Margaret’s and now the catchment area does not even reach the A316 – I think but others may know the details.

          The difference between the schools does not not lie in the schooling but the attitudes, education and energy of the parents.

  5. George

    What we have at the moment in the Borough, assorted church primaries but no faith based secondaries, is a situation that you would not invent if you were startting from scratch. To say that just because we have faith based primaries we should be entitled to faith based secondaries does not seem logical to me. Why are there so many church schools, especially CofE junior schools? I expect it’s more to do with churches in Victorian England doing good work for their local communities by providing some form of education where no alternative existed. That’s not the situation now. Times have changed.

    This country has, on the whole, become more secular since all those church schools were founded but also more diverse. For me, the logical approach is to be moving to a situation where all schools respect people’s private faiths, teach about religion but don’t follow any particular one.

  6. No-one’s objecting to any faith setting up a school Dave, it’s restrictions on admissions that are the issue.

    In a borough struggling for school places full stop setting up an exclusive school with public money is outrageous.

    • Dave

      Carl
      Church of England primaries are only partly funded by voluntary contributions and the church. In my experience, many parents object to the contribution but still start attending church so they can get their child into the school.
      Yes, it may be outrageous but Blair opened the door on this issue and there’s no going back now.

  7. Dave

    You cannot have Church of England primaries and object to another faith setting up a school – it’s just not logical.

  8. Well, I was definitely there because I gave the speech on behalf of the petitioners! If you want to see the debate, there’s a link on our website http://www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk .
    No-one gave a response to our simple request, which us for “the council 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”. Even though we went out of our way to point out that does not preclude future faith schools, even a Catholic school, it seems that none of the Councillors were prepared to face this fundamental question. The LibDem Education Spokesman, Cllr Eady, acknowledged that their national policy is for inclusiveness in schools, but then didn’t go the next step and say that means that they would only support a new Catholic school in the borough if it were inclusive. On the other side we heard a good explanation of the complex challenges facing the Council in organising secondary eduction, and their in-principle support for a Catholic school. But no direct response to what we were asking.

    Meanwhile, outside York House, there was fantastic support, with loads of kids, banners , balloons and plenty of noise. Arriving Councillors now know this is a mass campaign.

    So if you were there – thanks! And if you haven’t yet signed the petition and joined our supporter list, here are the links:
    Petition: http://tinyurl.com/riscpetition1
    Website: http://www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk
    Facebook group: search for “Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign”

  9. So, how was if for those that were there, or watching the Council’s webcast of course? Conclusive? Inconclusive? Perhaps just a touch of “to be continued”?

  10. The petition was presented last night. I have published Cllr Malcolm Eady’s speech for the Lib Dems at:
    http://twickenhamlibdems.co.uk/en/article/2011/511916/the-inclusive-schools-petition-the-liberal-democrat-response

  11. Gareth Roberts

    Apropos of your recent ‘There’s only one way to find out’ tweet – where Twickerati leads, Martha Kearney on The World at One follows. Have a listen to today’s broadcast

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