We don’t want to bang on about schools, honestly we don’t. You’ve got better things to do. We’ve got better things to do. But it is an area where El Brute are moving at quite a pace, or at least trying to. There’s a lot going on so we’ll try keep it brief, shall we? Rather!
SIXTH Form Consultation Gets Going
Time for a sixth form here?
School sixth forms. Remember them? They’ve not been around in this borough for a while but maybe you remember them from wherever or perhaps “if ever” you went to school. They were the places where you reckoned you were cooler than the other kids coz you had a different tie or maybe coz got to wear your own clothes. They were the places where you had a “common room” where you could sit around bitching about the teachers instead of having to sit around bitching about the teachers in a normal classroom. Cool! “That Mr Jenkins, what an idiot!” Good times? You reckon? Jimmy Hill!
Anywayyyyy…. El Brute is now seeking your views on proposals to introduce sixth forms to the Borough’s Schools, or at least the ones where it’s not already underway. Both Hampton and Twickenham Academies have already started planning to set up sixth forms for September 2012 admissions but of the other schools – the ones El Brute would love to see become
academies – the proposals relate to sixth forms being ready by September 2014. Round these parts we’re talking Waldegrave, Orleans Park and Teddington. The proposals involve some pooling and “commonality” so that schools work together to deliver a coherent proposition under the banner of “Richmond Upon Thames Post-16 Partnership”. Don’t fret, we’ll think up a suitably pathetic acronym for that at a later date.
There’s been a lot of correspondence about sixth forms in the local rag, much of it coming from those who say the significant expense of doing this could be better spent elsewhere, from those who say that small school-based sixth forms won’t be able to offer more than a limited range of core subjects and from those who keep pointing out that Richmond College already offers a wide range of courses, gets reasonable results etc, etc. The problem is dudes that 87% of those who responded to an El Brute survey want sixth forms or at least want them as an option in addition to the one single option currently available in the Borough. Excessive choice isn’t always a good thing (admit it, do actually enjoy the time you spend staring in utter confusion at the array of cereals on the shelves of Tesco or Waitrose?) but offering some kind of choice for the thousands of 16-18 year olds in the Borough of Richmond doesn’t seem like a totally unreasonable idea.
The consultation runs to 30th March 2012
* El Brute’s statutory consultation on sixth forms
Having covered the great school debate only recently, we didn’t expect to return to it so soon. Honest, guv! But this latest twist in the story makes interesting reading. Those eagle eyed folks at the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) have spotted that Richmond Council may not have done its homework properly in its consultation over Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic secondary and primary schools in Twickenham.
Under the transitional arrangements of the Education Act 2011, the Act’s new rules (which favour academies and free schools) apply if a Council needs a new school except where formal proposals for voluntary aided schools were published before 1st February. So far, whatever. But here’s the interesting bit…
[UPDATE: If you want to express interest in the proposals for a new community secondary then you need to do it by 24th. It does not involve a commitment. See end of item for links.]
Clifden Road Site, Twickenham
Well, Richmond Council said they’d consult on their intention to establish a Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic secondary school in the Borough and now they are. After the petition wars and great Council chamber debates of 2011, and not forgetting the gangs of placard waving supporters (of both sides) outside York House, the next step in the process is finally underway. But just like an episode of the classic cartoon series Wacky Races we’ve got a late entrant appearing out of nowhere just as we approach the finish line.
UPDATE: A quick reminder that any comments on ending the link status need to be made by 13th January.
Orleans Park School
The great school debate continues in this most leafy part of suburban London. So what are El Brute up to now you say? Well, since you ask, two things. They’re consulting on whether to end the link school status that exists between some local (and localish) primary schools and three of the Borough’s secondaries and they’re also busy saying that everyone will be a winner when it comes to secondary education. Good news? Perhaps it is… if you can understand it all and depending on your point of view in the first place, of course.
The great secondary school debate has taken another twist. In fact, if a local authority wore knickers we’d definitely think they were getting them in a twist. It’s a nightmarish thought to think of York House smothered by a giant pair of bloomers. Or Council Leader Lord True dressed in a pair of….. OK, that’s enough of the fantasising!
As you’ll know from this very site, or elsewhere, the Council was to have debated the petition in favour of a voluntary aided Roman Catholic faith school on 1st November. Perhaps you were even going to turn up at York House to show your support for it or show your preference for Richmond’s next school to be an inclusive school? Don’t bother. LBRuT has now bumped the battle of the banners by moving the petition debate to a later date. El Brute has said this was at the request of the peition organisers and that it’s now likely to take place on December 13th.
The great secondary school debate is getting hot, hot, hot. And twickerati has gone all biased as a result. You will recall that the recent online petition calling for any new secondary school in the Borough to be an inclusive school got an airing at a Council meeting last month. You may also remember that there was a show of support before the debate by those wanting an inclusive school and that was a counter-demonstration by those who don’t want an inclusive school, but instead want one with an admissions policy driven by Roman Catholic faith-based criteria. Such a situation would of course give Roman Catholics more secondary school choices in the Borough than everybody else: all the usual secondary schools, plus their own school. Should Council taxpayers be funding this? We don’t think so. Under the arrangements for a voluntary aided church school, the taxpayer pays all the running costs and c90% of the capital costs while the church pays c10% of the capital costs and controls the admissions. Here at twickerati HQ we think that’s not right. We reckon that religious beliefs are a private matter and that the world we live in today is very different from the one that existed when many of our church schools were founded over one hundred years ago. What’s wrong with teaching children about religion, belief, respect and tolerance in an inclusive way, without pursuing any particular agenda?
In a bizarre volte face (yes, we said volte face) that would have even the most flaky politician wincing into their BlackBerry over business meetings in Dubai, we have decided to go all ‘good news’ for a minute or two.
Credit where credit’s due, much as we might think that twickerati is the website of choice for the discerning residents of south west London, we’d be wrong. Two excellent sites with local connections are currently in contention for awards or prizes. They could hardly be more different, but we salute them both…
Local council advertises independent school
[UPDATE: And they're doing it again this week! But here's the original item]
There probably nothing in it, nothing at all, but this photo strikes us as just a little strange. What about you? Do you think it’s strange? While you’re thinking about it, here’s why we think it’s strange. Richmond has only one option when it comes to state funded sixth form education, namely Richmond College right here in sunny Twickenham. Quite a few people in the borough would like to see this situation changed with local schools being able to offer some kind of sixth form provision. And, while we’re on the subject of schooling, it’s also true that secondary education has a very high profile at the moment what with the whole Catholic school / inclusive school thing. So why then is El Brute, our beloved local authority, promoting an open evening at St Catherine’s independent school? A banner on the ornate gates of York House looks a lot like an LBRuT endorsement of St Catherine’s (a good school, a Catholic school, but not a state one). It would be interesting to know what the Council’s policy is with regard to advertising on the gates of York House and how much it costs to do it. For example, can we expect a similarly high profile Karahi Spices banner any time soon?
So, is this kind of promotion providing a service to the local community or does a local council promoting an independent school represent something of an error of judgement?
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 great debate about whether Richmond needs or wants a Roman Catholic secondary school continues. You’ll already know that the site of Richmond Adult College in Twickenham was provisionally agreed as a suitable location for such a school. And you will remember the photo opportunity grabbed outside York House where a happy looking “Duke of York (House)”, aka Council Leader Lord True, took delivery of a petition from those wanting an RC secondary school in the Borough. Well now there’s a petition that you can sign if you don’t want a Roman Catholic secondary in the Borough. Actually that’s not correct. It’s a petition that you can sign if you think that any new state-funded schools should be open to all regardless of faith.
If you live in the Borough then you can sign up to this particular piece of phrasing:
“We, the undersigned, petition 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.”
If this petition gets 1,000 signatures it will trigger a mini-debate at a Council meeting this autumn. School places, or rather lack of them, is a big issue in the borough and affects both our primary and our secondary schools. And it’s something that all parents, future parents or pretty much anyone else with a view on the education system might want to have a say on.
The petition already has over 800 signatures and is here.
This long running Catholic school debate reminds us of the song in Annie Get Your Gun… “Anything True can do, you can do better…. yes you can, no you can’t, yes you can, no you can’t”. Well, not really but you get the gist.
And you can take a look at the Heatham House petition on the same page if you’re so inclined.
El Brute’s Petitions Page
Anything You Can Do…