School choices

Schools, eh? Whoever had the idea of putting children in a room and teaching them stuff was a genius, a bloody genius. But how did that genuis get educated in the first place? It’s one of life’s great mysteries.

This week will see a focus on secondary schools in Twickenham. On 1st March, the September intake of Year 7 pupils will find out which school they’ve been allocated. (Primary school children find out their fate in April). In Twickenham, as with just about everywhere else, it’s a bit of a post-code lottery but at least in this part of the burbs it’s one where most people get broadly what they want. Orleans Park, Teddington and Waldegrave are generally well regarded and get good GCSE results, especially girls comp Waldegrave which always features near the top of results tables. The only question mark sits next to Twickenham Academy but “the school formerly known as Whitton” is still in its first year of operations and so it’s far too early to judge. It’s got new facilities and, as seems to be key to these things, a new name. The only problem is that to most people “academy” is just shorthand for “previously underperforming school”. Let’s hope its Swedish management can get rid of that tag. If their strap line “A Learning School” is anything to go by then at least they’ve understood the basics of what schools are for.

Meanwhile at the other end of the production line, the Council is continuing to look at options for re-introducing sixth forms to Borough Schools. (It’s also floated the idea of setting up a Roman Catholic secondary school, presumably because only Roman Catholics want good secondary education). It’s been a long time since schools had sixth forms in Richmond. There are arguments for and against but having an option to continue learning up to A Levels in an environment that has delivered decent GCSE results only two months previously doesn’t seem like a such bad idea. As with just about everything else at the moment, cost and logistical considerations could see this one simmering on the back burner for a while. To be continued.

So best of luck to all those waiting to hear about school places for their children later today. And if you’re a Year 6 pupil reading this, then stop wasting time on the internet and go and do your homework instead.

4 Comments

Filed under Local Issues & News, Schools

4 responses to “School choices

  1. … Meanwhile the debate over having a Roman Catholic secondary school in the Borough rumbles on. The Richmond and Twickenham Times reports that Accord, a coalition of religious groups, has been urging the Council to drop plans to create a Roman Catholic secondary school. The school would be one of two new secondaries planned for 2015.

    The paper cites The Duke of York [House], aka Council Leader Lord True, as saying that many Catholics are forced to send their children to schools outside the borough. But it doesn’t say who by.

    The full R&T Times story is here: http://bit.ly/faZTAG

  2. George

    I agree with Jeremy. Faith schools are just a way for certain groups to introduce selective education funded by the general public. Yes, they are taxpayers too but to me it looks like faith based selection is more about excluding certain people than a desire for religious education. Let’s have LESS choice but MORE good local schools.

    And Chris, who “guaranteed” places at those schools to parents? Other local parents presumably. If people flock to an area for its schools then they should realise that that will put pressures on the local education system. As a result there’s no guarantee that the status quo can be maintained. That’s life… and it’s not exactly as if any of the primaries in Twickenham aren’t good.

  3. Jeremy Rodell

    The shortage of places is hitting all levels, which is why the Council is saying that they’ll need two new secondaries in the borough by 2015. Giving one of them to the Catholic Church, but still covering almost all the costs from public funds, is pretty outrageous, whether you’re a parent, a taxpayer or just someone who’s interested in fairness. What’s wrong with good schools open to everyone whatever their parents believe?

  4. The real excitement will come in April. Four-year-old children from St Margaret’s and East Twickenham face a shortage of school places in September, because the Conservative Council has halved and delayed by a year the previous Liberal Democrat plans for school expansion in the area.

    Because of the Council’s unwillingness to provide funds, 50 % of the planned extra places are to be put on hold until and unless the Government funds them. The previous Lib Dem council had consulted parents on plans to provide an extra 60 places a year (420 across all years) at St Mary’s Primary, Orleans Infants and the new St John’s site. These plans have now been scaled back to provide just 30 extra places a year (210 across all years) at St Mary’s, with no expansion of Orleans Infants. Delays in making progress means that even this expansion will now not be available until September 2012.

    Stand by for ructions in April! The area’s 4 Tory councillors can expect to be given a rough ride by angry parents who have in many cases paid a considerable premium to buy a house that [they were told] guaranteed a place at Orleans or St Mary’s Infants and who will instead be offered places in the farthest reaches of the borough, implying impossible school runs in the morning rush hour. No parent is more pushy than a St Margaret’s pushy parent . .