Catholic School Debate Hits York House Tonight

You’re already aware of the shenanigans in the press about the possibility of a new Roman Catholic secondary school being opened in the Borough. It’s been covered extensively in the Richmond and Twickenham Times. You mean you’ve not read it and come here as your main source of local information? Great, get yourself a lolly from the jar.

To sum it all up (without too much attention to the facts):
The newish Tory administration at El Brute (aka LBRuT aka London Borough of Richmond upon Thames) has indicated that in planning for two new secondary schools in the Borough, its intention is for one of these schools to be a Roman Catholic school. To add weight to this, some RCs in the Borough have whipped up a petition of over 1,000 signatures supporting the idea. Sending this petition to the Council has led to the item being tabled for discussion at Council tonight (as in Tuesday 5th April). And yes, you too can attend & watch as a member of the public.

But it’s not all one way traffic, plenty of people in the Borough are against the idea of faith schools and so tonight’s Council meeting will see those who are minded to go to mass debate with those who don’t. (Come on, did you really expect us to skip the chance of dropping in that puerile line somewhere?)

The Roman Catholic parents’ view is that because Richmond is just one of only two London Boroughs without a Catholic secondary school it’s right and fair that they should be allowed to have their children educated locally in a faith based environment. The alternative, they say, is for them to send their children to RC secondary schools in neighbouring boroughs with all the extra hassle that goes with it.

The counter argument runs along the lines of why should tax payers money be used to establish a school which will select its pupils from only a minority of the Borough’s population and which could even see children from outside the Borough prioritised if they score more faith points than those living locally. Opponents of the plan claim that providing high quality schooling for all children ought to be the priority. Many also take the view that faith should be a personal matter rather than something enshrined in the state education system.

Sure enough there are already a lot of faith based primaries in the Borough, mostly CofE and some RC. Are parents selecting these schools purely out of devotion to their religious beliefs? Some certainly are but the sudden surge in Church attendance by the parents of 3 and 4 year olds seems to indicate that a strong religious belief can also emerge when it’s time to make school choices. An amazing co-incidence? Or an indication that belief and school choices already have a complicated relationship?

So, if you’re in the vicinity of York House and fancy hearing some strong opinions then you can attend the meeting. And better still, give it a write up on here later on.

Links:
1) Council Meeting: 5th April, 7.00pm, York House http://bit.ly/hceYlu
2) Richmond & Twickenham Times story (one of many): http://bit.ly/f4TYCe
3) Inclusive schools campaign (i.e. against faith schools): http://www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk/
4) Campaign for a Catholic secondary: happy to put up a link if there is one.

5 Comments

Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Schools

5 responses to “Catholic School Debate Hits York House Tonight

  1. ‘Purchase Of [the Clifden Road] Site For The Provision Of School Places’ [LBRuT cabinet paper 21/07/11] is at:

    http://cabnet.richmond.gov.uk/mgConvert2Pdf.aspx?ID=5711&T=9

    Extract: ‘ . . 3.13 At secondary level, Richmond upon Thames is one of only two boroughs in London that does not have a state Catholic secondary school. As a result, children whose parents want them to be educated in Catholic state schools have to look outside the borough. At its meeting on 5 April 2011, Council received a petition calling for the establishment of a state Catholic Secondary School in the borough. There was cross-party support in favour of provision for a state Catholic school.

    It must be stressed however that this Council level support does not represent a decision to provide this type of school at the Clifden site. That would be a separate decision from that which is before the Cabinet in this report.’

  2. nemesis

    Jeremy, do you have the figures for how many pupils of non-christian parents have to attend secondary state schools outside the borough?

  3. There’s a looming shortage of secondary school places yet the Council is giving top priority to a school that will effectively be closed to the 90% who are not Catholics. At the same time, there are already eight Catholic secondaries within a 5 miles radius of the centre of the borough. Pretty outrageous n’est ce pas?

  4. Council press release 14.07.11: Plans for new school get green light

    Richmond Council is proposing to purchase the Richmond Adult Community College (RACC) premises at Clifden Road in Twickenham for the purpose of providing a new primary and secondary school for the borough. The project is being made possible following a decision by the College on Wednesday evening to sell the site to the local authority. The council’s proposals are now subject to final agreement by the cabinet on Thursday 21 July.

    The acquisition of the Clifden Site could pave the way for the council to deliver on the longstanding promises to support the creation of a State Catholic Secondary School for Richmond upon Thames.

    Talking about the proposals Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council said: “ . . We have a growing need for more school places in the Twickenham area. This administration is acting decisively to address that need. I would stress that this is just the beginning of a process. It will involve careful negotiation with a number of parties including RACC. But it may now also pave the way to deliver on the ambition cherished by so many local people of providing a Catholic secondary school for our borough . . ”

  5. Jeremy Rodell

    Just in case anyone expects to enjoy some metaphorical mud-wrestling at the debate tonight, bear in mind that the only speakers allowed will be the Petitioner (i.e. a Catholic speaker) and Councillors.

    But the Inclusive Schools Campaign is just getting revved up. So if you support us, go to the website (www.richmondinclusiveschools.org.uk) and sign up (confidentially) to be kept informed.