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.