Just because it’s the school holidays it doesn’t mean that it’s all gone quiet on the great school debate. In fact the whole thing’s hotting up again. El Brute have just agreed that the site of Richmond Adult Community College is the tip top location to make Lord True’s dream of a Roman Catholic secondary school in the Borough come true. The Council have agreed to purchase the site from RACC with a view to handing it over for use as the new school. RACC will use the dosh to consolidate its activities at its Parkshot site in Richmond. The new school’s location, on Clifden Road in downtown Twickers, is a pretty good place for a school, mainly because it used to be one until 30 or so years ago. It’s got the buildings, it’s even got Twickenham County School for Girls above the doors. It’s got a bit of outside space and it’s also near the station so that children whose parents pass the faith test can get there easily from across the Borough and well beyond.
Apparently 10% of the population in the Borough are Roman Catholics and this, we are told, entitles them to a school. Excellent. Presumably any faith or interest group that can reach this 10% threshold will be entitled to its own school too. This is great news for everyone! We might even see some schools for coalitions of interest groups who can’t quite reach the 10% on their own. So how about a boys equivalent to Waldegrave given that there are actually quite a few males in the Borough. At least we now know what the target is. But will the Council be as receptive to schools for other faiths? We’ll just have to wait and see on that one but at least those residents backing the Catholic school would support them. Meanwhile, the debate rumbles on with the pro and anti camps continuing to promote their views to a Council whose mind is already made up. The new school could be open by 2013.
Across the railway tracks, the old Royal Mail sorting office site has been identified as a possible location for another new school. In this case it’s the Richmond Free School who are looking for a home. OK, so the school doesn’t actually exist yet but you get the idea. If you don’t know what free schools are then they’re basically faith schools for middle class atheists. By taking funding from the local authority but not being directly controlled by it, these schools can flourish and deliver an excellent education to their pupils, apparently.
With all this focus on excellence and Richmond Council so in favour of free schools and Roman Catholic schools, can we perhaps expect to see grammar schools return to the Borough in the near future? After all, they generally do OK with their exam results and, just like faith schools, they operate selective admissions policies. And would their return to the Borough be such a bad thing anyway?