Twickenham home for RC School

RACC to become RC School

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?

Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign
Richmond Free School
n.b. If we could find a link to a support site we’d post it. Honest.


Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Schools

17 responses to “Twickenham home for RC School

  1. Simon H

    So where are all these atheist schools then? There’s no such thing.

  2. nemesis

    Catholics shouldnt have their education funded but athiests should ? Why, they both pay taxes.
    I think you will find that Catholic schools do better on average in all areas, and in all criteria, including being rated highly for promoting “community cohesion”.

  3. Simon H

    The Catholic church has a lot to gain from well-attended, state-funded “Catholic” schools, nemesis. Good PR if nothing else. I have no objection to faith schools, however hypocritical, but they should not be paid for by the State. As to your first point, I’ve no idea why some Church-affiliated schools perform better. It certainly wasn’t the case when I went to Catholic school (more’s the pity). I guess it just varies from school to school and area to area and, at the moment, some parents think a Catholic school is the best bet. Not sure how long this belief will last, though. I notice the non-Church-affiliated Trafalgar Primary has just got an Outstanding grade in its Ofsted report. I wonder how many parents of the current generation of Twickenham pre-schoolers will feel quite so Catholic now.

  4. Simon H

    Sure, but it’s not the job of taxpayers to foot the bill for religious schools for people who are only sending their kids there because they think they might get a better education, not because they have any real faith. The hypocrisy certainly doesn’t lie with the taxpayers. It lies with the parents and the Church, which doesn’t bother to check make any real checks on parents.

    • nemesis

      Interesting that you think parents believe their children get better education at a church school – I wonder why.
      A test of faith is rather hard to quantify in any meaningful way, since it is very personal. What would the Church achieve by doing so apart alienating possible converts and irritate its stronger adherants. It accepts people IN good faith without a need to test them. Even the most ardent of Catholics have a crisis of faith at some point in their life as many will testify.

  5. nemesis

    It is not the job of the church to judge peoples motivation to attend services, which as far as I know – they dont. The hypocrisy lies with the parents not the church or the taxpayers.
    “Daddy, I cheated in my exams at school today. Well, son you shouldnt do that, it is wrong. Well you cheated to get me into the school”

  6. Simon H

    Sorry! That was because I posted from work. Both Anon comments are from Simon H.

  7. FAO Anon or Anon(s). Please pick a user name and try to stick with it. It doesn’t have to be your full name, as you can see from other comments, first names & net names will do.

  8. Anon

    Trust me, Chris, I went to a Catholic school and I know my facts. Those selection criteria—which are already very wooly—are widely ignored or lied about by parents. I know two people whose children go to local Catholic schools and neither of them, nor their children, are churchgoers (including Sunday school). They may be baptized, but if their commitment to their supposed faith is so negligible, why should taxpayers commit large amounts of money to provide them with a selective school?

  9. Anon

    Exactly, George. i know two people with children at local Catholic schools who are not practising Catholics. Indeed, I went to a Catholic school and at least 40 per cent of parents were not regular churchgoers (and that was in the Eighties when church attendance was much higher). This whole thing is laced with hypocrisy.

  10. Simon H

    If this “faith” school does get the go-ahead, I trust all of the parents who send their kids there will be regular Catholic churchgoers? Of course, they will, just like all the parents who send their kids to St James’ Primary School (excellent Ofsted report) are.

    It’s funny how few 30 and 40 something people attend mass at the Catholic church at the end of our road. It’s mainly older people who probably don’t have school-age children. I expect the parents must be going somewhere else. Or maybe Catholics just have kids really late.

    • The admission criteria for St James’s CP are a matter of public record for anyone who can be bothered to look them up:

      ‘St James’s Catholic Primary:
      Baptised looked-after children from Catholic families
      Baptised Catholic Siblings
      Baptised practising Catholic children living in the parishes of St Theodore or St Margaret
      Baptised practising Catholic children living in the parishes of St James, St Francis de Sales, St Margaret or St Theodore
      Baptised practising Catholic children living outside these four parishes
      Baptised catholic children whose application is not supported by a priest
      Other looked-after children
      Children of other Christian denominations
      Children of other faiths
      Any other children’

      Note that it is the children who must be ‘practising’ i.e. attending Sunday school, not the parents. Some [but not all] Anglican schools, in contrast, select practising parents:

      ‘Holy Trinity CE Primary
      Children in public care
      Children whose parents are regularly practising Christians
      Attendance at Holy Trinity Nursery

      Some Catholic schools are more liberal:

      ‘St Osmund’s Catholic Primary
      Baptised Catholic children, including members of churches in communion with the Holy See
      Children of other Christian denominations
      Children from other faiths

      as are some Anglican ones:

      ‘St Stephen’s CE Junior (Year 3 onwards)
      Children in public care
      Attendance at Orleans Infant School
      Regular attendance at St Stephen’s church

      Best not, I suggest, to make cheap jibes based on ignorance about this sensitive subject. Let us stick to the facts.

    • George

      What facts? That pre-School catholic children go to Church or Sunday School regularly without their parents involvement? I expect that every parent knows other parents who’ve gone through the motions of church attendance / sunday school with their young kids only to see that devotion fade away once the child is securely in Reception. In fact an old friend & self confessed socialist atheist took to delivering parish magazines around north London to get his kids into the local primary. May Marx save his soul.

  11. SGdB

    I agree with the sentiment in your final paragraph, that Grammar Schools should be opened in the Borough. That would be the best provision for our children, to give them a real chance in life.

  12. Yes, we’ve got a major shortage of school places and the Council’s top priorty is to provide a school that will only be open to 10% of the population (plus Catholics from other boroughs)! More and more people are supporting the Richmond Inclusive Schools campaign, which will continue to fight for all new schools in the borough open to everyone, including Catholics.

    One factual correction to the twickerati piece though: it is not true to say that “free schools are ….faith schools for middle class atheists”. In fact one of the worries about free schools is that a disproportionate number of them are faith schools (though they’re restricted to 50% max faith-based admissions). The proposed Richmond Free School is not a faith school , but it’s not an atheist school either. It’s simply neutral/secular the same as the local Community schools, and therefore “inclusive” in the sense we’re taking about here. Of course there are other reasons for people to be pro- or anti-free schools, but that’s another story….

    • Fair point. An early draft did include a line about creationists but the soundbite didn’t work quite as well. We never let the facts get in the way of a good line.

  13. This is a long way from being as done deal as the RTT implied in their first report The LBRuT cabinet paper on this purchase is at:

    It says: ‘‘ . . 3.11 The borough wide context is that between 2000 [and 2009], the number of live births rose [by 25 %], from 2,384 . . to 2,992 . .
    . . 3.13 . . 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.’ (my emphasis)

    The Lib Dem position is: ‘ . . it (a catholic school) should not be at the expense of community secondary school provision. The latter must have the first call on available public money and land . . ’. (

    Ninety per cent of our children are not catholics; they do not wish to attend a catholic school; nor would they be allowed in without a certificate of catholic baptism. A 25 % increase in the birth rate means we must open at least one, perhaps two, new community schools. At some point common sense will break into Lord True’s fantasy world and the scheme will be quietly abandoned so that a community school, open to all, can be set up on the site.