The great secondary school debate is getting hot, hot, hot. And twickerati has gone all biased as a result. You will recall that the recent online petition calling for any new secondary school in the Borough to be an inclusive school got an airing at a Council meeting last month. You may also remember that there was a show of support before the debate by those wanting an inclusive school and that was a counter-demonstration by those who don’t want an inclusive school, but instead want one with an admissions policy driven by Roman Catholic faith-based criteria. Such a situation would of course give Roman Catholics more secondary school choices in the Borough than everybody else: all the usual secondary schools, plus their own school. Should Council taxpayers be funding this? We don’t think so. Under the arrangements for a voluntary aided church school, the taxpayer pays all the running costs and c90% of the capital costs while the church pays c10% of the capital costs and controls the admissions. Here at twickerati HQ we think that’s not right. We reckon that religious beliefs are a private matter and that the world we live in today is very different from the one that existed when many of our church schools were founded over one hundred years ago. What’s wrong with teaching children about religion, belief, respect and tolerance in an inclusive way, without pursuing any particular agenda?
The current online petition calling for a Catholic secondary is to be debated at York House on Tuesday, 1st November. Given that the Council declined to respond to the inclusive school petition until after this upcoming debate, the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign are hoping for a good turnout on the 1st to show that a great many people in the Borough support an inclusive, rather than an exclusive, school.
You can turn up and show your support:
Tue 1st November
UPDATE: This debate has now been moved to 13th December although the Council will be discussing a Lib Dem motion calling for consultation on this issue. Details here.
But that’s not all. Oh no…
The Catholic Diocese of Westminster has now formally submitted two requests for consent from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, to publish proposals for Voluntary Aided schools on the Clifden Road site (the home of Richmond Adult College, now intended for the proposed Catholic school). In addition to the secondary school it looks as if a single form entry primary school could be on the table too. According to RISC, if Gove refuses then that will be an important, but not necessarily final, victory for the Inclusive Schools brigade. But if he does grant consent then a formal process beings which will include some consultation, but only on the Council’s terms. That means El Brute will decide what happens and there’s no right of appeal.
So where now?
RISC want you to write to your MP asap asking for consent to be refused or at least delayed pending an open and meaningful consultation about the Clifden Road site:
* St Vince can be written to at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to his constituency office at 2a Lion Road, Twickenham TW1 4JQ. (You’ll need to include your home address).
* Zac can be found at: email@example.com or by letter to: 12 King Street, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1ND. (Again, home address required)
Needless to say we’ve plagiarised most of the above from the RISC but we’re hoping they’ll forgive us. We should also say that this twickerati site makes no pretence to provide objective, impartial news. You can get that elsewhere if you really want it.
UPDATE: School Petition Debate Moved from 1 Nov to 13th Dec. Details here.