School Consultations: one ends, another begins (Deadline 30/3)

We don’t want to bang on about schools, honestly we don’t. You’ve got better things to do. We’ve got better things to do. But it is an area where El Brute are moving at quite a pace, or at least trying to. There’s a lot going on so we’ll try keep it brief, shall we? Rather!

SIXTH Form Consultation Gets Going

Time for a sixth form here?

School sixth forms. Remember them? They’ve not been around in this borough for a while but maybe you remember them from wherever or perhaps “if ever” you went to school. They were the places where you reckoned you were cooler than the other kids coz you had a different tie or maybe coz got to wear your own clothes. They were the places where you had a “common room” where you could sit around bitching about the teachers instead of having to sit around bitching about the teachers in a normal classroom. Cool! “That Mr Jenkins, what an idiot!” Good times? You reckon? Jimmy Hill!

Anywayyyyy…. El Brute is now seeking your views on proposals to introduce sixth forms to the Borough’s Schools, or at least the ones where it’s not already underway. Both Hampton and Twickenham Academies have already started planning to set up sixth forms for September 2012 admissions but of the other schools – the ones El Brute would love to see become academies – the proposals relate to sixth forms being ready by September 2014. Round these parts we’re talking Waldegrave, Orleans Park and Teddington. The proposals involve some pooling and “commonality” so that schools work together to deliver a coherent proposition under the banner of “Richmond Upon Thames Post-16 Partnership”. Don’t fret, we’ll think up a suitably pathetic acronym for that at a later date.

There’s been a lot of correspondence about sixth forms in the local rag, much of it coming from those who say the significant expense of doing this could be better spent elsewhere, from those who say that small school-based sixth forms won’t be able to offer more than a limited range of core subjects and from those who keep pointing out that Richmond College already offers a wide range of courses, gets reasonable results etc, etc. The problem is dudes that 87% of those who responded to an El Brute survey want sixth forms or at least want them as an option in addition to the one single option currently available in the Borough. Excessive choice isn’t always a good thing (admit it, do actually enjoy the time you spend staring in utter confusion at the array of cereals on the shelves of Tesco or Waitrose?) but offering some kind of choice for the thousands of 16-18 year olds in the Borough of Richmond doesn’t seem like a totally unreasonable idea.

The consultation runs to 30th March 2012

* El Brute’s statutory consultation on sixth forms

Been & Gone…..

DEADLINE on Clifden Road aka Catholic School Consultation
Friday 16th March is the deadline for your views on El Brute’s consultation on their dream of seeing the Clifden Road site in Twickenham (currently Richmond Adult Community College) turned into a Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic Secondary with a linked Primary. Vigorously supporting the establishment of a Voluntary Aided school with all the benefits and privileges that brings to the Church in terms of controlling admissions to suit their particular interests, when compared to the overarching approach just about everywhere else that all new schools should battle it out as academies or free schools is wrong. Factor in the growing demand for school places and the exclusive nature of such a school and the whole thing just doesn’t stack up. Academies (and remember that El Brute are hoping that Orleans Park and Waldegrave will take up that ‘option’) and free schools (such as the Twickenham community school that’s currently being promoted) need to have broadly open admission policies. Voluntary Aided schools do not. In this case, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster would be able to dictate the admissions policy and still get the vast majority of the school’s costs fully funded by the taxpayer.

So if you think the Council should be pushing ahead with this, if you think the Council should be neutral on what schools get set up under the new world order, or if you think its schools policy should support openness and options for a broader section of the community whatever their faith or lack of it, you need to have your say by Friday 16th March.

* For a more detailed look at this you can try our last item here
* Or go directly to the LBRuT Consultation here


Filed under Local Issues & News, Schools

14 responses to “School Consultations: one ends, another begins (Deadline 30/3)

  1. Anonymous

    it strange that there are only 2 options one in Esher and other in Twickenham. What about students who come from North End of the Borough, They deserve more choice and local sixth forms.

  2. arzkhan

    Whats the problem with spending £ 25m. Its only around £ 125 per person in the borough to make our secondary schools the best and attract a vast number of students . I think its a good investment in education sector that has suffered from massive under investment over a number of years

  3. Gawain

    ” trying to make Richmond College a more attractive destination for local 16-19 year olds such that they don’t opt for Esher”


    • Gareth Roberts

      Well that’s exactly it, Gawain, and imagine how much could have been achieved towards this with only a fraction of £25 MILLION. However because the Tories are idealogically wedded to VI Forms (even though their last attempt was a humiliating failure) they’re pressing ahead with their policy.

  4. Gareth Roberts

    Fascinating as the Catholic School debate is, I think we would be misguided to lose sight of the topic of this discussion and the utter disgrace that is the Tory plan to bulldoze through a hugely expensive VI Form plan on the basis of a dodgy consultation.

    Will Twickerati reader Cllr Scott ‘Nails’ Naylor be willing to comment and defend the Tories?

    • So, the Tories have a plan to offer more choice in the community but which requires significant capital spend. Meanwhile the Lib Dem’s Malcolm Elloy seems to suggest that if you want good A Levels go to Esher in the Borough of Elmbridge. Funny old world. Perhaps a 3rd way needs to be found which could, for example, include trying to make Richmond College a more attractive destination for local 16-19 year olds such that they don’t opt for Esher or Strode Colleges over the one on their doorstep.

      Of course, any contribution from “Nails” is always welcome. As indeed it is with all of our esteemed local councillors.

    • Gareth Roberts

      At the risk of lapsing into a sub-Ronnie Barker routine the main problem is that residents aren’t being offered the choice of having choice. “You will have choice whether you choose to have it or not” is very much the message coming out of York House.

      There is also the argument that by introducing VI Forms it will destabilise Richmond College to such an extent as to effectively remove it as a choice for many parents.

      Personally I would have much preferred it if the Tories had been up front with borough residents and had come up with a genuinely consultative process to decide on the future of post 16 education in the borough but they didn’t.

    • akhan

      Gareth – You are entitled to your opinion but it seems the Lib Dems lack the ambition to make our secondary schools outstanding. 6th forms are very popular and will highly increase the attractiveness of our borough secondaries. Hopefully we will then have a lot more students who move from state primary to state secondary.Seems like Lib Dems have been ambushed by Lord True into fighting the wrong battle, after getting scared of his bullying on Catholic VA school. Why cant Lib Dems stand for their own national policy on inclusiveness, coaltion agreement and position taken in favor of community schools. Time to jump of the fence !!

  5. Anonymous

    Just read the letter in RTT accusing Jeremy Rodell and Risc supporters of being anti faith and anti faith school, when the truth is actually the opposite. Majority of Risc supporters (including I ) practice a faith and have respect for all faiths and faith schools.What we are challenging is exclusive privilege to one faith group at the expense of other faith groups.
    I know a lot of us have supported the idea of a Catholic academy and shown interest for a 50-50 proposal. I have wondered in this debate long and hard over the last few months, as to why the Catholic supporters are not showing any tolerance or willingness to compromise. How can this serve their best interest of integrating with the non catholic community?

  6. Joy P

    Whatever the arguments over the minutiae of this proposal, the fundamental point is surely that schools, in an area where there is a SHORTAGE (and yes, I am angry), must be schools for ALL and not based on religious belief? Especially when the taxpayer foots the running costs and the initial bill for the site! Why are we having this debate in 2012? If there is indeed such a need for a Catholic school, I am sure the church can afford to foot the bill for the whole caboodle.

  7. Copthall resident

    If you don’t want the children of non Catholic Twickerati currently in Year 3 /4 to face the prospect of setting off at the crack of dawn to the only state secondary school available to them, Richmond Park Academy in Sheen, running the risk of being mown down by the cars carrying Catholic children converging on the Clifden Road school from all corners of the borough and beyond, (and it now seems likely passing the four storey Lord True Car Park opposite the Albany and swallowed up by the high rise Greater Croydon megalopolis around the station) then please let El Brut know you disagree and support the site being offered to the proposed Free School that will provide Twickenham with a Community School. The catchment areas of the schools that currently serve large swathes of Twickers are already shrinking back and will continue to do so. If both Hampton and Twickenham (though it is in Whitton) Academies deliver on El Bruts promises then they too will fill up. I have met Councillor Hodgins and he agrees it is a shame Central Twickenham will become a black hole of school provision by 2015 even according to the optimistic figures the Council has put together to support their case, which must carry a high degree of risk. If they underestimate pupil numbers because more people are attracted by the succcess of the academies Twickenham becomes a black hole quicker, if they overestimate because the academies don’t deliver, non Catholic parents continue to have only the choice of an underperforming school. Lose lose for non Catholic parents in Twickenham whilst Catholic parents have the priviledge of choice, at least of a new Clifden School and established Catholic Schools nearby and possibly of academies, free schools and community schools as well.

  8. Last week’s letter on this topic in the RTT from Cllr Malcolm Elloy, Lib Dem education spokesperson, is at:

    ’ . . The two main providers are Richmond College and Esher College. Richmond College is one of the top providers in the coun­try for the highly academic international baccalaureate . . while Esher is an outstanding college with impressive A-level results. This tertiary system provides a very good bridge between school and higher education . . This plan could destabilise our colleges. They currently provide a very wide range of courses and at all levels, much more than could be provided by individual small sixth forms.

    We, therefore, have a Conser­vative administration that is planning to spend in excess of £25m on a project which will probably not improve outcomes; and is likely to lead to a much re­duced offer on courses. This is reckless and irresponsible whatever the financial climate. If we already had sixth forms in our schools, would the council propose, in the name of competition, setting up at huge expense a rival tertiary college system? – of course not . . ‘

  9. Gareth Roberts

    With the greatest respect, when you say the point is that 87% of people said they wanted VI Forms they weren’t given the full picture when questioned.

    The vital piece of information that it would cost £25 MILLION to bring them in wasn’t mentioned.

    The vital piece of information that it would mean reducing the Year Seven intake of already oversubscribed secondary schools wasn’t mentioned.

    If you were to go back and ask 1321 people at random if they wanted VI Forms at a cost of at least £25 Million to the borough I would wager that the 87% approval rating would plummet.

    And how about the reduction in number of Year Seven places? If you drill down into the respondent profiles you will see that of the 1321 respondents who participated in the consultation 789 were parents of primary schools, 96% of whom were positively disposed. However it is highly questionable whether they would remain positively disposed if they were to be asked the question again but this time with the added information that Year Seven places will be reduced in order to provide the necessary space for the VI Form

    Consultation without detail is effectively a sham.

    • Simon H

      Lib Dems good. Tories bad. Lib Dems good. Tories. bad.
      And the animals looked from pig to man…

      Have you ever read Animal Farm, Gareth?