School Gets Green Light

After all the brouhaha over the setting up of the St Richard Reynolds voluntary aided faith school in Twickenham, it’s interesting to see the Department for Education giving the green light for the proposed Turing House free school. The Turing House brigade who started life (not literally, of course) promoting an inclusive, community-based free school for Twickenham have jumped through a lot of hoops to get approval for their plan. Their aim is to “create an outstanding and inclusive school, with a clear focus on high performance for children from 11 to 18”. Early thinking was that the Clifden Road site in Twickenham might have proved suitable for such a school but with that unavailable, the focus moved to NPL in Teddington as the preferred location. There’s still a lot more work to be done, including working with the Government’s Education Funding Agency to properly secure a suitable site, but Turing House hopes to open its doors to its first Year 7 intake in September 2014.

LINKS:
* Turing House School
* Press Release

8 Comments

Filed under Local Issues & News, Schools

8 responses to “School Gets Green Light

  1. UPDATE: The NPL site will not be available to Turing House School and so an alternative location now needs to be found.

  2. Ex Twickenham Resident

    I think Sarah speaks good sense and in my humble opinion probably reflects the opinion of the (silent) majority of the borough.

  3. Walkinthepark

    The Turing House team deserve our gratitude and admiration. They have worked hard and sacrificed their time and energy to meeting the needs of Twickenham parents for the sort of new school places they desire, many of whom may not yet realise the school place crisis that looms. Too late for some non-Catholic Central Twickenham parents who currently have no primary school place and find themselves behind more than 20 parents in the waiting lists for local schools. Given that, I don’t think it is inappropriate to celebrate that one group of parents acted in the interests of all the others when the Council failed to.

  4. Jeremy Rodell

    It’s indeed good news that Turing House has the go ahead (assuming a site can be found) as well as the long-awaited North Kingston school. But both of them were already assumed in the Council’s detailed forecasts issued in Oct 2011, before the St.RR decision was taken.
    The fact remains that the growth in demand means that the Council have taken a massive risk. There will be 360 more borough children moving from borough primaries into the secondary sector in 2016 than there were in 2012; by 2017 it’s 440, and by 2018, 570. By then the borough will only have added 300 inclusive places (Turing House plus the new school the Council plans at Richmond College site for 2017).
    Everyone agrees that it’s impossible to predict the demand at given schools with any accuracy. Given this uncertainty, it was irresponsible to give away the prime Clifden Road site for a state-funded school (St.RR) that, once it’s fully subscribed, will be effectively closed to the 90% or so of local children whose parents aren’t Catholics.
    That decision is now in the past. But the Council should continue to be held accountable for it. And discriminatory admissions – at St.RR or other state-funded schools – are no more acceptable now than before it was taken.

    • Sarah

      Most of my friends at the (non-faith) school gate this afternoon, rather than wanting to turn this into another opportunity to bash faith schools, are very happy with the extra provision.
      Provision, as you quite rightly say was already forecast by the council.

      I did not want a faith school place for my child, but I don’t wish to deny that for my practising neighbours. I have several (non-faith) friends who have accepted places at St RR as they were not keen on Twickenham Academy. No doubt, if Turing House had been an option for them for 2013, they might have chosen that too.

      It appears that the council were right when talking about choice and diversity.
      This is all good news – lets not try and spoil that by rehashing old debates.

    • Jeremy Rodell

      The Council’s talk about “choice & diversity” is exactly the point. Meaningful choice is a myth when good schools are over-subscribed and there there is religious discrimination in access to all the faith schools (with the welcome exception of the new St.Mary’s primary in Hampton). Real choice and diversity would mean that all the state-funded faith schools were equally open to everyone, as they are in most other countries. As it is, some borough parents have far wider choice of schools than their neighbours, both at primary and secondary level, simply because of their religion. That’s not an “old debate” but a very current one – ask the non-Catholic parents with children at Sacred Heart who now find they may be unable to get their siblings in.

      While it’s of course right to welcome new capacity, as well as the gains in quality at local schools (notably Grey Court’s “outstanding” Ofsted), we should not fall for the propaganda which says, as the Council are seeking to do, that everything is the garden is rosy. They’ve taken a big and avoidable risk in order to favour a powerful minority, and now the’re hoping they’ll get away with it. For the sake of the borough’s children, we should hope that they will.
      The immediate question is whether a suitable site for Turing House can be found and planning permissions granted enabling it to open in 2014. The site they originally wanted was, of course, Clifden Road.

  5. Sarah

    Why the negative comment about St RR?
    I have been supportive of St RR and Turing House – it is not mutually exclusive!

    What a shame that some people have to turn what is, really good news into another opportunity to have a pop at a school that they do not happen to like.

    Personally, I would prefer to wish all of our schools good luck, and I say that as a parent whose child will be going to Twickenham Academy in September. My only hope is that there will not be an over provision of places in 2014 which negatively impacts on the Academies.

    It was also good to see that the North Kingston Free School as also been given the go-ahead, which should take some of the pressure off of Grey Court.

    Good news all around – let’s hope that all of this negative stuff can now cease.

  6. Anonymous

    “inclusive and community based”, so the antithesis of St RR then! Whatever next, a good education for the masses?
    Good luck to them