It’s bad news for parents wanting to send their children to the planned Turing House free school. And it’s bad news for the school and its sponsors too. Despite being on the admissions list of schools accepting pupils for Year 7 entry in 2014 – and offering places just a fortnight ago – the school has had to announce that its opening will be put back by a year to 2015. Why? It’s all down to that tricky but rather essential issue of having a site on which to operate. The lack of a suitable site has dogged the free school plan since its early days. It missed out on the Clifden Road site in Twickenham when El Brute opted to give that to the new St Richard Reynolds school and alternative ideas, including setting up home at NPL in Teddington, also never materialised. Turing House did have plans for a temporary site but Schools Minister, Lord Nash, opted to defer the opening to 2015 as a result of concerns over its permanent home.
The school’s supporters have worked long and hard to try to secure a site. An independent observer might wonder where Richmond Council fits into this picture. El Brute’s decision to facilitate Clifden Road going to a voluntary aided school and its breathless descriptions of Haymarket Media’s potential involvement in redeveloping the Richmond College site at Egerton Road site (complete with community new free school) don’t seem to have rubbed off in helping Turing House secure a location. Could they have done more? We’ve no idea, but ignorant folk might suggest that a ‘parent-powered’ free school is exactly the sort of thing that the government’s schools supremo and Tracy Island resident, Michael Gove would approve of. Or rather, as Mr Gove would probably insist, it’s “exactly the sort of thing of which he would approve”.
As for those parents who had been offered places at Turing House (along with a second choice option) they’re now having to weigh up their choices and see what they can find among the existing local schools. Meanwhile a parents’ meeting is scheduled for 25th March at 7.30pm at Clarendon Hall, York House. Oh, and the Council will have to revise down the stats in its press release which showed 71% of Richmond pupils securing a place at their first choice of secondary school.
Marks out of ten? You decide.
* Turing House