East Twickenham School Goes East

Ryde House, Richmond Road, East Twickenham

Ryde House, Richmond Road, East Twickenham

The school report about delivering more much needed primary school places in Twickenham would say something like, ‘needs improvement’. This time it’s East Twickenham that’s in a state of agitation and not without foundation. The plan for a new free school, Richmond Bridge Primary, took a knock recently when the peeps who are setting it up, Bellevue Place Education Trust, announced that they’d found a suitable site… in Richmond. So, the school that’s going to open in September 2015 is no longer Richmond Bridge Primary, it’s now Old Deer School and it’s going to be on Lower Mortlake Road, TW9. Good news for Richmond but bad news for East Twickenham and St Margarets. The trust says it will still welcome applications from TW1 types to the new school and that it still intends to open a school in the East Twickenham area in the future. (Do you remember the future? It was going to be a place full of wonderful things)

Once again it all boils down to the thorny issue of finding a suitable site. Ryde House on Richmond Road had been the intended location but with Lidl now planning to convert it into a supermarket, the school had to find a home elsewhere. Locals are now ramping up the campaign to get a primary school sorted for East Twickenham and have set up a website and petition to focus attention on the issue.

Elsewhere we wait to see what happens next in the saga of Twickenham Green Primary School whose proposed site, Heathgate House, squeezed between Colne Road and Heath Road didn’t impress Green-siders last December. And there’s a final call on another chance to comment (yes, really!) on the plans to turn the RUTC Egerton Road site into the Richmond Education and Enterprise Campus aka REEC. How. Many. Times? An outline planning application for that is expected in February.

We have to assume that all this location-related malarkey is well within the parameters of what Michael Gove would have expected when championing the free schools approach. We called the Department for Education to ask him to comment on the matter only to find that he’d been shunted sideways to the Chief Whip post. Some might observe that while Richmond Bridge Primary has gone east, Gove’s career might be heading south.

* East Twickenham Village site
* SET – Schools for East Twickenham
* Richmond Bridge Primary School – now to be called Deer Park School, TW9
* Lidl – Richmond Road
* REEC (comment deadline 30th Jan)


Filed under Council, Schools

110 responses to “East Twickenham School Goes East

  1. James B

    OK Alex. Back to our usual stances, then, after this brief episode of pleasant politeness ?

    • Alexis

      Thank you James,
      Without knowing who you are or what your “usual stances” are, I make no promises although I will continue to stand up for those who refuse to be bludgeoned into submission by the highly articulate minority. I wish more would pop up on these forums but you never know how many read the posts and how the content influences their vote, do you James?

  2. Sorry Alex(is) but I am not part of a sinister left-wing or LibDem plot to stifle the forces of Right and Decency (i.e. you) but rather I’m just another parent worrying about a secondary placement.
    It’s OK to call me George if you want to, by the way. Do you mind if I call you Blake, or even Krystle or Fallon ?

    • Alexis

      My apologies to James B – when you are a lone voice of dissent as am I, it’s all too easy to make a silly error. Nevertheless, lets skip the sarcasm – Alex will do fine thank you Jimmy.

    • Walkinthepark

      Aw James I rather like the idea that we are all part of some glamourous virtual cabal, I picture us as a restoration court lying back on velvet sofas being fed grapes, rather than the more prosaic reality that we are just responding in like, apart from when we disagree, ways to the issues affecting our community. However on this issue there is more than the usual level of accord. I do not see anyone disagreeing that school places are needed in East Twickenham. *BSTwick* have pointed out there is a process the Council can use, all strength to the East Twickenham parents in applying pressure on the Council to use it.

    • Amir Tahir


  3. James B

    Actually, I find WITP’s and Sally’s posts the most reasoned and least embittered. WITP wrote of being in labour in the course of the Gloriana exchange, so I’m guessing WITP is female. Odd that Alexis (whose nom de plume summons up, in my mind, a vision of shoulder-padded 80s power dresser) doesn’t recall this. Rather suggests she (he ?) doesn’t actually engage particularly but rather is there to dismiss and denigrate, revelling in the flurry of thumbs-downs every post seems to generate, accusing others of ‘political’ motivations at the slightest opportunity.

    • Amir Tahir

      Careful with the ‘nom de plume’ allegation. I was advised against taking advice from WITP because she was ‘anonymous’.

    • Alexis

      I hope Mr Twickerati will grant me the right to reply even though there will be no reference to school places in East Twickenham.

      George B writes a pretty scathing summary of my brief participation in this debate, so, could I please remind him that I played no part until encouraged to do so by Amir Tahir – more fool me for being suckered into doing so. Initially I was puzzled why he wanted my view but now think I understand what a dirty game is played by those who use these forums for their own agendas. Have you seen any acknowledgement or thanks to me from Mr Tahir? No – only patsy stuff to his chums and his latest post in response to George, thus:
      “Careful with the ‘nom de plume’ allegation. I was advised against taking advice from WITP because she was ‘anonymous.”
      Not terribly impressive Mr Tahir, nevertheless an interesting comment which only serves to re-inforce my concern that we have a cabal in play. Needless to say, I will be rubbished but I can hack it as I have done before.
      A couple of corrections:
      1. George B clearly “doesn’t actually engage particularly” otherwise he will recall that the “is” on the end of Alex was a typo which I never bothered to correct, so no shoulder pads I’m afraid. What a pathetic effort at denigration.

      2. George B clearly “doesn’t actually engage particularly” otherwise he will recall that I have often stated that I regard the thumbs up and down stuff as all too easily manipulated, therefore irrelevant and only respond when I am particularly irritated or impressed – so very rarely.

      I repeat George B’s post below to remind other readers that all is not well in Twickenham and that dissent is to be stamped out by fair means or foul:

      “Actually, I find WITP’s and Sally’s posts the most reasoned and least embittered. WITP wrote of being in labour in the course of the Gloriana exchange, so I’m guessing WITP is female. Odd that Alexis (whose nom de plume summons up, in my mind, a vision of shoulder-padded 80s power dresser) doesn’t recall this. Rather suggests she (he ?) doesn’t actually engage particularly but rather is there to dismiss and denigrate, revelling in the flurry of thumbs-downs every post seems to generate, accusing others of ‘political’ motivations at the slightest opportunity.”

      Alex – there, is that better George?
      PS: Quite right about the “political motivations” but I’m often right.

    • Amir Tahir

      Re line 10: thanks, Alexis

    • Alexis

      You are welcome

    • Alexis

      On Feb 7’th, James B wrote that I obviously hadn’t been involved enough to read that WITP had been in labour during the Gloriana campaign. I thought I had, so I laboriously revisited all 116 posts in the original Twickerati item and can see no reference to her labour only endless unpleasantness and vitriol aimed at those few like me who dared to disagree with the way the campaign was being conducted.

      Perhaps he meant Labour? Nevertheless, it was an interesting re-read and reminded me just how unpleasantly personal their campaign became. Attack the weak is usually the best form of defence isn’t it Mr Squire, Sally, Dr Burningham, WITP, Mike Hine etc?

      I was mildly amused to see that Chris Squire transposed a couple of my posts onto his Friends of Orleans Gardens blog thus: https://orleansgardensblog.wordpress.com/tag/platts-eyot/
      about the possibility of siting Gloriana on Platts Eyot in Hampton rather than Orleans Gardens. No permission asked or given, so a bit rich since he repeatedly traduces me yet takes advantage of my support when it suits him. But then, he has form for this sort of stuff, as has been reported previously, so I can hack it.
      I hope others who don’t comment but read posts will continue to make up their own minds as I suspect and hope they do.

  4. Walkinthepark

    Some good news at last from the Turing parents. All kudos to the Turing parents for all the hard work and commitment it has taken to achieve the now real prospect of a school that meets their needs.

    “Another update for people who aren’t on our mailing list …

    You may have read the article in today’s Richmond and Twickenham Times about the site for Turing House. As the paper quoted “We have a good temporary site which we will be able to announce in the next few weeks and the EFA has been in discussions about two possible permanent sites, both of which would work well for us. We will tell parents as soon as it is commercially possible to do so.”

    As we have done previously, we will always update you by email [as well as here on Facebook] with any news or announcements. On that note we know that you will be pleased to hear that progress towards signing our funding agreement has got to the point where we are now able to invite applications for our founding teachers. We will be advertising these in the Times Educational Supplement both in the paper and online. Full details will be available from our website next week.”


  5. Amir Tahir

    Thanks, Walkinthepark. Rare to see such well-informed contributions on blogs like this.
    Would you have any figures for the number of Richmond parents taking advantage of respectively Tiffin Boys and Tiffin Girls?

    • Alexis

      Mr Tahir,
      I would be careful about accepting advice from an anonymous source like Walkinthepark. As you will see from his or her previous lengthy posts about education issues, this correspondent seems to have an agenda which would concern me if I were seeking advice.
      As to Tiffin – both excellent schools, the boys beat our 1’st Eight at Henley in 1960!
      PS: Look what a mess you got me into!

    • Alexis

      Wow – two thumbs down within 5 minutes!
      To Mr Tahir – Sorry, I should have interposed “impartial” between “seeking” and “advice”.
      Breaking news! Vince Cable is on the case about the proposed school in Ryde House so all might come good after all.

    • Walkinthepark

      Yes Alexis, I have an agenda, and the Council doesn’t? It is the agenda of a parent who was not offered a local school place, there are a lot of us. I therefore along with a lot of other parents have been trying for some time to hold the Council, regardless of political complexion, accountable for their unfair school place strategies, to highlight the consequences and the reality behind the spin and try to influence the Council into following the school place planning strategies that are commonplace elsewhere. I also have the deepest sympathy and empathy for East Twickenham parents. I have done it all: been one of 150 parents in one black hole of provision alone without the offer of a school place, though previously the road I lived in had been served by the school that I appealed for a place in, a place my child was not offered because we were 503 metres from the school and the last place was given to someone 502 metres away (we were first on the waiting list, our next door neighbour in a modest row of terraced houses, was sixth, a place never came up as others moved in nearer), waited for months until the Council cobbled together a bulge class of 30 in a school requiring improvement confidant that the remaining 120 parents would disappear, took the hint and went back to work to pay private school fees, moved into a Twickenham School catchment losing contact with my old community…… To parents in the borough these are familiar stories, as is the resultant stress on families and the breaking up of communities, talk to people in other boroughs and they are shocked.

      However whilst the experience is familiar to parents who become aware of the need to plan accordingly from when their children are young it is also manifest in the publicly available figures and in the public words of both Paul Hodgins, Cabinet Member for Education and Nick Whitfield the Head of Education. Both are proud of their management of the budget through planning for zero spare capacity, and of realising their two strategic priorities, Sixth Forms (which I actually feel the schools will be better for) and a Catholic School, though now we have a situation where, with the forecast pupil bulge hitting and not enough school places, or sites for new schools the secondary school are having to offer bulge classes that are not sustainable (Waldegrave Admissions ” The Governors of Waldegrave School have, in consultation with the Local Authority and Achieving for Children, agreed to admit an extra 16 students into Year 7 in each of the September 2015 and 2016 intakes, to provide additional secondary education places in Richmond.

      The school will be able to accommodate these students due to a small increase in space and capacity enabled by recent building works. By September 2017 we anticipate that our sixth form will be full and the 16 extra places may no longer be available.”)

      I actually saw Paul Hodgins build another 200 places into the 2012 secondary forecasts (which were all they made public until this latest planning strategy document) acknowledging increased demand resulting from improvements in local schools releasing pent up demand in private schools. In fact the improvements in just one school, Richmond Park Academy resulted in an increase in applications of 46% with according to the Governors a much bigger increase in the applications from the local outstanding primaries where previously parents were resigned to the traditional options, private, move, travel to distant out of borough schools or, as Amir highlights, commit your child to years of mindless VR practise (though now the tutors will presumably focus on something of educational value since English and Maths are now tested) around the kitchen table in some tutoring factory to apply with 2000 others to have a longshot at the Tiffins…….. In that context 200 seems an underestimate.

      So what exactly in this analysis of the environment faced by East Twickenham and other parents in the borough do you take issue with?

    • Amir Tahir

      Bravo, WITP!

    • Amir Tahir

      Sorry. BravA (I imagine).

    • Alexis

      Witp says:
      “So what exactly in this analysis of the environment faced by East Twickenham and other parents in the borough do you take issue with?”

      Since Witp bangs on relentlessly and at such great length, it’s quite hard to remember what I have taken issue with. I didn’t realise that I had, although these tirades about the inadequacy of the provision of state education places in our borough reminds me of the campaign run by ex-Tory Councillor Virginia Morris who took the Council to court over their failure to provide her daughter with a place in Sheen Mount primary school. She lost the case and her seat in cabinet.

      I do hope we aren’t being drawn into a political campaign with Mr Tahir as a willing stooge. Perhaps LibDem Councillor Gareth Roberts, opposition Education spokesman has a view?

    • Onthebuses

      Her children are both at state primary now though.

    • Alexis

      How interesting to get such a prompt response from Onthebuses.
      I wonder whether we have a cabal here?

    • Alexis

      Nice try Sally
      Keep up the good work of swamping any opposition with rubbish posts. You’ve been rumbled!
      Still hoping to hear from LibDem Councillor and Education spokesman,Gareth Roberts about his party’s plans to improve access to primary school places – strangely, he seems to have kept an uncharacteristically low profile since attaining high office, unlike his predecessor.

    • Walkinthepark

      That was a low blow Alexis, I am truly insulted, but let’s be clear Virginia Morris was not objecting to the Councils failure to meet it’s statutory obligation to provide every child with a Reception place, let alone it’s own aim to provide a place within two miles of a residents home. She was objecting to not being an exception to the schools policy she voted for, and not being allowed to move into a school catchment (which just happened to be one of the most popular in the borough) temporarily to get a place and thereby deprive a child who genuinely lived locally of a place, I think most residents supported the Council acting to stop that happening.

    • Walkinthepark

      I haven’t seen any specifically though it is so competitive and the catchment so big in the past (though now Richmond is in the priority catchment so perhaps a bit better odds) I am not sure the numbers actually getting in would tell you anything. I would like to know how many Year 6 children have been subjected to the tutoring factories though, another private sector provider doing very well out of the school place situation….. The figures for those going out of borough would be hard to interpret generally , it is a long thin borough with quite a few of the schools close to the boundaries so in theory if they were all outstanding and meeting the parental demand you would not have as many going out of borough, but I have never really seen the logic that parents choose schools out of loyalty to a particular Council, as opposed to the best that is most local. In the case of one Sheen family I know though that was The Green School Isleworth for the daughter and a school at the other end of Wandsworth borough for the son…….. but you cannot necessarily get the nature of the motivation, in that case avoiding Richmond Park Academy, from the figures.

      What is manifest in the figures though is the numbers choosing to move away. The last census showed that quite a few in the senior cohort had disappeared from the borough between the last census and the one before. Of course again you cannot be sure people don’t suddenly get a yearning for the country when their children are 10 but the figures back up anecdotal experience.

    • Walkinthepark

      Sorry that was addressed to Amir’s question, all these reply buttons take you to strange destinations sometimes 😉

    • Amir Tahir

      Thank you

    • Sally

      The Tiffin factories would be a very interesting topic to ask about. I have seen several cycles of terrified parents enrolling their kids at vast expense in Tiffin one to one and group tution as well as home practice. Forget year 6, try year 4! This will be on top of any private exams they’re being trained in. The cost is astounding. When asked, so many say the same thing-“he/she might not get into Orleans/Waldegrave after all! “This is a terrible shock if for years you have seen all the children in your street go off in the uniforms of your very nearby Secondaries and assumed yours would do the same.If finances don’t permit, your child is not going to manage such a process, or the whole process sticks in your craw you’re in dire straights.
      I don’t understand the current state of affairs with the Lidl site.Who is waiting for who to do what?

    • The world is waiting for Lidl to submit a planning application for their scheme: 24 flats + mini-supermarket. There is no reason to think they don’t intend to press on with this.


    • Sally

      Damn, hand slipped. Comment was Thank you!

    • Onthebuses

      78% of Richmond borough children estimated to be in state primary schools (89% in Kingston).
      65% of Richmond children estimated to be in state secondary school (83% in Kingston).

      3% of Richmond children go to Kingston for secondary school. 9% of Kingston children come into Richmond.


      Richmond Park and Twickenham are top two constituencies in the country for household earnings (£58,000 – national average £36,000).

    • Amir Tahir

      Thanks ONTB

  6. And once again let’s try to keep the comments on the topic of new schools, buildings for schools, lack of school places.

  7. Amir Tahir

    I wonder what Alexis thinks?

    • Alexis

      Thanks for your interest Mr Tahir.
      Since we chose to opt out of state education for our daughters back in the early ’80’s, I’m leaving this one to the professionals and those with vested interests. I know it’s not considered PC these days but we have never regretted the decision we took nor the sacrifice it entailed.

    • westiseast

      Opting for private sector is no guarantee of quality these days, with no frills outfits like Gems Education around, and hedge funds getting in on the act too (Radnor House).

    • Walkinthepark

      Radnor House is very popular with parents, and seems to provide a very good education. The venture capitalists have had the sense to put the education professionals in the lead.

      This isn’t a debate about state versus private though, if parents chose to go private then that is their prerogative and choice. The issue is that many parents in the borough feel they are not given the choice of a local state school place.

    • Alexis

      Ms Witp is quite right. The debate is about the lack of local state school places, however, could I please point out to her that it has ever been thus and without private schools taking pressure off the state system we would be in a far worse mess.
      We seem to have become a society within which there are those who can pay private school fees and choose to do so, those who could pay but don’t see why they should have to and those who can’t pay and therefore have no choice.
      Since we all pay the same amount of tax towards educating our children even if we opt out of the state system, would it not be possible to impose a ?% surcharge on higher rate taxpayers who choose to take advantage of the state system after primary school rather than impose a “mansion” tax to pay for nurses in Scotland?
      I know this goes against the socialist grain but wouldn’t it be a better way of funding more school places rather than pouring it down the NHS drain?
      Potential taxpayers might even find it acceptable!
      Just a thought

    • Onthebuses

      Higher taxes for all higher rate taxpayers is a better idea. We all benefit from a well educated workforce and civil society. Private schools get tax breaks already – the ‘low frills’ types shelter in the Cayman islands, the prestige ones are charities.

    • michelangelo

      In reply to onthebuses:
      (a) raising tax levels does not necessarily increase tax revenues (see Laffer curve arguments)
      (b) chucking money (other peoples’!) at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it
      (c) people like Alexis, who save the taxpayer about £4bn by contributing to the state system of education but not using it, deserve a “thank you”, not a kick in the teeth

    • Onthebuses

      So you agree with his suggestion of a ‘surcharge’ for higher rate taxpayers with children in state schools? Doesn’t sound like an election winner as 20% of taxpayers are in the higher rate band but only 7% of children are in private schools.

    • Alexis

      This might not turn up in the right order, nevertheless, I’m sure that interested readers can work it out.
      Onthebuses responds to michelangelo thus:

      “So you agree with his (my) suggestion of a ‘surcharge’ for higher rate taxpayers with children in state schools? Doesn’t sound like an election winner as 20% of taxpayers are in the higher rate band but only 7% of children are in private schools.”

      Setting aside the fact that michelangelo didn’t actually agree with my suggestion of a surcharge on higher rate taxpayers with children in state secondary schools, busman makes an interesting, if sad observation on the way political decisions may well be taken. Presumably he knows what he is talking about and these are national statistics. If so, I wonder what the ratio is in our borough – perhaps he knows?

      My thanks to michelangelo for his recognition of our social contribution by opting to go private. Although I must admit that our decision wasn’t altruistic, it was taken in the interests of our children and their very different talents and needs rather than our own aspirations for a cottage in the country or whatever others spend thir spare income on. We never whinged despite the fact that we paid rather more than twice over whilst freeing up two places for those who needed them more than we did for the best part of twelve years, and, as you can see from some of these posts, have been vilified for doing so. tant pis!

      We have indeed become a divided society but I fear that, in our borough, the biggest problem stems from the articulate and well educated minority who still seem to expect maximum service at minimum personal cost. Is that still sustainable?

      See what you have done Mr Tahir!

    • Pat Pending

      I think a better evolution of the surcharge idea would be this one. It’s based on the Alexis ‘surcharge’ principle.

      We take account of the fact that some parents are happy to pay for a better, private education despite already paying taxes that go towards state education. And we then take account of the fact that the more wealthy parents are often the more pushy and aspirational parents. With this money and support, their children would often fare very well at state schools despite being sent private. What do those parents fear about the state system? They fear their children’s education being disrupted by other children whose behaviour is poor and whose parents may place little value on education. So… you put the children from wealthy families into the state sector and you apply that special surcharge (the fees that they would have paid anyway) to fund the ‘troublesome elements’ to go to independent schools. The result? The rich kids get a good state education with limited disruption by ‘undesirable elements’ and where they get lots of parental support too. In other words, they continue to succeed while those most in need of a better class of education get funded to go into the private world where they receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, lots of teacher attention, etc. Society as a whole improves and becomes more of a meritocracy. The more wealthy parents know their children are getting a good state education and they also get a warm glow from knowing they’ve helped those who are less well off. And then we all walk off into the sunset holding hands. I really think it could work.

    • Alexis

      What an patronisingly pointless polemic from Pat Pending. Thank goodness we don’t live in his or her sort of society and can still be aspirational.
      I do hope this person had nothing to do with the education of our children – I met one or two like this whilst working as a volunteer for Young Enterprise in state schools in Surrey until I retired two years ago. Discipline was dreadful in some schools – largely due to parental non-involvement, poor supply teachers and department heads who had become institutionalised and target obsessed.

      Sorry about this but I can’t ever recall being quite so irritated by such a pointlessly self-serving post.

    • George Bailey

      Alexis, Pat Pending may have been being a tad sarcastic not self-serving, but taking the p; don’t think he thought your ideas about state education were sound.

      Comprehensive schools are for ALL children bright, poor, middle-class, less bright and everyone in between. There is a direct correlation between less well-off students and achievement. If all state schools were only full of those on medium to low incomes, achievement and aspiration would almost certainly suffer for the children left behind, and society become tiered and elitist.

    • Sally

      Pat Pending, your fantasy was funny but, you forget that many parents who use private scools don’t want to talk about social division and segregation.They want to feel discerning, self sacrificing, noble. The filp side of this attitude is the belief that ,really ,most children could be in private education if their parents weren’t so selfish. Possibly they were all off at their cottages in the country.
      The reality is that private schools discriminate against children on the grounds of their parents’ income and usually on the grounds of their abilities. There are, for example no children with special needs over and above, for example dyslexia at these schools .There are entrance exams and interviews.A child with , say, Downs will never darken the door of a private school .This is a little uncomfortable, so lets talk about sacrifice and discernment instead.
      We have a proud tradition of really excellent State schools in this Borough., Hence the upset about the changes.

    • Sally

      (Apologies for the lack of spellcheck)

    • Alexis

      Thank you Mr Bailey. PP was indeed taking the p and being rather more than a tad sarcastic – for what? Perhaps proving what a jolly clever chap he or she is?

      I don’t recall posting any ideas about state education prior to his or her polemic – perhaps, as his spokesman you could correct me?

      I have no issue with your second para other than to point out to you that so many prior attempts at social engineering have failed. After all, human nature is the way it is – some succeed and some don’t regardless of their educational opportunities. Simplistic, I know but I’m not going to get drawn into a pointless debate about private/secondary modern/grammar or comprehensive education since I survived one of those regimes.

      As to Sally and westiseast – keep up the good work, I’m sure you will prevail – eventually. “wise” is quite right, I would probably struggle to pay today’s school fees just as I struggled to pay them back in the ’80’s. Sneer as much as you like – sacrifices are not a new phenomenon although today’s generation seems to have an expectation of right and entitlement regardless of contribution. I find that worrying for the next generation.


    • westiseast

      Alexis and Michelangelo are clearly hoping for a tax debate at the expense of local parents.

      The private sector is here to stay, unfortunately. If it wasn’t then taxes might be higher but the majority would benefit from a much better service.

      Rather like the NHS, as soon as you provide an alternative for the wealthy, the pressure to provide a quality service to the majority is lowered.

      However, as more people choose private schools, the price goes up and the quality there is lowered too. Hence the rise of the no frills operators.

      In any case, I suspect Alexis wouldn’t be able to afford private school fees quite so easily now. (And probably wouldn’t have any ‘spare’ cash by the time she paid her mortgage either).

    • Alexis

      I thought it was probably a mistake to open up about our own decisions on this forum but hoped that, for once, people would respect my openness since it had a bearing on the debate about school places. Sadly I was mistaken, the inevitable has happened and I have been pounced on and sneered at by the likes of “Pat Pending”, “Sally”, “Walkinthepark” and “westiseast”. Have I missed anyone else?
      I have no issue with them expressing their different points of view, simply the way that they choose to personalise them. Sally seems to know no better but I’m surprised by some of the others.
      How sad is that?
      Bonne nuit

    • westiseast

      Yes, Alexis, it would have been better to follow your first instinct and stay out of it. Your views, as well as being flippant and dismissive of valid concerns, are a whole generation out of date and I think you know little about the subject matter.

    • Sally

      Now this is very interesting Alexis. In your first post you sounded quite nice, and then two hours later you were back on form, sounding like a hypocrite.and not a little spiteful.
      Why don’t you argue the points raised rather than get personal?
      The debate is about finding school places in our excellent local state schools and about finding buildings for new schools which are in any way adequate.

    • Walkinthepark

      Where exactly have I sneered at you Alexis? You keep trying to involve me in your thread wars but I haven’t got involved in this debate simply because I didn’t think it relevent to the issue faced by East Twickenham parents.

      All I did was to point up that Radnor House should not be implicated in any depiction of new entrants as reducing the quality of education available in the private sector. Indeed I cannot think of a single private school in this area that you could describe as providing a less than very good education. The area is very well served with private schools catering for just about every niche of parental need, except no frills. Parents in this borough care deeply about education, hence all the debate, and a new entrant would have, like Radnor, to come up with a high quality education to compete. And we have one of the highest proportions of children in private schools, not 7%, nowhere near, more like 30%, and one of the lowest ratios of residents in state secondaries versus state primaries in the London area, less than 50%. It is 65% in Kingston. If the ratio were to equal Kingston it would take two new state senior schools to meet the demand. Given that each of the outstanding secondaries is oversubscribed 5 times over, clearly this is not just down to parents making a positive choice of the private sector, and affluence. As I am sure you will know Alexis many of the pupils in our private schools are not the children of high rate tax payers who made a choice, they are the children of parents who found that they were not offered a good local school place and care enough about their children’s education to make sacrifices to pay. An excellent private sector has enabled the Council to get away with not putting the needs of local parents ahead of budget and other considerations in its school strategy, and it has no excuses in funding terms since funding follows the child and it found the £12m for the Clifden site but put the desire for a Catholic School ahead of meeting basic need.

      The private schools run by GEMS and Bellevue are elsewhere, you can google to see the nature of what they offer. Here they will be providing a state education and whether they try to brand it as a quasi private school (as indeed the Head of St RRs apparently does, to quote from his presentation to primary parents “a private education without the fees”, nice Blazers with lots of braid as well ) parents are perfectly well able to see that class sizes, resources, facilities etc are not going to compete with what is available in the private sector. A bit of braid on the Blazers is clearly not an indicator of private school quality, send your daughter to LEH or St Paul’s , and they end up in scruffy sweat shirts, braided Blazers are not an option…..

      However I do think you are wrong in thinking this is down to money. Many parents, myself included, want their children to attend local schools that serve their community, where they will be educated with the children they have grown up with, and mix with children of all abilities and from all backgrounds as they will when they go to university and in whatever field of work they enter (and going to the outstanding local schools results in the bright ones getting the same results and to the same universities as private schools, the statistics are there in the league tables, you may chose the private route because it suits your child, better facilities etc. but it won’t make much difference to their potential academic outcome.) I know that is what is motiivating many of the presumably high rate tax payers who attend primaries like Sheen Mount, Vineyard, Queens, given the price of properties in their catchments. Many of those parents could perfectly afford private education, and would get the benefits of smaller class sizes etc but they wouldn’t get the benefits of a local community school. I don’t think all of the 1000 applicants for each of the 200 or so places at Waldegrave, Teddington and Orleans are all out for something for nothing, they want a good state education for their children.

      And none of the black holes we are talking about in the borough’s most affluent areas, East Twickenham and Central Twickenham are both areas dominated by average sized family homes (albeit expensive in national terms). The Council have failed to plan to meet the needs of those families. The Council should now as BSTwick highlights start the process of procuring a site in East Twickenham to meet that basic need and running a competition to find a suitable provider, since crossing their fingers that providers (quality optional) would be attracted to the borough and the EFA would procure them a local site has clearly failed. It remains to be seen if the GEMS school squeezed into Heathgate House will successfully meet that basic need…

  8. Everyone seems to agree that the Ryde House site is the ideal place for a much needed primary school. My husband and I moved to Morley Rd barely two years ago. But if/ when we have children, we could well have to move again due to the school places crisis, and I’m sure other parents would feel the same. East Twickenham desperately needs a school if it wants to keep attracting families. Please sign the petition:

    • Why should East Twickenham wish to attract more families – it’s got lots already?

    • Amir Tahir

      You want as many families breeding away as you can get, Chris. After 2 generations they might produce kids who have forgetten the 2010-2015 coalition embarrassment ( rising intonation question mark?).

    • Amir Tahir

      Or, given time, even forgotten ( rising intonation question mark?).

    • I have no idea who, if anybody, will be thought in 2075 to have emerged with credit from the 2010-15 coalition. Quite possibly no-one will care – who now has an opinion about the Conservative administration of 1951-55?

      As matters stand, it may well be the 2010-2020 coalition . .

    • Walkinthepark

      Oh dear Chris, I hope you tongue is firmly in cheek but isn’t that part of the implicit thinking behind the lack of will to create new school places? If we build more schools that actually meet the needs of local parents and are able to offer local places to all, it just means more of those families with pesky children will come to live here, we need to manage down demand. Except funding follows the child and of course the admissions process doesn’t discriminate, some of those families not getting in to local schools because they live 528m from the school gate, and the last address to get in was 529m have lived in the borough for many years, all their lives even. Then they send their children to private schools or move and the communities that have sprung up over decades and cemented in anti natal and play groups and nurseries get broken up. What Adrienne describes is exactly what motivated the Turing parents “Our Turing House Steering Group was founded in 2011 by a small group of parents who care about our local area and its people. Faced with shrinking catchments and increased demand for our local secondaries, we could see our community breaking up as families moved away or chose non-local schools. We believed our area needed another excellent secondary school. We knew many other people agreed with us, so we decided to do something about it.”

    • Walkinthepark

      Got my 529m and 528m wrong way round before anyone points that out or worse presses the downward thumb of doom

  9. The print RTT has (p 3): MP wants answers after school site plan dropped . . Dr Cable claimed “the council was expected to come up with some money to make it happen” and said he was seeking an explanation. The council said it could not comment on funding issues in relation to the EFA (Education Funding Agency) . .


  10. westiseast

    The Deer Park School is running a consultation: http://deerparkschool.org.uk/consultation/

  11. Pat Pending

    I actually agree with both Amir and WalkinthePark.

    How have we got to a situation where we need to rely on small groups of parents, businesses, single issue fanatics and faith groups to provide schools for our children. What kind of system is that? Political ideology taking precedence over common sense. Local authorities ought to be providing school places for local children.

    However, that’s the system we now have. Working within that flawed approach I agree with WITP. The parents behind the Turing House school deserve a lot of credit for taking on an issue that the Council have failed to address properly.

    • Sally

      I agree. What on earth has come to pass that little schools in office blocks,some with a definite bent or bias are being wheeled out as the solution for a gap in State run education. The schools can be terrific-or fanatical, unregulated and single issue, the point is they are being used to plug a gap which should be plugged by the LA. The same one which handed a huge purpose built school with large play areas to one faith . Imagine if that site was just a State school. It wouldn’t be the magic solution but it would be a huge help. Anybody who felt that their children shouldn’t mix with kids of different faiths could go and hire an office block with their own funds.
      What news on Turing?

    • illiad1

      chronic… I guess someone will soon put forward mogden lane as an ideal school site…

    • Amir Tahir

      Don’t give them ideas, illiad. Have you read some ‘free’ school pitches? They’d tell you that Ivybridge Village (not Mogden!) is an iconic heritage hub for a range of the most fertile effusions of north and west London and affords unique educational opportunities for cutting edge aesthetic and scientific olfactory investigations.

    • illiad1

      now dont tell me, you work at the plant??? 😀 😀

    • Amir Tahir

      Not yet, but I await the call from their marketing department.

  12. welll, all this may be wonderfull, if planning permission was NOT needed!!!

    I thought ryde house did not get permission?? that is why lidl is lobbying I guess…
    lwr Mortlake rd would be a much better site for lidl!!!

    • BSTwick

      No planning permission has been sought for Ryde House. Lidl bought it, and are presumably now either seeking to put a supermarket on it, or demanding a higher rental value from other interested parties than they think they could make in supermarket profits.

      As WITP said (although partially plagiarising from another thread methinks 🙂 the Education Funding Agency is answerable to the Audit Commission, and can’t just fork out whatever landlords demand. They have to demonstrate value for money and are under intense scrutiny to demonstrate that. (Though perhaps if they started getting as much bad publicity over non-suitability of school sites as they have done in the past over financial issues, that might shift back in the other direction – they really are between a rock and a hard place).

      Let’s face it – Richmond is full, and property is in high demand. If it was the council that was buying the school sites they would be having to make the same difficult decisions.

    • illiad1

      The last two applicants for permission have been refused due to being a conservation area…
      So the chances of anything big are quite small.. A school could get into the existing offices???
      I wish lidl luck in convincing the local residents, who wont like the noise and extra traffic generated by a big supermarket… At peak time, its regularly walking pace!!

    • BSTwick

      The school trust wouldn’t have had time to wait for Lidl to go round that loop. They will need to get their funding agreement signed by the Gvt asap (and certainly before March 30th when the election purdah period starts) so they can start buying equipment and recruiting teachers for September. However, the latest version of the ever-evolving rules say funding agreements can’t be signed unless the permanent site is secure, so compromises have to be made

      That rule was brought in last year, and is what triggered the Turing House deferral. It was brought in to prevent the EFA from being under time pressure from Landlords over the cost of permanent sites – but ironically they’re now under even more time pressure in areas like this where school places are badly needed, because they’re simply forced to secure the permanent site even more quickly than before.

    • Amir Tahir


    • Walkinthepark

      Apologies to BSTwick who is indeed the source of my information on the EFA. I should have used quote marks but was in a hurry and paraphrased some of it, just wanting the information to flow into this thread in case East Twickenham parents don’t read the other one, and you did not come here. I can testify to BS being a source of considerable wisdom on this issue, with absolutely no BS……

    • BSTwick

      No worries WITP 🙂

  13. Everyone seems to agree that the Ryde House site is the ideal place for a much needed primary school. My husband and I moved to Morley Rd barely two years ago. But if/ when we have children, we could well have to move again due to the school places crisis, and I’m sure other parents would feel the same. East Twickenham desperately needs a school if it wants to keep attracting families. Please sign the petition:

  14. westiseast

    Surely it’s Lidl that need to be lobbied, not the council. They’re the ones who bought Ryde House and who are presumably holding it to ransom. Can’t local residents write to them on mass to help prick their corporate conscience?

  15. Iconimous

    The Lower Mortlake Road Address is clearly a non-option for East. Twickenham families.

    In fact. I don’t see it being a popular choice for any parent.

    Being directly on a major artery into and out of London, by a busy intersection, means it is also going to suffer very poor air quality. Not a location I’d be prepared to see my under 11s spending 7 hrs a day breathing in all that the 4 lane A316 has to offer with added acceleration and stationary traffic created by the roundabout.

    The noise levels are also appaliing there with the traffic added to by the flight path which is directly overhead at that point.

    Add to that – there are already 3 good primary schools within a 10 minute walk of that location (mercifully not on major London arterial roads).

    It’s not just the wrong location for East Twickenham. It’s the wrong place for a primary school – full stop. The next generation deserve better than spending the first 7 years of their lives in a pollution hotspot. They aren’t going to thank us if we make them.

    • Walkinthepark

      One of those schools, Darrell, 0.9 miles away just, reluctantly, persuaded by investment from the Council, added another form of entry. Not exactly joined up thinking……

    • Onthebuses

      I don’t think Bellevue Places cares about what the LA has done to meet need. It just wants to set up a school, get the state funding yet brand it as a nice quasi-private option. Except that it would never be resourced as well as a private school and wouldn’t be trusted by the good teachers.

  16. Helen Baker

    I don’t really care about the politics of all this. I just care that the children of the area I’ve lived in all my life can’t find schools to go to. I’ve spoken with many people from here with pre-school children, and lots of them are talking of moving away in order to find a decent school for their kids. Just think of the impact on our community, left just with childless commuters and retired people like me ! Come on Richmond, get cracking and find a way to make the Ryde House site work for a school which is large enough to take all our children, even as the numbers grow over the next few years. If all the new schools are built in North Sheen or St Margarets, East Twickenham is going to remain the LBRUT Black Hole !

  17. The statement on the ‘Richmond Bridge Primary’ website doesn’t actually say the site is on Lower Mortlake Road but that it lies in the TW9 2 postal area.

    Zoopla’s map of TW9 2 http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/map/property/tw9-2/?include_retirement_homes=true&include_shared_ownership=true&new_homes=include&q=TW9%202&radius=0&search_source=home
    shows that it is bounded by the Old Deer Park, Sandycombe Road and the railway. So a site on Lower Mortlake Road seems likely but not certain.

    • Yep, it’s definitely quite likely based on this from their new website…
      “We are delighted to announce the proposed location for our school! The London House site, at 243-253 Lower Mortlake Road, Richmond, TW9 2LL, has been secured by the Education Funding Agency on behalf of Deer Park School and will be redeveloped, subject to planning permission, to offer a high quality, safe learning environment with state-of-the-art facilities for our pupils.”

  18. jeremyrodell

    The Council’s own school place planning strategy shows that this area desperately needs primary school places, and will ultimately require a 3 form of entry/630 place primary school. Local people want a school, not a Lidl supermarket, on the Ryde House site. If you live in the area, please sign the Schools for East Twickenham petition http://e-voice.org.uk/etwickschool/petitions/

  19. Walkinthepark

    Amir, I assume you are not living in the borough, or don’t have children?

    There are already not enough state school places for the children who live here, and there is a massive pupil bulge coming through the schools. The Council, under all political parties, have long pursued a strategy of managing the school place admissions process in a way that fills every last place and maximises the use of the budget by leaving many parents who apply from what are effectively black holes of school place provision on the waiting lists for it’s schools. It implicitly relies on parents to be deterred into moving, going private, home educating or being forced to attend distant schools. Last year they were the only LEA in the country to have in time applicants still without a school place at the start of the school year, and the Cabinet Minister for Schools was quite clear this was not something he was overly concerned about given the benefits in terms of managing the budget. Not many years ago Reception children in East Twickenham did not start school until Christmas, and then in a hall some distance from the main school.

    It’s not about the choice of gold braid or even having the luxury of googling the sponsors and wondering if you really want your child to go to a school run by that organisation. It’s about finding sites for schools that will give children the chance of a local school place. As a result one of the very popular approved Free School proposals elsewhere in the Borough was led by parents who could foresee that their own children would face this issue, the Free School process gave them an opportunity to meet the need when the LEA clearly were not going to (indeed gave the best site to the Catholic Church to establish an exclusive school that has done nothing to address the need).

    Unfortunately this is the culture within the Council that the parents in East Twickenham have to influence to get some proactive action to get local school places for their children.

    The process of actually securing a site is not in the hands of the Council though, but in the hands of the Education Funding Agency who have to secure sites that are demonstrably value for money. If a seller tries to demand an unjustifiably higher price because it knows the government has deep pockets and is under pressure to find sites, then it is less likely to go through. LIDL expressed a desire to work with the EFA to put a school on that site, presumably the EFA had to walk away for that reason. The EFA have had a lot of those sorts of problems, which is why they are so cautious about confidentiality.

    • Onthebuses

      If this is the ‘culture within the Council’ but it has been going on for decades and under all political parties, surely that is just the practical reality of the state sector and how councils are restricted by central government in their planning and applications for grants?

    • westiseast

      Did you never watch ‘Yes Minister’? Don’t assume the council is under full control of its politicians. It’s the departmental director and his senior officers that run the show, and they get brownie points for saving money whoever is in power.

      When the lib dems are in power they say “no need for more places – if parents are too posh to go to the schools that need to pull their socks up, then they can go private” … and the lib dems willingly agree, shaking their heads sadly at those who won’t ‘support’ failing schools.

      In contrast, when the Conservatives are in power they say “we’re such a lovely wealthy borough, of course lots of people will go private anyway, and we wouldn’t want to damage the private sector by providing too many good state places, would we?” …. and the Conservatives willingly agree.

      Parents are stuck in the middle shaking their heads in disgust and despair. (Unless they’re Catholic of course – they’re alright because they’re special).

    • Anonymous

      The LibDems set up two new schools and expanded the existing ones by at least 20 forms, however. East Twickenham – past Ryde House – was served until only about three or four years ago by Vineyard. The reorganisation of St Stephen’s and Orleans hasn’t pleased everyone either.

    • illiad1

      I wish it was just that… I get the feeling that many residents in the roads surrounding ryde house do not want the extra noise and disruption caused by any changes… and there are also ‘conservation area’ restrictions…

    • The only issue that concerns most residents is ‘parking, bloody parking’ (as a veteran ward councillor put it to me 20 years ago( – particularly overnight when they return from work. So they will prefer a school, which generates no overnight parking, to a hotel, an otherwise sensible use of such a well-placed site. Schools are intermittently noisy in the day but that will only bother those of its immediate neighbours who are at home in the day.

      Ryde House is indeed in the conservation area but that is no obstacle to demolishing it as it is not listed.

    • Walkinthepark

      Actually no, it isn’t the culture in other boroughs which have different strategic priorities. A strategy which aims for zero spare capacity in Reception is not the norm, in fact the Audit Commission suggests 4%, but then other Councils cannot rely on parents to have the means / will to find the means to go private to the same extent. This borough has one of the highest proportions of pupils in private schools, as west is east says the Council will say that all these people who apply for state places then end up in private schools always intended that, but parents will tell you that not a few felt forced down that route, often with consequences for family life, by not getting the offer of a good local school place.

      And devoting valuable and scare resources to a Faith School that did nothing to meet needs was looked on by other boroughs as highly unprofessional. An overriding imperative for Councils in planning the use of resources is to ensure provision, particularly for the most vulnerable, and Councils such as Surrey regard faith schools as failing to meet that basic need.

    • Amir Tahir

      Your ‘ have the means / will to find the means to go private’ seems to imply that there are no parents who simply don’t have the means; or are they just not demonstrating sufficient ‘will’?

    • Walkinthepark

      I am highlighting how scandalous it is that a Council are failing to meet basic need, both by failing to have the spare capaciity to ensure it can offer local places and by devoting resources to schools that are socially exclusive. I was simply pointing up the high proportion of parents going private here as a symptom of the problem. This problem means that parents faced with no good local place for their children may take out mortgages, downsize, forego holidays, have one parent go back to work, so they can go private, but it also means that they move, find other options out of borough that entail travelling, or homeschool, or end up dragging young children or toddlers on a journey entailing one or more buses that takes two hours or more out of the day of a family with young children because the only place available to them is at a school that is unpopular because it is inaccessible. Parents in the borough are very familar with all these scenarios.

    • Onthebuses

      But it’s not the council’s fault that a building they don’t own has been bought by a supermarket rather than as a school they can’t run themselves. Probably wasn’t the council’s fault that Marshgate was built as a PFI project and can’t be expanded because of all the houses at the back . As for Clifden Road, shame it’s a Catholic school, but how would that have solved the primary black hole in East Twickenham?

    • BSTwick

      If a Local Authority needs a new school there is a process by which they can purchase the land/buildings and then hold a competition for an appropriate provider: See para 9 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/364083/Academy_and_free_school_presumption_departmental_advice_Final.pdf.

      It’s a riskier approach to rely on free school proposals to be put forward independently of the competition process, as has happened here in Richmond, because it gives the council much less control over the outcome – although it does save money because the EFA then buys the land/buildings.

    • Walkinthepark

      You asked if the way in which school places were planned in the past was just the norm for state education so I addressed that question. No it wasn’t. Yes the Council has lost the ability to establish and run new schools, and there is a shortage of even barely suitable sites, let alone ideal ones. So East Twickenham parents now face a difficult challenge.

      However the strategic priorities of the past are why we are in the situation we are now, with black holes like this one across the borough. The issue Twickerati outlines above with the site for a proposed school in another office block on Twickenham Green, needed because there is another black hole there, is directly related to the fact that the Council allowed the ideal site in the centre of Twickenham to be used by a faith school in which 20 of the 30 places were exclusive, another symptom of the skewed priorities. Had there been 30 inclusive places it might have relieved some of the pressure on St. Mary’s and St Stephens and in East Twickenham.

      Our Board Member is apparently “out hunting” for new sponsors for all the new schools needed in the borough, if the priority were now to find ways to establish new Primary Schools that met the needs of local parents, then shouldn’t he be focusing on working with local organisations and parents a little closer to home as they are with the proposed school at Egerton Road?

      Perhaps one good thing that might arise out of the growing awareness amongst parents of the situation is that some of them come together to propose a school that meets the needs of the community as the Turing parents did, instead of finding themselves with sponsors who are untried and not rooted in the needs of the community.

      It is worth saying that we do of course have our five yearly chance to influence policy at a national level, other than posting on a local website, and who knows the situation may change, or maybe it won’t …….

    • Onthebuses

      But Clifden too far from East Twickenham (Morley Road end) to have made a difference – might have been an alternative for Chase Bridge pupils living near the Rugby Ground and that would have allowed more Hounslow pupils in on that side. St Mary’s, St Stephen’s and Orleans are all nearer.

    • Onthebuses

      Primary places at Clifden might have avoided the need for a GEMS Twickenham Green school. But it was a secondary school site – the primary school was a bit of a surprise anyway. I’m just shuddering at the idea of GEMS running the secondary school at Clifden as well as a primary…

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses, your shudders may be unnecessary because if a LocalAuthority needs a new school, and (crucially) has used its own funds to purchase the site for it, then, rather than take whatever proposal comes along independently via the DfE, there is a process by which they can put out a call for suitable free school providers to compete for the site, and have some (though not total) say over the winning bid: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/364083/Academy_and_free_school_presumption_departmental_advice_Final.pdf

      That may need to be the process for establishing a school in East Twickenham.

    • Walkinthepark

      St Mary’s use the Amyand Park site as their admission point so is actually closer to Clifden than Chase, and until very recently took pupils from Clifden Road. A decent community primary, such as Turing for whom Clifden was the preferred site, and who would have been asked and been willing to establish a Primary on the site, would have attracted pupils from the streets on the west side of the St Mary’s catchment so that it and the other East Twickenham Primaries may have been able to offer places to pupils further to the East. There has never been any question that we have Secondary School sponsors with experience and rooted in the needs of the local community in Turing and the partnership proposing the school for the Egerton Road site.

      However this is all hypothetical and we can argue the toss until the cows come home. We are where we are and aside from holding the Council accountable for past decisions and perhaps focusing them on better strategies for the future, it does not help East Twickenham parents with finding pragmatic ways to establish a school to meet the need for school places in the current environment or indeed Twickenham parents who are landed with GEMs as a sponsor for the new school that is going to be jammed into Heathgate House.

  20. Amir Tahir

    Why on earth would any parent want to be involved with the risible ‘free’ school shambles? 5 years down the line the people ‘organising’ it will have changed, they’ll have gone through 10 prospective sites (half of them multi-storey ex-commercial with no grounds or play area) and the funding for them will have been found to be unsustainable. That’s leaving out the unimpressive number which Ofsted is already finding are hopeless.
    Is it worth the risk just for a bit of gold braiding on the blazer lapels?