Turing House Finds a Home. But…

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickeratiGood news for fans of Turing House School, the long awaited local free school. After much searching and a few setbacks along the way it has now found a site from which to launch in September 2015. It has secured Livingston House in Queen’s Road, Teddington. No, we don’t know it either but it’s actually next to Teddington Memorial Hospital. Refurbishment work will now take place make it ready to open its doors to Year 7 pupils later this year. The site is expected to be used for the first three years of the school’s life while the search for a suitable permanent home gets resolved.

Turing House has also consulted on its admissions policy and its ‘admissions point’ – the geographical point used to determine distance from the school. That location looks set to move for 2016 admissions from its current point near Waldegrave School in Twickenham to a new location in the Teddington / Fulwell area. There is also a proposal that 80% of places would be determined on the basis of the admissions policy and the admissions point, but that 20% of places will be allocated according to proximity to the eventual permanent site itself.

And speaking of permanent sites, Turing House says it’s looking at two options on the Middlesex side of the Borough. But guess what? Not everyone is happy with the ideas being put forward. The expansive Imperial College playing fields in Udney Park Road, Teddington is one option but it has met with local opposition. However a second option, just off Hospital Bridge Road in Whitton, has caused significant consternation Whitt-side. Locals there are concerned that Turing House, with a ‘centre of gravity’ for admissions close to Teddington, could end up as a Whitton-based school but one which Whitton children have very little chance of actually attending. Furthermore, there’s additional agitation associated with this proposal because the site is classed as Metropolitan Open Land and so has a certain degree of green space protection. It is currently owned by Hounslow Council. Opponents of the Whitton idea have set up a Facebook page and a petition.

LINKS:
* Turing House Site
* Turing House Admissions Point
* Whitton Against Turing House – Facebook

48 Comments

Filed under Local Issues & News, Schools

48 responses to “Turing House Finds a Home. But…

  1. Ad Iudicium

    Can I just add that the admissions policy is not set in stone. It is down to Turing House. It should reflect where the need for places is. There is a suggestion that the school might be built in Whitton, but the majority of places going to Teddington children. That doesn’t have to happen. But Turing need to respond to local community needs.

  2. Ben bones

    On the buses, what is it with the negativity? Week after week we hear about how stretched primary school intakes are and the increasing amount of bulge classes, we know this is now hitting the secondary system and will only get more intense We know we need more schools. As a community we need to make tough choices to build those schools, otherwise we’ll have to start shipping out of the London burbs. Let’s stop the nimblyism and start working together to find solutions!

    • Onthebuses

      I agree we need more primary places and that has just about hit secondary too. I don’t like the free school/academies policy – it fragments the system and weakens local authorities. LA-bashing upsets me as much as free-school bashing might upset you. There are some good things about Turing House. I also apologise for saying bad things about headteacher – it’s a challenging job, and there are many other elements that need to be in place for a school to succeed. But long term, a site in Whitton with that admissions policy is wrong for many reasons.

    • westydad

      Finally I can give one of your posts a thumbs-up onthebuses!

      Let’s hope it’s in Teddington, so we can all relax. According to the Space to Play website, the auction for Udney Park Rd is mid-April. By my calculations, that’s imminent. Fingers crossed huh?

  3. Riversidevoter

    On their petition the Whitton against Turing activists are claiming to be the victim of a class divide on the A316. Presumably the irony is lost on them that over here in Twickers we may or may not be posh and all drive Chelsea tractors, but we already have a new secondary school that only offers places to 10% of our families, and has a fair few families sending their children over the A316 from Whitton and clogging up our roads with their cars etc. and that wasn’t even needed, apparently.

    • Anonymous

      I am one of those opposed to the school and where you got this idea of class divide I think you just made up!! Since when has Whitton been divided from Twickenham?? We are just saying it’s the wrong site for a school! If you bothered to look at the location it is completely unsuitable! We know a new school is needed, but this is not the location! This is not a case of ‘not on my doorstep’. Real thought needs to be put into this! Sorry if Whitton children travels clog up your area!

    • Riversidevoter

      It came from the original wording of the petition! It has quite rightly been moderated considerably since it was first launched, as highlighted in this 19 April post on the Facebook page “I have reworded the petition slightly, removed any unnecessary negativity as I do feel for the catchment areas parents who have been kept in the dark for so long.”

      I am glad it was recognised that the allegation of a class divide was unnecessarily emotive and divisive.

      No doubt the problems with traffic will be fully explored during any Planning process, if it gets to that stage, as they are being explored at the moment in relation to the Planning application for the Clifden Road site.

  4. SallyG

    Onthebuses – I don’t understand where you are coming from. This is not an ego trip for an individual, it’s a proposal born out of a real community need, initiated and driven by that community. RET is a sponsor who support these parent-led projects and create schools that meet a local need. They are not a chain like Harris or AET creating carbon-copy schools regardless of local views. Turing House is desperatly needed and wanted, I hope they manage to stay in Teddington as the Whitton site is fraught with issues. But if a Teddington site is not possible then it’s better Turing House opens in Whitton than not at all.

    • Onthebuses

      A new secondary school is needed, but we’re getting one from 2017 and its admissions criteria will match other local schools. RET is a sponsor of schools that have caused controversy in other areas and similar issues are coming up here. I don’t doubt the commitment of the parents who have supported this school but I’m more sceptical of the sponsors. I have more confidence in the local authority or sponsors that are non-profit making. I agree with Amir Tahir that the free school policy/process in general is shambolic. That’s it really. Not all of us vote Tory or agree with Tory policies.

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses, RET is non-profit making, just like the Waldegrave Trust, the Orleans Park Trust, the Teddington School Trust etc. No academy trust is allowed to make a profit. See here for more details: https://www.turinghouseschool.org.uk/questions2.php#profit

    • BSTwick

      Plus, the places that the REEC school will provide are needed in addition to Turing House. If that wasn’t the case then it wouldn’t have been approved by the DfE. It is a free school, just like Turing House, and was approved through the same process – it just happens to have LBRuT as a minority sponsor (they aren’t allowed to have more than a c20% stake in the academy trust).

    • SallyG

      You’ll get no argument from me on how shambolic the Free School policy is and the need for local authorities to be able to open schools. But we are where we are and the 2011 Education act means new schools must be free schools. The borough needs at least 2 new secondary schools in the next couple of years – Turing House and REEC. There will be an argument for expanding existing schools or opening another further down the line as well. There were approx 1,850 children leaving primary school this year, by 2019 the council projections are for this to be over 2,400. Even with Turing House and REEC that is still a shortfall of approx 400 places. And that doesn’t take into account out-of-borough applications (Richmond is a net importer in this regard).

      RET is not profit making. They’re one of the good guys. If you want to pick that fight I suggest you dig around in the dubious set-up and motivations of other primary school sponsors trying to set up in Richmond.

    • Onthebuses

      BSTwick, of course no free school TRUST is profit-making because it’s against the law. It’s the company that sponsors RET is Education London which is profit-making. It’s not so much about profit but it is about the system encouraging fragmentation, unfair advantage, and also control. RET is run by a couple of individuals rather than representatives of organisations that have other accountability layers.

      There are plenty of free schools that have been approved in areas of surplus places so it’s not correct to say if the places weren’t needed Turing House wouldn’t have been approved. The Richmond College site is obvious to all and it’s accessible from a wider area and nearer to more of the schools that have expanded. It would have been opened and needed and approved under any government.

      There were no pupils left without a place this year. RET offers would therefore create a surplus of 100 places, probably concentrated in two schools. In two years’ time there will be 150 places created by the Richmond College school.

    • Walkinthepark

      Onthebuses. LBRUT only managed to accommodate everyone this year by adding extra classes at some or all the Middlesex side schools (certainly 16 at each of Waldegrave and Orleans but they have not released the offer information they usually do), a solution that is not sustainable once sixth forms are full. This had the unfortunate side effect of leaving quite a few Barnes, Mortlake and Kew families with the offer of places only at Twickenham Academy, a journey which those families are certainly not prepared to countenance for an 11 year old.

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses your numbers are incorrect, as is your argument, and some of your facts. I suggest you visit the discussion thread that Chris Squire linked to earlier, because these matters are discussed there at length, and with a lot more depth and insight than is possible here.

      I didn’t say that Turing House wouldn’t have been approved if the places weren’t needed – I said that the REEC school wouldn’t have been approved if the [REEC] places weren’t needed. The free school approval process has evolved year on year, and while, in the beginning, some schools were approved that weren’t needed, by the time Turing House and REEC were approved it was necessary to demonstrate a strong local need for places.

      When the REEC school was approved, they had to prove to the DfE that the places were needed over and above the ones that were already approved for Turing House, notwithstanding any issues over sites. If they had not been able to do that, and if they were therefore not approved, then the EFA may well have put Turing House on the college site instead. Thankfully that scenario didn’t arise, because the REEC partnership were quite rightly able to demonstrate that there is a massive population bulge coming through our primaries, and it is starting to hit secondary provision.

      You might be interested to read the council’s strategy for school place planning that I linked to earlier, which will open your eyes to a few issues. It does, by the way, say that it is “imperative” that a site is found for Turing House for September 2015 opening.

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses, Education London is a private company, yes, but it doesn’t make any profit out of the services it provides to RET, any more than (I assume) Haymarket will make a profit out of services it provides to the REEC Trust.

      RET benefits massively from EL’s sponsorship, because the very high quality services they provide to other schools for profit will be provided to RET for free, or on an at-cost basis. That is an excellent deal for the children in their schools,and is one of the main reasons why RET schools are so successful and popular. The other reason is that they provide educational expertise to proposing groups while allowing the groups themselves to shape the school vision and values, in line with what they think is needed for their local area – that is why they have some schools that are faith schools and some schools that aren’t. It is an excellent, and possibly unique partnership model, which is why the TH steering group chose RET as their sponsor.

    • Onthebuses

      On that metaphorical pat in the back and ushering to the door – the council have also said TH is needed ‘in the long term’ but in the short term it’s about choice. In two years a lot could change with the sponsored academies. No justification for a site in Whitton or for a process that consults on admissions for next year when no one knows where it is so cannot object.

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses, there are certainly ambiguities like that in council committee documents – the story changes depending on the scenario, and the person speaking. However, cynicism aside, that is at least partly due to the difficulties of planning school places in a borough that is long, thin, segmented by rivers and roads, and with a highly mobile education-conscious, savvy population – people can, and do, interpret the numbers in many different ways.

      For instance if large numbers of families go private, is that because they are wealthy and willingly choosing to go private, and is it to be encouraged because it takes pressure off the state system? Or, is it because they aren’t satisfied with being allocated school places that are less than ‘good’, and feel pushed into the private sector through lack of choice? If the latter, then is the private sector therefore profiting on the back of school place planning strategies that deliberately minimise surplus places, thereby reducing choice? These are issues that are discussed ad infinitum on other forums, so best treat them as rhetorical questions here … but they demonstrate that the definition of “need” is not simple.

      One thing is for sure, any council who doesn’t want the expense of providing school places could easily guarantee they never needed to do so – they’d just have to make sure their schools didn’t improve inline with those in the borough next door. Richmond, on the other hand, is the victim of its own success. Its high quality schools attract massive population inflow, and all those primary school children that have been packed into bulge classes in recent years now, or will soon, need secondary places. So if the schools you mention do continue to undergo positive change, they will soon fill up and overflow, because people will deliberately move into their catchments. The borough’s population isn’t static, not least due to massive housing expansion (see this map for housing developments in the pipeline and primary bulges coming through the sytem: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zYHVmnQXFc0M.knyn6OCoooNY)

    • Jonathan

      Free schools often result in outrageously high salaries for ‘the senior management team’ and associated ‘consultants’. People basically leaching off the tax payer.

    • Onthebuses

      Just one thing Walkinthepark – I don’t understand why Orleans Park and Waldegrave offering extra places would have the side effect of leaving Barnes, Mortlake and Kew families without a place. Surely their problem was as a result of Richmond Park Academy not offering an extra class?

    • BSTwick

      Jonathan, some free schools may do, but at RET sponsored schools, like Turing House, staff are employed under the School Staffing Regulations that apply to all other maintained schools and academies and the nationally agreed pay and conditions for teachers and school support staff. (See here: https://www.turinghouseschool.org.uk/staff.php).

      And, as I said before, if required, educational consultancy is provided to RET schools for free or at cost, i.e. much more cheaply than the consultancy services regularly purchased by Local and National Education Authorities (who have long since got rid of their own internal consultants), individual maintained schools and academies, private schools and academy chains. .

    • Walkinthepark

      On the buses, the act of apparently putting all the bulge places on the Middlesex side is what has led to the shortage of spaces on the Surrey side for Surrey parents. One can only speculate on the extent and reason since they are not releasing any of the usual information to parents, but one political possibility is not wanting the prediction that Middlesex children would end up traveling to RPA as a result of the Clifden decision to come true, particularly in an election year in a targeted constituency. The increased popularity of RPA in response to it’s improvement became apparent last year when it became fully subscribed and it seems unlikely they would not have been prepared to lay on an emergency bulge class to meet demand rather than facing Surrey parents with the stress of their only option being an unacceptable journey to a less popular Twickenham Academy.

      However this is all speculation as the Council are being opaque on their strategy for dealing with the realised pupil bulge other than acknowledging in the strategy BSTwick linked to that one was required even if Turing opened this year. Aside from a few Councillors wanting to spin it as adding choice rather than necessary places to defend themselves from criticism that the risks of the Clifden decision in terms of meeting future need have indeed materialised , concluding that the Turing Places are not needed as well as very much wanted, in addition to the Egerton Road College, does show a lack of familiarity with the base numbers, as well as the extent of latent demand unlocked by giving parents good school places, whether in Sheen or Fullwell. That pupil bulge SallyG has highlighted was always in the Council forecasts, and so was the provision of 100 places by a Free School from 2014. The increase in applications by Sheen parents wasn’t however, it was assumed that RPA would continue to have vacancies for some years to come. However cynical you are about the Free School process, we should all be grateful to a group of parents who worked hard and acted pragmatically to ensure these places materialised for parents, let alone that the places that materialised were the sort of mainstream inclusive places serving the community parents want for their children.

      Ideally of course they would be local, whether in Sheen or Fullwell, I am sure everyone wants that, but that needs there to be sites that can be secured………

    • Onthebuses

      I don’t see why bulge classes on the Middlesex side would lead to shortage of shortage of places on the Surrey side. Surely the opposite – there just weren’t enough places at Grey Court, Christ’s or RPA. There were a lot in Richmond/East Twickenham too this year so surely it’s a good thing Orleans Park offered extra places. Clearly there weren’t enough places for all Barnes pupils in Surrey schools but Turing House is too far to help that.

    • Walkinthepark

      Onthebuses Turing will meet the need in one (council acknowledged ) black hole of provision in Fulwell /Twickenham, now another is emerging in Surrey. Why didn’t the Council put on a bulge class on the Surrey side to meet that need? Why instead have so many of the additional places the Council needed to meet the increased demand been implemented on the Middlesex side that it has caused them to offer Twickenham Academy (who incidentally are looking for staff to service some level of expansion too) places to 11 year olds in Barnes, Mortlake who cannot be expected to make that journey? I was merely speculating on their motive, that at the moment they did not want to risk any possibility of Middlesex children travelling to Sheen (and I don’t care where parents live in the borough, they do have a right to expect the Council to plan adequate accessible provision) but however you look at it they have been faced with having to cobble together short term solutions to a shortage of school places and needed Turing to come on stream.

  5. Onthebuses

    That’s what I’m concerned about. It’s one thing for him to be given another chance to prove himself, another thing to use that opportunity to fix the intake, even where it does not reflect its immediate neighbourhood. That’s what has happened with the other RET schools. I am not criticising parents supporting the school, but RET is in control, it is an academy sponsor and it has its own agenda too.

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses, he’s not being “given another chance to prove himself”. He has an extremely strong track record (which isn’t necessarily publicly available online, but was certainly available to those who were involved in the selection process).

      Ultimately parents need to decide for themselves, based on meetings that they attend, and the answers to questions that they ask, but that is the case for any school.

    • Onthebuses

      As a RET adviser, he was very close to that selection process, and probably very involved in the admissions criteria, too.

    • Onthebuses

      According to the Whitton facebook page, RET has known about the Whitton site for months – before the admissions consultation. Or is that wrong?

    • BSTwick

      Of course he’s close to it, and therefore he knows how rigorous it is.
      You’ve made similar comments on other forums onthebuses. The frustrating thing is that if you got out from behind your computer and came along to one of the school meetings you’d probably find out everything you wanted to know within about 10 minutes. You’ll find people are very open when you ask questions directly. 🙂

    • Onthebuses

      Nothing is very open about the free school process. Including a consultation about admissions to a site that hasn’t been announced.

  6. Jonathan

    If you look carefully at the proposals – the council wants to create a Turing House junior school on the Whitton site as well. You are not going to get many parents packing there 5 year olds onto a bus. It will create traffic chaos on the A316 / Hospital Bridge Road round about and will have the effect of blocking the main road into Twickenham off.

  7. Both sites are MOL, so they should be protected by Policy DM OS 2:

    ‘ . . The borough’s Metropolitan Open Land will be protected and retained in predominately open use. Appropriate uses include public and private open spaces and playing fields, open recreation and sport, biodiversity including rivers and bodies of water and open community uses including allotments and cemeteries . . ‘
    http://consult.richmond.gov.uk/portal/planning_policy/dmdpd/admp?pointId=1317142717661#section-1317142717661
    Local Plan Proposals Map adopted July 2013:
    http://www.cartogold.co.uk/Richmond/richmond.htm

    There is a long-running forum on borough school places on Mumsnet at
    http://local.mumsnet.com/Talk/local_richmond_upon_thames/2229111-Richmond-Borough-Schools-Chat-6?msgid=53697845#53697845 which readers who wish to inform themselves better on this topic may find useful: 5633 posts since February 2011 and still going strong!

    • BSTwick

      Chris – The Udney Park Road site is Land of Townscape Importance, not MOL.

    • Noted – thank you for the correction. It is therefore protected by:

      ‘Policy DM OS 3: Other Open Land of Townscape Importance – will be protected and enhanced in open use. It will be recognised that there may be exceptional cases where appropriate development is acceptable. The following criteria must be taken into account when assessing appropriate development:

      – It must be linked to the functional use of the Other Open Land of Townscape Importance; or
      – It can only be a replacement or minor extension of existing built facilities;
      – In addition to 1. or 2., it does not harm the character and openness of the open land . . ‘

      http://consult.richmond.gov.uk/portal/planning_policy/dmdpd/admp?pointId=1317142717661#section-1317142717661

  8. Alan Winter

    Why are several of you mentioning Whitton? The secured site is next door to Teddington Memorial Hospital on the corner of Queens Road,

  9. Anonymous

    It sounds agonising and insecure for the organisers and parents. I don”t quite understand the funding for free schools. I know another one in much the same position, currently in a series of portacabins in a car park. Series of hitches and delays in the building of actual classrooms. What aspect of this provides freedom? Turing house sounds like a very good idea for a school, but how have its organisers been left to hunt for. Office space to set up?

    Are free schools in line with the current Govenment’s move from provision and legal responsibility to providing a budget washing the hands and telling service users to get in with it ,in the name of freedom? Is it freedom or is it rather like being told that checking in your bags or checking out your groceries is more free and convenient for you whereas you are simply saving the other party trouble and responsibility?

  10. Alan Winter

    Purely from a practical point of view the Livingstone House site is A) Not very big (Dont have actual size to hand – sorry) and B) Right on the corner of a busy 4 way main road traffic junction. Can’t see it suitable at all especially when there is zero parking in the immediate vicinity.

  11. Its_all_in_the_planning

    I don’t see how this school can be a success until it has a permanent site?The creators of Turing House are clearly trying to avoid the pitfalls of other schools in the area and yet falling into the same problems. If you want to create more school spaces for twickenham/ teddington residents you can’t go and plonk the school in Whitton! Ridiculous. I suppose it’s easy to criticise other schools’ admission policies and the council until you have a go yourself!

    • Amir Tahir

      That’s rather the point, isn’t it? You shouldn’t have to ‘have a go yourself’. Most advanced societies have national and local governments to do this kind of thing. Plonking the school in Whitton is exactly what happens when you let nutters like Gove get shambolic ideas like ‘free’ schools past their party leaders’ crap ideas detectors. You’re lucky it’s only Whitton. Katherine Birbalsingh’s Michaela ‘free’ school started off in Wandsworth and finally opened last year in Wembley.

    • westydad

      It would be a success in a portacabin in the middle of a roundabout, because its giving us what we need in this area – a good mainstream comp, with a strong headteacher and, critically, spaces for our kids. If they have to put on a few extra buses to Whitton then so be it, but I’d much rather it was set up in Udney Park Road. The Teddington society, or whoever else is blocking that, need to pull their heads out of the sand on this one and realise that local kids need a good local school.

    • Onthebuses

      Don’t mean to be funny but how do you know Turing House will have a strong headteacher? His last school in Coulsdon did go into special measures.

    • westydad

      Because we’ve been going to the meetings for the last 2 years onthebuses. It’s more reliable than webcrawling.

    • BSTwick

      Onthebuses, he brought it out of special measures (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oasis_Academy_Coulsdon) through rapid improvement, and, when it was academised by the local council, he was subsequently headhunted as a school improvement consultant as part of the London Challenge initiative. He has performed numerous interim headships as part of that role.

    • Onthebuses

      But the Turing House website implies he was employed to take the school out of special measures. The truth is that he was there for four years before that rating, and he would have been helped by a team of advisers to improve it. The Ofsted report is not available but other sources are. Are they unreliable?

      http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/archive/2002/01/14/34461.Colin__s_ready_for_Coulsdon_/

      https://www.croydon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/articles/downloads/coulsdonhigh.pdf

    • BSTwick

      It was his first headship role and he took on a challenging school – good for him. It takes time and ingenuity to turn schools around, especially when councils are determined to academise them. His (partial) Ofsted report is linked from the Wikipedia page. Reference 6.