Concern over school place planning:
RISC is closely monitoring the school place planning process in Richmond-Upon-Thames to ensure that it delivers sufficient high-quality community places for all who want them.
In November 2011, during the build-up to its decision to establish new Catholic schools in central Twickenham, Richmond council published a detailed 10-year forecast for secondary school places, apparently showing that no new community places were needed in the short-term future, despite a huge bulge in the numbers of children coming through our local primary schools. They used that forecast to justify giving away the recently-purchased Clifden Road site for use by St. Richard Reynolds Catholic College.
However, the forecast was based on a number of dangerous assumptions, including:
- the assumption that applications from outside the borough would significantly decrease (though all the signs are that they are increasing);
- the assumption that 100 secondary Free School places would be created in Richmond Borough in 2013 (they weren't; though a new Free School is proposed for 2014);
- the assumption that an 8-form secondary would be established in North Kingston in 2015 (unfortunately the proposed school has so far been unable to secure funding; the latest proposal is for a 5-form school);
- the assumption that there would be no future increases in the proportion of children staying in the state sector for secondary school, despite the recession and significant quality improvements in some local state schools.
RISC formally challenged the forecasts at its Cabinet meeting of Nov 24th 2011, issuing this paper outlining potential flaws in the council's reasoning and including a revised forecast taking into account the clear risks of their assumptions proving false.
RISC will continue to hold the council to account for the consequences of their forecasting, and will make sure that admissions data is released into the public domain in a timely manner so that we can analyse it and report on our findings.
March 1st was National Offer Day for 2013 admissions to secondary school. We know that applications to popular secondaries such as Orleans Park and Teddington School have risen significantly this year, since the dropping of the Linked School Policy, so we are interested to monitor the outcome. Our inital analysis is here, and we'll publish an update when we have the finalised September admissions data.
The Primary Offer Day was April 17th. Here's the data we've obtained so far showing the applications and initial offers for each school. Unfortunately the Council was unable to provide us with infomation on impact of religious selection criteria. These quotes from parents, and this letter from the RTT suggests that, as in previous years, there are black holes for community admissions, and we'll be monitoring that situation closely.
Have you been personally affected by local school planning issues? Please get in touch and share your story.