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RISC is born, as school plans progressClifden Road



April 2011:

May 2011:

  • The Lib Dem opposition spokesperson for Education issued a statement warning that Richmond Borough was likely to run out of Secondary School places by 2015.

July 2011:

  • Richmond Council announced that they were buying a school site in Clifden Road in Central Twickenham. The cost of the purchase was later revealed as £8.45m. Although there was no formal decision, the leader of the Council, Lord True, made clear that they wanted the site to be used for a Catholic VA school, and would invite the Catholic Diocese to make a proposal.
  • This choice of a VA school was contrary to the Council’s policy of turning all its schools into Academies. The VA structure was selected because new Academies were limited to a maximum of 50% faith-based selection, whereas the Church and the Council wanted up to 100%.

Aug 2011:

Sept 2011:

  • Catholic parents, who had submitted a paper petition earlier in the year, now launched a second petition, declaring support for a Catholic School, to run in parallel with the online petition RISC launched in August.  The Catholic community's petition, which was heavily promoted via Catholic church and school leaders, eventually gained 3556 signatures; marginally more than RISC's.  However, it did not make any reference to the type of Catholic School to be created.  RISC supporters argued that the wording of both petitions could be satisfied if a Catholic Academy, with an inclusive admissions policy was created, rather than a VA school.
  • A second Council debate, triggered by RISC’s petition, was held to consider the Clifden Road plan, but this time there wasn’t cross-party support. The opposition Education Spokesperson for Education said that, while the Lib Dems supported the principle of a new Catholic School, they didn’t support the use of the Clifden Road site for it. They urged the Conservative administration to hold a full public consultation on the use of the site.
  • In the meantime, the Council appeared to have dropped their original plan for a new community school.

Oct 2011:

  • The Diocese of Westminster requested permission from the Education Secretary Michael Gove to publish its school proposals. Under the rules in place at the time, it was necessary for VA School proposers to seek this permission, but it was always granted, and therefore generally considered a formality.
  • In the application, the Diocese stated that Richmond Council had approached them with an offer of the Clifden Road site on a 125 year lease at a peppercorn rent. They also revealed their plan to create a 1-form entry primary school alongside the 5-form secondary.
  • In the meantime, the Lib Dem education spokesperson published his forecast for a looming shortfall in secondary school places. RISC’s separate analysis came to the same conclusion.

Next: Nov 2011 - March 2012: RISC triggers a consultation ...