Parents devastated as Turing House School opening pushed back a year

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Turing House School: Headteacher Colin Mackinlay Turing House School: Headteacher Colin Mackinlay

Hundreds of parents and children are desperately scrambling for secondary school places after Turing House School was refused permission to open in September.

Uncertainty over a permanent site for the free school meant the minister for schools and Department for Education (DfE) deferred the opening until September next year, despite giving it the thumbs up last spring.

Parents were assured the school would open in temporary accommodation in September before a permanent site was secured, but the reverse has left 150 children without a guaranteed school place.

Parent Paula Muncey, 47, whose 10-year-old son was due to start at the school, said the situation was absolutely scandalous.

She said: “Everyone is shocked, angry, tearful, devastated and thinking ‘what are we going to do next?’ We had no reason to think it was not going to happen and it feels like the rug has been pulled from under us.

“I now have to send my son to a school that I have little faith in.”

The announcement on Wednesday, March 12, came just nine days after offers were made and parents have until March 17 to decide on another school.

Mrs Muncey, from Teddington, said: “There is a real trust issue now and parents may not want to risk putting their name down for a free school.

“I am sure there are some parents who will have rejected their other place and some children are not going to have a place even at their second choice.”

The original school proposal was put forward by a group of parents and charity the Russell Education Trust (RET).

Senior adviser at the RET Richard Elms said the school was incredibly disappointed.

He said: “Unfortunately the minister feels that things have not progressed enough in terms of a site and has deferred the opening of the school.

“Everyone at the school is extremely disappointed. But that pales into insignificance the disappointment of the parents.”

In 2012 it was decided various sites the school was interested in were unsuitable, including the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington and Clifden Road in Twickenham.

Councillor Stephen Knight, leader of the opposition in Richmond, said the debacle raised questions over free schools.

He said: “The whole process of starting free schools is clearly seriously flawed. It was always a bizarre fantasy to be offering places for a non-existent school.

“Even if a site had been secured by now, it realistically takes four to five years to plan and build a new secondary school and the idea that you can provide all the facilities in the meantime in Portakabins or converted offices is simply unrealistic.”

Richmond Council said all families who applied to the council have received another secondary school place.

But one parent said her daughter was left with her fourth choice of school, forcing her to get two buses to get there each day.

A council spokesman said: “We recognise that for the many families that backed the school, this will be a disappointment. The council is very keen to offer whatever help it can to assist the school, so it can open in 2015.”

Parents have set up a meeting with Twickenham MP Vince Cable on Friday, March 14.

Comments (35)

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6:22pm Thu 13 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Stephen Knight is wrong to say the school could not be ready in time. A temporary site was available, and would have accommodated the school until the permanent site was ready. RET have successfully opened 4 other schools on similar timescales, and other groups are doing the same.

The minister's decision was due to just one thing - that the permanent site had not been secured. Financially that is a risk, because if a school is in temporary accommodation, with an obvious deadline, the EFA's experience is that the cost of the permanent site rises. They have recently been criticised by the Audit Commission for overpaying on permanent sites in those circumstances, so there is now a new policy in place which prevents it.
Stephen Knight is wrong to say the school could not be ready in time. A temporary site was available, and would have accommodated the school until the permanent site was ready. RET have successfully opened 4 other schools on similar timescales, and other groups are doing the same. The minister's decision was due to just one thing - that the permanent site had not been secured. Financially that is a risk, because if a school is in temporary accommodation, with an obvious deadline, the EFA's experience is that the cost of the permanent site rises. They have recently been criticised by the Audit Commission for overpaying on permanent sites in those circumstances, so there is now a new policy in place which prevents it. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 14

9:00pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Furious parent says...

Councillor Knight is missing the point. There is a huge demand for this school, with 150 parents having accepted places and a further 200 on the waiting list. All was progressing well until the Department of Education took over the negotiations for the permanent site, and they have failed to deliver on their promise. Parents were quite prepared for the school to be on a temporary site for several years. Most importantly, parents were formally offered places at the school to start in September and had accepted them. If parents had known there was any risk of it not happening, they could have looked at making other plans, eg moving away. It is now far too late for that. It is a disgrace, yet another appalling decision by boarding school boy Lord Nash which Michael Gove needs to address urgently
Councillor Knight is missing the point. There is a huge demand for this school, with 150 parents having accepted places and a further 200 on the waiting list. All was progressing well until the Department of Education took over the negotiations for the permanent site, and they have failed to deliver on their promise. Parents were quite prepared for the school to be on a temporary site for several years. Most importantly, parents were formally offered places at the school to start in September and had accepted them. If parents had known there was any risk of it not happening, they could have looked at making other plans, eg moving away. It is now far too late for that. It is a disgrace, yet another appalling decision by boarding school boy Lord Nash which Michael Gove needs to address urgently Furious parent
  • Score: 11

11:59pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Turing Parents 2014 says...

This is a desperately needed school. Lord Nash's decision adversely affects a great many of us in this community. We can do something about this, but we need your support. We are Turing Parents 2014, and we will fight to open Turing House in September this year. For more information please go to our Facebook page TuringParents2014 or email us - turingparents2014@gm
ail.com
This is a desperately needed school. Lord Nash's decision adversely affects a great many of us in this community. We can do something about this, but we need your support. We are Turing Parents 2014, and we will fight to open Turing House in September this year. For more information please go to our Facebook page TuringParents2014 or email us - turingparents2014@gm ail.com Turing Parents 2014
  • Score: 13

7:08am Fri 14 Mar 14

J.Blake says...

Yet again our politicians, are not listening to what this community needs, a good inclusive mixed secondary school.

Turing house is the answer, we need to all get behind the Turing Parents campaign to make sure our children don't miss out.
Yet again our politicians, are not listening to what this community needs, a good inclusive mixed secondary school. Turing house is the answer, we need to all get behind the Turing Parents campaign to make sure our children don't miss out. J.Blake
  • Score: 7

10:02am Fri 14 Mar 14

lottieprosser says...

Clifden Road wasn't unsuitable - the Conservative Council decided to give it to the Catholic Church for an exclusive Catholic school despite knowing it was the only suitable site for an inclusive secondary school for all local children. Does no one at the RTT ever read up on stories before putting pen to paper? Do you have any real journalists anymore!? Sloppiness like this is insulting to all those who fought so hard to keep Clifden Road for a school for the whole community.
Clifden Road wasn't unsuitable - the Conservative Council decided to give it to the Catholic Church for an exclusive Catholic school despite knowing it was the only suitable site for an inclusive secondary school for all local children. Does no one at the RTT ever read up on stories before putting pen to paper? Do you have any real journalists anymore!? Sloppiness like this is insulting to all those who fought so hard to keep Clifden Road for a school for the whole community. lottieprosser
  • Score: 2

11:35am Fri 14 Mar 14

Dellon says...

If this school had gone through the pan-London admissions process, it would have been completely unfair to have cancelled these offers of places at such a late stage. But it went outside that process, so I agree that is not a fair principle for a school to offer places before it has conducted a consultation on admissions policies, let alone secured a site, because it affects other schools, pupils and teachers.

All of the parents who were offered places will also have been offered a place through the pan-London admissions scheme at another inclusive school, although some may have preferred Turing House as an alternative.

Whoever was the source for the article two weeks ago that raised parents' hopes of a site on Imperial College playing fields, it reflects badly on the school if it was untrue. Your paper should have asked RET for an official comment to be clear that story didn't come from them, which I would consider to have been very indiscreet and/or a 'bizarre fantasy'. If it was just a hopeful supporter of the school, it was an unreliable source for a story and the RTT shouldn't have printed it.
If this school had gone through the pan-London admissions process, it would have been completely unfair to have cancelled these offers of places at such a late stage. But it went outside that process, so I agree that is not a fair principle for a school to offer places before it has conducted a consultation on admissions policies, let alone secured a site, because it affects other schools, pupils and teachers. All of the parents who were offered places will also have been offered a place through the pan-London admissions scheme at another inclusive school, although some may have preferred Turing House as an alternative. Whoever was the source for the article two weeks ago that raised parents' hopes of a site on Imperial College playing fields, it reflects badly on the school if it was untrue. Your paper should have asked RET for an official comment to be clear that story didn't come from them, which I would consider to have been very indiscreet and/or a 'bizarre fantasy'. If it was just a hopeful supporter of the school, it was an unreliable source for a story and the RTT shouldn't have printed it. Dellon
  • Score: 4

11:56am Fri 14 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Dellon, the 2014 admissions policy was devised in consultation with the LA, and approved by the DfE. The school's website makes it clear that a consultation was planned for the subsequent year's admission policy. That is the standard process for free schools.

I agree the RTT was irresponsible to print a story quoting an unnamed source. No comment was made from the school, which always made it very clear that site negotiations were being kept strictly confidential.

The "bizarre fantasy" phrase is just cruel, thoroughly unjustified, and a misrepresentation of the facts.
Dellon, the 2014 admissions policy was devised in consultation with the LA, and approved by the DfE. The school's website makes it clear that a consultation was planned for the subsequent year's admission policy. That is the standard process for free schools. I agree the RTT was irresponsible to print a story quoting an unnamed source. No comment was made from the school, which always made it very clear that site negotiations were being kept strictly confidential. The "bizarre fantasy" phrase is just cruel, thoroughly unjustified, and a misrepresentation of the facts. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 10

12:37pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Dellon says...

Then it's the process for approving free schools that is wrong, and that was Stephen Knight's criticism in the article. There was a borough-wide consultation for St Richard Reynolds and a statutory consultation before applications were invited. There was much criticism for that statutory consultation but it did take place before applications were invited, and the consultation process for free schools is less democratic and skewed towards the interests of school providers. The offer of places in the pre-consultation stage is a live trial/test of its appeal, but it's cruel for the government to allow this before any approval has been given if there is a risk of it being deferred.

Given all the bad publicity over free schools, the fact that at least three have gone into special measures (a fourth may be pending publication of a report), there are already many risks. It's really important that such a big project succeeds and is value for the taxpayer. In the context of the RISC debate in Richmond, it's also important that the process is scrupulously transparent and fair, without an adverse impact on other schools, and more so than just the statutory requirement.

But of course, it's certainly not a bizarre fantasy to have worked on the plans for this school or for parents to have applied for places, so it's understandable why people are very disappointed. From next year it will become needed as well as wanted - I hope it will be in a much stronger position to succeed.
Then it's the process for approving free schools that is wrong, and that was Stephen Knight's criticism in the article. There was a borough-wide consultation for St Richard Reynolds and a statutory consultation before applications were invited. There was much criticism for that statutory consultation but it did take place before applications were invited, and the consultation process for free schools is less democratic and skewed towards the interests of school providers. The offer of places in the pre-consultation stage is a live trial/test of its appeal, but it's cruel for the government to allow this before any approval has been given if there is a risk of it being deferred. Given all the bad publicity over free schools, the fact that at least three have gone into special measures (a fourth may be pending publication of a report), there are already many risks. It's really important that such a big project succeeds and is value for the taxpayer. In the context of the RISC debate in Richmond, it's also important that the process is scrupulously transparent and fair, without an adverse impact on other schools, and more so than just the statutory requirement. But of course, it's certainly not a bizarre fantasy to have worked on the plans for this school or for parents to have applied for places, so it's understandable why people are very disappointed. From next year it will become needed as well as wanted - I hope it will be in a much stronger position to succeed. Dellon
  • Score: 6

12:55pm Fri 14 Mar 14

JeremyRodell says...

It's simply untrue that the Clifden Road site was unsuitable. Lord True and his Cabinet made a deliberate decision to give priority to the Catholic school even though their own plans assumed a new free school and they knew what is now Turing House had Clifden Road as their preferred site.

Meanwhile, 100% of the offers made by St Richard Reynolds for Sep 2014 entry were faith based.

The Council must be held to account for its decision unfairness and exclusivity over an inclusive school.
It's simply untrue that the Clifden Road site was unsuitable. Lord True and his Cabinet made a deliberate decision to give priority to the Catholic school even though their own plans assumed a new free school and they knew what is now Turing House had Clifden Road as their preferred site. Meanwhile, 100% of the offers made by St Richard Reynolds for Sep 2014 entry were faith based. The Council must be held to account for its decision unfairness and exclusivity over an inclusive school. JeremyRodell
  • Score: -2

1:15pm Fri 14 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Dellon, the free school process is what it is. Local parents have done what they can to work within the policy to get the school they want and need for their community, because that's the only way. Some free schools have been controversial, but this one isn't. It has thousands of local families supporting it, and had 362 applications for 150 places _despite_ the uncertainty.
Dellon, the free school process is what it is. Local parents have done what they can to work within the policy to get the school they want and need for their community, because that's the only way. Some free schools have been controversial, but this one isn't. It has thousands of local families supporting it, and had 362 applications for 150 places _despite_ the uncertainty. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 10

1:43pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Dellon says...

If the council had offered this site as an inclusive school, it would certainly NOT have opened in 2014 either - that was never the council's intention while the other academies were building up numbers. There were still 200 vacant places in the borough last year.

And under current legislation the council would not have paid for the school upfront either - the DfE might have bought it off RACC, but other free school groups might have pitched in, so there would have been no guarantee the council would be involved in the bid. Had IES won the toss, we could have a school in special measures by now. So 'what if' has to be judged carefully and I can understand the council's strategy.

I supported RISC's arguments in the Catholic school debate, but it hasn't made any difference at all to the other local schools apart from freeing up a few places. Whereas a new inclusive school will have a much bigger impact and would need to be phased in carefully. That would not have been the case if the school had been set up temporary premises and offered the full 150 places despite the fact that all the other RET schools started with 60-70 pupils. At least Turing House does not religious admissions criteria, unlike RET's other schools - I would imagine local people on the steering committee would have influenced that.
If the council had offered this site as an inclusive school, it would certainly NOT have opened in 2014 either - that was never the council's intention while the other academies were building up numbers. There were still 200 vacant places in the borough last year. And under current legislation the council would not have paid for the school upfront either - the DfE might have bought it off RACC, but other free school groups might have pitched in, so there would have been no guarantee the council would be involved in the bid. Had IES won the toss, we could have a school in special measures by now. So 'what if' has to be judged carefully and I can understand the council's strategy. I supported RISC's arguments in the Catholic school debate, but it hasn't made any difference at all to the other local schools apart from freeing up a few places. Whereas a new inclusive school will have a much bigger impact and would need to be phased in carefully. That would not have been the case if the school had been set up temporary premises and offered the full 150 places despite the fact that all the other RET schools started with 60-70 pupils. At least Turing House does not religious admissions criteria, unlike RET's other schools - I would imagine local people on the steering committee would have influenced that. Dellon
  • Score: 3

1:53pm Fri 14 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Dellon, RET provide the educational expertise to local groups wanting to set up a school. The designation, faith or non-faith, is decided and steered by the local group. Their first school (Bristol Free School) is a very successful and oversubscribed community school.

It is true that other free school groups may have pitched in if there was a site open to bidders (in fact there have been some - there was Richmond Free School that wanted the sorting office site, and the Maharishi School going for the site that eventually became St. Mary's Hampton). That is exactly why local people felt they needed to act; to create a locally-steered school that is appropriate to its community.
Dellon, RET provide the educational expertise to local groups wanting to set up a school. The designation, faith or non-faith, is decided and steered by the local group. Their first school (Bristol Free School) is a very successful and oversubscribed community school. It is true that other free school groups may have pitched in if there was a site open to bidders (in fact there have been some - there was Richmond Free School that wanted the sorting office site, and the Maharishi School going for the site that eventually became St. Mary's Hampton). That is exactly why local people felt they needed to act; to create a locally-steered school that is appropriate to its community. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 8

2:31pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Dellon says...

But RET would be signing a funding agreement for the school to be part of a multi-academy trust, so it would not have any legal identity away from RET - it wouldn't be able to change sponsor and the governors would be appointed by RET. This gives the school far fewer freedoms than any of the community schools had under the LA, or any of the converters have compared with the sponsored academies.

Having said that, when comparing sponsors, RET may be one of the better performers, and may provide more of a choice to parents than two schools branded under the same Swedish company.
But RET would be signing a funding agreement for the school to be part of a multi-academy trust, so it would not have any legal identity away from RET - it wouldn't be able to change sponsor and the governors would be appointed by RET. This gives the school far fewer freedoms than any of the community schools had under the LA, or any of the converters have compared with the sponsored academies. Having said that, when comparing sponsors, RET may be one of the better performers, and may provide more of a choice to parents than two schools branded under the same Swedish company. Dellon
  • Score: 4

3:43pm Fri 14 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Dellon, it's easy for people who don't like the free school policy to score political points, because it's been a controversial policy nationally. However, local parents aren't interested in the politics ... they just want a great school. Turing House has won the trust of local parents, and they are backing it in huge numbers.
Dellon, it's easy for people who don't like the free school policy to score political points, because it's been a controversial policy nationally. However, local parents aren't interested in the politics ... they just want a great school. Turing House has won the trust of local parents, and they are backing it in huge numbers. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 12

4:20pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Copthall resident says...

Dellon Perhaps you are unaware that last year the Council actually allocated some of the non Catholic pupils who did not get any of their preferences and lived closer to Hampton and Twickenham Academies to the undersubscribed St Richard Reynolds. So if you subscribe to the view that if parents do not have other local options they will fill up the undersubscribed academies arguably St RR did affect the academies and the Council contributed to that. This year it is oversubscribed on faith and at first offer so are all the schools. There were over 200 more applications this year and the only way that the Council have managed to allocate a space to every parent is by increasing the number of places they over offer by quite some margin to 13%, they have made over 230 more offers than they have places. The question is did they do that because they expected Turing to take some of the pupils and the waiting lists to move quickly or are they relying, as indeed they always do at primary level, on parents to decide to go private, move or find other options? Arguably Turing was meeting a need this year.

However why parents are so upset is that they will not troop dutifully to a school if they do not feel it is right for their children. They, as they have for decades in this borough, move, go private or find out of borough alternatives and the communities built up in primaries and nurseries break up. It was a need and desire to stop that happening by having an inclusive coed school that met the needs of the local community for local school places that Turing came into being to meet. It had 362 applications and many of those parents had put faith in having that option and now face having to find other options at short notice. That is why they are so angry. I do wish that people would stop thinking that parents are sheep to be herded wherever, because they manifestly are not. The Academies have to win people's confidence not expect them to be filed their way. It is great that word of mouth and the hard work at Richmond Park has resulted in a 46% increase in applications and an even greater increase in the applications from the local community but the Hampton and Twickenham Academies have a idiosyncratic educational approach and only managed Requires Improvement from their OFSTED inspection and it was nothing to do with Turing that demand for them was fairly stagnant, and they have a way to go that is entirely independent of the clear attraction to parents of the Turing proposition.
Dellon Perhaps you are unaware that last year the Council actually allocated some of the non Catholic pupils who did not get any of their preferences and lived closer to Hampton and Twickenham Academies to the undersubscribed St Richard Reynolds. So if you subscribe to the view that if parents do not have other local options they will fill up the undersubscribed academies arguably St RR did affect the academies and the Council contributed to that. This year it is oversubscribed on faith and at first offer so are all the schools. There were over 200 more applications this year and the only way that the Council have managed to allocate a space to every parent is by increasing the number of places they over offer by quite some margin to 13%, they have made over 230 more offers than they have places. The question is did they do that because they expected Turing to take some of the pupils and the waiting lists to move quickly or are they relying, as indeed they always do at primary level, on parents to decide to go private, move or find other options? Arguably Turing was meeting a need this year. However why parents are so upset is that they will not troop dutifully to a school if they do not feel it is right for their children. They, as they have for decades in this borough, move, go private or find out of borough alternatives and the communities built up in primaries and nurseries break up. It was a need and desire to stop that happening by having an inclusive coed school that met the needs of the local community for local school places that Turing came into being to meet. It had 362 applications and many of those parents had put faith in having that option and now face having to find other options at short notice. That is why they are so angry. I do wish that people would stop thinking that parents are sheep to be herded wherever, because they manifestly are not. The Academies have to win people's confidence not expect them to be filed their way. It is great that word of mouth and the hard work at Richmond Park has resulted in a 46% increase in applications and an even greater increase in the applications from the local community but the Hampton and Twickenham Academies have a idiosyncratic educational approach and only managed Requires Improvement from their OFSTED inspection and it was nothing to do with Turing that demand for them was fairly stagnant, and they have a way to go that is entirely independent of the clear attraction to parents of the Turing proposition. Copthall resident
  • Score: 3

4:31pm Fri 14 Mar 14

sweeneyted says...

There is plenty of space at the Richmond College Egerton Road site.
Turing House, a new primary and the Clarendon Centre could be developed there. The new sixth forms at various schools within the borough are by far the preferred choice of parents for their children. Consequently Richmond College is now surplus to requirements and coupled with its difficult relationship with residents in Twickenham, it is difficult to justify such a large site given over to a institution that serves very few Richmond households.
However given the vested interests certain councillors seem to have in the college and Lib Dem ideological belligerance, it's unlikely such an obvious solution will ever be considered.
There is plenty of space at the Richmond College Egerton Road site. Turing House, a new primary and the Clarendon Centre could be developed there. The new sixth forms at various schools within the borough are by far the preferred choice of parents for their children. Consequently Richmond College is now surplus to requirements and coupled with its difficult relationship with residents in Twickenham, it is difficult to justify such a large site given over to a institution that serves very few Richmond households. However given the vested interests certain councillors seem to have in the college and Lib Dem ideological belligerance, it's unlikely such an obvious solution will ever be considered. sweeneyted
  • Score: 10

4:46pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Dellon says...

I have not argued against Turing House per se. But this year parents were being encouraged to hang on to two offers, which would have been unfair to children in other schools whose education may have been disrupted by last minute changes to staffing or funding deficits. Children at Hampton/Twickenham are no less deserving of sympathy than children at Richmond Park Academy. Did you ever ask them what they thought of Turing House opening this year without a permanent site?
I have not argued against Turing House per se. But this year parents were being encouraged to hang on to two offers, which would have been unfair to children in other schools whose education may have been disrupted by last minute changes to staffing or funding deficits. Children at Hampton/Twickenham are no less deserving of sympathy than children at Richmond Park Academy. Did you ever ask them what they thought of Turing House opening this year without a permanent site? Dellon
  • Score: 4

5:17pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Dellon says...

sweeneyted wrote:
There is plenty of space at the Richmond College Egerton Road site.
Turing House, a new primary and the Clarendon Centre could be developed there. The new sixth forms at various schools within the borough are by far the preferred choice of parents for their children. Consequently Richmond College is now surplus to requirements and coupled with its difficult relationship with residents in Twickenham, it is difficult to justify such a large site given over to a institution that serves very few Richmond households.
However given the vested interests certain councillors seem to have in the college and Lib Dem ideological belligerance, it's unlikely such an obvious solution will ever be considered.
I'd have no problem with Turing House being based at Egerton Road - makes a lot of sense. As a parent I'd feel more confident if there was also another partner that represented local schools, like in the North Kingston consortium, and the same sort of parent governor representation that you get in the other converter academies.
[quote][p][bold]sweeneyted[/bold] wrote: There is plenty of space at the Richmond College Egerton Road site. Turing House, a new primary and the Clarendon Centre could be developed there. The new sixth forms at various schools within the borough are by far the preferred choice of parents for their children. Consequently Richmond College is now surplus to requirements and coupled with its difficult relationship with residents in Twickenham, it is difficult to justify such a large site given over to a institution that serves very few Richmond households. However given the vested interests certain councillors seem to have in the college and Lib Dem ideological belligerance, it's unlikely such an obvious solution will ever be considered.[/p][/quote]I'd have no problem with Turing House being based at Egerton Road - makes a lot of sense. As a parent I'd feel more confident if there was also another partner that represented local schools, like in the North Kingston consortium, and the same sort of parent governor representation that you get in the other converter academies. Dellon
  • Score: 4

5:32pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Copthall resident says...

That was the admissions process agreed with the Council who no doubt had fully planned for it knowing full well as they apparently did the status of the site negotiations. I gather the Council will be as shocked and upset by this as anyone because, whilst it is probably the case that a Turing House Secondary was required this year, a Primary has long been desperately needed (even when they let St RR get away with providing 10 community places). It is complete rubbish to say that children at HA or TA would have been affected, if RET and indeed St RR can create a school from scratch in a few months I am sure the Council and Academies between them can manage the uncertainty they experience each year anyway.
That was the admissions process agreed with the Council who no doubt had fully planned for it knowing full well as they apparently did the status of the site negotiations. I gather the Council will be as shocked and upset by this as anyone because, whilst it is probably the case that a Turing House Secondary was required this year, a Primary has long been desperately needed (even when they let St RR get away with providing 10 community places). It is complete rubbish to say that children at HA or TA would have been affected, if RET and indeed St RR can create a school from scratch in a few months I am sure the Council and Academies between them can manage the uncertainty they experience each year anyway. Copthall resident
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Copthall resident says...

sweeneyted You are aware that two new schools are needed to meet the need for new school places, Richmond faces one of the worst school place crises in the country. The Egerton Road site is already earmarked for the development of a 11-16 school in 2017 developed in partnership with the College and Haymarket Publishing. There has been consultation already. Another reason that the Council will be worried by this development is that the D of E and EFA will indeed demand that priority be given to the already approved Turing over the yet to be approved partnership school if another site is not found and then they will be faced with the same problem as Turing in securing another site.
sweeneyted You are aware that two new schools are needed to meet the need for new school places, Richmond faces one of the worst school place crises in the country. The Egerton Road site is already earmarked for the development of a 11-16 school in 2017 developed in partnership with the College and Haymarket Publishing. There has been consultation already. Another reason that the Council will be worried by this development is that the D of E and EFA will indeed demand that priority be given to the already approved Turing over the yet to be approved partnership school if another site is not found and then they will be faced with the same problem as Turing in securing another site. Copthall resident
  • Score: 1

7:36pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Teddington mum says...

The Turing House proposal was born out of a community need for spaces in an inclusive comprehensive school with a familiar teaching style. There is a huge demand for places that will increase dramatically over the next few years as the Primary bulge classes work their way through the system. The Turing team won the argument, they convinced the DfE that the school was needed and wanted. The DfE and local council were happy for the school to open this year - the demand is there. The unfairness is that the government agencies failed to agree a permanent in time, and even though a temporary site was found and there were permanent site options, this was deemed to large a risk. Surely the risk here is NOT opening the school. The council and government agencies should be pulling out all the stops to help Turing House find a suitable site.
The Turing House proposal was born out of a community need for spaces in an inclusive comprehensive school with a familiar teaching style. There is a huge demand for places that will increase dramatically over the next few years as the Primary bulge classes work their way through the system. The Turing team won the argument, they convinced the DfE that the school was needed and wanted. The DfE and local council were happy for the school to open this year - the demand is there. The unfairness is that the government agencies failed to agree a permanent in time, and even though a temporary site was found and there were permanent site options, this was deemed to large a risk. Surely the risk here is NOT opening the school. The council and government agencies should be pulling out all the stops to help Turing House find a suitable site. Teddington mum
  • Score: 7

11:58am Sat 15 Mar 14

Concerned_Resident says...

Why should the council be pulling out all the stops to help this FREE school? The idea is that such schools are FREE of council interference is it not? All the free schools do is make the education system more expensive by making it more difficult to plan school place provision. The free schools at the end of the day don't have ultimate responsibility for school place provision, or the impossible task for planning provision when small, independent schools keep popping up everywhere. This whole saga just goes to show why they are a farce and should not be relied upon to deliver.

And like it or lump it, the fact that no permanent site was found is a high risk. What happens if the temporary site owner wants their building back? What if the cost of property increases hugely in the next few years? What if no permanent site can be found? Moving kids across to other schools because there was no building and Turing House therefore had to close would me hugely disruptive!

Nobody doubts that extra provision is needed in some areas of the borough but free schools are not the way to address it.
Why should the council be pulling out all the stops to help this FREE school? The idea is that such schools are FREE of council interference is it not? All the free schools do is make the education system more expensive by making it more difficult to plan school place provision. The free schools at the end of the day don't have ultimate responsibility for school place provision, or the impossible task for planning provision when small, independent schools keep popping up everywhere. This whole saga just goes to show why they are a farce and should not be relied upon to deliver. And like it or lump it, the fact that no permanent site was found is a high risk. What happens if the temporary site owner wants their building back? What if the cost of property increases hugely in the next few years? What if no permanent site can be found? Moving kids across to other schools because there was no building and Turing House therefore had to close would me hugely disruptive! Nobody doubts that extra provision is needed in some areas of the borough but free schools are not the way to address it. Concerned_Resident
  • Score: -7

12:37pm Sat 15 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Concerned_Resident, the free school process is the only way to create new schools at the moment, so in areas where new provision is needed, groups are having to work within that policy framework.

Richmond Council has welcomed free school providers who have come forward to help them with their school place planning. The Turing House parent group formed to make sure any such school would be locally steered, and appropriate to what local people wanted and needed (rather than an external group like the Maharishi school that put in an earlier bid).

Free school politics have been complicated nationally, but that picture shouldn't be used to cloud the local one - which is that TH is a school that is very much wanted and needed by its local community.

The site situation is the responsibility of the Education Funding Agency, not the council. Nevertheless, Richmond Council has been supportive when needed, because they would like Turing House to be successful and part of the local family of schools.
Concerned_Resident, the free school process is the only way to create new schools at the moment, so in areas where new provision is needed, groups are having to work within that policy framework. Richmond Council has welcomed free school providers who have come forward to help them with their school place planning. The Turing House parent group formed to make sure any such school would be locally steered, and appropriate to what local people wanted and needed (rather than an external group like the Maharishi school that put in an earlier bid). Free school politics have been complicated nationally, but that picture shouldn't be used to cloud the local one - which is that TH is a school that is very much wanted and needed by its local community. The site situation is the responsibility of the Education Funding Agency, not the council. Nevertheless, Richmond Council has been supportive when needed, because they would like Turing House to be successful and part of the local family of schools. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 12

1:47pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Copthall resident says...

Turing House School is part of the Council's education strategy and included in their forecasts. They cannot ensure that there are school places for all pupils without it. The Primary School (it will be a Primary as well as Secondary assuming the site is suitable) has been desperately needed for some time and now the secondary is needed as well. Whether you like or loathe the Free School process is not the issue, pragmatically it is the only way we will get the school places needed. There is no room to expand the existing Academies.

This was not a bid guided by political or religious dogma or by marketization. The CEO of the International education company GEMS, currently bidding to open a new Free School in Twickenham has been very public about his ambitions to make money out of his involvement in the state sector in the UK and parents are understandably more than a little wary, it doesn't take much digging to find information that does not exactly inspire confidence. It originated in our community with a group of parents who were willing to put in the hard work needed to negotiate a process that is clearly challenging in order to make sure our needs are met. The government are risk averse because of various debacles but need to understand that there is a temporary site and several possibilities of permanent ones and that there is huge need and support for the school in the community, and one would very much hope our democratic representatives at Council and national level.
Turing House School is part of the Council's education strategy and included in their forecasts. They cannot ensure that there are school places for all pupils without it. The Primary School (it will be a Primary as well as Secondary assuming the site is suitable) has been desperately needed for some time and now the secondary is needed as well. Whether you like or loathe the Free School process is not the issue, pragmatically it is the only way we will get the school places needed. There is no room to expand the existing Academies. This was not a bid guided by political or religious dogma or by marketization. The CEO of the International education company GEMS, currently bidding to open a new Free School in Twickenham has been very public about his ambitions to make money out of his involvement in the state sector in the UK and parents are understandably more than a little wary, it doesn't take much digging to find information that does not exactly inspire confidence. It originated in our community with a group of parents who were willing to put in the hard work needed to negotiate a process that is clearly challenging in order to make sure our needs are met. The government are risk averse because of various debacles but need to understand that there is a temporary site and several possibilities of permanent ones and that there is huge need and support for the school in the community, and one would very much hope our democratic representatives at Council and national level. Copthall resident
  • Score: 0

2:31pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Copthall resident says...

Just to emphasise that Turing House originated in the community in the needs and desires of parents, in contrast to the GEMS proposal.
Just to emphasise that Turing House originated in the community in the needs and desires of parents, in contrast to the GEMS proposal. Copthall resident
  • Score: 2

4:01pm Sat 15 Mar 14

JeremyRodell says...

Dellon wrote:
If the council had offered this site as an inclusive school, it would certainly NOT have opened in 2014 either - that was never the council's intention while the other academies were building up numbers. There were still 200 vacant places in the borough last year.

And under current legislation the council would not have paid for the school upfront either - the DfE might have bought it off RACC, but other free school groups might have pitched in, so there would have been no guarantee the council would be involved in the bid. Had IES won the toss, we could have a school in special measures by now. So 'what if' has to be judged carefully and I can understand the council's strategy.

I supported RISC's arguments in the Catholic school debate, but it hasn't made any difference at all to the other local schools apart from freeing up a few places. Whereas a new inclusive school will have a much bigger impact and would need to be phased in carefully. That would not have been the case if the school had been set up temporary premises and offered the full 150 places despite the fact that all the other RET schools started with 60-70 pupils. At least Turing House does not religious admissions criteria, unlike RET's other schools - I would imagine local people on the steering committee would have influenced that.
The Council was only able to secure the Clifden Road site because of opposition agreement to use of an urgency procedure. The condition the opposition placed on that was that the decision to buy the site was not also a decision to give it to the Catholic school - everyone was agreed that the borough needed school sites. It was Lord True and his Cabinet's decision to give priority to the Catholic school.

In fact their own detailed secondary school places plan assumed a free school in 2013 (too early in my view, but 2014 or 2015) and another community school in 2016.

The miserable position the Turing House organisers and parents now find themselves in is in large part because there was a decent site - Clifden Road - but it was given to the Catholic school instead of being planned for use for an inclusive school. Let's hope that they find a resolution. But we should not forget who is responsible for giving away the best location to a Catholic school that this year has made 100% of its offers on a faith basis.
[quote][p][bold]Dellon[/bold] wrote: If the council had offered this site as an inclusive school, it would certainly NOT have opened in 2014 either - that was never the council's intention while the other academies were building up numbers. There were still 200 vacant places in the borough last year. And under current legislation the council would not have paid for the school upfront either - the DfE might have bought it off RACC, but other free school groups might have pitched in, so there would have been no guarantee the council would be involved in the bid. Had IES won the toss, we could have a school in special measures by now. So 'what if' has to be judged carefully and I can understand the council's strategy. I supported RISC's arguments in the Catholic school debate, but it hasn't made any difference at all to the other local schools apart from freeing up a few places. Whereas a new inclusive school will have a much bigger impact and would need to be phased in carefully. That would not have been the case if the school had been set up temporary premises and offered the full 150 places despite the fact that all the other RET schools started with 60-70 pupils. At least Turing House does not religious admissions criteria, unlike RET's other schools - I would imagine local people on the steering committee would have influenced that.[/p][/quote]The Council was only able to secure the Clifden Road site because of opposition agreement to use of an urgency procedure. The condition the opposition placed on that was that the decision to buy the site was not also a decision to give it to the Catholic school - everyone was agreed that the borough needed school sites. It was Lord True and his Cabinet's decision to give priority to the Catholic school. In fact their own detailed secondary school places plan assumed a free school in 2013 (too early in my view, but 2014 or 2015) and another community school in 2016. The miserable position the Turing House organisers and parents now find themselves in is in large part because there was a decent site - Clifden Road - but it was given to the Catholic school instead of being planned for use for an inclusive school. Let's hope that they find a resolution. But we should not forget who is responsible for giving away the best location to a Catholic school that this year has made 100% of its offers on a faith basis. JeremyRodell
  • Score: 0

9:17pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Murdoch1970 says...

I have just read all the comments and have to say this is all about the children not tit for tat about site and politics. In very simple terms a site is available for a school for children who do not want to go to school in which some parents have chosen as a preferred choice because of location to their home. There is absolutely no way a parent would put one of the academies as first choice based on education for their children. The decision is ridiculous and for any parent that has been offered Turing School totally devasting the concerned parent is clueless.
I have just read all the comments and have to say this is all about the children not tit for tat about site and politics. In very simple terms a site is available for a school for children who do not want to go to school in which some parents have chosen as a preferred choice because of location to their home. There is absolutely no way a parent would put one of the academies as first choice based on education for their children. The decision is ridiculous and for any parent that has been offered Turing School totally devasting the concerned parent is clueless. Murdoch1970
  • Score: -2

9:09am Sun 16 Mar 14

Teddington mum says...

Concerned_Resident wrote:
Why should the council be pulling out all the stops to help this FREE school? The idea is that such schools are FREE of council interference is it not? All the free schools do is make the education system more expensive by making it more difficult to plan school place provision. The free schools at the end of the day don't have ultimate responsibility for school place provision, or the impossible task for planning provision when small, independent schools keep popping up everywhere. This whole saga just goes to show why they are a farce and should not be relied upon to deliver.

And like it or lump it, the fact that no permanent site was found is a high risk. What happens if the temporary site owner wants their building back? What if the cost of property increases hugely in the next few years? What if no permanent site can be found? Moving kids across to other schools because there was no building and Turing House therefore had to close would me hugely disruptive!

Nobody doubts that extra provision is needed in some areas of the borough but free schools are not the way to address it.
Concered_Resident, the council is supportive of this school and needs to assist in any way possible to help find a site. They know that Secondary schools places are desperately needed over the next few years and are relying on 2 new secondary schools being opened - Turing House is one of them. If TH fails to open their will simply not be enough places. The traditional solution is to expand existing Secondary schools but not only are all of these now Academies and outside of direct local control, they are all having to accommodate sixth forms and so have no capacity for expansion. Every time TH is delayed it's the risk of it not opening at all increases. In my view this is a greater risk to the community than opening is temporary accommodation this year.
[quote][p][bold]Concerned_Resident[/bold] wrote: Why should the council be pulling out all the stops to help this FREE school? The idea is that such schools are FREE of council interference is it not? All the free schools do is make the education system more expensive by making it more difficult to plan school place provision. The free schools at the end of the day don't have ultimate responsibility for school place provision, or the impossible task for planning provision when small, independent schools keep popping up everywhere. This whole saga just goes to show why they are a farce and should not be relied upon to deliver. And like it or lump it, the fact that no permanent site was found is a high risk. What happens if the temporary site owner wants their building back? What if the cost of property increases hugely in the next few years? What if no permanent site can be found? Moving kids across to other schools because there was no building and Turing House therefore had to close would me hugely disruptive! Nobody doubts that extra provision is needed in some areas of the borough but free schools are not the way to address it.[/p][/quote]Concered_Resident, the council is supportive of this school and needs to assist in any way possible to help find a site. They know that Secondary schools places are desperately needed over the next few years and are relying on 2 new secondary schools being opened - Turing House is one of them. If TH fails to open their will simply not be enough places. The traditional solution is to expand existing Secondary schools but not only are all of these now Academies and outside of direct local control, they are all having to accommodate sixth forms and so have no capacity for expansion. Every time TH is delayed it's the risk of it not opening at all increases. In my view this is a greater risk to the community than opening is temporary accommodation this year. Teddington mum
  • Score: 6

9:22am Mon 17 Mar 14

LizzyJ says...

Copthall is spot on when she says local families aren't cattle to be herded into whatever school the council has failed consistently to build confidence in. Those of us who aren't catholic; may not have so many influential friends whispering in Lord True's ear, but we're a lot more sophisticated than local poliyicians give us credit for. We don't just read press releases. We read Ofsted reports, we visit schools and make judgements based on talking to teachers and governors, we research facts, we research backround information, and, we talk to each other in playgrounds and via social media. We are a community and our voices have been ignored for far too long.

The Turing team are part of that comunity and understand it. That is why their proposed school is so popular. They have delivered what is needed, rather than what suits local politicians, and their mates in Sweden or the media.
Copthall is spot on when she says local families aren't cattle to be herded into whatever school the council has failed consistently to build confidence in. Those of us who aren't catholic; may not have so many influential friends whispering in Lord True's ear, but we're a lot more sophisticated than local poliyicians give us credit for. We don't just read press releases. We read Ofsted reports, we visit schools and make judgements based on talking to teachers and governors, we research facts, we research backround information, and, we talk to each other in playgrounds and via social media. We are a community and our voices have been ignored for far too long. The Turing team are part of that comunity and understand it. That is why their proposed school is so popular. They have delivered what is needed, rather than what suits local politicians, and their mates in Sweden or the media. LizzyJ
  • Score: 2

1:31pm Mon 17 Mar 14

TheHampton5 says...

My son goes to Hampton Academy and is doing fantastically well. So much so that Hampton Academy was the first choice for our daughter too. Shock, horror. HA has a fantastic head mistress and if you are willing to work hard everything is in place for you to do well. It is up to parents as well as teachers to ensure their child is working to the best of their ability. The academy system allows children to follow a structured course of learning after having weekly goal setting meetings with their form tutor. Parents are able to keep track of what their child is learning and if those targets are being met by their child, online. Lets have more faith in our LOCAL schools abilities, as well as our children. Yes, some children and parents have little interest in achieving at the Academies, which bring the results down. If you go there WILLING to work hard, you can achieve high grade GCSES. The high achieving GCSE schools in the borough have their own issues too. It's not all about attending a GCSE factory school, it's about producing a well rounded child who has done well off their own back, mixing with a variety of different people, preparing you for the real world. Have faith in the schools we have including the unpopular ones. If your child is willing to work, they will succeed wherever they go.
My son goes to Hampton Academy and is doing fantastically well. So much so that Hampton Academy was the first choice for our daughter too. Shock, horror. HA has a fantastic head mistress and if you are willing to work hard everything is in place for you to do well. It is up to parents as well as teachers to ensure their child is working to the best of their ability. The academy system allows children to follow a structured course of learning after having weekly goal setting meetings with their form tutor. Parents are able to keep track of what their child is learning and if those targets are being met by their child, online. Lets have more faith in our LOCAL schools abilities, as well as our children. Yes, some children and parents have little interest in achieving at the Academies, which bring the results down. If you go there WILLING to work hard, you can achieve high grade GCSES. The high achieving GCSE schools in the borough have their own issues too. It's not all about attending a GCSE factory school, it's about producing a well rounded child who has done well off their own back, mixing with a variety of different people, preparing you for the real world. Have faith in the schools we have including the unpopular ones. If your child is willing to work, they will succeed wherever they go. TheHampton5
  • Score: 11

1:37pm Mon 17 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Hampton5, I agree that we should support all of our local schools to do well and win the confidence of local families. TH has always been very clear that it has been proposed to fulfill demand for more places. See here: http://www.turinghou
seschool.org.uk/ques
tions4.php#effect.
Hampton5, I agree that we should support all of our local schools to do well and win the confidence of local families. TH has always been very clear that it has been proposed to fulfill demand for more places. See here: http://www.turinghou seschool.org.uk/ques tions4.php#effect. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 1

2:19pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Teddington mum says...

Absolutely right Hampton5! But this year there were more borough wide applications in than available places, Richmond council have offered 13% more places than they actually have. They know some will move/go-private but with an ever growing school age population (the Primary bulge classes are only just starting to filter through and we all know how many of those there have been!) this is an issue about numbers and providing the places so desperately needed in this area.
Absolutely right Hampton5! But this year there were more borough wide applications in than available places, Richmond council have offered 13% more places than they actually have. They know some will move/go-private but with an ever growing school age population (the Primary bulge classes are only just starting to filter through and we all know how many of those there have been!) this is an issue about numbers and providing the places so desperately needed in this area. Teddington mum
  • Score: 0

2:22pm Mon 17 Mar 14

TheHampton5 says...

What I would also add is that HA was not the first choice for our son. His link school was Teddington, but living too far away did not get a place there. He along with a handful of friends got into HA much to the horror of parents. I fretted about him eventually getting into a 'good' secondary school since reception so know the worry parents go through. Let me tell you from experience that being offered a place in one of the Academies is not as hellish as you think. As I said before, there are some great local children attending these schools. Clever, achieving children. My year 8 sons maths class are being taught year 11 maths by a fantastic, enthusiastic teacher.
If you are TH parent who is offered an academy place, PLEASE don't despair. Take it from a parent who has experience of it from a child attending. You eventually will wonder why you were so concerned about it. Don't just listen to the parents whose kids go to the more 'desirable' schools. Let's make all our local schools a popular choice by sending more of our local kids to them.
What I would also add is that HA was not the first choice for our son. His link school was Teddington, but living too far away did not get a place there. He along with a handful of friends got into HA much to the horror of parents. I fretted about him eventually getting into a 'good' secondary school since reception so know the worry parents go through. Let me tell you from experience that being offered a place in one of the Academies is not as hellish as you think. As I said before, there are some great local children attending these schools. Clever, achieving children. My year 8 sons maths class are being taught year 11 maths by a fantastic, enthusiastic teacher. If you are TH parent who is offered an academy place, PLEASE don't despair. Take it from a parent who has experience of it from a child attending. You eventually will wonder why you were so concerned about it. Don't just listen to the parents whose kids go to the more 'desirable' schools. Let's make all our local schools a popular choice by sending more of our local kids to them. TheHampton5
  • Score: 9

2:33pm Mon 17 Mar 14

TheHampton5 says...

Agreed Teddington mum. Was reacting to earlier comments about no one would really put an academy as first choice for their child's education. Maybe they wouldn't . Maybe they should.
Agreed Teddington mum. Was reacting to earlier comments about no one would really put an academy as first choice for their child's education. Maybe they wouldn't . Maybe they should. TheHampton5
  • Score: 7

2:38pm Mon 17 Mar 14

LizzyJ says...

Hampton5, sorry, I wasn't at all meaning that as a criticism of the many hard working teachers at the Swedish academies. I know many families whose children are thriving there. It's a criticism of politicians who think they only have to herd people into schools in need of improvement and all their problems will be solved. Not so. The schools need to earn good faith through strong leadership. To attract the best staff they also need the freedom to tailor their teaching to local requirements. Having 2 schools next to each other running the same experimental system was always going to make people wary, and recent ofsted reports haven't done much to win hearts and minds.
Hampton5, sorry, I wasn't at all meaning that as a criticism of the many hard working teachers at the Swedish academies. I know many families whose children are thriving there. It's a criticism of politicians who think they only have to herd people into schools in need of improvement and all their problems will be solved. Not so. The schools need to earn good faith through strong leadership. To attract the best staff they also need the freedom to tailor their teaching to local requirements. Having 2 schools next to each other running the same experimental system was always going to make people wary, and recent ofsted reports haven't done much to win hearts and minds. LizzyJ
  • Score: 0

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