Anger at Turing House School meeting, but little hope of opening

Richmond and Twickenham Times: No school: Paula Muncey with son Alex, Karen Macwhinney, Rosie Hyde, Sharon Powell No school: Paula Muncey with son Alex, Karen Macwhinney, Rosie Hyde, Sharon Powell

Bosses at Turing House School said they were ‘0 per cent confident’ the school would open this year, without the prospect of a permanent site.

Employees at the Russell Education Trust (RET), which put forward the school’s proposal, had meetings with the Schools Minister Lord Nash since his decision to defer the opening of the free school until 2015 due to uncertainty over a permanent site.

Parents were left with just four days for find a suitable school place for their children.

RET’s chief executive Karen Lynch said: “Without the prospect of a permanent site, I cannot see any change of mind is possible.

“We are so very sorry at just the level of disappointment parents must feel.”

Twickenham MP Vince Cable has requested an urgent meeting with the minister, who turned down an invitation to face angry parents at a meeting on Tuesday, March 25.

In a letter to Councillor Stephen Knight, Lord Nash wrote: “Opening the school in time-limited accommodation may have done the children a greater disservice if I had to later take the unpalatable decision to close the school due to the lack of a permanent home at an even more critical point in their education, as they approached the start of their GCSE courses.”

Leader of Richmond Council Lord True had meetings with the minister after the decision was made.

Lord True said it was ridiculous that councils have little control over free schools, but said he supported the free school policy.

He said: “I have spoken to Lord Nash who is immensely supportive of Turing House and the issue simply is finding a site for the school.

“I am never going to make promises to people I can’t keep but the council will do all it can to make sure a site is found for 2015.

“We have suggested possible sites they might want to consider but that is obviously an issue for them to decide.”

Parents expressed their anger at the heated meeting, a day before RET’s meeting with Lord Nash.

One parent said: “There is a feeling of betrayal.

“We went into this with good indications and we were told that we were going to have a good school.

“I cannot covey how unfair this feels to us. We arranged our lives around this.”

Fears were raised over the certainty of the school opening in 2015 and the trust said it would not make the same mistake again.

Richmond Council said it was relying on the school opening by at least 2015 and it needed two new schools by 2017 to cope with the school place demand.

Under the free school system, power is devolved from the council to the Government’s education department, which is responsible for the funding.

Councillor Paul Hodgins, cabinet member for schools, said the council supported the school.

He said: “We are going to continue to work together and we are going to use all our influence to put the pressure on.

“It is very difficult now for 2014 but we very much want this to happen.”

Parents set up a petition to open up a council debate on the debacle. To view it, visit richmond.gov.uk/received_petitions.

Comments (29)

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6:32am Thu 27 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

It is good to see everyone pulling together to get Turing House open, because the places are very much needed to cope with the bulge coming through the primary system.

The free school process has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years, and unfortunately the rules changed very recently. The minister's decision to halt the project due to lack of certainty over the permanent site would have had a different outcome under last year's rules.

However, there are permanent site options, and one of them will need to be secured eventually because a school is needed. The only unknown is the speed with which that will happen.
It is good to see everyone pulling together to get Turing House open, because the places are very much needed to cope with the bulge coming through the primary system. The free school process has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years, and unfortunately the rules changed very recently. The minister's decision to halt the project due to lack of certainty over the permanent site would have had a different outcome under last year's rules. However, there are permanent site options, and one of them will need to be secured eventually because a school is needed. The only unknown is the speed with which that will happen. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 13

2:28pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Stevenmuncey says...

And still no one - not the council, RET, Lord Nash, etc - can explain (or will not) why the site at Egerton Road in Twickenham has been slated as the permanent site for the second school to be built in the area and not Turing House which should be ahead of this second school in the pecking order for potential sites. Something just doesn't smell right about this and the silence we get every time anyone is questioned about it is only raising everyone's suspicions.
And still no one - not the council, RET, Lord Nash, etc - can explain (or will not) why the site at Egerton Road in Twickenham has been slated as the permanent site for the second school to be built in the area and not Turing House which should be ahead of this second school in the pecking order for potential sites. Something just doesn't smell right about this and the silence we get every time anyone is questioned about it is only raising everyone's suspicions. Stevenmuncey
  • Score: -4

2:48pm Thu 27 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Steve, the minister is aware of all of the permanent site options, and the current status of their associated issues and risks.

The Egerton Road site is owned by the college, not the council. There is a proposal for the REEC partnership school to use it, following significant rebuild of the college and reconfiguration of the site. However the proposal hasn't yet been approved, and has many associated planning risks of its own, so the Egerton Rd site is certainly no more 'secure' than any other.

Moreover, TH might be further ahead in the school approval process than the REEC proposal, but both schools are needed, and therefore ultimately two sites are needed.
Steve, the minister is aware of all of the permanent site options, and the current status of their associated issues and risks. The Egerton Road site is owned by the college, not the council. There is a proposal for the REEC partnership school to use it, following significant rebuild of the college and reconfiguration of the site. However the proposal hasn't yet been approved, and has many associated planning risks of its own, so the Egerton Rd site is certainly no more 'secure' than any other. Moreover, TH might be further ahead in the school approval process than the REEC proposal, but both schools are needed, and therefore ultimately two sites are needed. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 8

4:43pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Dellon says...

It's interesting to see how this article has been updated since I first read it, with comments from Lord True. But encouraging that he says the council has suggested some sites for Turing House.

The council is obviously as frustrated as the rest of us that is has little control over the new school planning process, apart from voluntary aided schools. The last two new primary schools it has set up from scratch have been very successful.
It's interesting to see how this article has been updated since I first read it, with comments from Lord True. But encouraging that he says the council has suggested some sites for Turing House. The council is obviously as frustrated as the rest of us that is has little control over the new school planning process, apart from voluntary aided schools. The last two new primary schools it has set up from scratch have been very successful. Dellon
  • Score: 7

10:11pm Thu 27 Mar 14

LizzyJ says...

Dellon, the council's track record on primaries may be good, but it has always seemed a bit eccentric on secondaries. We've had Swedish experimental aystems, anachronistic RC VA schools, and their most recent proposal seems oddly over-enthusiastic about media studies. I'm not sure parents put much trust in them to deliver new schools that are high performing mainstream comprehensives, which is ironic when we've got some great models of exactly that in the borough.
Dellon, the council's track record on primaries may be good, but it has always seemed a bit eccentric on secondaries. We've had Swedish experimental aystems, anachronistic RC VA schools, and their most recent proposal seems oddly over-enthusiastic about media studies. I'm not sure parents put much trust in them to deliver new schools that are high performing mainstream comprehensives, which is ironic when we've got some great models of exactly that in the borough. LizzyJ
  • Score: -2

11:52pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Dellon says...

LizzyJ wrote:
Dellon, the council's track record on primaries may be good, but it has always seemed a bit eccentric on secondaries. We've had Swedish experimental aystems, anachronistic RC VA schools, and their most recent proposal seems oddly over-enthusiastic about media studies. I'm not sure parents put much trust in them to deliver new schools that are high performing mainstream comprehensives, which is ironic when we've got some great models of exactly that in the borough.
LizzyJ, I don't know if you know this but the Swedish secondary schools are not managed by the LA - they are academies. None of the community secondaries are LA schools any more. The Academies Act 2010 means that local authorities can no longer open and manage schools themselves. The only exception is for VA schools which are still theoretically 'maintained' schools although they have their own admissions criteria.

For a good overview on this read David Wolfe QC's blog 'A can of worms'. He's the education barrister who represented RISC in the judicial review on the the Catholic school:

http://davidwolfe.or
g.uk/wordpress/
[quote][p][bold]LizzyJ[/bold] wrote: Dellon, the council's track record on primaries may be good, but it has always seemed a bit eccentric on secondaries. We've had Swedish experimental aystems, anachronistic RC VA schools, and their most recent proposal seems oddly over-enthusiastic about media studies. I'm not sure parents put much trust in them to deliver new schools that are high performing mainstream comprehensives, which is ironic when we've got some great models of exactly that in the borough.[/p][/quote]LizzyJ, I don't know if you know this but the Swedish secondary schools are not managed by the LA - they are academies. None of the community secondaries are LA schools any more. The Academies Act 2010 means that local authorities can no longer open and manage schools themselves. The only exception is for VA schools which are still theoretically 'maintained' schools although they have their own admissions criteria. For a good overview on this read David Wolfe QC's blog 'A can of worms'. He's the education barrister who represented RISC in the judicial review on the the Catholic school: http://davidwolfe.or g.uk/wordpress/ Dellon
  • Score: 0

6:14am Fri 28 Mar 14

LizzyJ says...

Dellon, if you look at the Learning Schools Trust board members you might find that Richmond Local Authority officers have more influence than you think. And if you look at the local LST Academy Council memberships you'll find there are enough fingers in pies to suggest the council can't pretend it has no influence. Maybe its been a positive influence. Who knows? But its certainly not no influence.
Dellon, if you look at the Learning Schools Trust board members you might find that Richmond Local Authority officers have more influence than you think. And if you look at the local LST Academy Council memberships you'll find there are enough fingers in pies to suggest the council can't pretend it has no influence. Maybe its been a positive influence. Who knows? But its certainly not no influence. LizzyJ
  • Score: 2

9:09am Fri 28 Mar 14

JeremyRodell says...

So, Lord True calls for more local council control over free schools, and agrees that the issue here is "simply finding a site for the school" , when his own administration had an ideal site (Clifden Road), they knew that Turing House wanted it, and he personally took the lead in ensuring instead it went to the Catholic Church (for a school with an admissions policy that effectively closes it to 90% of the borough's children). What do you call that?
So, Lord True calls for more local council control over free schools, and agrees that the issue here is "simply finding a site for the school" , when his own administration had an ideal site (Clifden Road), they knew that Turing House wanted it, and he personally took the lead in ensuring instead it went to the Catholic Church (for a school with an admissions policy that effectively closes it to 90% of the borough's children). What do you call that? JeremyRodell
  • Score: -1

11:15am Fri 28 Mar 14

Dellon says...

I'd call it opportunistic. I don't doubt the council bought the site for the Catholic school. If they'd bought it and mothballed it, there may have been more than one bidder in the free school process and the council wouldn't have had control over it. If they hadn't bought it, there's no guarantee the DfE would have got very far with it by now either, even for RET.

Lord True did vote for the Academies Act. Perhaps he should take responsibility for that, too. But I think he envisaged lots of converter academies rather than ones operated by chains. The council may have representation in the academies but that still doesn't mean they run them or maintain them, unlike for the primaries. I'm sure it has helped though, because the sponsored academies in this LA are performing better than others operated by the same chains.
I'd call it opportunistic. I don't doubt the council bought the site for the Catholic school. If they'd bought it and mothballed it, there may have been more than one bidder in the free school process and the council wouldn't have had control over it. If they hadn't bought it, there's no guarantee the DfE would have got very far with it by now either, even for RET. Lord True did vote for the Academies Act. Perhaps he should take responsibility for that, too. But I think he envisaged lots of converter academies rather than ones operated by chains. The council may have representation in the academies but that still doesn't mean they run them or maintain them, unlike for the primaries. I'm sure it has helped though, because the sponsored academies in this LA are performing better than others operated by the same chains. Dellon
  • Score: 0

11:26am Fri 28 Mar 14

LizzyJ says...

Dellon - if there had been more than one bidder for Clifden Rd in the Free school process, at least it would have neen seen as fair competition for parental preference, rather than one community's 'wants' being prioritised over everyone else's.
Dellon - if there had been more than one bidder for Clifden Rd in the Free school process, at least it would have neen seen as fair competition for parental preference, rather than one community's 'wants' being prioritised over everyone else's. LizzyJ
  • Score: 5

11:36am Fri 28 Mar 14

Dellon says...

LizzyJ wrote:
Dellon - if there had been more than one bidder for Clifden Rd in the Free school process, at least it would have neen seen as fair competition for parental preference, rather than one community's 'wants' being prioritised over everyone else's.
No, but the other bidders are likely to have been IES for a mega-sized primary school, or possibly another chain. That's not competition for parental preference, that's competition between chains depending on whichever had the biggest advertising budget and PR budget.

The Catholic diocese would not have proposed a free school.
[quote][p][bold]LizzyJ[/bold] wrote: Dellon - if there had been more than one bidder for Clifden Rd in the Free school process, at least it would have neen seen as fair competition for parental preference, rather than one community's 'wants' being prioritised over everyone else's.[/p][/quote]No, but the other bidders are likely to have been IES for a mega-sized primary school, or possibly another chain. That's not competition for parental preference, that's competition between chains depending on whichever had the biggest advertising budget and PR budget. The Catholic diocese would not have proposed a free school. Dellon
  • Score: 3

11:48am Fri 28 Mar 14

LizzyJ says...

Turing House didn't have a big PR budget. It was mostly promoted through community networks. Promotion of the Catholic school was quite legitimately done through community networks too.

The REEC school has had a big advertising budget, and free distribution of material via primary schools, but it still hasn't raised much enthusiasm yet.

It comes down to the content in the end, not the packaging. Parents are savvy about seeing through spin.
Turing House didn't have a big PR budget. It was mostly promoted through community networks. Promotion of the Catholic school was quite legitimately done through community networks too. The REEC school has had a big advertising budget, and free distribution of material via primary schools, but it still hasn't raised much enthusiasm yet. It comes down to the content in the end, not the packaging. Parents are savvy about seeing through spin. LizzyJ
  • Score: 4

12:12pm Fri 28 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Past site issues are water under the bridge, and arguing over them now doesn't help to resolve the current issues.

As I said earlier, its good to see everyone now working towards getting TH open.

For info, from the TH Facebook page:

"Thanks to everyone who came along to our meeting . Your collated comments have been passed on to the DfE, and we have also clearly communicated the community’s strength of feeling about the need for a 2014 start. We are continuing to pursue every avenue to sufficiently secure a permanent site to enable us to open but as explained , realistically this is most likely to be in 2015. Should there be any significant developments soon we will, of course, immediately discuss them with the DfE."
Past site issues are water under the bridge, and arguing over them now doesn't help to resolve the current issues. As I said earlier, its good to see everyone now working towards getting TH open. For info, from the TH Facebook page: "Thanks to everyone who came along to our meeting [on Tuesday]. Your collated comments have been passed on to the DfE, and we have also clearly communicated the community’s strength of feeling about the need for a 2014 start. We are continuing to pursue every avenue to sufficiently secure a permanent site to enable us to open but as explained [at the meeting], realistically this is most likely to be in 2015. Should there be any significant developments soon we will, of course, immediately discuss them with the DfE." BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 6

12:14pm Fri 28 Mar 14

A Naysayer says...

BS_Twickenham wrote:
Steve, the minister is aware of all of the permanent site options, and the current status of their associated issues and risks.

The Egerton Road site is owned by the college, not the council. There is a proposal for the REEC partnership school to use it, following significant rebuild of the college and reconfiguration of the site. However the proposal hasn't yet been approved, and has many associated planning risks of its own, so the Egerton Rd site is certainly no more 'secure' than any other.

Moreover, TH might be further ahead in the school approval process than the REEC proposal, but both schools are needed, and therefore ultimately two sites are needed.
This is a copout. The council is very much involved with the e3 project. I attended a meeting about this new school and it was very much presented and pushed by the council. If they wanted this site to be used differently, I sure they could find ways to do it (ie not designating part of the land for commercial use would be a start. ) Who owns the college? Is this not a public institution?

As crisis is looming. In the past 6 years, the council has added more than 20 forms of primary classes to schools across the borough. These children are growing and will require secondary education. It is unavoidable. We need a council that will demonstrate leadership, stand up to NIMBYism and find appropriate sites for new secondary schools. And yes, this may mean that some will have to walk a bit further to stroll with Fido. Or, you may have to choose between 3 rather than 4 golf courses. And we might have to stop and ask ourselves if we can continue to add housing without giving any thought to other amenities that these newcomers will require.

We need to work together as a community to find creative solutions so that we can educate our children, walk our dog, play some golf and expand the housing stock. But we need to find solutions quickly, as the children will not stop growing while we all wrangle on about it.
[quote][p][bold]BS_Twickenham[/bold] wrote: Steve, the minister is aware of all of the permanent site options, and the current status of their associated issues and risks. The Egerton Road site is owned by the college, not the council. There is a proposal for the REEC partnership school to use it, following significant rebuild of the college and reconfiguration of the site. However the proposal hasn't yet been approved, and has many associated planning risks of its own, so the Egerton Rd site is certainly no more 'secure' than any other. Moreover, TH might be further ahead in the school approval process than the REEC proposal, but both schools are needed, and therefore ultimately two sites are needed.[/p][/quote]This is a copout. The council is very much involved with the e3 project. I attended a meeting about this new school and it was very much presented and pushed by the council. If they wanted this site to be used differently, I sure they could find ways to do it (ie not designating part of the land for commercial use would be a start. ) Who owns the college? Is this not a public institution? As crisis is looming. In the past 6 years, the council has added more than 20 forms of primary classes to schools across the borough. These children are growing and will require secondary education. It is unavoidable. We need a council that will demonstrate leadership, stand up to NIMBYism and find appropriate sites for new secondary schools. And yes, this may mean that some will have to walk a bit further to stroll with Fido. Or, you may have to choose between 3 rather than 4 golf courses. And we might have to stop and ask ourselves if we can continue to add housing without giving any thought to other amenities that these newcomers will require. We need to work together as a community to find creative solutions so that we can educate our children, walk our dog, play some golf and expand the housing stock. But we need to find solutions quickly, as the children will not stop growing while we all wrangle on about it. A Naysayer
  • Score: 4

1:29pm Fri 28 Mar 14

JeremyRodell says...

BS_Twickenham wrote:
Past site issues are water under the bridge, and arguing over them now doesn't help to resolve the current issues.

As I said earlier, its good to see everyone now working towards getting TH open.

For info, from the TH Facebook page:

"Thanks to everyone who came along to our meeting . Your collated comments have been passed on to the DfE, and we have also clearly communicated the community’s strength of feeling about the need for a 2014 start. We are continuing to pursue every avenue to sufficiently secure a permanent site to enable us to open but as explained , realistically this is most likely to be in 2015. Should there be any significant developments soon we will, of course, immediately discuss them with the DfE."
Agree that the focus for action must be on sorting out a site so that Turing House can open. It's awful for parents having to cope with the current position. What happened in the past indeed does not help the school now.

However, politicans should be held to account for their decisions and actions. The fact is that Lord True gave priority to an exclusive Catholic school over an inclusive school, knowing how tough it is to find suitable sites in the borough.
[quote][p][bold]BS_Twickenham[/bold] wrote: Past site issues are water under the bridge, and arguing over them now doesn't help to resolve the current issues. As I said earlier, its good to see everyone now working towards getting TH open. For info, from the TH Facebook page: "Thanks to everyone who came along to our meeting [on Tuesday]. Your collated comments have been passed on to the DfE, and we have also clearly communicated the community’s strength of feeling about the need for a 2014 start. We are continuing to pursue every avenue to sufficiently secure a permanent site to enable us to open but as explained [at the meeting], realistically this is most likely to be in 2015. Should there be any significant developments soon we will, of course, immediately discuss them with the DfE."[/p][/quote]Agree that the focus for action must be on sorting out a site so that Turing House can open. It's awful for parents having to cope with the current position. What happened in the past indeed does not help the school now. However, politicans should be held to account for their decisions and actions. The fact is that Lord True gave priority to an exclusive Catholic school over an inclusive school, knowing how tough it is to find suitable sites in the borough. JeremyRodell
  • Score: -1

4:56pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Stevenmuncey says...

I'd be willing to bet a huge sum that Turing House will never get built on a greenfield site in this area. Local objections from numerous parties would drag on any application process for years - and that includes on council owned land like the Amida site, which is on historically preserved green belt land. The council should be lobbied to get behind Turing being built on a brownfield site like Egerton Road as these are the only remotely viable options for securing a permanent site in the near term - the lack of which was the source of Nash's objection in 2014 after all. Many of the parents whose children have been so badly let down by the Tiring debacle believe if this had been done sooner and with more vigour then Turing may have still have had a chance of opening in 2014. Whether Egerton was slated for another school or not is immaterial. Turing is supposedly first on the list for the next viable school site! We're seeing Vince Cable tonight for a last gasp (and probably futile) effort to put him in the picture. If anyone can see sense he can, so fingers crossed.
I'd be willing to bet a huge sum that Turing House will never get built on a greenfield site in this area. Local objections from numerous parties would drag on any application process for years - and that includes on council owned land like the Amida site, which is on historically preserved green belt land. The council should be lobbied to get behind Turing being built on a brownfield site like Egerton Road as these are the only remotely viable options for securing a permanent site in the near term - the lack of which was the source of Nash's objection in 2014 after all. Many of the parents whose children have been so badly let down by the Tiring debacle believe if this had been done sooner and with more vigour then Turing may have still have had a chance of opening in 2014. Whether Egerton was slated for another school or not is immaterial. Turing is supposedly first on the list for the next viable school site! We're seeing Vince Cable tonight for a last gasp (and probably futile) effort to put him in the picture. If anyone can see sense he can, so fingers crossed. Stevenmuncey
  • Score: 0

5:12pm Fri 28 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Steven, the planning picture isn't as bleak as you suggest, because national and regional planning frameworks are strongly tuned in favour of allocating land to new schools. That is why the EFA doesn't need planning permission to consider a site 'secure' it just needs to be reasonably confident that it will get planning permission.

See letter in this week's Richmond and Twickenham Times raising awareness of the relevant planning framework. Here's the text:

"Pressure on local school places is growing, as the population expands and more families are attracted to the area. There is already a huge bulge of primary students working its way through the system, and it is starting to hit secondary provision. Unfortunately, some difficult planning decisions are going to be needed in the near future because the borough has simply run out of obvious locations for new schools.

As we move into that difficult territory I would like to raise awareness of the National Planning Policy Framework, which requires local planning authorities to take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to ensuring that a sufficient choice of school places is available to meet local needs.

Regionally, the current London Plan states that proposals for new schools should be considered positively, and only refused where any negative local impacts that can't be addressed through planning conditions or obligations substantially outweigh the desirability of establishing the school.

Nobody wants a new school in their backyard. However, schools need to go somewhere, and where there are no easy options, difficult options will need to be pursued instead, albeit with proper local consultation.

It should be noted that schools also bring huge benefit, not only to the families that use them, but to the wider community that gains access to their facilities. Many local schools act as low cost community and sports centres outside of the standard school day. Conversion of open land for school use, can therefore be an opportunity to enhance recreational provision, and should certainly not automatically be seen as a net-loss to the community."
Steven, the planning picture isn't as bleak as you suggest, because national and regional planning frameworks are strongly tuned in favour of allocating land to new schools. That is why the EFA doesn't need planning permission to consider a site 'secure' it just needs to be reasonably confident that it will get planning permission. See letter in this week's Richmond and Twickenham Times raising awareness of the relevant planning framework. Here's the text: "Pressure on local school places is growing, as the population expands and more families are attracted to the area. There is already a huge bulge of primary students working its way through the system, and it is starting to hit secondary provision. Unfortunately, some difficult planning decisions are going to be needed in the near future because the borough has simply run out of obvious locations for new schools. As we move into that difficult territory I would like to raise awareness of the National Planning Policy Framework, which requires local planning authorities to take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to ensuring that a sufficient choice of school places is available to meet local needs. Regionally, the current London Plan states that proposals for new schools should be considered positively, and only refused where any negative local impacts that can't be addressed through planning conditions or obligations substantially outweigh the desirability of establishing the school. Nobody wants a new school in their backyard. However, schools need to go somewhere, and where there are no easy options, difficult options will need to be pursued instead, albeit with proper local consultation. It should be noted that schools also bring huge benefit, not only to the families that use them, but to the wider community that gains access to their facilities. Many local schools act as low cost community and sports centres outside of the standard school day. Conversion of open land for school use, can therefore be an opportunity to enhance recreational provision, and should certainly not automatically be seen as a net-loss to the community." BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 5

6:22pm Fri 28 Mar 14

A Naysayer says...

Fabulous! Then, what are we waiting for? This is time for ACTION not words. We had faith in the process and stepped back for everyone to do their work.

They have failed. And that is the simple truth. Nobody will believe that this school is going forward unless a site is named. Soon. Now-ish would be good.
Fabulous! Then, what are we waiting for? This is time for ACTION not words. We had faith in the process and stepped back for everyone to do their work. They have failed. And that is the simple truth. Nobody will believe that this school is going forward unless a site is named. Soon. Now-ish would be good. A Naysayer
  • Score: -1

9:22am Sat 29 Mar 14

liquafruta says...

Those who thought that a new school was going to appear so quickly were bound to be disappointed. It was a fantasy of those who couldn't finance private education but who consider the schools which are provided by the Borough as beneath them. This is then the aftermath - children having to find schools at the last minute.
Those who thought that a new school was going to appear so quickly were bound to be disappointed. It was a fantasy of those who couldn't finance private education but who consider the schools which are provided by the Borough as beneath them. This is then the aftermath - children having to find schools at the last minute. liquafruta
  • Score: -2

10:35am Sat 29 Mar 14

BS_Twickenham says...

No liquafruta, you're wrong.

The school is wanted and needed by the community because there aren't enough places. Many people feel there is also not enough choice, but either way there is a bulge of pupils coming through the primary system, so there is no point putting heads in the sand. The TH steering group are very involved in local education and their local community. They recognised the developing situation and took action to deal with it. The LA needs the places, and has no means of creating them itself under current legislation, so it is simply pragmatic for local people to work together in this way to establish a school that will be popular with local families.

The free school programme was specifically designed to create schools quickly, as an antidote to previous policies that created them very slowly. It has been extremely controversial nationally, but there have been some successes, and there will be more successes. The Turing House team did their homework thoroughly and selected an excellent partner in RET, who have established 4 secondary schools since 2010 in similar circumstances. Those who describe the TH proposal as 'fantasy' should go and visit them.

Until very recently everything was on track for 2014 opening. There was a very last minute change in circumstances that introduced new uncertainty for our permanent site. Despite that, the school could have still opened in temporary accommodation. However the parameters for approving that as a solution changed very recently. The decision would have been different a year ago.

Now everyone is pulling together to put together new information that may help make one of the small number of permanent site solutions more certain. Its just not clear how quickly that can happen, but it will happen, because the places need to be provided.
No liquafruta, you're wrong. The school is wanted and needed by the community because there aren't enough places. Many people feel there is also not enough choice, but either way there is a bulge of pupils coming through the primary system, so there is no point putting heads in the sand. The TH steering group are very involved in local education and their local community. They recognised the developing situation and took action to deal with it. The LA needs the places, and has no means of creating them itself under current legislation, so it is simply pragmatic for local people to work together in this way to establish a school that will be popular with local families. The free school programme was specifically designed to create schools quickly, as an antidote to previous policies that created them very slowly. It has been extremely controversial nationally, but there have been some successes, and there will be more successes. The Turing House team did their homework thoroughly and selected an excellent partner in RET, who have established 4 secondary schools since 2010 in similar circumstances. Those who describe the TH proposal as 'fantasy' should go and visit them. Until very recently everything was on track for 2014 opening. There was a very last minute change in circumstances that introduced new uncertainty for our permanent site. Despite that, the school could have still opened in temporary accommodation. However the parameters for approving that as a solution changed very recently. The decision would have been different a year ago. Now everyone is pulling together to put together new information that may help make one of the small number of permanent site solutions more certain. Its just not clear how quickly that can happen, but it will happen, because the places need to be provided. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 10

3:08pm Wed 2 Apr 14

A Naysayer says...

I would like to see the Richmond & Twickenham times investigate (not just report) these issues further.

Nobody seems to be accountable in opening a Free School. There is lots of finger pointing between the Dept. of Education, Council, and RET. And in the end of the day it is the children who are going to suffer if this school does not open. Who are we to believe? Is anyone accountable?

The real estate deal at Richmond College involves a lot of money. Who will benefit? Where will this money end up? How transparent is this process? This is an interesting money trail to follow.

Should a council so clearly favour one free school over another? Even the though the other has been approved by the Dept of Education?

We need a robust local paper to investigate these issues which will have an impact on many within the borough. Are you up for it R&T Times?
I would like to see the Richmond & Twickenham times investigate (not just report) these issues further. Nobody seems to be accountable in opening a Free School. There is lots of finger pointing between the Dept. of Education, Council, and RET. And in the end of the day it is the children who are going to suffer if this school does not open. Who are we to believe? Is anyone accountable? The real estate deal at Richmond College involves a lot of money. Who will benefit? Where will this money end up? How transparent is this process? This is an interesting money trail to follow. Should a council so clearly favour one free school over another? Even the though the other has been approved by the Dept of Education? We need a robust local paper to investigate these issues which will have an impact on many within the borough. Are you up for it R&T Times? A Naysayer
  • Score: 0

4:53pm Wed 2 Apr 14

BS_Twickenham says...

ANaysayer, there isn't any finger pointing. Everyone's working together to get TH open, and the council was just as surprised at the last minute turn of events as anyone else.

Also its not true to say that the council are favouring the Egerton Rd school. They're coordinating the REEC proposal because its complex, involving the rebuilding of the college, relocation of a major local employer, & relocation of Clarendon School, as well as establishment of a new secondary. However, they've always said it was needed in addition to TH, not instead of it. The proposal was submitted to the DfE in January, when TH's site plans were still on track.
ANaysayer, there isn't any finger pointing. Everyone's working together to get TH open, and the council was just as surprised at the last minute turn of events as anyone else. Also its not true to say that the council are favouring the Egerton Rd school. They're coordinating the REEC proposal because its complex, involving the rebuilding of the college, relocation of a major local employer, & relocation of Clarendon School, as well as establishment of a new secondary. However, they've always said it was needed in addition to TH, not instead of it. The proposal was submitted to the DfE in January, when TH's site plans were still on track. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 1

5:20pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Furious parent says...

So why can't Turing House have the Egerton Road site? That's the question no-one is answering
So why can't Turing House have the Egerton Road site? That's the question no-one is answering Furious parent
  • Score: 0

6:34pm Wed 2 Apr 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Furious parent, the Egerton Road site is owned by the College, which is independent of the Council. They want to raise money for a re-build, so are planning to sell off some of their site for housing, and some of it to Haymarket for their new Headquarters. As part of the reconfiguration of the site, they are also making space for a relocated Clarendon school, and a new 11-16 secondary, which will feed into the college, helping to secure its future.

TH has always had its own, separate site plans. Its very unfortunate that they fell through with such disastrous timing, but the college has no automatic responsibility to help out.

Even if the college did generously decide to suddenly abandon its own proposals and offer space to TH (which, let's face it, would be analogous to someone with well-advanced plans for a home-extension, abandoning them to offer the land to a suddenly-homeless neighbour), it would take a long time to unpick their current plans, and associated partnerships, and reconfigure them to accommodate a totally different school.

So, it's not any kind of quick fix for 2014. And its not even an ideal long-term solution because a second school would still be needed in 2017.
Furious parent, the Egerton Road site is owned by the College, which is independent of the Council. They want to raise money for a re-build, so are planning to sell off some of their site for housing, and some of it to Haymarket for their new Headquarters. As part of the reconfiguration of the site, they are also making space for a relocated Clarendon school, and a new 11-16 secondary, which will feed into the college, helping to secure its future. TH has always had its own, separate site plans. Its very unfortunate that they fell through with such disastrous timing, but the college has no automatic responsibility to help out. Even if the college did generously decide to suddenly abandon its own proposals and offer space to TH (which, let's face it, would be analogous to someone with well-advanced plans for a home-extension, abandoning them to offer the land to a suddenly-homeless neighbour), it would take a long time to unpick their current plans, and associated partnerships, and reconfigure them to accommodate a totally different school. So, it's not any kind of quick fix for 2014. And its not even an ideal long-term solution because a second school would still be needed in 2017. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 4

9:03pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Stevenmuncey says...

Listen to Naysayer, the council does have a say! It's ridiculous that rich college is working with a school that does not have approval when turing does. And to rub salt into the wound we get a leaflet through the door today telling us about this new secondary school on the REEC site that is opening in 2017. If everyone had been fighting for this to be turing we would have had a chance for 2014 but no one really cares about us being let down, not enough anyway.
Listen to Naysayer, the council does have a say! It's ridiculous that rich college is working with a school that does not have approval when turing does. And to rub salt into the wound we get a leaflet through the door today telling us about this new secondary school on the REEC site that is opening in 2017. If everyone had been fighting for this to be turing we would have had a chance for 2014 but no one really cares about us being let down, not enough anyway. Stevenmuncey
  • Score: 0

11:01pm Wed 2 Apr 14

A Naysayer says...

BS Twickenham....I have no idea who you are or what body you represent. Clearly, you have a lot of information. I do hope you are right and TH will open in a beautiful, appropriate site.

My reality as a parent is this. Way back in the autumn, the admissions officer from the council visited Stanley Primary to talk to yr 6 parents about the admissions process. She was very sceptical about the opening of Turing House and gave the impression of being very unsupportive of the project.

I attended an informational meeting about e3. I posed the question about the timing of their project (i.e. announcing this new school when Turing House was homeless). The councillor present did very little to show support for TH and did not want to speak about the overall plans for both of the schools. He did not demonstrate enthusiastic support for TH and was rather annoyed when I posed the question about the site.

All of the promotional materials for e3 have the council written all over it. This is not the case with TH promotional materials.

And now...still no site and the delay of the opening.

When all this is added up you must understand how this looks (i.e. e3 is favoured) and it is frustrating.

I don't know how much support e3 has received. Given the number of Media Studies University gradates working at Starbucks I, personally, am not interested in a media school for my child. TH has had enthusiastic grassroots support because they are promising the type of school that appeals to a lot of people. It is a shame that they have not been given priority to the Egerton Road site.....especially when that decision could have been made long ago.
BS Twickenham....I have no idea who you are or what body you represent. Clearly, you have a lot of information. I do hope you are right and TH will open in a beautiful, appropriate site. My reality as a parent is this. Way back in the autumn, the admissions officer from the council visited Stanley Primary to talk to yr 6 parents about the admissions process. She was very sceptical about the opening of Turing House and gave the impression of being very unsupportive of the project. I attended an informational meeting about e3. I posed the question about the timing of their project (i.e. announcing this new school when Turing House was homeless). The councillor present did very little to show support for TH and did not want to speak about the overall plans for both of the schools. He did not demonstrate enthusiastic support for TH and was rather annoyed when I posed the question about the site. All of the promotional materials for e3 have the council written all over it. This is not the case with TH promotional materials. And now...still no site and the delay of the opening. When all this is added up you must understand how this looks (i.e. e3 is favoured) and it is frustrating. I don't know how much support e3 has received. Given the number of Media Studies University gradates working at Starbucks I, personally, am not interested in a media school for my child. TH has had enthusiastic grassroots support because they are promising the type of school that appeals to a lot of people. It is a shame that they have not been given priority to the Egerton Road site.....especially when that decision could have been made long ago. A Naysayer
  • Score: 1

11:29pm Wed 2 Apr 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Naysayer, I'm one of the parents on the TH Steering Group.

The Local Authority is made up of a lot of individuals, so any negative impression you might have been given from one or two officers doesn't necessarily reflect the overall position, which is supportive of TH.

The council is formally part of the partnership for the e3/REEC school. The proposing trust is a partnership between the college and the council and others, but it is still a free school proposal, and is going through the DfE's approval process.

In contrast, TH is a partnership between local parents and RET. The council has no formal role in it, but they're still supportive. Richmond Council have always welcomed high quality free school proposals, and need the places as part of their secondary school place planning. They are doing what they can to help us secure a suitable site.
Naysayer, I'm one of the parents on the TH Steering Group. The Local Authority is made up of a lot of individuals, so any negative impression you might have been given from one or two officers doesn't necessarily reflect the overall position, which is supportive of TH. The council is formally part of the partnership for the e3/REEC school. The proposing trust is a partnership between the college and the council and others, but it is still a free school proposal, and is going through the DfE's approval process. In contrast, TH is a partnership between local parents and RET. The council has no formal role in it, but they're still supportive. Richmond Council have always welcomed high quality free school proposals, and need the places as part of their secondary school place planning. They are doing what they can to help us secure a suitable site. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 3

6:40am Thu 3 Apr 14

BS_Twickenham says...

Its worth adding, for context, that very few LA officers knew the detail of TH's confidential site negotiations, so any apparent scepticism on the part of individuals probably reflected that.
Its worth adding, for context, that very few LA officers knew the detail of TH's confidential site negotiations, so any apparent scepticism on the part of individuals probably reflected that. BS_Twickenham
  • Score: 3

8:24am Thu 3 Apr 14

A Naysayer says...

I hope you are right, BS Twickenham. A lot of families are depending on it.
I hope you are right, BS Twickenham. A lot of families are depending on it. A Naysayer
  • Score: 1

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