Richmond Council's 'divisive' Catholic school consultation comes under attack

First published in News by

The council has sparked an “extremely divisive” controversy over a proposed Catholic secondary school by not consulting all taxpayers, the leader of Richmond’s Liberal Democrat group has claimed.

Councillor Stephen Knight warned that Richmond Council’s hopes for the church to move into a site in Clifden Road, Twickenham, could cause serious damage to community relations unless it allowed all parents in the borough to have their say.

Thousands of campaigners have signed petitions supporting and opposing plans for what would be the only Catholic secondary school in Richmond.

The authority said it would only launch a consultation after Education Secretary Michael Gove decided whether to grant the church permission to move into the Richmond Adult Community College site.

But Coun Knight said he was concerned the council appeared to have already made its mind up by giving the church first refusal.

He said: “This is an extremely divisive issue among parents, divisive along sectarian lines in the community.

“Local taxpayers are contributing an extremely large sum of money to purchase this site.

“If we don’t want to divide the whole community and have a real community cohesion issue over this decision, then everybody has to feel their views have been heard and the decision that’s been taken considers all sides of the argument.

“At the moment it appears the council is hell bent on doing one thing and not listening to anybody else.”

He said Richmond’s Lib Dem group would table a proposal to ensure the council carries out a transparent decision making process to determine what type of school should go on the Clifden Road site if the authority “refuse to budge”.

Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, deputy leader of Richmond Council, said: “Technically there’s nothing to consult on at the moment, all we said was we would give the diocese first refusal.”

He said the church first had to convince the Education Secretary it should run the school and then make a commitment to pay its contribution towards the costs.

Coun Samuel added: “It may be that they will fall at one of those two hurdles. If the diocesan authorities get approval from the Secretary of State and then put up the money, what we will say to people is, ‘Here is the actual proposal for you to look at, are you for it or against it?’”

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:47am Mon 26 Sep 11

richst says...

Fully support that public should be consulted even before considering the offer from the Catholic church. Who gave Council the right to offer Clifden Road site for a Catholic VA school - how can they have the right to 1st refusal? This is unfair and discriminatory and majority in the local community do not support. The right way to do this is to first consult the public on the best use of Clifden Road site.
Fully support that public should be consulted even before considering the offer from the Catholic church. Who gave Council the right to offer Clifden Road site for a Catholic VA school - how can they have the right to 1st refusal? This is unfair and discriminatory and majority in the local community do not support. The right way to do this is to first consult the public on the best use of Clifden Road site. richst
  • Score: 0

12:30pm Mon 26 Sep 11

JeremyRodell says...

This issue seems to have become iconic for Lord True and Cllr Geoffrey Samuels, being driven through - as Cllr Knight points out - regardless of the decision-taking process and regardless of the interests of the great majority of people of the borough.

It's divisive only in one direction: supporters of inclusive schools want good schools that include children of Catholics along with everyone else. Supporters of the Catholic Voluntary Aided School want a school that effectively excludes non-Catholics. That's why there are fair-minded Catholics who are supporting the inclusive schools campaign.

Sign the petition at http://tinyurl.com/r
iscpetition1 and go to www.richmondinclusiv
eschools.org.uk to sign on to be kept informed.
This issue seems to have become iconic for Lord True and Cllr Geoffrey Samuels, being driven through - as Cllr Knight points out - regardless of the decision-taking process and regardless of the interests of the great majority of people of the borough. It's divisive only in one direction: supporters of inclusive schools want good schools that include children of Catholics along with everyone else. Supporters of the Catholic Voluntary Aided School want a school that effectively excludes non-Catholics. That's why there are fair-minded Catholics who are supporting the inclusive schools campaign. Sign the petition at http://tinyurl.com/r iscpetition1 and go to www.richmondinclusiv eschools.org.uk to sign on to be kept informed. JeremyRodell
  • Score: 0

11:30pm Mon 26 Sep 11

richst says...

Futher to Daily Mirror story last week:
http://blogs.mirror.
co.uk/investigations
/2011/09/great-new-s
tate-school---but-o.
html
Press release - 26 Sep 11

CATHOLIC EDUCATION BOSS INTERFERES IN LOCAL DECISION ON RICHMOND SCHOOL

Supporters of inclusive education in Richmond upon Thames have been “incensed” to discover that Dr Oona Stannard, Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Service, has sent a letter to all members of Richmond Borough Council giving “a series of misleading arguments and inaccurate statements” in support of the only available site for a new secondary school in the borough being used for a Catholic Voluntary Aided school rather than an inclusive school.

In the letter, Dr Stannard argues in support of the Council-backed proposal for a new Catholic school, claiming superior quality for schools that give priority to children of Catholics.

Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) has been campaigning for any new school in the borough to have admissions open to all children, regardless of religion or belief, and has built up almost 2000 supporters in the area signing a petition on the local authority’s website. The campaign has now also written to councillors, in order to rebut Dr Stannard’s arguments.

Jeremy Rodell, coordinator of RISC said, “Some of the arguments Dr Stannard puts forward in this attempt to interfere in the local debate would be laughable if the issue were not so serious. How can she possibly justify the claim that a new Catholic Voluntary Aided school would provide the borough with ‘greater choice’, or make a ‘contribution to community cohesion’ when it would effectively be closed to the 90% of local children who are not Catholics?

“Or that a school specifically intended to provide places in Twickenham for Catholic children who would otherwise go to one of the eight existing Catholic secondary schools across the borough border but within five miles of the centre of the borough would ‘release places in some of the Community secondary schools’. That’s simply illogical. She doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the real challenges facing education locally.

“As we keep saying, most of the opposition to the Council’s plans for a new Catholic Voluntary Aided School is not because the school would be Catholic, but because its admissions policy would always give priority to Catholics over everyone else - even if they live outside the borough. What the great majority of people want is sufficient places at high quality inclusive schools, whoever is running them.”
Futher to Daily Mirror story last week: http://blogs.mirror. co.uk/investigations /2011/09/great-new-s tate-school---but-o. html Press release - 26 Sep 11 CATHOLIC EDUCATION BOSS INTERFERES IN LOCAL DECISION ON RICHMOND SCHOOL Supporters of inclusive education in Richmond upon Thames have been “incensed” to discover that Dr Oona Stannard, Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Service, has sent a letter to all members of Richmond Borough Council giving “a series of misleading arguments and inaccurate statements” in support of the only available site for a new secondary school in the borough being used for a Catholic Voluntary Aided school rather than an inclusive school. In the letter, Dr Stannard argues in support of the Council-backed proposal for a new Catholic school, claiming superior quality for schools that give priority to children of Catholics. Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) has been campaigning for any new school in the borough to have admissions open to all children, regardless of religion or belief, and has built up almost 2000 supporters in the area signing a petition on the local authority’s website. The campaign has now also written to councillors, in order to rebut Dr Stannard’s arguments. Jeremy Rodell, coordinator of RISC said, “Some of the arguments Dr Stannard puts forward in this attempt to interfere in the local debate would be laughable if the issue were not so serious. How can she possibly justify the claim that a new Catholic Voluntary Aided school would provide the borough with ‘greater choice’, or make a ‘contribution to community cohesion’ when it would effectively be closed to the 90% of local children who are not Catholics? “Or that a school specifically intended to provide places in Twickenham for Catholic children who would otherwise go to one of the eight existing Catholic secondary schools across the borough border but within five miles of the centre of the borough would ‘release places in some of the Community secondary schools’. That’s simply illogical. She doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the real challenges facing education locally. “As we keep saying, most of the opposition to the Council’s plans for a new Catholic Voluntary Aided School is not because the school would be Catholic, but because its admissions policy would always give priority to Catholics over everyone else - even if they live outside the borough. What the great majority of people want is sufficient places at high quality inclusive schools, whoever is running them.” richst
  • Score: 0

8:23pm Fri 7 Oct 11

richst says...

Unbelievable. Catholic VA school application to Gove includes primary school. Please write to Michael Gove and your local MP Zac Goldsmith or Vince Cable to not grant consent to Catholic VA school in Richmond. ‎2 new schools, 0 consultations!! 90% of the borough excluded from both. Justification for the secondary is weak at best but what is the possible justification for the primary !!!!!!”
Unbelievable. Catholic VA school application to Gove includes primary school. Please write to Michael Gove and your local MP Zac Goldsmith or Vince Cable to not grant consent to Catholic VA school in Richmond. ‎2 new schools, 0 consultations!! 90% of the borough excluded from both. Justification for the secondary is weak at best but what is the possible justification for the primary !!!!!!” richst
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree