Agenda and minutes

Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 7:00 pm

Contact: Sam Walker; 020 8891 7156; Email: sam.walker@richmond.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

51.

APOLOGIES

52.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Members are requested to declare any interests orally at the start of the meeting and again immediately before consideration of the matter. Members are reminded to specify the agenda item number to which it refers and whether the interest is of a personal or prejudicial nature.

     

    Members are also reminded of the requirements of Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 that they should declare and not vote on specified matters if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax payments.

    Minutes:

    Item 4a – USE OF THE CLIFDEN ROAD SITE and;

    Item 4b - STATUTORY PROPOSALS TO ESTABLISH A VOLUNTARY-AIDED CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL AND A VOLUNTARY-AIDED CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL

    Beverley Sanders declared she had a personal and prejudicial interest in these items by virtue of her role as Director of the RET Twickenham Trust, who had expressed an interest in the Clifden road site. She withdrew from the room for these items.

     

53.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 75 KB

53a

USE OF CLIFDEN ROAD SITE pdf icon PDF 104 KB

    This report outlines the responses to the consultation on the proposal to lease the Clifden Road site to the Diocese of Westminster for the establishment of voluntary-aided secondary and primary schools.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chairman explained that items 4a and b would be taken together.

     

    The Committee heard from speakers in favour of the proposals.

     

    Tracey Cotterill addressed the Committee: A large number of Richmond Catholic families children were attending faith based schools outside the borough. This was having a negative impact on their integration into the borough. She considered these school journeys to be unreasonably long. Extra curricular activities would further impact on journey times.

     

    David Nelson addressed the Committee: Richmond was one of two boroughs in London which did not have a Catholic secondary school. There was a strong demand for a Catholic secondary school among borough residents. He asked that the administration meet its manifesto pledge to provide a Catholic school.

     

    [Christine Gooch joined the Committee]

     

    Seamus Joyce agreed to let Kevin Coakley speak in his place and made the following representation: He was concerned that children from Catholic families with special educational needs be provided with a local Catholic secondary school. The Clifden Road site offered an invaluable opportunity to meet this requirement.

     

    Mr Coakley made the following points in response to questions from members of the Committee:

     

    A secondary school with Catholic character would allow a distinct ethos to be instilled in pupils.

     

    Children from Catholic families should be given priority for admissions at a Catholic school. Unallocated school places could then offered to other children.

     

    Patricia Howell addressed the Committee: She highlighted the fact that children were entitled to a Catholic education and that, in her experience, Catholic schools were culturally diverse and taught respect and understanding for others beliefs.

     

    In response to a question from the Committee, Patricia Howell said that Bromley was the only other London borough which did not have a Catholic secondary school.

     

    Paul Barber addressed the Committee: As theDiocese of Westminster’s Director of Education, he confirmed the Diocese’s priority for the proposed schools was to provide an outstanding education. The Diocese’s proposals were the result of demand from Richmond parents.

     

    Paul Barber made the following points in response to questions from members of the Committee:

     

    There had been a considerable rise in the demand for school places across London, and the highest demand was for Catholic school places. As London’s demand for Catholic school places increased, Richmond was likely to be disproportionately effected, as there was currently no in-borough Catholic secondary school.

     

    Luke Parker addressed the Committee: He felt that there were already a sufficient number of secondary school options within the borough for families of children from non-religious backgrounds. A Catholic school at the Clifden Road site would meet the tax-paying Catholic residents’ demands.

     

    The Committee heard from speakers against of the proposals:

     

    Gaurav Mathur addressed the Committee: He believed there were unequal opportunities for minorities in terms of schooling, in the borough. The Council had carried out an Equalities Impact Needs Assessment (EINA) on the authority’s school place planning policy, in 2007 and updated it in 2009. He asked that the EINA be reviewed. In his opinion, approving the Clifden Road proposals would contribute towards ethnic exclusion in the borough.

     

    Jeremy Rodell addressed the Committee: He said the Diocese had chosen to apply for voluntary aided status to maintain the exclusivity of their intake to Catholic children. Converting to an academy, at a later date, allowed them to avoid changing the admissions criteria to 50% non-faith based admissions.

    The proposed Catholic schools would create an imbalance in favour of Catholic families.

     

     

    Helen Clark addressed the Committee: There was an imbalance in the number of secondary school places available to boys, in part due to Waldegrave School for Girls. Boys would be most affected if the Council’s proposals for the Clifden site were agreed. She asked for an up-to-date EINA to be carried out by the Council.

     

    Julie Courtis addressed the Committee: She asked that the Council wait for the Secretary of State to make a decision on free school proposals before approving those of the Diocese of Westminster.

     

    John Wilson addressed the Committee: Richmond had the third worst figures in London for children not securing their first choice secondary school. In-line with the advice of the Secretary of State for Education, he asked that the Clifden Road site be used to establish a school with academy status to maximise inclusivity.

     

    Lawrence Hudson addressed the Committee: He lived close to the Clifden Road site and said his family would be affected by the Council’s proposals. He urged them to reconsider and opt for a more inclusive school proposal.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Schools, the Director Education, Children's Services and Culture and the Head of School Commissioning joined the Committee.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Schools explained that the administration aimed to balance the wants and needs of residents while meeting manifesto pledges.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Schools, the Director Education, Children's Services and Culture and the Head of School Commissioning made the following points in response to questions from the Committee:

     

    ·  It was not likely that the borough’s secondary school capacity would be exceeded before 2016 / 2017.

     

    The proposed voluntary-aided secondary and primary schools were being proposed by the Diocese of Westminster and not the Council. The Council would decide at Cabinet whether to approve the proposal.

     

    ·  It was the Council’s plan to increase choice and diversity of schools, and the Clifden Road site should be viewed as part of the overall programme and not in isolation.

     

    The Council had received legal advice that supported their course of action regarding the Clifden Road site.

     

    The Clifden Road Site had not been purchased at that time and the contracts had not been finalised.

     

    The Council had to provide and plan for increasing school capacity which will be needed by 2016/17.  A Catholic school would not have a negative impact (financially or otherwise) on these plans.

     

    Residents’ views, on either side, had been carefully considered and the results of the Council’s consultation been given due consideration.

     

    The Council deemed the admissions policies, proposed by the Diocese for Westminster for the schools, to be lawful and that they would meet the demand from local residents.

     

    The Council’s forecasts had been accurate, so far, and they were confident that they could meet demand for school places in the future, through ongoing evaluation of demand.

     

    It was RESOLVED that it should be recommended to Cabinet to approve:

     

    4a. the lease of Clifden Road site to the Diocese of Westminster for the establishment of voluntary-aided secondary and primary schools and;

     

    4b. the Diocese’s proposals to establish voluntary aided primary and secondary schools.

     

    [Councillor Knight left the Committee]

     

     

53b

STATUTORY PROPOSALS TO ESTABLISH A VOLUNTARY-AIDED CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL AND A VOLUNTARY-AIDED CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL pdf icon PDF 106 KB

54.

SIXTH FORM PROPOSALS pdf icon PDF 97 KB

    This report outlines the responses to the consultation on the statutory proposals to establish school sixth forms at Grey Court in September 2013 and at Christ’s, Orleans Park, Teddington and Waldegrave in September 2014.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    [Beverley Sanders re-joined the Committee]

     

    Maggie Bailey, Headteacher of Grey Court School and Phillipa Nunn, Headteacher of Waldegrave School for Girls, were invited to make representations to the Committee:

     

    The five schools (and three academies) were delighted at the prospect of teaching post-16 and were developing a curriculum offer that would cater for learners of all abilities.

     

    Establishing sixth forms at the borough’s secondary schools would remove the need for children to travel outside the borough for tertiary education, and reduce journey times.

     

    Allowing sixth forms would enable schools to retain good teachers who might otherwise want to move on to teach post-16.

     

    Sixth forms were best placed to prepare post-16 pupils for a working environment as they would be more familiar with their needs.

     

    Maggie Bailey and Phillipa Nunn made the following points in response to questions from members of the Committee:

     

    Richmond upon Thames College was over subscribed. It would be able to provide better quality provision if the number of attendees was less than 3000.

     

    Sixth forms would not compete with colleges as they could not individually offer the same breadth of subjects. Instead, sixth forms would offer more choice to pupils.

     

    In a minority of cases, sixth form pupils might need to attend a college for certain subjects. Schools would be working with the College to ensure timetables were managed with this in mind.

     

    Maggie Bailey and Phillipa Nunn acknowledged the relatively low response to the sixth form consultation. However, the schools had been surveying pupils, and the overwhelming response was in favour of establishing sixth forms. 

     

    Sixth forms would allow positive role models to stay within the school. It was anticipated that this would help to raise the aspirations, future career prospects and educational attainment of all pupils and, in particular, those from deprived areas / backgrounds.

     

    It was not anticipated that the character of the schools would need to change as a result of the inclusion of sixth forms.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Schools, the Director Education, Children's Services and Culture and the Head of School Commissioning joined the Committee.

     

    ·  The Cabinet Member for Schools said the sixth forms proposals had been very popular with parents and schools. The proposal aimed to provide high quality education, for all pupils, across the board, which will lead to improved outcomes. Financial modelling of the sixth form proposals was considered robust and sustainable. He intended to develop the borough’s family of schools to make them parents’ and pupils’ first choice for tertiary education.

     

    Studies showed that sixth form provisions were particularly beneficial to students and that they yield better outcomes than Colleges.

     

    Members were advised that feasibility study reports for each school could be provided, if requested.

     

    It was RESOLVED: that it should be recommended to Cabinet that sixth forms be established at Grey Court in September 2013 and Christ’s, Orleans Park, Teddington and Waldegrave in September 2014, as detailed in the report.

     

     

     

 

Updated: 21 November 2014