Stag Brewery proposed school development - frequently asked questions

Find answers to common queries about the Stag Brewery redevelopment and plan for a new school below.

Plans for a school

How will a secondary school benefit Mortlake?

This is an exciting opportunity to create a new, outstanding high quality secondary school to complement the outstanding local primary schools. It will be a school with strong roots in the local area – providing opportunities for the whole community to benefit.

What type of school is being proposed as part of the overall development?

A six-form entry secondary school, which would grow year-group by year-group over seven years. There would be 900 pupils in total across Years 7-11, with an eventual sixth form of 250.

Who would be responsible for funding and building the proposed school?

As the school would have to be a free school, it would be the responsibility of the Government’s Education Funding Agency to acquire sufficient space, assist the proposer with the planning application, and to fund and commission the building.

Are there any alternative locations for the school?

The Council firmly believes that there is no other viable site in this part of the borough within the necessary time frame. Identifying a suitable site for a secondary school is never easy. A number of sites have been suggested by the community. However, none are considered appropriate in the context of the development plan for the borough nor available or deliverable. Some of the sites suggested are protected by designations from built development, and most include sites designated as Metropolitan Open Land (which carries the same weight as Green Belt). In addition, none is as well-situated as the Stag Brewery site to meet the forecast demand from Kew/Mortlake/East Sheen/Barnes and to maximise the number of places at the proposed school for in-borough children.

More information about our considerations on alternative school sites.

What role does Richmond Council have in school place planning?

Richmond Council has a statutory duty, under Section 14 of the Education Act 1996, to ensure a sufficiency and diversity of state-funded school places within its administrative area for children of compulsory school age. That means that the Council, through Achieving for Children, undertakes regular forecasts of the numbers of children who will need school places. The Council then acts upon those forecasts in a timely manner.

How does Achieving for Children make its pupil forecasts?

Forecasts of need for school places within the borough for the primary phase are undertaken within 10 school place planning areas, each of which is coterminous with one or more electoral ward; but for the secondary phase, need is quantified firstly within each half of the borough and then across the borough as a whole. Forecasts are principally based on actual and forecast live-birth and cohort- and roll-retention rates, i.e. the percentage trends of children who enter the local state-funded schools as opposed to those who are educated in the private sector or whose families move away from the area. Those rates vary from area to area for Reception entry, but there has been a general upward trend across the borough towards the state-funded sector for Year 7 entry in recent years, explained partly by higher numbers of children leaving Year 6 and the higher number of places available.

How does the Council expand existing schools?

Periodically, the Government’s Education Funding Agency allocates capital funding to the Council for ‘Basic Need’, i.e. to help it support its requirement to provide a sufficiency of school places. Those allocations can only be spent on adding extra provision to state-funded schools (of any type, i.e. community, voluntary-aided, academy or free) which are already open within the borough.

Why is a secondary school needed on the Stag Brewery site?

Since July 2011, the Council has provided 13.5 extra forms of entry through its primary school expansion programme and helped to ensure the establishment of four free schools, which have provided a further eight forms of entry. A total of 21.5 additional forms of entry have provided to meet primary need.

6.5 forms are within the eastern half of the borough, through the expansions of Darell, East Sheen, Lowther, Sheen Mount and The Vineyard, and the establishment of Thomson House free school.

At this point, there is no additional requirement for further places, but as and when further primary places are needed within the area, they could be provided elsewhere, through the expansion of one or more existing primary schools.

A need for additional secondary places has grown within the eastern half of the borough to an extent which wasn’t foreseen in July 2011.

This is due to:

  • Additional pressure on secondary places  shown by the number of ‘preferences’ for year 7 places: for Richmond Park Academy this has grown from 255 in 2011 to 536 in 2017; for Christ’s this has increased from 547 to 712 and; for Grey Court from 646 to 1,319 over the same five years.
  • Whilst the Council has ensured extra borough-wide capacity in the secondary phase through the establishment of three new schools, one of them, St Richard Reynolds Catholic High School, was established in order to provide a need in terms of diversity rather than sufficiency, i.e. it enabled local places for Catholic children who would otherwise have been educated in Catholic schools outside the borough; and all three schools are, or will be, permanently situated in the western half of the borough.
  • Within the eastern half, although the Council enabled the permanent increase of the published admission number (PAN) of Christ’s School from 120 to 150 from 2013 onwards, and Grey Court has expanded its PAN to 240 from 2016 onwards, the numbers of children attending, across all year-groups, the nine non-Catholic primary schools within Richmond Park Academy’s vicinity have grown at a greater rate.
Primary school place numbers
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Barnes 407 409 446 447 442 444 447
Darell 224 246 268 279 291 310 307
East Sheen 417 444 438 469 493 537 560
Holy Trinity 308 354 398 407 431 446 433
Kew Riverside 196 195 201 198 202 196 190
Lowther 250 287 316 339 363 349 339
Marshgate 429 451 469 466 475 476 451
Sheen Mount 404 430 438 470 503 533 563
Thomson House     48 99 157 208 260
Total 2,635 2,816 3,022 3,174 3,357 3,499 3,550

Of the nine schools above, five have been permanently expanded since 2010, one – Thomson House – opened in 2013, and two – Barnes and Marshgate – of the other three (Kew Riverside is the exception) have admitted three ‘bulge’ classes between them since 2010. As a result, the numbers of Year 6 leavers in those schools who will need places in local secondary schools has grown and will continue to grow. Based on current thinking, this would mean that there would be 400–550 local children competing for 205 local places, the Council would be unable to meet its statutory duty to provide places for those children unless a new school can be provided. It is forecast that the children who are at most risk of not being admitted to any of the three schools in the eastern half of the borough live in Kew, and east and north Barnes.

It is forecast that the children who are at most risk of not being admitted to any of the three schools in the eastern half of the borough live in Kew, and east and north Barnes.

Why can’t the Council reserve places in Richmond Borough secondary schools for Richmond Borough resident children?

Parents can apply for other authorities, as well as their own borough. And, if they are living nearer to the school, than a child who lives further away but within the same borough as the school, they will take priority over them. This is because, a High Court judgement against Greenwich Council (‘the Greenwich Judgement’) in 1989 prevents local authorities, and schools which – like Christ’s, Grey Court and Richmond Park Academy – set their own admission arrangements, from reserving places in this way.

Why can’t the Council expand the three secondary schools within the eastern half of the borough?

Expanding each of Christ’s, Grey Court and Richmond Park Academy by a further form of entry would be hugely challenging from outdoor-space and planning constraints, and they would provide only 90 additional places, which would be at least 150 fewer than are forecast to be required. In addition, funding for expansion is not currently available. For those reasons, the Council believes that only a new secondary school within the eastern half of the borough would meet the short-term forecast shortfall of places. Longer-term, it is probable that the three schools would need to be expanded in addition to a new school being established.

Updated: 6 April 2018