Turing House free school controversy

Claire's picture
by Claire
 7
A Russell Education Trust sponsored free school, Turing House has recently secured a funding agreement with the Secretary of State. The schools will open on a temporary site in Teddington in September 2015. The school intends to move to a permanent location within 3-4 years.

At present, there are two possible permanent sites being proposed - one in Teddington which is an area with a currently high demand for school places in the local secondaries there and the other in Whitton an area with an undersubscribed local academy.

Residents and parents have the following issues with the Whitton site:

- Transport - there are no frequent bus services connecting Teddington and Whitton and the route is unsafe for cyclists.

- Distance - it is approximately 2 miles from Teddington and would take at least 20-30 minutes during peak times by car to reach the Whitton site

- Access - there is currently no easy vehicular access to the site from the main road, the closest point to the main road is on a blind corner

- Pollution - noise and air pollution generated by additional traffic into an already busy London suburban area

- Protected land - It is Metropolitan Open Land afforded the same level of protection as Green Belt

- Admissions - Turing House is primarily for Teddington students, the proposed admission policy gives priority to after looked-after students, students with social/medical needs, students whose parents have been granted Founders status and students with sibilings at the school. 20% of the remaining places will be for students who live close to the school and 80% will live close to an artificial admissions point.

Effect on local secondary schools - parents from Teddington would have to pass Twickenham Academy in order to reach the Whitton site. It is located on the same road as the Whitton site but nearer to Teddington. Twickenham Academy is currently undersubscribed and approximately half of students being admitted from out-of-borough. Twickenham Academy could be destabilised.

Effect on local primary schools - there are currently six primary schools within a mile of the Whitton site, with approximately 2000 children. The area would be gridlocked if another 1000+ were coming into the same area.

Consultation - Teddington parents feel let down as they were consulted on the proposed school and were promised a new local inclusive school for their local community with resources the local community could use.

Support:
Almost 1500 people (as of 4/5/2015) have signed a petition to oppose the building of Turing House School on the Whitton site. There are 100s of comments giving their reasons, people feel very strongly about it.

Local Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable has spoken out to oppose the Whitton site. The Conservative Candidate Tania Mathias also opposes the Whitton site.
The local Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors will not support the building of the school in Whitton with a 80:20 split in admissions against local students. Teddington councillors also oppose the Whitton site.

Local News
The story has been published many times in local publications and is the subject of debate on and off the internet here, here and here.

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Comments

jonty's picture
Tue, 05/05/2015 - 08:21

I think most people seem to agree the school need to be in the Fulwell/Teddington area, assuming they can find a site there.

I'd challenge what you say about Twickenham Academy being undersubscribed. It has been in the past but it's been rebuilt now and has a new head. It was close to full in 2014 and was predicted to be fully full this year, with more upwards pressure on places in the years ahead. However, it has filled up despite the fact that it requires improvement, and despite the fact it's very close to a large Outstanding school just over the border in Hounslow, so adding another school between the two of them doesn't seem a good way of supporting it's journey towards "good".

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:20

jonty - according to Edubase, Twickenham Academy has capacity for 1050 pupils and has 766 on roll.


jonty's picture
Tue, 05/05/2015 - 08:32

Just to add, Twickenham Academy has also been the subject of blogs on here in the past,indicating further complexity to the back-story: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/12/three-academies-using-pers...


Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:38

jonty - Ofsted have done two monitoring inspections of Twickenham Academy since the linked thread was published. The last monitoring said:

'Senior leaders and governors are now taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified at the section 5 inspection and the areas for action identified at the first monitoring inspection.'

jonty's picture
Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:34

That's across the whole school, because it's been very undersubscribed in the past when it was inadequate and during the re-building work, and because they have recently opened a sixth form which is under-capacity. In Sept 2014 there were only 42 places left in the whole borough (27 of them at Twickenham Academy) with LA forecasts showing big rises in numbers coming out of primaries over next few years. More Year 7 places are needed, but putting them next door to Twickenham Academy wouldn't be a good decision.


Parent2's picture
Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:49

It's a more complicated picture than that. There is another school opening a mile and half away from Twickenham Academy in 2017 that will have 150 places on the site of Richmond College. It would not be enough capacity long term across the whole LA, but it does have better transport links than existing sponsored academies or proposed Whitton site for new school. There is also new capacity in Kingston close to an existing Richmond school which might affect patterns of demand in surrounding schools.

And if there were only 42 places left in the whole borough last September, they were concentrated in the two sponsored academies that are, in fact, only two miles apart. Wherever Turing House is sited, one or both of those schools will be affected, but if it is in Whitton, Twickenham Academy will bear the brunt - whether Turing House admits 30 or 150 more local pupils.

Andrew's picture
Sat, 11/07/2015 - 06:16

The Whitton site will gridlock the 316 access to whitton at peak morning times


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