The parent members of the Turing House Steering Group recognised the strong pent-up demand in their local community for the choice of an additional high quality secondary school, catering for South and West Twickenham, Fulwell, North Teddington and surrounding areas. Local children have been given a great start with wonderful primary school education, but there is an increasing lack of choice at secondary level, both for boys and for girls who prefer co-educational schooling.
As well as a demand need, there is also a looming capacity need. The council's 2011 forecasts for secondary school places showed that demand would outstrip supply within a few years, with the size and timing of overspill being dependent on assumptions that were very uncertain. More recently, a 10 year school place planning strategy spanning 2015-2024 has been published indicating that, without Turing House, secondary bulge classes would be required to manage demand. The strain on primary school capacity has been felt for some time, and is now pushing its way into secondary provision. The council has planned for new free schools like Turing House and REEC to help alleviate that pressure, as they are the only type of new school allowed under the latest Education Act.
Patterns of demand are also changing, with Richmond's controversial linked-school admissions policy having been dropped from 2013. This change, while benefitting many families who previously had no link, has put additional pressure on the admissions of the more popular local secondaries, which were already highly oversubscribed. Catchment areas are shrinking as a result, and many local people are nervous about the impact of the change on their secondary school options.
The parents who initiated the Turing House proposal want a school that is firmly rooted in its community, and part of the local family of schools. They recognise that South West Twickenham, Fulwell, North Teddington and neighbouring areas want and need another excellent mainstream secondary school; an equivalent to Waldegrave for those seeking a mixed school. The need is for a mixed, non-denominational, academically focussed community school providing a high quality, broad and balanced, inspirational curriculum.
In the current economic climate every pound spent by the Government must count. An inclusive school which has the potential to cater for 100% of its local population will maximise flexibility in dealing with highly unpredictable changes in future demand. Richmond Borough has a shortage of land suitable for new schools, and so local people want to see any site identified as suitable for a new secondary school put to optimum use.
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