Planned Catholic school in Richmond ‘is not inclusive’

15:16 15 November 2012

Opponents argued the school will not be inclusive. File picture: PA Wire/Chris Radburn

Opponents argued the school will not be inclusive. File picture: PA Wire/Chris Radburn

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A High Court battle is being fought over proposals for a new Roman Catholic secondary school in Twickenham.

Parents and members of the British Humanist Association say all new state schools in the London Borough of Richmond should have admissions policies that are religiously inclusive.

Today they sought a judicial review of Richmond Council’s decision to offer the Catholic Diocese of Westminster a site in Clifden Road to be used for two new schools - a primary and secondary on the grounds that it was legally flawed.

Lawyers for Richmond Council argue the claim should be dismissed as the council did not misdirect itself or act unlawfully.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA), said the case reflected “a disturbing national pattern”, in which religious groups were being given preferential treatment by local councils through “back-door proposals”.

Mr Copson said: “Victory here would hopefully set a precedent and level the playing field on which proposals to establish schools are treated equally, with the same level of scrutiny, whether religious or not.”

The parents are being represented by the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC), which contends no child in the borough should be discriminated against because of family religious beliefs, or the lack of them.

RISC’s leaders stress its supporters include both religious and non-religious people, including Catholics and humanists.

In 2011 over 3,300 local people supported a RISC petition to the council calling for all new borough schools to be inclusive.

But in July last year the council decided to buy land in Twickenham, for £8.4 million to provide “school places”.

It then invited the Catholic Diocese to submit proposals for two “voluntary-aided” Catholic schools and began a public consultation exercise.

In May this year, the council decided to lease the land to the Diocese for a peppercorn rent.

David Wolfe QC, representing both BHA and RISC, told the High Court the new primary school would, if oversubscribed, give priority to Catholic pupils when allocating all but 10 of its 30 places a year.

After seven years, 93 per cent of its places were expected to be allotted on the basis of religion.

Mr Wolfe said that, by contrast, if an academy or free school was set up under the 2006 Education and Inspections Act to meet the needs of Catholic families, children of non-Catholics “would be excluded from no more than half its places”.

The QC argued the council went wrong in law because it was under a statutory obligation to seek proposals for an academy/free school rather than considering the Diocesan proposals for a voluntary-aided school.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
2 3 4 5 6

Latest London Education News

A false widow infestation has closed two Tower Hamlets primary schools (Picture: @akazeeox)

Biting False Widow spiders have infested two primary schools in Tower Hamlets, forcing them to close, and the local council is telling worried parents to take their children to the doctor.

(Dominic Lipinski /PA Wire)

Police kettled protesters as violence erupted in pockets of today’s student march in central London.

United Kingdom
Hundreds demonstrate outside the South African Hight Commission in London as part of the global Fees Must Fall movement (Picture: Clayson Monyela)

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the South African High Commission in central London today in solidarity with the country’s now-global Fees Must Fall campaign, before marching through the city.

None of the pupils at Villiers High School required hospital treatment after the incident (Photo: Google StreetView)

London Ambulance Service were called to Villiers High School in Southall today when potentially hazardous chlorine gas was accidentally released during a science lesson.

Computer class

New figures show, in the face of growing youth unemployment, vacancies for digital jobs is set to widen in the next year.

One of the classic A-level-girls-jumping photos (Picture: PA Images)

A-Level results day is one most people remember forever, whether it’s the joy of success or the sickening numbness of missing your offer. Here to lighten the mood are some of the funniest Twitter reactions to the day.


What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Read more

You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Read more

Latest Tech News