Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove intervenes in Twickenham Catholic school row


Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign and the British Humanist Association claim that Richmond Council failed to comply with new legislation.


By Grant Cloughton

The Secretary of State for Education is intervening in a judicial review regarding the legality of the introduction of a Catholic school in Twickenham.
The issue was jointly filed to The High Court by Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign and the British Humanist Association.
They argue that Richmond Council failed to comply with new legislation that requires an authority to invite proposals for an academy if a new school is needed.
The council claim that it did consider its obligations under the new legislation properly and that its decisions were lawful.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said a local authority is not under a duty to invite proposals for an academy before lawfully being able to approve the proposal.
Campaign Chairman Jeremy Rodell emphasises that admissions are key to this campaign.
He said that new free schools are limited to a maximum of 50% faith-based selection, whereas voluntary aided schools such as the one proposed for Twickenham are not capped and can therefore enable faith-based selection of up to 100%.
“It’s simply wrong for a new state-funded school to discriminate against local children simply because of their parents’ religion or beliefs,” Mr Rodell said.

“Just because it’s not illegal to discriminate against children because their parents are Anglicans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists or anything other than Catholics doesn’t make it right.”
The council agreed the Clifden Road site should be used for a primary and secondary school in May.
“I am pleased that the Department for Education has confirmed its earlier advice that the council was entitled to approve the proposals,” Council Leader Lord True said.

“The government’s intervention has made clear it has had – and still does have – no intention whatsoever of stopping the creation of new faith schools.”
Lord True added: “It is high time Mr Rodell showed some appreciation of the worries of those parents. In the light of this development, he should now tell his national leaders in the BHA to stop using Richmond children as playthings in their ideological campaign to stop church schools.”
In response Mr Rodell said that the comments made against him were ridiculous and completely baseless.
All parties await a date for the court case.

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