In 2011 the parent members of the Turing House Steering Group recognised the strong pent-up demand in their community for the choice of an additional high quality secondary school, catering for the Middlesex side of the Richmond Borough. As shown on this map, most of the borough's co-educational secondaries are near the borough boundaries, so central areas (such as West Twickenham, Fulwell, Hampton Hill and North Teddington) experience particular pressure as popular schools become oversubscribed. Local children were being given a great start with wonderful primary school education, but many families were experiencing reduced choice at secondary level, especially for boys, but also for girls who preferred co-educational schooling.
Patterns of demand have also changed significantly in recent years, with Richmond's controversial linked-school admissions policy having been dropped from 2013. This change, while benefiting 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.
As well as the demand-led pressures, in recent years there has also been an increasing need for greater capacity. Primary school capacity has significantly expanded in recent years, and this is now pushing its way into secondary provision. The council's 2011 forecasts for secondary school places showed that need would outstrip supply within a few years, with the size and timing of the over-spill being dependent on assumptions that were very uncertain at that time.
The council was dependent on new free schools like Turing House and RTS to relieve the pressure, as they are the only type of new community schools allowed under the current Education Act. The Turing House free school application was submitted in 2012. Then in 2013, RTS's free school application presented strong evidence of need in addition to the places already approved for Turing House, stating that "Year 7 capacity within the nine existing schools and Turing House will be exceeded by demand by 2017".
In January 2015, a 10 year school place planning strategy spanning 2015-2024 was published indicating that, without Turing House and RTS, contingency plans for secondary bulge classes would be required to manage demand. In fact, despite the opening of Turing House and RTS, two secondaries on the Middlesex side of the borough (Orleans Park and Waldegrave) have nevertheless increased their class sizes to create more places. Increased capacity has also been added on the Surrey side of the borough at Richmond Park Academy, and Grey Court.
Projections made by the Greater London Authority in 2015 have shown that Richmond's secondary school place planning strategy is very sensitive to variations in the number of students transferring to the private sector at Year 7. Richmond updated its strategy in October 2015, and again in February 2018. Latest figures show that, following the opening of Turing House and RTS, there will be sufficient places on the Middlesex side of the borough until 2020. Beyond that, a balance between local need and supply is very dependent on fewer children being able to access places in Richmond schools from other boroughs.