Holland Park school HELP!! Anyone know it?

(40 Posts)
tonyee Sun 07-Mar-10 17:13:32

Hubs keeps threatening to take out girls out of their school (private girls school where they r super happy) n to send them to Holland Park comprehensive school. Does anyone have any experiences there? I heard there is some bullying, I also heard it can be a bit rough. Any scoop? I'd love some feedback!! THANKS!!

cottagemum Wed 21-Sep-11 14:06:45

Hello BafanaBafana,
I am replying from another country as we are considering a move to London. To say I am overwhelmed with schools is an understatement! My 2 children are currently in a girls private school. However, as the cost of private school is so much greater in London we (my husband) would prefer a state school. I noticed you mentioned City of London School. Do you mean the girls or boys? I noticed there are two with same name. I believe the girls school offers a partial scholarship for art ability that my daughter may qualify for. My husband is also keen on Holland Park School as my daughter who will be entering year 7 in 2012 may qualify for one of their art ability spots. Also, do you know much about these new "free" schools?
Many thanks!

hillbilly Wed 20-Feb-13 22:07:58

I would be very interested to hear people's opinions of Holland Park school in the last couple of years. We are local to it and also now there is a new academy being built at the end of our road so have a few choices for our dd who is currently Year 3.

potatoprinter Thu 21-Feb-13 08:09:55

I currently have a child at Holland Park. There are other threads about it but it is generally a very good school and results have improved dramatically over the last few years. The new building is amazing. I would have no hesitation recommending it - there are a few thinks I don't like, but then again in 3 years they might have improved. If you have any specific questions I am happy to answer.

Are you referrring to Kensington Aldridge? That is 5 mins from me too - while I think it is completely the wrong location for a school, judging by the set up of Chelsea Academy a few years back, the borough will not be prepared to let it fail despite the comparatively tiny budget.

hillbilly Thu 21-Feb-13 18:47:00

Thanks potatoprinter. There are a few things I have heard which would need clarification.

1. That they are so results driven that they "cook the books" so to speak, only allowing student who are sure to pass, take GCSEs.

2. That the classes are streamed based on Maths, English and Science collectively so an artistic student who was good in English but not so much in Maths or Science would therefore be in a lower stream.

3. That it is very difficult to move between streams once you are there.

4. That it is not a very nurturing school and under achievers are passed over.

It's mostly hearsay but I really want to get a good and honest picture in my mind. I understand that the open day is very slick and more about them presenting their best side but not addressing other issues.

Yes, I do mean the Aldridge Academy. I guess we have to wait and see who the head will be. Also very keen to here up to date reposts of Burlington Danes which I hear has improved a lot.

potatoprinter Fri 22-Feb-13 08:44:21

Hillbilly to answer your points:

1. That they are so results driven that they "cook the books" so to speak, only allowing student who are sure to pass, take GCSEs
This is not true. I understand that all students take maths and English (I can't remember about science). Some students have special needs or simply a low IQ and it takes them three attempts to pass. Some students do a mixture of GCSE and BTEC because they simply do not have the intellectual capacity to do a lot of GCSEs.

2. That the classes are streamed based on Maths, English and Science collectively so an artistic student who was good in English but not so much in Maths or Science would therefore be in a lower stream.
The initial bands are based on the admissions test when they apply. About a third of the kids move after the first term. My child is in the top group of the top band and has been since she started. She is very good at English but just a bit above average at maths and science. Her strengths are definitely in the arts and she is one of the art aptitude students. She is predicted A at GCSE in everything.
On our experience that is not true but it would depend on the overall level. I think they take the maths and English and only look at science if it is borderline.

3. That it is very difficult to move between streams once you are there.
Again it depends. I think after the first term when they sort out the kids who are definitely in the wrong stream, they are quite accurate. They do another move at the end of year 8 when they start the GCSE courses. It is unusual to move between the bands(streams) but not uncommon to move within a band.

4.That it is not a very nurturing school and under achievers are passed over.
I think they try and get the best out of all the kids. What I would say is that the kids who are compliant, are outgoing and smiley and work bloody hard are the teachers favourites, but that is probably the case for many schools.
There does tend to be a group of about a dozen kids in the school at any time who always win the Perfect Tense award, are always picked for things like school trips etc. My DD is not one of them and it is galling at times. I think quiet children do get passed over. However the school seemed very proud of her as she has had some achievements outside of school.
To be honest I think very few secondary schools are nurturing. At the end of the day, your DC will be one of 240 in a year group.

Re the open day - yes they do put on a show and Mr Hall is very charming and a good speaker. Most kids including my daughter do like the school and are proud of it. My DD has made some lovely friends there and has a good social life outside of school.

Other comments:
* I don't like the early entry for GCSEs but no doubt all exams will be linear and sat in year 11 if Mr Gove has his way! He may potentially be a fellow parent as he and his wife visited the school last year for their son.
* The school is very strict and they do tend to be very very critical and often in assembly have a go at the children for what is going wrong rather than going right.
* There is a very high turnover of staff. They are expected to work extremely long hours and put a lot of extra work in.
* The art aptitude has been a great disappointment and there is little in the way of music provision.
* The sports facilities in the new school are very good and they hired a new head of sport, and look like they are pushing that aspect.
* Admin wise the school is appalling and I have personally had experience of some rude and completely inept admin staff.
* Despite most the teachers being female, the leadership is almost entirely male. Some people describe Mr Hall as a cult figure and while I would not particularly agree I do sometimes feel the school and particularly the new building are more about him and his deputy Mr Chappell and not about the kids. For example the new houses in the school are largely named after people from Mr Hall's personal life - an ex teacher, an ex pupil (not from HP) etc. All worthy no doubt, but nothing to do with HP.

hillbilly Fri 22-Feb-13 14:29:54

Thanks P for your in depth information. We are still a couple of years off, but I just want to find out as much as possible for us to be able to make an informed decision at the time.

potatoprinter Fri 22-Feb-13 15:03:57

Well check back here in a couple of years! I hope Kensington Aldridge attract a good headteacher - I don't like the one at Chelsea Academy at all. Hopefully it will be open in time for your DC. It should at least take the pressure off admissions at HP, I know some people on the Lancaster West who didn't get in last year.

Golborne Fri 10-May-13 10:05:07

Hi Potatoprinter,

Thanks for your insightful report. Our daughter is due to start secondary in 2014 and we're thinking about the arts aptitude at Holland Park as she loves art and has some talent. Can you say why you've been disappointed by that aspect of Holland Park?

potatoprinter Fri 10-May-13 17:41:49

Hi Golborne. I think the main thing to note about being an art aptitude student is that 99.9% of it is no different from all the other art teaching in the school.

My DD was part of the first intake of art aptitudes three years ago. They had quite a few specialist classes, events etc but that has all died down a bit now though they do have special classes from time to time.

The art club after school is open to all but seems to run in fits and starts.

I have not been happy with the art teaching in the school. It is no exaggeration to say that DD has learned very little and has had to teach herself.

The exhibitions are more to do with showing off the teacher's ideas and creating a certain "image" for the school rather than the childrens' work.

The senior art teacher is very difficult and can be quite unpleasant, though she seems to have mellowed as the kids get older. There is a very high turnover of staff in the art dept.

potatoprinter Fri 10-May-13 17:48:41

Having reviewed my earlier comments, I am happy to report that the school have appointed a new head of music to start in September and they seem to be making more of an effort in this area.

The other thing that potential parents might want to note is the almost total absence of school trips, both abroad and even within London. The only ones they run tend to be rewards for good behaviour/good work etc and it is always the same kids! Not my daughter unfortunately which is very disappointing.

blueemerald Mon 13-May-13 14:54:43

I'm a student teacher at the moment (English) and HP have been advertising for English teachers for months now. This means quite a few people I know have been for an interview (maybe 7 people I know in two groups). Not one of them liked the school. Not one of them wanted to work there. They particularly disliked the head teacher. It's very much a business model (more and more schools are going this way). They reported that the students seemed (overall) afraid or unable to express an opinion or work independently.

potatoprinter Mon 13-May-13 15:50:47

As a parent I don't agree with your comment about the students. I understand that the applicants assessment is basically teaching a prepared lesson to one of the high band groups watched by the SLT. I imagine this is why they children appear to be a bit wary. I can tell you that in most lessons even my quiet daughter is able to express her opinion quite happily and has been able to work independently in class and at home since year 7.

I agree with the observation about the business model and teachers are expected to put in very long hours at the school. I think Mr Hall is more frightening to the teachers than he is the students.

heidiwine Tue 21-May-13 21:03:44

I used to be a teacher at holland park and I can assure you blueemerald has got it spot on - well done to your friends for not being sucked in by the shine and shimmer!

If I had a bright, personable, middle class child who was well cared for at home and would do well regardless of the school I would consider holland park if the other options were awful. Any other type of child and I wouldn't give it a second glance.

It is a stifling atmosphere for staff and students and I don't imagine things have improved one bit since the new school has been built - £80million and not a single extra space! I'd love to know what all the sundries cost (flowers, candles, ridiculously branded staff planners etc etc).

notfluffy Tue 21-May-13 22:33:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Multitaskcentral Mon 24-Feb-14 09:58:36

Blueemerald and heidiwine as a parent at this school yes, to everything you have said. Three years trying to deal with the egotistical management of the head teacher.

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