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Holland Park school - any update
67

doingwhatican · 06/03/2022 17:25

Hi. We could get a place at Holland Park in 2023 but the news stories in the past year make me want to steer clear. Does anyone with children there know if there has been any culture change? Is the new management a continuation of old management or has there been a shift? Thanks.

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doorkeeper · 06/05/2022 15:28

Dynamicsloth I think my DC was in the last or next to last year of neighbourhood kids getting into HP. At first I was outraged that Hall cut off the kids from the primary my DC went to, but then I felt relieved that they had an alternative in KAA to being overlooked and sidelined (when they weren't being terrorised) at HPS. Hall didn't deserve to have them. (And he didn't want them, because he was openly declaring "private school mums, save yourself some money, send your children here!" on open days. Not to mention the almost-all-white-children, soft-focus promotional film on the website.)

I tried so hard to talk to the school, again and again, to no effect, the entire time my DC was there. I wasn't anyone important to them, anymore than my DC was, so they didn't give a shit.

Colin Hall should be prosecuted.

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Dynamicsloth · 06/05/2022 18:37

@doorkeeper you are absolutely right and it’s lucky in hindsight that KAA gave an alternative - much too late for us sadly.

I saw something from that new parents collective saying how they are linked with North Kensington, Grenfell and the like. What a load of rubbish as very very few from the area go there anymore. They didn’t want us then, but it’s fashionable to be associated with us now.

Yes, I remember being gobsmacked by the video and the brochure each year. I just couldn’t believe they got away with it.

I asked one of the SLT if my DC’s work would be displayed on the website like another child’s was continually. He accused me of being jealous, I accused the school of being creepy and inappropriate - that went down like a lead balloon.

I am sure if there was the will, Hall could face criminal charges for his financial conduct quite apart from the abuse that was suffered by staff and students.

I hope certain others get their comeuppance too, including the SLT (looking at you Chappell and Wilson) and the Governors who did eff all. I remember meeting a Governor at some event and while she listened politely she just could not comprehend what I was saying about my DD’s experience of the school. Hope she regrets it now.

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Perfectlystill · 07/05/2022 07:45

SW1Mummy · 06/05/2022 12:44

OMG, I had no idea at all till I saw it in the news yesterday.

I live in Westminster and for the last 10yrs or so, if anyone asked where would they send their DS for senior school locally, I would say if you cannot get into the notoriously hard to get into Cardinal Vaughn or Oratory, you must go to HP ( I don't live far from Pimlico Academy, and am not happy with my encounter with the students). I don't know much about Paddington/Westminster Academy nor Marylebone Boys and St Thomas More. It's all looking grim for senior schools around here. Where do people send their DS.

In our case my DC are private, but I am still curious about local schools, as far as I know the primaries are doing very well, but where do people go from there?

Fulham Boys is very popular locally - I would take that over HP any day.

I have friends with children at HP and they're pulling them out and moving to the country because of the disastrous experiences they've had there. Teen girl suicidal, eating disorder, boy with anxiety, pastoral care: zero.

I would move to Scotland or Cornwall rather than send any DC of mine there right now.

Poor children.

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doorkeeper · 07/05/2022 12:33

Teen girl suicidal, eating disorder, boy with anxiety, pastoral care: zero

So many kids like this, and more. Eating disorders not helped by the dining hall being deliberately built too small for the number of children there, and the lunchtime only half an hour long, and the children forbidden to eat anywhere else. A kid could spend the entire lunchtime in the queue for food and the bell go while they were still queueing. Many kids didn't bother even trying, and spent their lunch money in a chickenshop on the way home, or just (like my DS) just not eat at all. I'd stuff him with a decent breakfast and feed him a big dinner, and have snacks available if I was at work for when he got home.

I also used to stuff my DS's bag with powerbars, etc, but they always came home untouched because he was terrified of being caught breaking a rule. He loves food and enjoys cooking, but he's chronically underweight because he's learned to ignore his body telling him when he needs to eat. He'd only ever try to queue for lunch if his class was let out early and he could get to the dining hall, because he's no good at jostling for position.

I used to raise this with the school and they'd always bang on about the quality of the menu, which missed the point by a mile. The only time I remember them ever listening to parents is when they tried to cut the lunch half-hour even further to 20 mins (or 25 - I can't remember) and there was a mass outcry.

So, teenagers, at the time in their lives when they have hollow legs because they are growing, and when they need fuel to get them through studying in the afternoon, only randomly able to eat, and only if they could elbow their way in front of other students. HPS in a nutshell.

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Perfectlystill · 07/05/2022 23:11

That's terrible @doorkeeper I'm so sorry to read that. My teens eat school lunch every day and still crash through the front door at 4pm saying they're starving.

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newmuminwonderland · 09/05/2022 22:09

Yes, the school is going through a challenging time. There are different opinions as to the school’s future. Many parents would prefer collaboration with local schools rather than the proposed multi academy trust based in Peterborough with over 80 schools nationwide.
Regardless there has been a complete change of governors and many of the past SLT are no longer there.
There was one incident, but it was misreported; there was no knife and no acid. Police are not called everyday. Those are the facts. Events have been sensationalised in the press (quelle surprise) and daily life for students is mostly what you would expect. There had been a slight drop in behaviour, but many schools have had the same post pandemic.
You have plenty of time to decide before 2023. I would suggest taking a tour of the school in September. Everything should be smoothed out by then.

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doorkeeper · 10/05/2022 00:29

Everything should be smoothed out by then

I'm very supportive of new parents sending their kids to HPS, and engaging with the process to make HPS into a half-decent school, but the idea that everything will be "smoothed out" by September is laughable.

There are still plenty of children at the school who have known nothing but a harsh, authoritarian regime, and who are traumatised, or school avoiding, or terrified of conflict, or are acting out. Many will not be able to just switch into smoothly existing and studying under a new regime. I don't think you understand how profoundly the social contract between those kids and the whole idea of school has been broken.

I don't think the suggested MAT is a good idea, not least because one of the significant players appears to be just another authoritarian in the Colin Hall mode. But if the new parents who are trying to get the MAT proposals overturned want support from parents of older students, and of ex-students, the best way to do it is to engage with how badly the school is broken, and how much care and support students will need to turn their experience of school around, not to brush everything under the carpet and pretend everything is fixed now. It isn't.

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doingwhatican · 10/05/2022 06:47

This is horrendous. I’m so sorry for the children and staff who have had to endure all of this. Horrific. It won’t happen but someone should be held to account.

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newmuminwonderland · 10/05/2022 07:01

Just to clarify, I did say September 2023, not this coming September, and that things would be smoothed out, not that absolutely everything would be perfect by then.

From what I know, the parents who are asking for a local option are also asking for more mental health support as well as much improved SEND provision. Parents at HPS are more unified than ever before and hopefully this will be a strength for the school going forward. It is unacceptable how past students and staff were treated. Everyone I know has the deepest sympathies for their suffering and is determined it not be repeated, my understanding is that many are opposed to the MAT proposal for that reason.

Keep in mind that there is no perfect school. The OP will need to visit all the schools they are interested in and decide which is best suited to their child.

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char8000 · 10/05/2022 11:30

Hi, I wanted to jump in as I'm a new mum at HPS - my child joined in September. I've been very active in the campaign against joining a MAT. I thought it might help to add some context.
In September there were allegations made by ex students and some ex teachers largely against Colin Hall's 'regime'. I had not had any real experience of that but knew the reputation of the school and looked for a place nonetheless because of its exceptional academic outcomes and the firm discipline boundaries which I liked.

As a result of the allegations, an investigation was launched and, simultaneously, the DfE issued a Notice to Improve which was largely about finance and governance. Only one point of ten related to the allegations but from the outside, the press created a picture that that was what the NtI was really focused on. The NtI was looking at things like the structure of the governing board, spending and so on. About 6 governors, including the then Chair, left and were replaced by DfE appointmented governors. Until the start of December there were two elected parent governors - Sally and John Bercow. Sally stood down at the start of December and John Bercow I think in March on the back of the political investigation into this behaviour. We have had no parent governors since then - so only one (not the two required) at the time the decision was made to join a MAT and since then, none when further critical decisions are being made. We have repeatedly pushed for these elections but have only last week (May) had two parent governors appointed. They have still not been inducted or included in any meetings. This has been a big bone of contention because the governing body have been carrying out critical decision without any parent representation on the board. The one governor who was also a teacher - Mr Chappell - was excluded from all meetings regarding the proposed conversion because of what they classified as a conflict of interest. So not only was there no parent voice, there was no teacher's voice either.

The new board members are all from MAT backgrounds, appointedd by the DfE who have requested they consider (not a requirement) looking at joining a MAT so the bias is embedded in the current governing body set up.

Teachers and staff had a vote of no confidence in the current governing body because they have not consulted with them during this process.

Like most schools, behaviour has been affected post covid but in addition, they are now dealing with the fact they are several members of staff down for a variety of reasons, which is both destabilising and a practically difficult. Additionally, staff and teachers were told expressly not to talk to children about the allegations or what was happening - eg why Colin Hall left school overnight - which has damaged relationships badly. Additionally, one teacher was recorded shouting at a group of students who were late and this went viral meaning then the culture at school was one where teachers feared anything they could be filmed and shared out of context.

The press has always been very anti HPS anyway and has blown the recent discipline issues out of proportion in my mind. For example, there was no acid attack. A row that had started in school continued after school as the kids left school and were on the high street. One girl threw some water with a little bit of disinfectant from a bathroom (not from school I believe) at a boy and he got a butter knife from a cafe on the high street. The police were called and about 9 teachers attended. The 'riot' was actually a planned student protest against the MAT which was then voluntarily cancelled but treated but a number of students as a chance to disrupt and muck about. While there were probably around 150-200 kids outside in the playground, most of them were just bystanders or trying to get back indoors. Anyone outside was given a detention regardless of whether they were involved in the bad behaviour or not. Most parents were very surprised to be notified of their child's involvement as they were technically not actually involved.

In no way are police being called every day. They came to the above event I believe and to the one on the street. I think they may have been present the day the parents peacefully demonstrated against the governing body and the MAT outside the gates but not because there were any issues.

A parent collective was set up in response to the notification of the planned conversion to the MAT and largely became about speaking for the teachers and staff who were excluded from all decisions. They repeatedly contacted us to thank us and say how unhappy there were with the decision.

Another local school KAA had put forward a proposal to become a MAT partner with HPS. There are strong ties already between the schools. This was disregarded. The parent collective have been campaigning to allow stakeholders. - principally the teachers and staff - to be allowed to see the proposal and revisit it as an alternative to a United Learning which is the partner the GB have chosen. UL have nearly 90 schools under their umbrella so ti woudl be a huge change in ethos for HPS.

There are changes that are needed at HPS but our argument is purely that that doesn't require a MAT as large as UL to fix them. That a local partner could be an alternative and that we want a proper consultation to revisit this option. RBKC support the local partner too.

So that's it really. My daughter loves the school. The teaching has been great with several of her teachers I'd class as outstanding. She is in the top band and I know this has been a frequent comment that if you are in a lower band, treatment is different and I have heard totally mixed things about that. Some have had poor experiences, others have been totally fine. During the campaign the one great thing has been to get to know other parents which has been brilliant. There are loads of fantastic, dynamic, creative, fun, interesting passionate people at the school who have pulled together in really difficult circumstances, putting their own lives on hold for the sake of teachers and children and the school. We are not looking at the school with rose coloured glasses. There are clearly things that need fixing and I don't doubt there have been many to have had a bad experience at HPS. We'd just like decsions about its future to be done with staff and teachers and other stakeholders on board.

I'm not a mumsnet user but have come on here to try and give balance to the conversation. I'm sorry for such a long post - tbh it doesn't cover the half of it but it's a start.

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DisgruntledSloth · 10/05/2022 11:42

@char8000

My DC was top group/top band throughout as were most of her friends and they were among those who signed their names calling for an inquiry. No one was exempt from the bullying or shouting. Although there were some of the ‘Perfect Tense’ elite in her group, they were victims as well.

I would not be concerned about the rubbish in the Daily Mail but I would be concerned that Mr Chappell for example is still there. He is as culpable as Colin Hall to my mind.
I certainly hope Mr W has left and the awful person who was in charge of (so called) student services (DD).

I’m glad you’re able to organise with other parents now (it was not allowed in my day) but I think systemic change will take years.

I hope you are able to revamp the school website as a matter of urgency. I had a look last night and it is the same sort of rubbish as when my DC was there.

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doorkeeper · 10/05/2022 18:06

The one governor who was also a teacher - Mr Chappell - was excluded from all meetings regarding the proposed conversion because of what they classified as a conflict of interest. So not only was there no parent voice, there was no teacher's voice either.

Thank god for that. Chappell is one of the three that I would most like to see prosecuted for the damage they've done to so many young people - Hall, Chappel and Wilson. He should have no place at all in deciding the school's future.

She is in the top band and I know this has been a frequent comment that if you are in a lower band, treatment is different and I have heard totally mixed things about that.

My DS was in the top band for the whole of his school career. He also had a near-perfect behavioural record (born of utter terror, but still). HPS nonetheless did him lasting damage. (Also even if what you said is true, what would be the lessons imparted by a school that nurtured the already-academically able and shat all over those with fewer good results?)

Some have had poor experiences, others have been totally fine.

A school in which both staff and pupils are routinely terrorised and humiliated is not a "fine" school for anyone, even if they were not personally terrorised and/or humiliated. Even the Perfect Tense kids, ostensibly the favoured few (at home as well as at school), did not benefit from being in such a toxic situation.


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doorkeeper · 10/05/2022 18:21

Additionally, one teacher was recorded shouting at a group of students who were late and this went viral meaning then the culture at school was one where teachers feared anything they could be filmed and shared out of context.

I suspect you are referring to the audio clips of the old Leadership Team people screaming at kids. I can assure you that what most teachers feared was, er, the Leadership Team, not being recorded. And you know what? I'm fine with that clip being recorded. People just don't understand how bad it was, and how abusive the Leadership Team was, and that clip helped show them.

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DisgruntledSloth · 11/05/2022 07:26

I’ve just googled and seen that Di Donaldson now works in safeguarding for schools for RBKC. I am gobsmacked. She was part of Colin Hall’s campaign of terror against students and their parents.

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doorkeeper · 11/05/2022 09:34

Bloody hell.

(There was one Leadership Team person I thought was a reasonably functional, decent human being, but he left HPS as soon as he could.)

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Stringbean70 · 15/05/2022 17:52

I have kids in the school. Do I regret sending them to HPS? Yes, yes and yes again. Teacher turnover has been horrific throughout their time there: Colin Hall recruited NQTs and burnt through them. Pastoral care zero. Careers advice zero. Very few options choices at A-level. Hardly any extra curricular (clubs are always cancelled) or competitive sport fixtures. A toxic culture of shouting and intimidation (of both students and teachers). The sooner it joins a Multi Academy Trust the better. The problems there are too significant for the school to sort out on its own (and RBKC is hopeless - they turned a blind eye for years).

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pkim123 · 15/05/2022 18:00

Stringbean70 · 15/05/2022 17:52

I have kids in the school. Do I regret sending them to HPS? Yes, yes and yes again. Teacher turnover has been horrific throughout their time there: Colin Hall recruited NQTs and burnt through them. Pastoral care zero. Careers advice zero. Very few options choices at A-level. Hardly any extra curricular (clubs are always cancelled) or competitive sport fixtures. A toxic culture of shouting and intimidation (of both students and teachers). The sooner it joins a Multi Academy Trust the better. The problems there are too significant for the school to sort out on its own (and RBKC is hopeless - they turned a blind eye for years).

@Stringbean70 I'm really sorry for your kids and the others at the school. That must be so stressful for them and you as a parent. Very sorry.

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Stringbean70 · 15/05/2022 18:06

Thank you. Yes, it has been a horrendous experience. Colin Hall has retired but should be struck off by the teaching regulator - just in case he wants to set himself up as a consultant or an interim head in the future. I sincerely hope that happens.

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barbosska · 17/05/2022 23:50

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barbosska · 18/05/2022 00:20

@Dynamicsloth their new site www.hollandparkschoolparents.co.uk

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LifeInsideMyhead · 18/05/2022 08:22

Are there other schools people could move their children to? I am amazed at the poster above defending the school!

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