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  • Holland Park School Parent Collective

Ethics Expected of Our HPS Governors

Updated: May 24, 2022

The government Committee on Standards in Public Life has published these seven principles of public life on their website. They are the basis of the ethical standards expected of any public office holders, and thus the ethical standards the individuals on the Board of Governors at Holland Park School are expected to meet in the execution of their duties.

Please note that the governors of Holland Park School have not followed these principles in the execution of their duties during the 2021/22 school year.

1. The Seven Principles of Public Life

The Seven Principles of Public Life (also known as the Nolan Principles) apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder. This includes all those who are elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally, and all people appointed to work in the Civil Service, local government, the police, courts and probation services, non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), and in the health, education, social and care services. All public office-holders are both servants of the public and stewards of public resources. The principles also apply to all those in other sectors delivering public services.

1.1 Selflessness

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

The key point here is "public interest", that is anything affecting the rights, welfare or wellbeing of the general public. It should be noted that in our case there can be a difference in opinion as to what is in the public interest. Our governors appear to believe they are acting in our school's best interest.

This ethical standard on behalf of the governors is a FAIL because they are acting like messiahs in their attempt to "save" our school, without actually asking us if we want saving in that way. They have not respected us enough to consider what we deem to be in our interest.

1.2 Integrity

Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

We are deeply concerned about the significant connections between Sir Jon Coles of United Learning, our interim head teacher and our board of governors. How can their assessments be impartial with this level of overlap? Please see our blog on Who is Who on the HPS Board of Governors.

This ethical standard on behalf of the governors seems like a FAIL to us.

1.3 Objectivity

Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

This Conservative government has given themselves a target of getting every state school into a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) by 2030. (There are various articles about this online, if you need to verify that fact we recommend you do a search.) Through various conversations with governors, we understand that the new governing board were appointed by the Department of Education (DfE) with the remit to get Holland Park School into a MAT. Is this then being objective in terms of looking at various options of ways to help HPS move forward? It is not. They have arrived with a singular plan that is not an objective solution.

This ethical standard on behalf of the governors is a FAIL.

1.4 Accountability

Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

The governors must make decisions openly and transparently so that their choices can be scrutinised without fear on their part. The whole process of deciding to transfer HPS into a MAT, and then choosing which MAT has been hidden from us, the public, whose interest in this matter is key given we are the HPS stakeholders. Furthermore, the governors are finding numerous ways to avoid sharing the minutes of their meetings since the 7th February 2022. What are they afraid of?

Added to this is that we have received a number of letters from the Chair of Governors blaming teachers and then their union for the strikes, when the strikes were going ahead because they refused to genuinely listen to the teachers, and sit down with the union for an proper discussion. This is the governors not taking responsibility.

This ethical standard on behalf of the governors is a FAIL.

1.5 Openness

Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

The HPS governors have

  • made decisions behind closed doors,

  • provided us with redacted minutes of their meetings or are finding excuses to avoid giving us some minutes,

  • sent letters to parents that don't tell the truth and blame others for things the governors are actually responsible for e.g. they refused to engage with the National Education Union, and then blamed them for striking,

  • refusing to allow any communications to the parent database from anyone other than the governors (or leadership team but only with the governors okay) so we are kept in the dark about teachers' and knowledgeable parents' opinions,

Furthermore, the chair did not pass onto the other governors the letters she was receiving from parents very unhappy at the lack of consultation over the MAT, so that when we raised our concerns with another governor they asked us what we were talking about - they had no idea how unhappy parents were and had not seen our letters.

This ethical standard on behalf of the governors, pre David Laws, Louisa Mitchell and Ed Vainker, is an epic FAIL.

1.6 Honesty

Holders of public office should be truthful.

Not telling the whole truth is the equivalent of lying, and given the letters from Jane Farrell concerning this process there is a significant absence of information, for instance, taking responsibility for the results their actions, lack of consultation and lack of transparency. The governors have also not been honest about the links between them all and United Learning CEO, Sir Jon Coles, who was also employed at the DfE for fifteen years. It may not be the case, but given their lack of honesty, how can we now be certain it is not a case of giving our school to their good buddy, Jon?

This ethical standard on behalf of the governors, pre David Laws, Louisa Mitchell and Ed Vainker, is another epic FAIL.

1.7 Leadership

Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Leaders should actively support these principles - ethical standards - and challenge poor behaviour whenever it occurs, and they should treat others with respect. You can just read the points we've made above to know that the governors have failed at almost every point and thus receive a FAIL in terms of their leadership too.

Treating others with respect generally means to show them courteous consideration regardless of whether you agree with them or not - words and tone we use plus body language all indicate our level of respect. When we respect someone we value their opinion, even if we disagree with it, and we tend to listen to them more attentively. What have the governors done in how they've treated the teachers, students and parents? They have not respected our opinions, they have not taken the time to hear us properly and really understand our concerns and desires. They have blamed teachers for the strikes. None of this is treating us with respect. Epic FAIL.

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