Newsletter 2 - Week starting 3rd April
Updated: May 30, 2022
WELCOME to the second HPSPC Newsletter. We are a collective of parents of children at Holland Park School who want a meaningful and credible engagement in the future of our school at the heart of our community.
It’s been a busy week: interviews for a new headteacher, a Government White Paper, a HPS Parent Collective meeting, parent governor ballots re-launched, our own website going live and the school breaking up for the holidays after a term packed with change and developments. We hope this run down of the latest news keeps you up-to-date and that you can enjoy some rest over the next couple of weeks.
Holland Park School Parents Website goes live
This week saw the launch of our website https://hollandparkschoolparents.co.uk. Here you can find up to date information, read up on background and discover ways to engage. The mobile version is now live. Please spread the word.
Please note: Currently we are sending these newsletters out "manually". It will save us a lot of time and allow us to comply with data protection laws (GDPR), if we do all group communications, like these newsletters, through the website. In order for that to happen, you need to personally sign up to the newsletter on the website. We hope to use the system on the website for future emails so please sign up there if you haven't done so already.
The HPS Parent Collective meets
On Thursday we held our second meeting of the Parent Collective at Notting Hill Community Church. We heard passionate arguments from the perspectives of students, staff, teachers and parents, all those deeply invested in this decision. There were testimonies from a representative of parents at a United Learning School (The John Roan School), a current student at HPS, alongside speakers from the National Education Union and the GMB staff union. Speakers urged us to keep the long-term consequences of this irreversible decision in mind, to maintain the energy to show our community cares, to keep on raising our voices and seeking meaningful engagement. We are pleased to see that our HPSPC support network is growing quickly a month into our formation.
Further details and testimonies from the meeting will be on our website this week.
We also launched a new HPSPC petition at the meeting: A vote of no confidence in Holland Park School Governing Body. Please sign and share widely.
BOARD OF GOVERNOR NEWS:
Limited stakeholder engagement
On Friday parents received the final outline of plans for the stakeholder consultation process which will apparently last six weeks from the start of the Summer term. This consists of an opportunity to visit the school (26 April) and an online meeting (9 May) as well as continuing to express views to Jane Farrell at email@example.com.
We have consistently asked for meaningful and extensive consultation in this process and for a fair and transparent review of options and opinions before the final decision to recommend ULT or any other option to the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), who makes a final decision.
It is not yet clear how the ‘results’ of the engagement will be made visible and when or how a comprehensive report will be written for the RSC. In the meantime, the RSC has also said she and her Advisory Board encourage views from the stakeholders and the community, you can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lack of information
Friday marked the official twenty-day deadline for responding to our request to the Board of Governors for the Minutes of critical meetings and more information about the decision-making process from the Notice to Improve in November 2021 to the recommendation of ULT in March. We are still waiting and will be seeking to access this information urgently and lodging a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Parent Governor elections
Following the confused launch of parent governor ballots (when Melanie Juno Wolfe’s name was left off the ballot list leaving an HPSPC candidate out of a level playing field) the process was quietly restarted on Sunday evening 27 March - you may have missed the email. If you voted before Sunday you need to vote again for your vote to be counted (using the original link sent by email on Friday 25 March).
Collective members standing for parent governor positions are Sam Cockroft (Hesketh), Melanie Juno Wolfe, Elizabeth McKay and Gaelle Deschamps. This week also saw the resignation of (pre-September 2021) governor Catherine Blackler, who had been considered the ‘local connection’. Yasser el Gabry’s term has been extended to 31 August - note he is a parent at the school but not an elected parent governor.
Coming soon: see the website for more background on school governors.
Headteacher interviews and legal notice
The interview process for a new headteacher took place after a two-week application window and a longlisting of candidates by the governors. Five longlisted candidates were present for an all-day interviewing event on Tuesday involving students, staff and parents (who were contacted directly by the school to be asked to take part the day before); candidates were then shortlisted by the governors and called for final interviews with the governors on Thursday.
We have serious reservations about the credibility of the recruitment exercise, including the lack of parental governor representation in the shortlisting process and final interviews. The appointment of an excellent new Headteacher is critical for the future of our school and there is a sense that the focus on moving the school into the United Learning multi-academy trust has taken precedence over this recruitment process. On Friday we gave notice to the governors of our concerns about the way the process has been managed, please see attached letter.
Education White Paper
The week began with the launch of the Government’s White Paper, beginning the Parliamentary process for examining, enacting and implementing current education policy. The dual-focus is on the role of schools in wider ‘levelling-up’ ambitions alongside changing the structure of school governance and oversight to recommend all schools join an MAT by 2030.
Coming soon: We will be writing a website blog on the key elements of the White Paper that relate to current events at HPS.
The National Education Union (NEU) argues that there is no compelling reason for a school to join a MAT; that there is no evidence to support the pressure currently being put on our Board of Governors from the Department for Education (DfE). In analysis the NEU has already questioned the selective use of statistics by the DfE in supporting the case for a fully trust-led education system, including the misleading comparison between MATs and local-authority-led schools, and the government’s approach that changing school systems will transform outcomes, ignoring the wider context such as investment and class sizes. Kevin Courtney, joint-General Secretary of the NEU says “the government’s document is a con job and you should not be conned. The DfE has not provided any real evidence that being in a MAT helps schools succeed. The NEU has done its own analysis which gives a whole other perspective.” You can see that analysis here.
In support of HPSPC
At the meeting on Thursday we heard the strong arguments from RBKC councillors against the recommendation that Holland Park School joins United Learning Trust. You can read the words of Robert Atkinson on why this process should be stopped and of Josh Rendall on the credibility of early decision making at the end of this Newsletter. On Friday local MP Felicity Buchan met the Regional Schools Commissioner Dame Kate Dethridge and wrote to her in support of our case, see the letter attached.
In the media
The future of HPS featured in Private Eye this week (see attachment or ‘In the News’ on our website).
What you can do
Sign up to our newsletter via our website. Write to us at email@example.com with your views and ideas. Donate money to our legal action fund. Get involved - we are an open collective speaking up for the interests of HPS pupils, parents and staff and we need you to get involved!
Continue to write letters to: the Chair of Governors Jane Farrell firstname.lastname@example.org, the Regional Schools Commissioner Dame Kate Dethridge email@example.com, Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Warwick Sharp firstname.lastname@example.org on the Notice to Improve; Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi via the DfE; local MP Felicity Buchan - or whoever your local MP is; Amanda Spielman, Chair of OfSted email@example.com you can cc. firstname.lastname@example.org and if you have any letters or responses you would like to add to our database please email them to email@example.com.
Templates for letters will be coming soon to our website.
Stop the Matness activity continues on Twitter follow us here or on Instagram @StoptheMATness. Links top right of this website.
Until the next instalment, the very best from all of us for the school holidays.