Newsletter 3 - Week starting 21st April
Updated: May 30
Welcome to the third Newsletter of the HPS Parents Collective - returning to school after the Easter break determined to challenge the decisions being made for the future of our school and our childrens' education.
As you’ll see, many in the Parents Collective were working hard over the holidays, and with news of a headteacher appointment, Ofsted visiting the school yesterday and today, and significant legal developments on our behalf, the next few days will be critical to support the school, get involved and get your voice heard. More news as we get it, do keep in touch here or check out the website. Thank you for being part of the HPS Parents Collective. NEWS: Ofsted Inspection currently underway Weds-Thursday this week. Ofsted Inspectors are visiting the school today (and yesterday). The government has recently announced that all Ofsted-rated Outstanding schools will be inspected by 2025. HPS was last fully inspected in 2014. The report is usually issued to the Board of Governors within 30 working days (6 June including half-term), and final reports are usually published on the Ofsted website within 38 working days of the inspection.
You can contact the inspectors with your comments within the next two days at (admin) Niall.Wilkinson2@ofsted.gov.uk or
(lead inspector) David.Radomsky@ofsted.gov.uk Parents, including from HPSPC, spoke to an Ofsted Inspector at school this morning. They emphasised how recent events and the actions/performance of the Board of Governors have undermined the stability of the School, criticised the undermining of teachers and senior leadership, spoke of the excellence of teaching and experience where relevant and spoke up in support of our community and many of the concerns raised by parents in the Collective. Legal team update: Pre-Action letter from the HPS Parent Collective sent to Chair of Governors Jane Farrell on 11 April 2022.
Under the advice of counsel from Matrix Chambers (David Wolfe QC and Sarah Sackman, who spoke at the recent meeting of the Parents’ Collective on 31 March), the Parents’ Collective has issued a letter to the governing body in accordance with the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol.
The letter raises several concerns about the ‘stakeholder engagement’ process, the composition of the governing body of HPS, which undertook to recommend the school be subsumed by a MAT and to join United Learning multi-academy trust, and the appointment process for a substantive headteacher.
Among other things, we asked that the process to appoint a new Headteacher be halted until question marks over the composition of the governing body are resolved. Since the governing body has now announced the appointment of a new Head - and we have received a letter confirming that they stand by the decisions made so far - we are preparing to commence judicial review proceedings.
Ultimately we all hope that this does not go to full litigation but we believe that we have to pursue this strategy for now in order to hopefully achieve an acceptable outcome for stakeholders. In order to move forward we need to raise significant funds fast. Time is tight: what can you do?
2. Send your comments to Ofsted (see contact details above).
3. Vote for two parent governors - VOTING CLOSES BY 5pm MONDAY 25 APRIL - make sure all parents/carers have a vote (email firstname.lastname@example.org if not). More info below
4. Sign the petition ‘Vote of no confidence in the HPS Governing Body’
5. The local elections take place on Thursday 5 May. Speak to candidates on your doorstep or in the community. Tell them what’s happening and give your views to Conservative candidates in RBKC by completing this form.*** Parent Governor voting
Each parent/carer eligible to vote should have had a unique ID sent by the school (Sarah Pitchford) by email - view the relevant form here IF YOU HAVEN’T RECEIVED A UNIQUE ID BY EMAIL YOU CAN VOTE IN PERSON AT THE SCHOOL (call first 02079081000)
The list of candidates includes 11 people with brief background here. Parents who are the members of the collective: • Sam Cockroft (Hesketh) • Gaelle Deschamps • Elizabeth McKay • Melanie Juno Wolfe
The election is open until 5pm on Monday 25 April 2022 - please use your vote. Stakeholder engagement and lack of transparency: LATEST
On the eve of the school holidays the Board of Governors announced a stakeholder engagement website.
HPSPC have significant concerns over
the nature and framing of questions in the questionnaire,
the conflation of different issues into one question;
the lack of ability to comment directly on some questions or add context.
The stakeholder engagement programme itself is limited in terms of the available in-person events, which are dominated by United Learning.
There are further flaws across information provided on the website, including
unsubstantiated assertions or contestable assumptions (e.g. in notes on stakeholder meetings),
a lack of balance in approach (such as no details of alternatives to joining a large, non-local MAT) and
portrayals of HPS as a failing rather than nationally academically outstanding school.
We’d like to know what you think about the engagement process - let us know at email@example.com. The Chair of Governors has now confirmed that the only in-person ‘consultation’ event will be run at school by United Learning and their letter to parents yesterday explicitly states that as no governors will be present there will be no opportunity to ask questions about the process of choosing a MAT or what MAT that should be. The meeting will be on Tuesday 26 April at 6pm and you can sign up here. *** Astonishingly, but in keeping with the tightly controlled and opaque process so far, this means that there has been no opportunity for parents to meet with governors separately from UL throughout the 'consultation'; that a meeting organised with two days’ notice on 17 March will be the only in-person event with school governors present, the only event where questions are not mediated (e.g. through Zoom platform) and where all parents can be in the room together hearing a variety of views on and interrogating the process itself, rather than being presented with the fait accompli of United Learning MAT’s future plans for running HPS.
See the end of this newsletter for contact details of who you can email to raise concerns about the nature of the consultation and decision-making process. And Finally: Nadhim Zahari MP confirms MATs are the direction of travel
Appearing before the Education Select Committee on Wednesday 20 April, the Secretary of State for Education emphasised that every school in England should be ‘on a journey’ to join a MAT by 2030 (as set out in the Schools White Paper ‘Opportunity for All’ last month). He spoke with enthusiasm about ‘high-performing multi-academy trusts’, defined by financial strength, rigour and “the ability to deliver a great education for children” (although no details were given about what these terms meant), while rebutting questions about the lack of inspection or local accountability at Trust level and the pay of the senior executives leading large MATs. Zahawi also said he was “very open-minded” to successful local councils establishing their own ‘families of schools’ and how they will operate on the ground “if they think they can do it well and there is no conflict of interest” which raises interesting questions about the rejection of alternatives, and particularly a local partnership with KAA by the governing board, as highlighted in the legal letter above. Main takeaways: government policy is firmly set on structural change to the way schools are organised (simplifying the system of single academy trusts, local authority, church schools etc) as the solution to various issues in education including low-performance of schools, funding, curriculum, ‘levelling up’ and attendance - although there is little clear evidence to back up this policy. Once all schools are part of a multi-academy trust, according to Zahawi, the Department for Education “will have done something truly great for our country.”
Within this approach, though, there are many alternative interpretations and questions, including: what does ‘success’ constitute? How ‘local’ should MATs be and are giant MATs being prioritised? How should MATs be overseen, and by whom? What is the role of local councils? How can parents, teachers and students have a say? WHO TO CONTACT: Continue to write letters to: the Chair of Governors Jane Farrell firstname.lastname@example.org
Copying in/or writing directly to:
the Regional Schools Commissioner Dame Kate Dethridge email@example.com,
Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Warwick Sharp firstname.lastname@example.org
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi via the DfE (Department for Education)
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 this address. Follow us @StopTheMATness on Twitter and Instagram. Links at the top of the website on the right. Please comment and share our posts as much as possible so we can continue to raise our visibility. You can catch up with previous newsletters here on the website by scrolling through our blogs.