Save Our School
We are fighting for transparency, consultation and meaningful engagement
This is the current campaign that the Holland Park School Parent Collective are actively pursuing on an urgent basis.
Right now, decisions are being made about the future of our school and our childrens’ future.
Despite numerous attempts to engage with the new Board of Governors parents have been denied meaningful dialogue regarding our school joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).
We strongly oppose the Governors’ recommendation that we become part of the United Learning Trust.
We agree with former National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, that “You cannot have a credible vision that talks about supporting and developing school communities if you do not give them a voice.”
There has been no voice and no choice for current and future parents and pupils of Holland Park School.
Why We Formed This Collective
The Holland Park School Parent Collective formed on 1 March 2022 following an open meeting called urgently to raise awareness of an imminent decision by the Governors to recommend moving the school into a large multi-academy trust (MAT).
Since then we have had to investigate, research, protest at the school gates and gather whatever information we can, to appeal to the Chair of Governors to call for openness and meaningful engagement with parents, children, staff, teachers and the community in the decision to join a MAT and what sort of MAT that should be.
We have many concerns driven by a lack of transparency, very limited communication and no consultation throughout this process. For example, we don’t know what information and criteria shaped initial decision-making, who was involved, what options were available and excluded and why the option of a local partnership was excluded early on.
The parents of HPSPC (Holland Park School Parent Collective) recognise that there are outstanding issues and experiences that need to be openly addressed and acknowledged. We as a parent collective fully support the understanding of these issues and the legitimate investigation of past experiences and a healing outcome for all.
Now the governing body have gone ahead and made the decision that our school will be joining a MAT and that MAT will be United Learning Trust, the largest MAT in England, which runs 89 schools with only a handful in London and none in our borough. This will be a major legal, financial, structural and cultural change for our school; an irreversible decision.
We do not believe that this outcome is objective, nor an appropriate response to wider concerns about historic complaints and we question its necessity in addressing governance and financial issues raised in the Notice to Improve.
We are supported by the local council RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea), Felicity Buchan MP (Member of Parliament) and the RBKC's Emma Dent Coad & Kaasim Ali, who agree that to have people who do not understand us, our history, who we are, what we are, or what we stand for, decide on the future of our children for generations to come, without transparency or a genuine exchanges of ideas is heartbreaking.
Holland Park School (HPS) was previously rated "Outstanding" by Ofsted, with results at GCSE level that regularly place it in the top 5% nationally, and a strong ethos and place within the local community.
Now with the actions of the Governing Board destabilising the school and creating enormous fear and uncertainty among the students, teachers and other school staff, the recent visit by Ofsted inspectors will have given them a completely incorrect perception of the school's ability to meet that Outstanding status.
We strongly oppose the recommendation that we become part of United Learning Trust. We want workable answers and the brightest future possible for our children. Please see the Student Voices page on this website or their Instagram account about why they don't want United Learning.
When we began this collective we had the following questions:
How and when will the findings of the independent investigation be released?
Who will be involved in the appointment of the new headteacher?
Whether the existing Chair and Board of Governors will still be in place in September?
When will parent governors be appointed?
How much of the Notice to Improve has been resolved and how will joining a large Trust address these specific issues?
What shape will the consultation take, and what sort of say will students, staff, teachers and parents have in the outcome, or will this be a managed, selective process?
The status now is that
The independent investigation has now been released. The selection of the investigator and the follow-up actions by the board are questionable.
The GB have appointed Steven Parsons as head teacher, ignoring the feedback from students, teachers and parents during the head teacher interviews.
The existing GB/BoG will be dissolved when United Learning take over and they will put their own BoG in place, which may not include parent governors.
The parent governors have been elected and as of 24th May they are both finally officially part of the BoG, but were invited to no meetings until the 6th June; the minutes requested have either been heavily redacted or not been provided contrary to the HPS Articles of Association.
We still don't know how much of the NtI has been resolved or how joining a large MAT will address these specific issues.
Students, staff, teachers and parents have had no say about the outcome of any of this to date. The process has clearly been managed and selective to date.
Seeking a Solution That Works
We know there are different views within the school and parent collective. We believe it makes for a healthy democracy. The HPSPC was formed with the clear aims of holding the governing body accountable, to stop United Learning taking us over, keep our school local and put our kids first.
It is not the fault of the parents, school or students that the governing board has failed us all. We are the community of parents fighting back on behalf of our children, their teachers and other school staff. We want a solution here - in our community of RBKC - that is accountable to us.
We understand that there are problems in the school, significantly exacerbated recently by the actions of the governing board, and as much as some may consider United Learning a solution, it is not. It may be tempting for those who want a fast and immediate resolution to current issues, but longer term it will be a disaster for our children, our school and our community. We will lose our autonomy, any chance of being heard, and there is no coming back once we are absorbed into their company.
Please see the Why United Learning is WRONG for HPS article here.
We are not against a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), however, we are against being absorbed into United Learning. We are seeking a local solution with local schools, and RBKC support.
Please HELP us & Sign This!
As parents our current focus is our concern around how the HPS Governing Body has unilaterally decided to put our school in a Multi-Academy Trust, specifically United Learning Trust. Once we join a MAT the school will loose its status as a legal entity (thus losing autonomy), parents and the community will have even less of a voice, and the decision will be irreversible. We believe this process is being rushed and lacks transparency. We need to ACT TOGETHER to stop it now!! #StopTheMATness
The Governing Body at Holland Park School (HPS) has decided that the school should join the Multi-Academy Trust, United Learning, despite there having been NO consultation and NO transparency.
This petition is a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in the Holland Park School Governing Body.
1. There is NO obligation for HPS to join a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).
There has been NO transparency in the process of selecting a MAT for HPS to join. Parents, students, staff and the community HPS serves have been completely left out of this process.
To date there has been NO consultation with any stakeholders, such as parents, students and staff, regarding whether HPS should join at MAT, and if so which MAT.
There are serious concerns as to the MAT chosen by the Governing Body - United Learning Trust (ULT) - as an employer and their approaches to education.
There are other serious options that have not been considered.
There are NO Parent Governors on the HPS board.
The VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in the Governing Body of HPS will be withdrawn if they halt the process of handing HPS to ULT and agree to full, transparent and proper consultation with all stakeholders.
I've signed this petition because...
“...Major decisions are being made without any real attempt to collaborate with teachers, students or parents... we have no parent governors... Decisions are made without sharing of timelines or details of the process... Requests for information formally and informally remain unanswered. This Governing Board appear biased, devious and incompetent."
If you are in a position to help us with our legal fees
Ultimately we all hope that our current concerns do not go to full litigation, but the letters from the local council, our local MP, parents, students, teachers and staff unions to the school governors (headed by a Dept for Education appointee), Regional Schools Commissioner and Secretary of State for Education appear to be falling on deaf ears. They have a predetermined agenda and nothing is stopping them.
For this reason we have no recourse but to pursue our concerns through the legal system. All we want is for the governors to pause their current process of moving Holland Park School into the United Learning Multi-Academy Trust. We just want transparency and meaningful consultation with all those affected.
Pre-Legal Action Letter to BoG
You can see the associated Press Release here.
Please note we are almost ready to activate the Judicial Review.
Parents pre-legal action letter to Holland Park School Board of Governors 11 Apr 2022
Parents pre-legal action letter to Holland Park School Board of Governors 11 Apr 2022
PRESS RELEASE - 13 APRIL 2022
Governing Body Acting Unlawfully
Parents threaten judicial review
PRESS RELEASE: Holland Park Governors are Stealing Our School – this is Daylight Robbery!
Parents and carers from the Holland Park School have discovered the Governing Body is acting unlawfully and threaten to issue governors with a judicial review.
The Holland Park School Parent Collective (HPSPC) was formed on 1 March to give parents, teachers, staff, students and all community stakeholders a voice and to hold the governing body to account. The governing body has decided without any consultation or transparency that Holland Park School should join a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and have, again without consultation or transparency, decided the only MAT to be considered is United Learning (UL).
Parents have been concerned that the issues at the school – past and present – are due to poor governance. Parents and students have protested outside the school gates, written letters, hosted meetings in the community and launched a website and social media channels to ask for a proper consultation about the future of the school. After being stonewalled and ignored, parents sought legal advice from David Wolfe QC and Sarah Sackman at Matrix Chambers who have advised that the actions of the Governing Body are legally flawed and the Governing Body have been acting illegally.
Parents are vindicated in their beliefs that the Governing Body has been acting unlawfully on two accounts. The alleged ‘stakeholder engagement’ process is not a proper consultation as the decision has already been made to join the United Learning Multi Academy Trust (MAT). The Governing Body have been acting illegally because it has not been properly constituted and the external Governors have not been appointed within the Governing Body’s legal powers.
Parents have requested a proper consultation with parents, teachers, staff, students, and other stakeholders in the community. They want Holland Park School to remain a successful local state school rooted in its community and not a large academic trust. One of the options dismissed by the Governors was to become part of a local MAT joining with Kensington Aldridge Academy (another local highly successful, outstanding school) which is the option proposed by the local council RBKC.
Parents are concerned that if the school is absorbed by United Learning, it will lose its distinct character, autonomy and ties to local community. Holland Park School sits at the top of Ladbroke Grove in North West London in a community greatly affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy nearly five years ago.
Parents have given the Governing Body until 26 April to start a proper consultation and have offered to sit round a table and work out a way forward.
Comments from the Holland Park School community:
Melanie Juno Wolfe, local mum and Founder of North Kensington Community Kitchen says:
“Why is the governing body trying to take Holland Park School off us when we are asking for the option to stay within our local community and share our assets directly within our community? Do not forcibly take our school from us without transparency or meaningful consultation. This is a simple fix - come to the table, listen and consult, as we would expect for such a momentous decision. What is your hurry?”
Mahejabeen Aspinall, local mum and member of the Holland Park School Parents Collective says:
“The failure of governance is shocking. The governing body are making irreversible decisions about the future of our school and pretending their engagement process is a consultation. The governors have created this stressful situation. Now that we’ve engaged specialist counsel, we know the governors are acting illegally.”
A teacher at Holland Park school says:
“I’m in a very difficult position where I do worry about the consequences of expressing an opinion about this. I would say though, that 80 members of staff boycotting a meeting with United Learning probably tells you all you need to know about how we feel this process has been handled”.
Ines, 18, peer elected Chair of the student leadership team, says:
“Students will continue to stand united in the best interest of our community, an interest which we feel governors have dismissed in their inability to show any signs of transparency or engagement with the school and its students”.
Ajani, 16, current student says:
“We are told by the Governing Body that Students have been consulted. We have not. We are told the school needs to connect with North Kensington. I am North Kensington; my school friends are North Kensington. We are told more engagement is needed with the Grenfell community. My friends and I are the Grenfell community. My Aunt’s best friend passed away in the tower on the 14th of June 2017.
“I am worried about my school’s future. I am worried about my future. My friends and I have had so many challenges in our young lives. I love my school. Please don’t let us down. Please don’t let our school be part of a big MAT.”
Parents ask to have a say in the future of our school and for the voices of our community to be properly heard. Parents have lost all confidence in the governing body and have launched a petition inviting all stakeholders to support a vote of no confidence:
For more information please contact HPSPC: email@example.com, tel 07798623923
Background and notes to editors:
Holland Park School is an Ofsted-rated Outstanding non-selective community school with a diverse student body in the heart of Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove. The school is an important community asset and the Governing Body has decided it should be absorbed by United Learning, the country’s largest Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).
The Holland Park School Parent Collective (HPSPC) was formed to ensure a decision was not taken without a proper consultation with parents, staff and other stakeholders. There are currently no elected parent governors on the Governing Body and decisions are being made by recently appointed external Governors who have never lived in the local community.
Many parents fear that transfer of power to a large, non-local trust will mean their school is run by executives with no real understanding of the needs the local community and their children.
Parents believe Holland Park School is being presented as something it is not in order to promote a misinformed ‘view’ of our school. It is a community school that services local children of all demographics. 53 languages are spoken throughout the body of the school. We are a hugely diverse school with very specific needs. We lost a student to the Grenfell Tower fire in a horrific manner and have more students from Grenfell who are either at HPS, have recently left or are waiting to join intakes.
RBKC supports the Holland Park School Parent Collective and urges the governing body to pause the current illegal process and properly engage with parents, teachers, staff, students and the community.
Legal advice to parents includes: "Any decisions and any steps to subsume Holland Park School into a Multi-Academy Trust with United Learning will be unlawful unless the current process is halted. We are raising these concerns at this stage in order to afford the governing body the chance to pause, reflect, and restart the process of considering whether to subsume the school into a MAT at all and whether to do so with United Learning in a lawful manner and thereby avoid the risk of a Judicial Review claim."
13 April 2022
The first Judicial Review was issued in conjunction with the NEU (National Education Union), who issued the following press released about it.
The second judicial review will be issued following this Pre-Action Letter to Ofsted, summarised in this tweet by Save Holland Park School.