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“Students in Disorder”: the community is fighting for the capture of the London school | Schools

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Prents and students of one of England’s best schools where children are Michael Gove and former House Speaker John Berkau are students embroiled in a bitter dispute with ministers over plans to transfer the school to one of the country’s largest academy networks.

About 200 students at Holland Park School in West London, once known as “Socialist Ethan”, a local council officer said they were involved in “riot” in the building two weeks ago in protest against his plans to join the United Learning Trust, a network of academies that includes more than 80 private and public schools.

A group of parents called on the Department of Education to reject the offer. Parents’ lawyers sent a letter to the governor about the judicial review, claiming that the consultation was wrong and the wrong governing body, and the election group asked to meet with ministers.

Holland Park School
Holland Park School was once known as “Socialist Ethan”. Photo: Graham Robertson / The Guardian

Melanie Juneau Woolf, convocate Parent team of Holland Park School, said: “Schoolchildren are upset by what is happening. They don’t want ULT or multi-academy trust (Mat). Without a voice, they had to protest. Apart from this great team, there is no anti-terrorist operation or body. “

The group accused the school’s interim governing body of being “detached” and of not filling the parent head vacancies before the decision was made to make ULT the academy’s preferred provider.

A temporary body was set up by the DfE following allegations of poisonous environments, including bullying and humiliation staff and studentsmisleading ofsted and poor protection practices according to recent times the headmaster left, Colin Hall. During the charges, Hall said: “We do not recognize the characteristics of the school or our leadership in the charges.” The Education and Skills Finance Agency has issued Holland Park School with notice to improve last year regarding the school’s financial oversight. The new governors also organized an ongoing independent investigation, a practice led by Hall.

Now, Wolfe says, a large number of parents are angry at the prospect that the school “will become part of a large academic trust that is not part of our local community”.

“There is a complete lack of transparency or involvement of parents and teachers. We were excluded from any discussions. ULT is presented as the only option. “

The government has announced in its schools white paperpublished in March, he wants all schools to be part of multi-academic trusts by 2030. In a move that could set a precedent in how mass academics policy develops, parents insist that Holland Park continue to operate as a separate academy or join forces with and around local authorities. Kensington Aldridge Academy, who had close ties to Grenfell Tower and lost four students during a fire in 2017. Parents argue that the CAA’s proposal to establish a trust with Holland Park was not considered enough by the governors.

Wolfe says parents feel that ministers consider Holland Park “ripe for choice.” “This is our secondary school. We would like to preserve our identity and character, and if we need to join the trust of several academies, it should be based on the local community. ”

Petition Against Target’s capture collected hundreds of signatures and Michael Gow’s ex-wife, a journalist Sarah Vine, took part in the debate when the ULT decision was announced, writing on Twitter: “Why a Peterborough-based company is destined to run a school in West London. How can they have an idea of ​​what is best for our students? ”

The local Tory council, the Royal District of Kensington and Chelsea, has spoken out about the chaotic situation at the school after Hall’s departure. Chief Member of the Children’s Service, Josh Randall, violated the purse of local elections last week to call for an immediate end to the takeover of ULT. And the executive director of the Children’s Service, Sarah Newman, issued Fr. statement criticizing the lack of communication between the school and parents.

“In recent months, there have been many reports of problematic and hooligan behavior by students outside of school,” she said. “Last week a child was injured and a teacher became seriously ill. This week the teacher left the school in tears and more than 200 students were involved in the riots to protest against future plans being built at their school and to express their concerns to the teachers. Now the situation has worsened to such a level that the council requires the immediate intervention of the Department of Education. “

In its white paper, the government hinted that local authorities could now encourage a stronger role in any new academy organizations, so local campaign participants were embarrassed that Kensington Aldridge’s application for the academy was not seen as a good option.

A KAA spokeswoman said she believed her own bid to establish a partnership with Holland Park and the Royal District of Kensington and Chelsea was compelling. “We wanted to look at the historical problems at the school, which we understood well given the number of Holland Park students entering our sixth grade. We also wanted to maintain Holland Park’s leadership and management locally and preserve the school’s distinctive identity. ”

A DfE spokesman said one of the conditions for improving the notice was that the school should consider joining the trust with several academies. “The existing school board of trustees has conducted a thorough process and concluded that the best trust in several academies to support the needs of the school is United Learning,” he said. “They are now conducting a period of engagement with stakeholders, including parents, before a formal proposal is submitted to the department.”

A spokesman for Holland Park’s governing body said the school had extremely serious problems that had arisen many years ago and led to the appointment of a new board of trustees last year. “The trustees have seriously considered all applications before identifying United Learning as the preferred provider as they believe it is a strong expert Matt who will provide the school with the necessary support.

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“We know that some parents disagree. There are also many who are desperate to take action. The priority and guiding principle of governors is to make sure that the school is back to its goals and provides the first-class education that students are entitled to. This is simply impossible to achieve without significant, long overdue changes.

“The final decision on the future of the school will be made by the government. Governors will not make any recommendations until the end of the stakeholder engagement process. This process gives an opportunity to all interested parties to express themselves, regardless of whether they support the proposal or not. “

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