Study finds school has failed vulnerable children and misled Ofsted | schools

An independent investigation into allegations of misconduct at a leading London state school – including protection of infringements, discrimination, bullying and favoritism – found that each complaint was made “on the basis of probability”.

More than 100 former students and staff at the Holland Park school in west London submitted evidence to the investigation, which also considered allegations that Ofsted had been misled by senior leaders and that there was “overt sexism, Islamophobia and racism” at work. school.

On the security front, the investigation found that the school had failed to support students who were victims of peer sexual abuse, there were inappropriate responses to the case of a teacher who was found to have been involved with a student, and that there was “exploitation” within some student-teacher relationships.

There was a culture of fear, favoritism and inequality, according to a summary of the 554-page report, publicly humiliating staff and students. Some of those who provided evidence for the study are still traumatized by their experiences.

On Ofsted, the report said some staff questionnaires related to a January 2020 inspection had been destroyed, while certain students were taken off the premises or banned from attending school during the inspection.

Parents with children currently at the school include the Secretary of State for Grading, Michael Gove, and former Commons Chairman John Bercow.

The complaints relate to events dating back to 2004, when the school was under the control of local government, Kensington and Chelsea, to September 2013, when it became a single academy, and to December 2021.

Former school principal Colin Hall, who left last September, said as the allegations surfaced: “We do not recognize the characterization of the school or our leadership in the allegations.”

A statement issued Wednesday by the board of governors, which accompanied the summary of the report, said: “The investigator’s opinion, based on extensive and corroborating evidence provided during interviews, is that in all likelihood any complaint appears to be have happened .

“These include bullying, favoritism and public humiliation of staff and students, serious security flaws, questionable spending, misleading Ofsted, and vulnerable and key children not being accommodated in the school during Covid-19 lockdowns. against government guidelines.”

The statement said the board, which was recently reconstituted, “deeply regrets” that the investigation — conducted by independent investigator Jessica Joels of B3sixty, who specializes in workplace investigations — concluded that these events happened.

“We take the findings very seriously. As a result of this and after much deliberation, the administrators intend to refer once to the Education Regulations Department and start a disciplinary investigation into three staff members. All will be given every opportunity to comment before a conclusion is drawn.”

Former student Zahra Enver, 20, who was among those to write an open letter helping to kick-start the investigation, welcomed the report. “We are so grateful and proud of everyone who came forward and hope this summary report can provide them with some healing.”

Former teachers Elizabeth Holland and Lara Agnew added: “All of the teachers who came forward to submit evidence for this study have shown extraordinary courage and taken a significant risk in doing so.”

The Ministry of Education previously notified the school in November 2021 to improve, highlighting financial mismanagement and “the excessive salaries of leaders and failure to seek prior government approval for ‘new and controversial ‘ expenses”.

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