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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Saturday, 14 December 2013

HOLLAND PARK ACADEMY TO NO LONGER FAVOUR LOCAL CHILDREN

A SCHOOL BULLY
Holland Park Academy headmaster, Colin Hall, does not like local residents...those people conned into spending £90 million on his ego trip. 
Having nearly succeeded in bullying the Council into dropping the the Planning Condition allowing residents to use the swimming pool and other facilities, he pushes it a bit further...
The Dame has been given sight of this extraordinary internal school discussion document
In it, one sees Hall is planning to change the admission criteria. 
Royal Borough children, whose parents stumped up for the school, will no longer have admission priority. 
And..... to add insult to injury, he plans to give entry priority to the children of staff...whether they come from within or without the Borough.....
Hall really seems to have a visceral dislike of the local taxpayers forced to overspend, by nearly £40 million, on his white elephant in the park.

40 comments:

  1. It's time Colin Hall be put firmly in his place and told rules are not just for his pupils but him too

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    1. It is high time that the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons looks into the whole Holland Park School saga. A gross abuse of office and a scandalous waste of tax payers money. And all of it for personal gain. Disgraced ex Leader Cllr Cockell wanted to get noticed so that he could make a claim for a place in the House of Lords. With access to tax payers money he bullied fellow councillors and Officers to spend £100 million to rebuild a school whose fabric was judged by the School Inspectors to be in the top quartile of British Schools. And Cockell disregarded the public benchmark to spend no more than £30 million on a new school. Little runt Hall saw his opportunity to get a spanking new school beyond his wildest dreams and the schemer went along with the ruse with the clear intention of pursuing Academy status as soon as the tax payers money had been spent. He agreed to all the conditions imposed by the Council to get his way and now we see that he had absolutely no intention of doing the honourable thing and delivering on his promises.

      A murky and mucky episode in the history of the Rotten Borough

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    2. Allowing Holland Park to subsequently become an Academy was probably part of the plan all along.

      The Council appears to be suffering from a perfect example of mental dissonance - an overt and occasionally distasteful sense of pride and achievement that schools run by the Council perform well alongside an ideological desire that schools should not be run by the Council at all.

      We can all look forward to the borough's first waste of space and money - a free school. There can't be one too far away.

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    3. £100 million for a seat in the House of Lords? Bargain!

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    4. Problem is: £100 million (over)spent. But no seat in the House of Lords ...

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    5. You forgot the sale of school land that meant the school was actually "free" (at least if you're trying hard to live up to you hair colour).

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  2. This episode demonstrates the folly of Academies and Free Schools. It is completely ludricous for local authorities to fund such schools when they are effectively then able to ignore the local authority's education policy and do whatever the hell they like.

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  3. The intention of permitting teachers' children to attend is so that Hall and Chappell can have complete control over the parents under pain of removing their kids from the School and disrupting their education. Utterly disgraceful.

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    1. Surely no teacher in their right mind would send their children to this school under these circumstances?

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    2. You think that teachers at holland park school have children? Don't be ridiculous - they don't have the time.

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  4. Labour Councillors have exposed the scandal that the Architects who rebuilt Holland Park School built an identical school in Belgium for half the cost.

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    1. For which we should be grateful.

      The sad truth is that the Conservative administration are profligate. And profligate in the most unbecoming way - spending unwisely on baubles to boost the egos of those running the show.

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  5. re 'Fly's' comment above, this may be an unfair comparison, but worth considering for the extraordinary discrepancy in cost; calculations approximate.

    http://www.bdonline.co.uk/5047242.article?origin=BDweeklydigest
    Here are some stats based on ‘best possible scenario’, surprising nonetheless:
    - According to the above article in Building Design, a 'normal' rate for building a school is cc£1,465/sqm
    - As stated in the above article, AEDAS (who designed HPS) designed a school in Belgium to Passivhaus standards, at a rate of £1,260/sqm
    - According to the planning application, HPS is 'no more than 15,000sqm'
    - Now, if you divide £80m by 15,000sqm, you get .... £5,300/sqm.
    - So, school by Aedas in RBKC £80m
    - at a 'normal' rate as defined by Aedas, this could have cost £22m
    But if you take the Passivhaus rate stated by Aedas, and apply to the size of HPS, it could have cost ... £18.9m.

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    1. So Holland Park cost at least 3.6 times what it should have. How on earth can anyone at the Council justify that with a straight face? It smacks of gross mismanagement or fraud. Someone must be held accountable.

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    2. Money was clearly no object. Not only did they massively overspend on the building but they proceed to outfit the school with ridiculously expensive furniture that belongs in a gallery, windows that drive everyone batty by opening and closing repeatedly by themselves, and banned the kids from drinking in class lest they drop some water. There must be some doubt as to whether those in charge of the project truly appreciated the fact that they were supposed to be building a school and not a piece of architectural pornography.

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    3. And don't forget that the Council (ie. us) is also part funding Hall's Anthony Gormley vanity sculpture. And we then paid for the engineering study of where and how to hang it - and then we had to pay again because Gormley decided to make the sculpture bigger so the engineering had to be revisited!

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    4. This is quite unbelievable. It might be considered amusing were it not for the fact that local taxpayers are footing the bill. This school has clearly been the recipient of far too much public money. This latest tale of the farce that is this sculpture can't leave much doubt in anyone's mind. Does no one at the Council feel inclined to question any of it?

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    5. What the hell is a state secondary school doing with an Anthony Gormley sculpture? Can there be any greater sign that both the school and Council have quite simply lost the plot?

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  6. The website linked to in the article seems to suggest that these changes to the admissions policy have the approval of the Board of Governors. Is this true? Have the Board of Governors really agreed to this? To demote children of the borough in favour of the children of staff? If so heads should roll. Such a policy is completely unacceptable when secondary school places in the borough are in short supply.

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    1. Holland Park wouldn't be the first school where the Governors have simply lost the plot. Far too many appear to be composed of unpleasant ideologues who clearly aren't acting in the best interests of pupils or school.

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    2. So we must depend on Cllr Elizabeth Rutherford as the sole Council governor to stand up for the Borough's children. Don't hold your breath - she was approved specifically by Hall because she would do what he tells her to do. She poke at a Council meeting about how horrible it was that a local secondary school was isolating and humiliating poor children who were not wearing all of the specified very expensive uniform, without realising she was one of its governors!

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    3. Is this a joke?

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    4. What a sad tale.

      It sounds like Cllr. Rutherford is well meaning but has little or no idea what she's doing or what her role is in all of this.

      I have no doubt however that her masters in the Tory party know exactly what they're doing.

      What better way to let the Headmaster do whatever he likes than by appointing a completely useless representative to the Board of Governors of the school?

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  7. Wasn't Cllr. Atkinson also on the Board of Governors of Holland Park? Has he been removed? Was he finally declared "persona non grata" for being bl**dy awkward once too often?

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  8. Atkinson was removed by Hall as governor because he opposed the School becoming an Academy. It is only because the School is now an Academy that Hall can do what he wants without further interference by the Council. Atkinson was the only governor to oppose this change - so all the remaining governors are complicit with the devastating effects on the Borough's children and other residents who were promised usage of the School's very expensive facilities. This begs the question as to what Anne Marie Carrie is doing about this as Chair of Governors. Isn't she supposed to stand up for the rights of under-privileged children, given her role at Barnardos?

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    1. It sounds like the Board of Governors, from the Chair down, are in the pockets of the headmaster. Cllr Atkinson deserves credit for opposing the conversion of the school to an Academy and the complete loss of local accountability and control that has resulted. It is unfortunate that the regime is such that dissent cannot be tolerated and he saw the door.

      No doubt this is precisely the kind of thing that parents and residents were assured would not happen were the school to become an Academy. They were clearly deceived. Where Holland Park is concerned it is clear that neither the Council or the people running the school can be trusted to speak the truth.

      The school governors, from the Chair down, have clearly has lost sight of the school's original purpose. Holland Park should be, after all, a state school run for the benefit of local schoolchildren. Sadly, far too many school governors clearly aren't satisfied with that; they'd rather have a prestigious, "more exclusive" school rather than a purposeful one. Quite depressing.

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    2. "Atkinson was removed by Hall"?

      Are headmasters really able to get shot of Council appointees just like that?

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    3. Headmaster Horatio Hall can do pretty much what he wants. He's been getting away with it for 10 years, who's going to stop him now.
      What's truly shocking is that no-one in the borough took a thorough look at the financial mismanagement that has been happening at Holland Park. Until someone exposes Hall he will continue to spend tax payers money on whatever fripperies take his fancy: diptique candles and scented lilies to mask the smell of children in assembly; farrow and ball paint for the walls; anthony gormley statues; le crueset kitchenware and miele appliances; a fiat 500 for a staff production... the list goes on... and on... and on...

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    4. Well, that's certainly not the kind of shopping list you'd expect of a state funded school!

      I doubt anyone, whatever their political persuasion, can in all honesty defend that kind of spending. Which must call into question the judgement of anyone who thinks the headmaster should be the headmaster of any state-funded school. Money should be going on essentials - the fabric of the building (within reason), good teaching staff, educational material, not on a Fiat 500 and scented candles!

      And if he really dislikes children as much as he appears to a change of profession might be in order. Given his spending habits the residents of the borough are unlikely to miss him.

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  9. Responding to Anon 11.12 and from personal experience, headmasters are effectively able to have governors sidelined or removed. Governors tend to know only what their headmaster chooses to tell them. Much the same as senior officers decide how much to tell councillors.

    If one knew no better, one would imagine the consultation document was a spoof. Tragically it's not. The appropriate place for it is the Rotten Boroughs column in Private Eye.

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    1. How depressing. School governors misled by headteachers. Councillors misled by senior Council officers. How can proper oversight exist when those being overseen hold all the cards?

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    2. Manipulating information is one thing. Actually getting rid of someone is another. The Council should resist any attempt by any school in receipt of taxpayers' money to eject "troublesome" Councillors.

      No doubt Cllr. Atkinson's political affiliation counted against him but to replace him with Cllr. Rutherford on the board of governors of Holland Park only serves to demonstrate that the Council is not interested in proper oversight, but rather the installation of yet another nodding donkey that will do as they're told. We have far too many of those as it is.

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  10. Cllr Atkinson is a hypocrite.
    Quite happy to support the link with the Aldridge Foundation and the new North Kensington Academy in his own ward.

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    1. Supports or tolerates?

      Both Chelsea and North Ken Academies probably wouldn't exist if they weren't set up as academies. This is not a good thing. And it has left many, residents and Councillors, in a bit of quandary.

      Do you support the new school, often sorely needed, or do you oppose it?

      Or do you simply tolerate the fact that this is the only way your residents are going to get the school their children need?

      The important thing perhaps, is for some of that soul searching to happen in public, so that residents can see what their Councillors actually stand for and what they don't and perhaps understand the difficult decisions they face. Councillors might otherwise be seen as little more than cogs in the great Council machine who simply do as they're told.

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    2. Chelsea Academy is a good example.

      The proposal the Council eventually came up with was far from perfect. Many local residents were less than impressed however given the choice of a "new school" and "no school" they went for "new school". That doesn't mean that anyone has forgotten the bind they were placed in by the Council. Just ask any of the locals. They are still quite vocal despite the years that have elapsed. Does that mean that they "supported" the school? Only when they had no real choice.

      In the long run it has done the Council very little good. They had their way but it has alerted the locals to its often duplicitous nature. New proposals are now often viewed with suspicion from the get-go.

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    3. Lemon and Fig are quite correct.
      Just before the 2010 general election the Tories realised that if they were to get government funding for the desperately needed North Kensington secondary school they had better apply to Labour quickly, because a Tory government was committed to ending the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme. So they got their application in on time, it was approved – and lo and behold, when Gove took over, although he immediately axed many BSF projects, mainly in Labour boroughs, he allowed the Kensington Academy to go ahead. But speed was of the essence and the Council was given very little time to firm up the site, as the school had to be built by September 2014. Although local residents and Labour ward councillors proposed a number of different sites, some of which, such as a two site school behind Silchester estate, would have been much cheaper. However, Cockell had to drive the project through quickly and was never going to deviate from the Lancaster West site, regardless of residents’ objections. So that was that.
      The case for the new Academy is absolute – there have been over 450 applications for the 180 places next September, all from local children, thus proving the desperate demand. Labour also opposed it having Academy status, but again were over-ruled. At least this new Academy will not be selective, it will take all local children regardless of who their parents are – and the Aldridge Foundation is being very transparent in consultations with local people.

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    4. A Tory Council finally realising what a Tory government might mean. Priceless.

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  11. It sounds like Labour Councillors made an effort to represent their residents. The same could not be said in the case of Chelsea Academy. The Ward Councillors there pretty much just trumpeted the Council line. Which was to build the school smack in the middle of a residential area rather than the more valuable site next to the Kings Road preferred by residents. Both sites owned by the Council of course. And the latter will no doubt be sold for a massive profit and luxury flats shortly.

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    1. Labour Councillors treated local residents with contempt. Any individuals who opposed the planned Academy were subjected to personal vendettas from Councillor Blakeman and her pathetic poodles.
      Labour then colluded with Cllr Coleridge and the Ruling Party to silence the local community's' legitimate concerns about the location of the Academy.

      http://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/pants-on-fire-no-1-blakeman/

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    2. Let's be honest, this Council has a habit (of the "coke" variety) of presenting residents with piss poor options. They ask residents to choose between "option a" which is rubbish and "option b" which is worse. They could provide residents with better options but CHOOSE not to.

      From what others have said elsewhere it appears that not only was the choice between "new school" and "no school" but that the argument for a new school had to be made as well.

      That's quite a balancing act - convince the Council of the need for a new school and somehow convince them to build it on a site not of their choosing. It looks like one argument was won (for the school) and one was lost (for the most appropriate site).

      The number of applications for school places quoted above - 450 for 180 - suggests that the argument they won was the most important.

      The loss of green space is unfortunate. There was a massive loss of amenity space when the Chelsea Academy was built as well. Chelsea Academy sits on what used to be the Lots Road adventure playground; originally created as part of the World's End Estate and much used and loved by local children.

      The choice the locals were faced with was between adventure playground for their children and a school for their children and they chose school. With hindsight that was the correct choice but the school is clearly in the wrong place. It's location has produced a myriad of other issues, all of the Council's own making, which are unlikely to be sorted out any time soon.

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