Another investigation has been launched at Holland Park school, which is under scrutiny over allegations of a “toxic” environment, after a staff member was recorded apparently shouting at a pupil.
It comes as four more governors resigned at the west London school, with experienced leaders parachuted in by the government in their place.
The ‘outstanding’ school, dubbed the “Socialist Eton”, has faced allegations of a “toxic” working culture and “public shaming” of students, prompting a council investigation.
Now another investigation is underway after an audio recording posted by a campaign group of former Holland Park students surfaced online.
It appeared to show a staff member shouting at a pupil last Friday to “shut up” and “don’t answer back”.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) said the local authority designated officer was coordinating an investigation.
Jane Farrell, the school’s new chair of trustees, said the incident was “immediately dealt with”.
“Appropriate action is happening at present that involves support from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea,” she said.
Council launched ‘learning review’ in September
RBKC launched a three-month “learning review” in September into allegations of safeguarding failures at the school. The council said this week it will be led by Kate Richards, the former chief inspector at the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
Farrell said Richards had “significant experience in the field of effective safeguarding practice”.
The school’s leadership team “welcomes the review – viewing it both as a chance to improve on the good practice already existing at Holland Park and as a means to learn from recommendations that the review may make”.
Four new trustees were appointed last Friday (see box out) with the support of the Department for Education. All are “experienced and senior education professionals who have committed to service the Holland Park School community”, Farrell said.
Trustees who resigned will remain members
They take the place of Margaret Allen, Elizabeth Rutherford, Dr Krish Soni and Michael Tory. The four, who resigned on Tuesday, will remain as members of the trust.
The DfE’s academy handbook states there should be “significant separation” between members and trustees. The government’s “strong preference is for a majority of members to be independent of the board of trustees”.
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by any of these trustees.
Farrell thanked them for “their dedicated service” to secure “the school’s successes”.
Farrell, a specialist in culture change, was sent in by the DfE after the former chair resigned last month.
Colin Hall, the school’s head, will also retire at the end of this year.