Parents at Holland Park School are threatening to sue Ofsted for downgrading the school from outstanding to inadequate earlier this month. The school, dubbed ‘socialist Eton’, was given the lowest possible rating after Ofsted found the school had “declined substantially” since its last inspection.
Turbulence in the school’s leadership had destabilised the school community and inspectors found behaviour policies had not been updated, leading to a vacuum with staff and students confused over how to deal with unacceptable behaviour. Ofsted added that bad behaviour had also spilt out into the local area after the school day.
But parents believe the Ofsted report is an “abuse of power” and that the education watchdog is trying to help the school join a multi-academy trust. Parents are desperate to stop the school from joining United Learning.
In May, a summary of an independent investigation released by the school’s governors said there had been a “culture of fear and favouritism”. Kids were allegedly targets of public humiliation and shouting at the school, the investigation found, and there were also safeguarding breaches. The report also said there had been sexist, Islamophobic and racist discrimination at the school.
The HPS Parents Collective said: “The timing and effect of Ofsted’s inspection and Report appears intended to accelerate the school to join United Learning by taking the decision-making powers away from the School’s Governing Body and placing them with [the Department for Education] at a time when that local process was being effectively challenged by way of a Judicial Review.
“That is an improper purpose for an Ofsted Inspection and an abuse of power.” It added: “Ofsted’s role should be to support the school to bring its community together, not create further division and disruption.”
The 350-strong parents’ group has reached out to Ofsted and if it does not get a response within 14 days the group will be instructing solicitors to issue a claim for judicial review. Ofsted has been contacted for comment.