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Kensington and Chelsea offers £1million loan to run troubled Holland Park School

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 05/07/2022 Anna Davis
Holland Park School.jpg © Twitter Holland Park School.jpg

A London council is offering to loan a local academy £1million to help its bid to take over running the troubled Holland Park School.

Kensington and Chelsea Council is “putting its money where its mouth is” and plans to loan the money to Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA).

The council wants KAA, which is next to Grenfell, to run the failing Holland Park school instead of it being transferred to United Learning, the largest multi-academy chain in the country.

But the offer of a loan comes as the Regional Schools Commissioner announced that Holland Park school be transferred to United Learning.

The Advisory Board of the Regional Schools Commissioner will now discuss the move and give advice to schools minister Baroness Barran, who will make the final decision.

It is the latest twist in the ongoing row over the future of Holland Park, which was once known as the ‘Socialist Eton’ but was last month rated inadequate by Ofsted.

Some parents at Holland Park are running a campaign to prevent the school joining United Learning, which they say will turn it into a “cookie cutter” school.

Other parents are in favour of joining United Learning, saying it will help improve the school after it was embroiled in a bullying and discrimination scandal.

Teachers have walked out for a total of 11 days during the exam season over the dispute.

Councillor Catherine Faulks, lead member for family and children’s services at Kensington and Chelsea council, said: “Parents and staff have been clear – a national MAT (Multi Academy Trust) is not a fit for Holland Park. In loaning this £1million, we are thinking about what is best for our young people who will benefit from the local understanding KAA can offer, and the highly regarded services that can be shared between the two schools.

“We are choosing to back our communities, listen to local teachers and make the best possible outcome for the school viable.”

The loan is intended to address fears that KAA does not have the upfront resources to tackle issues at the school quickly, and to give it the ability to provide resources similar to those available at large multi-academy trusts, council documents said.

But in a letter sent to Holland Park parents on Friday, Kate Dethridge, Regional Schools Commissioner for north west London and south central, said: “United Learning has been identified as the preferred trust to manage the school going forward due to its strong track record of school improvement and working with schools in challenging circumstances.”

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