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Cosy staffroom? That's so 1970s

Staff at Holland Park school, beset by head Colin Hall's ruthless modernisation programme (see TES passim), used to be able to retreat to an unpretentious but cosy staffroom. It was a world away from what one visitor described as the "Notting Hill wine bar" decor imposed by Hall in the rest of the school. Its walls glowed with warm yellow paint teachers themselves slapped on two or three summers ago.

Sixteen comfy red Ikea sofas offered a place for weary staff to recover from the rigours of the new regime at the former flagship for progressives.

There they were surrounded by reminders of normality: chaotic noticeboards, unwashed cups and a fridge full of forgotten yoghurts.

Imagine their dismay, then, when they returned after Christmas break to find the sofas gone, along with the fridge and noticeboards. In their place are four charcoal-grey sofas from the Conran Shop, at pound;1,500 apiece, stark white walls and an array of "not very comfortable" wooden chairs.

A rather surreal touch is an enormous designer flowerpot, standing at neck height to some of the smaller teachers, which the diary's research suggests may have cost in the region of pound;400.

"There goes my recruitment and retention money," one staff member was heard to say. "It's a rather stark and very seldom used room nowadays."

A school spokesman said none of the money had come from school funds and most staff were happy with the changes.

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