Letters Extra : Holland Park needs a new vision

2nd December 2002 at 00:00

You are right to highlight the changes at Holland Park School. Our choice of the school for our son two years ago was based on the diversity of its intake and Holland Park's creative and positive ethos. We now have a school which feels like a one-man PR exercise rather than an endeavour to meet the educational needs of our children. "In" are white walls, slogans like "success" and "work hard", designer uniforms and furniture and award ceremonies for the few. Apparently "out" are consultation in general, mixed ability teaching, special needs support (most teachers have left), Arabic teaching (now re-instated) and facilitation of debate through the union and the Holland Park School Community Association. Many teachers and a significant number of students have left the school.

It is unsurprising that the re-branding has left most parents angry, as evidenced by recent meetings. Most importantly we need a more inclusive vision for the majority of our children who do will not fit in with the new very narrow vision of "success". All students are now divided into sets in four-five subjects and most do not make it into the top group. The first introduction to the school for new students this year was sitting a test. The latest research by the Institute of Education shows that setting affects both the confidence and performance of those in lower groups and recommends a very considered approach to dealing with challenges of mixed ability.nbsp; Setting was brought in at Holland Park with no prior consultation with parents or pupils and without an impact assessment or evaluation plan.

Holland Park School is a comprehensive community school with a diverse and inclusive past. It can be taken forward in an exciting way, but it needs a different kind of vision which prioritises considered debate with all parts of the school community and an equal consideration of the needs of all our children.

Elaine Sheppard
London NW10

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