The Preferred MAT Partner

The Governors mapped out a clear process for considering the option of a MAT and the different possible MATs they could choose from. They remained in close communication with RBKC and the Regional Schools Commissioner throughout. The process to select a preferred MAT was robust and fair. Governors applied rigour and expertise to it and used clear criteria to sift the candidates, including pen portraits and interviews at Stage 1, as well as written submissions and presentations from shortlisted candidates at Stage 2. It was a strong field of large, medium and small MATs which were discussed with the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) at Stage 1, starting with a list produced of suggested options from the RSC together with others drawn from system-wide intelligence and a rationale for selection. Governors included the proposed local proposal so there could be proper consideration, which they felt was fair. From a final shortlist of six RSC approved possible options, governors took forward four from the desk-top exercise to first interview. Following this, governors agreed to take forward two to final stage interviews.

The criteria used were developed over time and are summarised as follows:

  • Holland Park School’s character, history and identity must be preserved and celebrated. Its name must, therefore, be maintained.
  • Holland Park School must remain a key player within the family of schools in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It must contribute to the continuing success in education within the borough and play its role in ensuring equity of provision amongst pupils and families, contributing to the heads’ meetings, the FAP, pupil admissions codes and to school-to-school support and peer collaboration.
  • The quality of education and pastoral care must be outstanding: the receiving MAT must have sufficient capacity to improve on the high standards that have operated at Holland Park School over time. Safeguarding must be highly effective – a MAT must be able to support this.
  • Teaching and the quality of professional development in Holland Park School can be stretched to go beyond outstanding and be truly exceptional. A MAT must have the capacity to both capitalise on existing practice at the school, deploying lead practitioners across the MAT as well as being able to peer support and challenge the school.
  • The school community’s stakeholders – parents and carers in particular – must continue to be highly involved and a key part of the life of Holland Park.
  • All existing financial reserves must be ring-fenced to be used for the benefit of Holland Park School students and their families.
  • Holland Park School shall retain a governing body with two parent governors represented as well as other local representation.
  • Staff will retain their current pay and conditions.

In addition, the governing body seeks a MAT that can demonstrate:

  • That it is a MAT of sufficient size to successfully acquire Holland Park School and that it has sufficient breadth and depth of expertise in 11-18 education to add value to the existing high standard of provision.
  • That it has a successful and substantial track record of working with multiple inner city secondary schools
  • That it has the expertise to provide a suitable range of functions to provide high levels of assurance across finance, HR, health and safety, premises management and IT.
  • That there is an overall compelling vision for the benefits for children and young people who are educated in the schools of the MAT and there is evidence to show that this vision is being realised?
  • That there are robust governance arrangements that secure high quality governance at the level of the whole Trust and of the individual school within the Trust

Both final stage MATs were considered to be strong options for Holland Park School. The final choice of preferred partner was United Learning Trust, a group of schools which provides excellent education to children and young people across the country. This is because United Learning met or exceeded all of the governors’ requirements and it was able to achieve the timetable for a September 2022 transfer, as well as provide leadership capacity quickly, thus bringing much-needed stability to the school. As a result, including when compared against the criteria set, Governors believe United Learning is the right partner for Holland Park School.

United Learning demonstrated clear ambition for the school, its deep understanding of what makes the school so special, and its assurances that it would not just maintain but would enhance Holland Park School’s very many positive attributes. Holland Park School would unquestionably be a flagship school within the Trust.

In particular, Governors were persuaded by the following benefits:

  • That United learning is an outstanding MAT led by outstanding people who understand what great London education looks like. It also has local presence.
  • It has shared values of inclusion where it aims to achieve the best in everyone – students and staff
  • It has a belief in the central importance of a school within its community and its role in place-based change
  • It has evidence of outstanding leadership, curriculum and pedagogy as well as the willingness to ‘exchange’
  • It has great pastoral care, safeguarding and inclusion practice
  • It offers plenty of autonomy to its schools – heads run their schools
  • It offers wide-ranging opportunities for great professional development and peer learning which the school can also lead
  • It has a clear commitment to local governing bodies of individual academies within the MAT
  • It demonstrates robust accountability to a shared set of values and performance standards that include diversity, equality and inclusion, and student voice
  • It runs great schools at the heart of their communities with national reach and a role in civic leadership
  • It is able to meet the timetable for a September 2022 transfer and provide leadership support very quickly, thus bringing much-needed stability to the school