Holland Park School

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Holland Park School
Motto schola necesse est mori[1]
Established 1958
Type Academy, Comprehensive
Headteacher Colin Hall
Location Airlie Gardens
Campden Hill Road

W8 7AF
Local authority Kensington and Chelsea
DfE URN 140134 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1,343 (2014)[2]
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Anderson, Baker, Bennett, Chappell, Seeley
Colours Blue, Black
Website Holland Park School

Holland Park School is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form in Holland Park, London, England. In 2013, it has attained academy status. Opened in 1958, the school became the flagship for comprehensive education, and at one time had over 2,000 students. A number of high-profile socialists sent their children to Holland Park School, and it became known as "the socialist Eton". The Labour politician Tony Benn and his wife Caroline sent all four of their children to the school.[3]

Education at Holland Park[edit]

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Holland Park School philosophy was to ensure large student numbers (over 1,900) with the idea that the resulting size would enable more subject choices for the students. Indeed, amongst the more typical foreign languages Latin, French and Spanish were taught. A similar philosophy and scale applied to other comprehensive flagships such as the other "Labour-party Eton", the Haverstock School ([4][better source needed])

In the early 1960s, each school year was divided into A, B, C, D, and E streams up until the 3rd year. As the groups were so large, they were again divided, typically into 3. Later the "A" "B" etc. grading was considered to be bad for children's self-esteem, so "A" "B" and "C" were replaced by "H" "P" and "S" (Holland Park School). Nowadays, the banding system is divided into 4 bands, each with 3 levels inside them.

In 1970, streaming was completely scrapped in favour of total egalitarianism. Another aspect of egalitarian thought was that many school traditions were dropped and in the 1970s there were no awards for academic achievement, in order not to demoralise low achievers. Dr Rushworth, who became head in 1971, nevertheless favoured high achievement in niche areas, and himself continued to teach Latin to children who requested lessons. His motto was "Everyone should know about everything," and critics saw this as leading to a dumbing down of the curriculum.[5]

The theory was that poorly achieving students would perform better if not segregated, but rather immersed in an equal learning environment. Some argue[who?] that such an educational philosophy causes teaching to drop to the lowest common denominator, and in the 1990s the school began to revert to more traditional teaching practices.

Loyalists of the egalitarian approach argue that the experiment was never given a proper chance: Holland Park was the only fully comprehensive school in a borough where middle class parents tended to favour private schools. Therefore, by definition, it was a sink school and thus some argue that the comprehensive experiment was never fully realised. Critics[who?] counter that the school was on a downward spiral and "more of the same" would only have worsened the situation. They hold that the school's improved performance when it returned to more traditional values is evidence the comprehensive experiment was doomed from the outset.

"Traditionally, relatively few lower school pupils progressed to the sixth form; rather, it was established practice for pupils to join the Holland Park sixth form from other London schools."[citation needed]

This viewpoint differs from some experience in the mid-1960s when sixty or more fifth formers joined either the lower sixth on A-level studies, or another thirty joined 6G that represented students on retakes of O levels or additional O levels, or Technical studies.

School organisation[edit]

When the school opened in September 1958 it was divided into eight houses. The eight houses were originally called Addison, Fox, Hunter, Macauley, Maine, Newton, Norman and Wilberforce. The house system has been retained, though there have been changes to the number of houses, and their names. There are currently five houses: Anderson, Baker, Bennett, Chappell and Seeley. The earlier approach of naming houses after historical figures has been replaced by the approach of naming them after people, mostly governors of the school or teachers, who "mark a way of being that the school considers worthy and noble".[6]

When the school first opened the entire school assembled on only two days a week, in the Main Hall and four side halls which opened out to form The Great Hall. House assemblies took place in the morning in the side halls with two halls alternating where they shared; whilst the other two days were for tutor groups within the house setting.

Thus pupils had the potential, in theory at least, for guidance from Form Teachers, Tutors, as well as their Class Subject Teachers.

There was a complete structure of Prefects, at the summit two head boys and two head girls, then headmasters/senior prefects, prefects, sub-prefects, and TSPs [Temporary Sub Prefects]. This separate organisation was particularly called upon when teaching staff took the decision to stop monitoring the substantial play-grounds, in the sometimes turbulent mix of social classes, religious and ethnic origins, and the heady mix of boy and girl in the 1960s. Mr Williams, in the mid-1960s, one of two deputy heads, was required to dispense summary justice on boys presented by Prefects.

School publication[edit]

In the 1960s into the early 1970s, the school magazine was called Octavo (the title being a reference to the number of houses at that time which numbered eight).In the 1976-9 period, the school magazine was called Andarkol, formed from Holland Park School and was the name of the cartoon dog which appeared throughout.[7] The magazine contained poetry, music reviews, cartoons, as well as articles about school plays, sports and student-contributed essays on comprehensive education and the representation of the school in the press. Before Andarkol, the school had a magazine called Feedback, which ended in 1974.[7]

Students now receive a booklet called 'Et cetera' about upcoming events around the school every half-term.

  • Alpha (born 1958)[8]
  • Octavo (196?-197?)
  • Feedback (?-1974)
  • Andarkol (1976–79)

School crest and colours[edit]

The school's crest is blue and black.

School building and land history[edit]

In 1808 William Phillimore (1748–1814), signed an agreement for the development of over 19 acres (77,000 m2) of land, which now is roughly occupied by Holland Park School and Queen Elizabeth College, north of Duchess of Bedford Walk. On this land, seven particularly grand houses with large gardens were completed in 1817. Throughout the 19th century, and until the Second World War, they had a series of notable occupants. At one time in the 19th century the approach road was known as Dukes' Row, because two of the houses were occupied by dukes: the Duke of Argyll and the Duke of Bedford, while a third was occupied by the Earl of Airlie.

Of the seven great houses on this part of the Phillimore estate, only Thorpe Lodge (home of Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, from 1904 until his death in 1950) still remains. It is a protected historical building that serves as an ancillary space for the school.

When plans to build the school were revealed in 1956, local residents formed an action group to stop the building, among its members was the future poet laureate John Betjeman, who worried about the trees; the naturalist Peter Scott, who claimed the children would frighten away nightingales; and the High Commissioner of South Africa, who feared that his garden parties would be ruined. The Kensington Post was inundated with letters from residents who feared that the school would "reduce Campden Hill to Earl's Court".[9][10] The lobbyists were unsuccessful and the demolition began around 1957 and the first comprehensive school opened in 1958. It was officially inaugurated a year later by Lady Norman.[11]

In 2004, planning for a new school building began. Although the proposals were hotly debated, with a major concern among critics being the sale of the school sports grounds to a property developer, as a way to fund the project, the new school building opened in 2012.[12]


Notable former pupils[edit]

Notable teachers[edit]

Holland Park School timeline of events[edit]

  • In 1957, the school is built despite protests from Sir John Betjeman and others.
  • In 1958, the school opens.
  • In 1959, the official opening ceremony is held[11]
  • In 1970, journalist George Gale, then editor of The Spectator, claimed that Holland Park girls were running a vice ring at the school.[27]
  • In 1973, the school snubbed the wedding of The Princess Anne by working through the national holiday granted to schools and giving children another holiday in lieu.[27]
  • In 1985, the headmaster, Dr Rushworth, was beaten up and had both his ankles broken.[1]
  • In 1997, the school was heavily criticised by Ofsted for poor academic standards and lack of discipline.[10]
  • In 2000, the school was visited by Nelson Mandela.[28]
  • In 2001, the school received its new headmaster, Colin Hall, assigned with the job to turn its fortunes around.[10]
  • In 2006, fingerprint activated locks are installed on lockers.[29]
  • In 2007, the decision to sell parts of the school grounds to finance a new school building causes controversy.[3]
  • In 2011, the school was classed "outstanding" by Ofsted.[2][10]
  • In 2012, the new school building was opened.[3][12]
  • In 2013, the school was converted to academy status.[30]


  1. ^ a b c John-Paul Flintoff, Comp: A Survivor's Tale, Indigo, 1999, ISBN 0-575-40162-1
  2. ^ a b Ofsted inspection report 2011: Holland Park School Linked 2014-02-07
  3. ^ a b c The Independent, 14 November 2012: Too cool for a school: 'Socialist Eton' moves into new buildings with facilities to rival the real thing Linked 7 February 2014
  4. ^ Haverstock School
  5. ^ http://eddie.idx.com.au/2005/84hobson.html
  6. ^ http://www.hollandparkschool.co.uk/school/houses
  7. ^ a b Andarkol, issue 1, p. 1.
  8. ^ a b The Telegraph (July 2007).
  9. ^ a b c Benn, Melissa (25 August 2007). "Allen Clarke. First headteacher of the progressive west London school, Holland Park". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  10. ^ a b c d e The Good School Guide: Holland Park School review Linked 2014-02-07
  11. ^ a b YouTube: "Super School Opening", 1959. British Pathe newsreel Linked 2014-02-07
  12. ^ a b "London School Completes Innovative Renovation". CE Magazine. 
  13. ^ Charters, David (19 July 2007). "Allen Clarke". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  15. ^ Abbott biography
  16. ^ Abramsky biography
  17. ^ The Sunday Times (May 2006)
  18. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/omid-djalili-raw-risky-scary-and-funny-to-the-bone-1752314.html
  19. ^ The Times (November 2004)
  20. ^ The Sunday Times (February 2006)
  21. ^ http://www.myspace.com/plaventhol
  22. ^ Simon Griver, "Meet Jeremy Levin, the new head of drugs firm Teva", The JC.com, 17 May 2012.
  23. ^ http://www.lesleythomson.co.uk
  24. ^ Dowell, Ben (4 June 2010). "Bryan Ferry unveils his art collection". The Guardian. London. 
  25. ^ Andy McKay biography
  26. ^ http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=auth66
  27. ^ a b Dovkants, Keith (3 March 2003). "The War Over a Liberal Legend". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  28. ^ Woodward, Will (23 February 2003). "Battle lines drawn at landmark school". The Guardian. London. 
  29. ^ "Fingerprints for children at a school in London"
  30. ^ Holland Park School: Academy Status Linked 2014-02-07

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′17″N 0°12′04″W / 51.5047°N 0.2011°W / 51.5047; -0.2011