Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Charles School Damned by Ofsted Could Face Axe

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Charles School Damned by Ofsted Could Face Axe

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Davis and Jonathan Prynn EXCLUSIVE

THE PS14,000-a-year prep school attended by the Prince of Wales could face closure after being branded inadequate in all areas in a damning Ofsted report.

Inspectors said pupils at Hill House international junior school in west London are not safe, do not make adequate progress and school leaders do not have the capacity to secure improvements.

The report criticised standards in maths and writing, said teachers are given little support and called for an urgent overhaul of health and safety procedures.

The family-run school was set up in 1951 and now runs out of several small houses in Kensington and Chelsea. It lists its number one rule as "safety of the boy and girl".

But strikingly the report highlighted "significant failings" in security, saying visitors are not asked to sign in or out of the buildings and supervision of pupils is "sometimes lax".

Some fire exits are hazardous, there is no fire safety policy and "the health and safety of both pupils and adults in the main school are severely compromised", it said.

Today a spokeswoman for the Department for Education said ministers are studying the report and will confirm their decisions about regulatory action shortly. She added: "It would be wrong to take any decisions until we have studied the findings, but all options remain open including closure. We have repeatedly demonstrated for all types of school that we will not hesitate to take tough action if required."

Principal Richard Townend, whose late father Lt Col H Stuart Townend founded the school, has written to parents saying the report does not represent the school.

He wrote: "As I go around the school I see happy children enjoying being at school, working hard and making great progress in a safe environment."

He added: "We provide opportunities in art, music, drama and sport which others envy. Each Wednesday the Assembly astonishes visitors with its display of talent in our school and the feeling of corporate warmth, friendliness and support of the whole Hill House family pupils, parents and tutors. …

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