The Grenfell Action Group are great believers that”sunlight is the best disinfectant” and it is our intention to shine a beam of light directly into the goings on at the Board of Governors of Kensington and Chelsea College (KCC) so that we can discover and reveal what has really been happening behind the scenes at our local adult education centre.
We have been using Freedom of Information legislation to obtain a great deal of documentation from KCC and from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that it is our intention to publish for public consumption. We believe that we will be able to use this information to show that there is an inappropriate and possibly sinister relationship between the local Council and the College. We aim to reveal the full facts behind the sudden departure from their senior managerial posts of both the Principal, Mark Brickley, and the Deputy Principal, Fiona Ross, and we intend to publish more data on recent financial mismanagement sanctioned by the Board of Governors at KCC.
We have decided to start this process by releasing the contents of an email written by a senior Council employee, Tony Redpath, who is Director of Strategy and Local Services at RBKC and who also occupies a position on the Board of Governors at Kensington and Chelsea College.
The Grenfell Action Group will be returning in future blogs to the subject of what appears to be a blatant conflict of interest arising from Mr Redpath’s dual roles but we believe that the contents of the email that we are releasing below show very clearly that there is something rather strange and inappropriate in the role that Mr Redpath is playing by acting as a conduit between Kensington and Chelsea College and the RBKC. In fact, we wonder if the other members of the Board of Governors at KCC have any idea that Mr Redpath is using his position on the KCC Board to feed back sensitive and possibly privileged information to his emloyers at the Borough Council.
The email (link included) below was sent by Mr Redpath on 7th Febuary 2017 to a number of councillors and other senior figures at RBKC including the Council’s Director of Education (Cllr Emma Will), the Leader of RBKC (Cllr Nicholas Paget Brown), the Council’s Head of Media and Communications (Martin “carpet bomber” Fitzpatrick) and also to the Town Clerk (Nicholas Holgate).
The email from Mr Redpath to RBKC Councillors and senior officers was marked as confidential and reveals that the KCC has again performed poorly in the latest OFSTED inspectors draft report (a document which is itself still confidential) that was conducted at the College in mid January of this year. The Kensington and Chelsea College received a 3 rating that equates to “requires improvement” and was the same rating that the College achieved when last visited by the OFSTED inspectors back in 2013. Mr Redpath states in his email that this current rating and the scores given to the College were precisely in line with the KCC’s recent self assessment:
Mr Redpath then goes on to to state that a full draft report of OFSTED’s findings is still awaited but that it is expected that the report “will not be kind” to the Governors at KCC (of which Mr Redpath is one) because of the high rate of senior management turnover at the College which we assume relates to the recent departures of Mark Brickley (College Principal) and Fiona Ross (Deputy Principal) among others. Mr Redpath goes on to state that OFSTED will be recommending a “rapid change in Board membership” and then rather mysteriously claims that there will be a problem implementing these required changes in governance which “in current circumstances will be difficult”.
Mr Redpath’s email also reveals that having reviewed draft due diligence information on Kensington and Chelsea College the City Lit Board has decided not to proceed with their intended merger with KCC. Redpath goes on to state that the due diligence on City Lit by KCC shows that the City Lit itself “is not exactly in robust financial health” and that the final due diligence report on KCC is not yet available but that the key reasons for City Lit’s cold feet are likely to be:
- KCC’s poor financial viability, owing to declining student numbers and the College’s commitment to retain an expensive two-site model;
- an awkward strategic fit; and
- governance complications because of City Lit’s SDI status.
Mr Redpath further reveals that that the “KCC Board remains clear that the College must merge” and that other “suitors”, including Ealing College and West London and City of Westminster/CNWL are “already circling”. Redpath identifies that “KCC’s problem, put baldly, is that it’s attraction to other College’s is based on it’s assets rather than it’s activities” and that “a longer than anticipated period of change and uncertainty for the College beckons”. Redpath ends his correspondence to his fellow RBKC Officers and elected Councillors by stating that he “will provide further information as I receive it”.
Sadly, it is not only Mr Redpath who has been letting the side down at KCC. In other developments Ian Rule, the newly appointed Interim Vice Principal (Finance), has been setting a poor example on how to win friends and influence people in the local community. Mr Rule has taken it on himself to try and dissuade campaigners from standing on the public thoroughfare outside Wornington College to pursue their democratic right to free speech. Mr Rule has used obnoxious and intimidatory tactics to try and warn protesters off from the gates of KCC and has gone as far as to threaten that he will spread rumours that it is the demonstrators fault that the College is facing closure.
This seems perverse in the extreme as it is not members of the ‘Save Wornington College’ campaign who have repeatedly obtained poor OFSTED inspection reports on the management at KCC, sold the freehold of the College building to RBKC to be developed for housing with an unseen commitment to re-provide a smaller educational space, overpriced the cost of courses, been abandoned by the Principal and Vice Principal in opaque circumstances with no notice, failed to communicate properly or involve staff in decision making causing low morale among KCC employees, been responsible for hiring an invisible senior management team, lost its Chair of the Board of Governors who has now also resigned, flown around the world wasting vital finances chasing illusory overseas students, conspicuously failed to recruit local students to the College, or taken on board a Council Officer from RBKC who appears to have his employers (ie RBKC) interests at heart rather than those of the College, its students and the local community!
OFSTED have recommended that it might be an idea to implement a “rapid change in board members”. The Grenfell Action Group believe that KCC should heed this timely advice and that they could do a lot worse than send the likes of Redpath and Rule packing and find people who genuinely care about the education and life prospects of students at Wornington, in one of the poorest and most underprivileged wards in the whole of Britain.