Read the latest on Mental Health at JKHS in the News Section - Updated 21st June 2021
BREAKING NEWS : DfE Trustees Parachuted in to get JKHS under control - READ MORE
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John Kyrle High School has refused to engage around mental health. Since 100s of people requested they engage in the form of a public meeting, fo nearly 3 years the school has refused and stonewalled these people, refusing to meet. Academies are expected to engage with parents and community, led by their Headteachers and Chair of Trustees.
The JKHS Parent Network is trying to bring about positive changes at John Kyrle High School, and wants to help them to do this, in order to make a truly positive impact for the future and current students who suffer, for whom life is not easy.
The JKHS Parent Network is a Facebook Group, which parents of pupils and students at John Kyrle High School & Sixth Form, ex-parents, ex-students and concerned members of the local community can join. Its purpose is to network these people together, to follow issues relating to the mental health and anxiety of pupils at JKHS.
As of 2021, John Kyrle High School has refused to meet to talk about ways it might be able to improve around mental health, choosing to deny parents and pupils a voice on this important subject. For nearly 3 years, the school's headteacher and chair of trustees have continued to show no willing to engage. The school has since cut ties with this Chair of Trustees, following an Independent Review of Governance, which has also resulted in the complete Trustee Board being removed and DfE approved oversight being moved in. The triggers for the Independent Review were the school being exposed in an Employment Tribunal for the way they treated a teacher, orchestrating a sham sacking, driven in large part by the Headteacher's animus towards her and his discrimination. The JKHS Parent Group will continue to request that the school does engage, and would welcome the school deciding to do so. It is hoped that DfE intervention may be inclined to instigate this engagement with parents begin to happen in 2021 - this would be a stark contrast to how the school, under Headteachers Nigel Griffiths and David Boyd, have refused to.
Many people seem concerned with the motivational "pep-talks" at the school that happen as a result of Nigel Griffiths' leadership and the relentless pursuit of league tables and results, motivational techniques which can cause undue stress to many pupils. Feedback from parents has indicated that instilling feelings in their children of "guilt they are never doing enough" and "fear of failure" in an attempt to get them to work harder has come at an upsetting price to them. A great many of these people have now come forward with their experiences and they all wish the school to engage to improve itself around many issues regarding student anxiety and mental health.
Many people observe that the approach of Nigel Griffiths and his Senior Staff, is a stark contrast and sad disservice to the many wonderful and caring subject teachers at the school who do a great job!
Nigel Griffiths as a non-teaching Head of John Kyrle High School, Lead Ofsted Inspector and now even an Ofsted Ambassador people say seems quite disconnected from the reality of how young minds work and just how susceptible they are to the unrelenting pressure that is put on them. The awful effect this can and does have is very real. Over 200 school children commit suicide in the UK each year, and a recent report said 1 in 4 fourteen year old girls self-harmed in the UK in that same year. Mental health issues can be exacerbated so easily, and parents wish to talk with the school.
People who have experience of mental health issues are in a unique position to help, whether they are parents, ex-pupils, or professionals. This group is all about asking the school to engage with these people, to listen and adapt, to take on board positive changes that can be made to benefit children who suffer from anxiety and worse.
On February 14th 2018, Nigel Griffiths asked for the opinions of the local community on what they teach and how they teach it, asking for feedback. When an Open Letter to John Kyrle High School raised issues and ideas as per his request, instead of engaging and replying, he instead attempted to close it down from ever being read, leaning on a newspaper to stop it being published by openly telling the paper there could be legal action if they published it. When it was subsequently handed out and distributed through the town so that people could read it, JKHS staff were out in town trying to removing it from shops, and even phone calls were made by the school to shops in attempts to get shops to remove it. No attempt was made by the school to engage in a simple meeting that the letter suggested though, and no attempt has been made by the school to do so since.
The response to the Open Letter from the community showed overwhelming support, reflected soon afterwards by over 300 people (in just a few hours) signing, in pen and ink, a petition asking for a simple meeting with the school about mental health at JKHS. This meeting Nigel Griffiths has not accepted or shown any willingness to attend either. At every stage it has been made clear to the school and its headteacher Nigel Griffiths that all people want to do is to help the school so that it can better serve, help and support its students who suffer from extreme anxiety or worse.
If you were a student at John Kyrle who suffered with anxiety or poor mental health and you would like to share your experience, or if you are a parent of a student who wants to share your experiences of dealing with JKHS issues relating to mental health, anxiety and wellbeing, please use the contact form or join the Facebook group to contact us.
The JKHS Parent Network exists simply to try to make a truly positive impact for future and current students.
The group wish to engage with the school, to help. That is the aim.
Please provide your comments by using our contact form.
Whether you are a pupil, ex-pupil, parent or carer, we'd like to hear from you.
Go take a look at our Your Experiences page. By leaving your own experiences on our contacts page you can feel comfortable that you are one of 100s of parents, pupils and carers who have already done the same. Your anonymity is assured and by doing so you will be helping other students who suffer. The more voices the better, we can make a difference, and the wealth of comments we've already received have directly made an impact in helping us make progress.
Search Facebook for "JKHS Parent Network", you can then click Join and once approved you'll be part of the group.
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A parent of an ex-pupil who has just finished JKHS after getting their A Levels has written an Open Letter to JKHS which raises some concerns over the ways senior staff try to motivate students, concerns that he says he has raised on multiple occasions with the school, each time having been ignored.
The Open Letter, which you can read further down this page, was taken to the Ross Gazette to be published. The Ross Gazette initially just said that they "spoken to our legal team and their advice is that i cannot publish without first approaching the school and headteacher for comment" and that "any response received should then be published along with the letter". So, the Ross Gazette approached JKHS for comment and left them with a copy of the letter. What happened next...
Nigel Griffiths, the Head of JKHS, came back with a strong response. He told the Gazette that they had had a "big meeting about it" and that they had taken legal advice, and "whilst we can't tell you not to publish that letter; if you do, there could be cause for action!".
The Ross Gazette's approach then completely changed, saying to the author that they couldn't publish the letter, and so they never published it. (*Note, the comments made by Mr Griffiths to the Gazette Editor were repeated to the parent by the gazette in a meeting at the Gazette office, the wording of his comments was carefully confirmed multiple times there and then between the parent and the Gazette in the presence of a witness).
The Open Letter to John Kyrle High School ended asking for JKHS to formally engage with all concerned on how to address the problem, suggesting a Public Meeting where all concerned can attend.
Interestingly and extremely relevant, in The Ross Gazette on February 14th this year, Nigel Griffiths said that gaining the opinions of the local community on "what they teach and how they teach it" was an essential part of his Curriculum Review. He asked people to give their feedback, ideas and opinions through the paper ...when he received the very feedback and ideas he asked for, he set about shutting down those opinions. Not only that, when 100s want a meeting to provide feedback and ideas in the form of a public meeting, he has not engaged. Why?
Nigel Griffiths also claims the school mantra is "Happy, Healthy, Successful" even though so many parents and pupils coming forward say how unhappy and unhealthy they've been, and how they feel the school has contributed to that. The school is clearly unsuccessful in consulting and engaging with parents and the community, even though it is their duty and 100s of people are asking them to meet.
You can read the Open Letter further down this page.
Following John Kyrle High School not engaging with the Open Letter in any form to do anything positive, instead trying to close it down from being in the paper and not addressing what was in it whatsoever, a petition was made, which people could sign as they too now request a Public Meeting as per the Open Letter had suggested.
The petition has not been in any online format, it has names collected personally by just one person, each one in Ross-on-Wye and signed in pen-and-ink.
As of Tuesday 18th September, the number of signatories requesting a public meeting with JKHS senior staff in attendance stands at 300. The population of Ross-on-Wye is approximately 10,000 so with the 300 and 100s more supporting online this already represents well over 5% of the adult population of the town wanting a meeting to try to help. A public meeting is now the only practical way to address the issues when so many people want to attend and/or are requesting it.
Please note, you can't sign the petition online, this is to protect the numbers from being polluted by those not in the area and to keep a realistic and honest view of the consensus that there is something that needs addressing and it warrants a public meeting in the view of those signing.
The Public Meeting, will be held at an independent venue.
Every petition member has signed in pen-and-ink and been collected by just one person, that's over 300 concerned people signing.
The author acknowledges that the opinions in the letter are his own.
My daughter's A-Level results were great today, congratulations to all the students, and I’d like to say thank you to her individual teachers ...but, I am totally disappointed at the JKHS senior staff's needless, cruel and damaging contributions to their students’ massive stress levels.
On multiple occasions I have met in person with you to express my clear dismay at the side effects of the repeated and negatively loaded manipulative “pep talks to students” by senior staff when talking in group meetings. (At events like the beginning of sixth form, choosing options, pre-exam prep, post mocks feedback, assemblies etc). I can hardly think of a single mass meeting at JKHS where I have NOT heard at least some damaging language like this.
When I have met with you to specifically highlight this problem, and despite a senior member of staff agreeing with me in person, you have never subsequently followed up with me and you have just continued as is.
I have been extremely clear that the context of my concerns relate to the very real negative effects you have on a vast amount of students. You still repeatedly embed the kinds of messages that say “if you don’t try really hard you will be a failure”. You actively choose and use words to instil in the minds of students that they should feel guilty that they are never doing enough. Using fear and guilt as one of your primary go-to motivators on young minds is unacceptable. They are under enough stress as it is.
Mental health issues in adolescents are on the rise. Anyone would have to have their head in the sand to have not heard this. Of course, senior school staff at JKHS should not only know ‘what we all know’, but be completely engaged in doing everything they can to make sure they are not contributing to the negative mental health of their pupils. At the moment, they are.
It is NOT good enough for JKHS to just say mental health is a national issue and to offer any empty psuedo-politcal answer under the umbrella that none of these issues are specific to JKHS.
When senior staff talk to gathered groups of students they have to remember that there are not ‘just one or two’ in the audience that are - or will suffer from – anxiety, stress, panic attacks, depression and poor mental health (let alone those who have other issues, pressures and stresses at home). 20% of youngsters in any given year will suffer from mental health problems, and you can add onto that those that go unrecorded. It was recently reported that a staggering 46% of girls will suffer from these conditions.
So, when senior staff talk to the pupils to try to motivate them to work harder, it is simply common sense that a hugely significant portion of the kids that they are addressing could be negatively affected if you choose ‘motivational tactics’ that intentionally burden the kids with worry.
Stop and think how many kids suffer from extreme stress and panic, and go through extreme emotional distress, some will even self-harm and go on to attempt suicide. These kids aren’t anonymous statstics, they will be the very pupils you know by first name.
JKHS need to completely ensure that JKHS is not wilfully or inadvertently contributing to the poor mental health of students.
I know that JKHS want the very best results for the students’ own benefit as well as the school needing to hit its own targets, but let’s see if JKHS can review and correct these issues. Targets being met such as in this week’s news are, and never will be, any measure of the students’ wellbeing.
Can you please now formally engage with all concerned parents, students, and past students to discuss how to address this problem? I suggest a public meeting where all concerned can attend.