BREAKING NEWS : DfE Trustees Parachuted in to get JKHS under control - READ MORE
Last Updated - 21st June 2021
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This JKHS Mental Health News is split into 5 sections:
1/ Spin and PR coming from JKHS since the request for an Open Letter - jump
2/ JKHS odd 'activity' since the Open Letter - jump
3/ Chair of Trustees, Denise Strutt, not wanting to talk - jump
4/ News on progress of JKHS accepting the public meeting - jump
5/ News of this group's activity - jump
Don't forget to look at the Survey Results
*** SWEEPING CHANGES being made at John Kyrle High School after Governance Review Report and Action Plan, updated 21st June 2021 ***
*** Review of Governance given to school, and "action plan" put in place, new interim Chairs of Trustees, and NOW, Carol Straughan has been removed as Clerk to the Trustees ***
*** Nigel Griffiths is no longer an Ofsted Inspector or an Ofsted Ambassador ***
*** £187,000 wasted on fighting Dene Magna from opening a Sixth Form, inc News and BBC Radio coverage ***
*** RESULTS OF TEACHER TAKING SCHOOL TO COURT in Employment Public Tribunal are out, JKHS losing on all major counts *** (school's reaction also reported on, a letter from Denise Strutt Chair of Governors to Parents looked at AND now a Statement from the Teacher's Solicitor describing the case, plus NATIONAL NEWS PIECE from The Guardian on JKHS Staff Treatment, and more new press being added to the Media and Reaction Page)
*** After it is pointed to them that JKHS accidentally used a drugs anthem "Drank and Drugs" as music in the school's videos on social media, Trixie Clarke, SENCO, Assistant Head and Mental Health Lead was asked why the school has not engaged about Mental Health, she refused to talk about it READ HERE ***
*** 24th February 2020 - parents report there was again no access to the school's computer systems, which has affected lessons and their children's work for two full weeks. This comes at a very crucial time for those about to take GCSEs. This is the second disruption in weeks, resulting in about 4 weeks out of 7 being disrupted. This time withpupils having no access to computers or their files, affecting stress levels and education READ HERE ***
*** MASSIVE DATA LOSS - 15Tb of Pupil and Staff work lost going back 16 years (UPDATED 12th Feb 2020) - READ HERE ***
SECTION ONE: Spin and PR coming from JKHS since the request for an Open Letter
The following have all appeared to have happened in REACTION to the Open Letter, SINCE 24th August 2018 when the Open Letter was made public.
Please note, of course positive changes ARE welcome! ...but many people are commenting that JKHS seems to now be attempting to build positive PR around how they help students with mental health issues, the timing of this is easily observed.
If you observe any more of this, please let us know by contacting us so we can track all related PR, spin and statements.
John Kyrle formed a Wellbeing and Positive Mental Health Steering Group. It was asked to be joined, in order to represent the views and positive input of 100s of people concerned about mental health at JKHS, who want to help. With a huge amount of people to represent, including teachers, ex-teachers, pupils, parents as well as mental health professionals, Nigel Griffiths refused the request.
Nigel Griffiths went on in is refusal to state about the Group that "This is a student led initiative. Prior to the meeting and during the initial scoping meeting itself, students had developed ideas and concepts. This included developing a 'charter', which was to be expressed through pictures, so it was accessible to all young people. This is something pupils wanted a steering group to consider".
So, after saying that, justified his refusal with the comment "I appreciate that the article in the paper does bot provide this level of detail, so it would be easy to misinterpret the scope and purpose of the steering group".
No other purposes were outlined.
So, the subtotal of the mental health charter that was created can be viewed here, SHOCKINGLY John Kyrle have just announced this charter has been approved in a PR piece on Facebook and Twitter on September 30th 2019 to illustrate things they are doing for Mental Health Day, and yet the SAME THING appeared back in August 2018 in their Prospectus Magazine!
Parents of children who suffer with anxiety and poor mental health have commented that the priority of the Headteacher seems to be to shut people off from helping and getting involved. It has been commented on as anything from "unfortunate" to "deliberately running a closed shop".
The school refuses. Want a quick 5 Minute Recap of what's been happening? Click here
In the school's letter, which you can read in full here, Nigel Griffiths has tried to show what the school is doing around mental health.
Of the 9 bullets that Nigel lists to "give a flavour of how we support the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff" there are questionable claims such as that they work closely with CAMHS. A reader can easily be fooled into thinking the school's approach to mental health is one that is crafted through consultation with CAMHS. It is not, and CAMHS have confirmed this. He also mentions GPs and Counsellors, we have spoken to people in both of these roles who do not feel Nigel's comments are in line with their experiences of dealing with the school.
Nigel's claim that they "always work closely with parents and carers" has been dismissed as not being representative of the experiences of many who have tried to get help from the school, and certainly is at odds with his failure to engage with over 300 people who have asked for a meeting.
The rest of the bullets don't seem to be proportional or effective either to the adolescent mental health epidemic, or significantly addressing any of the concerns being raised by so many.
When you are trying to say what you do around mental health and out of 9 bullets you are clawing at writing more, only being able to come up with that one student did a talk with some trustees, that the canteen food is looked at, and pointing at 2 items out of a grid of 10 sentences in a newsletter, people are saying they are not seeing much at all in his letter that is helping those who suffer.
On 22nd October 2018, Nigel Griffiths wrote to Jesse Norman MP, who had written to him asking him to comment because Jesse had been approached and presented with a wealth of negative experiences regarding mental health at John Kyrle High School.
Nigel's reply was one of denial. Directly after boasting about Department for Education performance tables. The logic he used to deny mental health issues at the school was "In relation to issues around mental health and wellbeing, our students at GCSE and A Level would not have performed so well had there been issues ...overly stressed students fail examinations, not succeed in them as ours do".
Many people have found this comment shocking and ill-informed, the correlation that Nigel feels illustrates a lack of mental health issues simply does not stand up to basic logic. Professionals in mental health have commented to this effect.
Even highly pressured students undergoing mental health breakdowns very often excel academically, despite all the extra weight upon their shoulders. For Nigel Griffiths to offer his ill-founded logic to an MP as evidence of no mental health issues when 100s of people are reporting that the school does badly in dealing with mental health issues and exacerbates them, is highly concerning.
Read Nigel Griffiths' own words around mental health by reading his letter to Jesse Norman MP and see what he really understands about mental health.
Nigel Griffiths (JKHS Headteacher) is quoted "Our drive for high standards is clearly matched by a focus upon student welfare and close communication with parents".
This seems entirely contradictory to him so far being completely unwilling and failing to engage with 100s of concerned parents about mental health of pupils in a simple meeting? ...Nigel Griffiths is completely aware that all these people have asked for a meeting with him and his senior staff, and that a petition signed by over 300 Ross-on-Wye people have asked for this meeting.
Remember, no reasons for not having a meeting have been given apart from that sensitive information may be discussed. Nobody has asked to discuss any sensitive information or personal information whatsoever.
A hugely significant number of people simply want to discuss with JKHS what the school does around mental health, to help and assist the school to improve things for all affected pupils.
Discussing what does work, what doesn't work, and what could be done to improve the lives of those JKHS students suffering with poor mental health and extreme anxiety is important. By engaging with those with experience of mental health issues the school can do great work in this area, by refusing to listen they are completely closing themselves off from feedback and first hand knowledge and valuable experience.
In the Ross Gazette, Nigel Griffiths says "I am never complacent about issues regarding safeguarding".
Does Nigel Griffiths actually believe that about himself? If so, then what about attending a public meeting about Mental Health of JKHS pupils which is often related to safeguarding?
The article stated Nigel's assembly was "explaining to pupils that nothing should happen to them that they feel uncomfortable about".
JKHS have been conducting lessons regarding mental health. In the Ross Gazette this was reported (Weds 17th Oct 2018). What was actually taught was not reported in any depth. Mark Croad, Assistant Headteacher at John Kyrle told the paper how the school wanted to teach students not just about mental illnesses, but about mental wellness and resilience.
It would be interesting to hear more about what Mr Croad can teach about "resilience" to mental health issues.
Whilst all positive steps are welcome, experienced and informed people, and professionals are waiting to talk to JKHS, to have a public meeting to work with the school to improve issues on how they deal with mental health, the things they do that don't work, things they could do much better, things that cause distress and worse, and things that work well.
People with experience, whether parents, pupils, or professionals are in a unique position to offer workable solutions to help those who suffer with anxiety and mental health issues.
These people would like to talk to JKHS about mental health issues, but feel they are being stonewalled when all they want is a simple public meeting with the school, to discuss how things can be improved.
If JKHS are so good with mental health issues that they feel the need to shout it in the papers, why not attend the public meeting?
If JKHS want to do good things for those with mental health issues, engage with those who have real world experience, who can feedback to them what works, what doesn't work, what is helpful and what isn't.
Lessons on Mental Health are welcome, but they should always come from a highly informed perspective.
There are many issues at the school or the 100s and 100s of concerned people would not have come forward to want things changed, many of them with very sad stories to tell about how they and their children have been affected.
Parents are coming forward, saying these Mental Health Awareness Week assemblies looks like a reaction to the petition and open letter. It seems that being seen to be doing things in regard to mental health has become a priority at JKHS. Note that they already supported Mental Health Awareness Week from February 5th - 8th in February as reported in the Ross Gazette, so this is likely their own Mental Health Awareness Week. PR will likely follow.
Yes, all positive steps are welcome, but what about a public meeting?
We have spoken to pupils who have felt assemblies like this have been poorly informed, showing a lack of understanding of what anxiety and poor mental health feels like to go through, and that much of it is not helpful or useful.
People want to help, they are offering to help, people who are truly informed and do have a deep working knowledge of mental health issues and things that can help students.
By listening to those parents and students that have been affected, listening to what works and what doesn't, JKHS can truly make changes that will actually help pupils that are at the school.
If JKHS shut themselves off from listening to help and feedback from those parents and pupils with experience, how can they expect to act from an informed and educated standpoint? ...for the school to not want to listen is highly concerning to a huge amount of people.
To improve things all they have to do is engage, listen and communicate. A public meeting is a practical and efficient way to do this.
Some students are have been told they can contact "In Their Shoes", a local organisation for children suffering with mental health. In Their Shoes states that it is not a counselling service, it is though a wonderful a charity setup by two extremely kind adoptive parents that offers fun activities for children under 16 to participate in, children that are having a tough time.
All positive steps are welcome, but what about a public meeting?
Nigel Griffiths writes to Year 11 Parents... some parents are finding this out of the ordinary and part of the content strangely new...
In the letter he says "We will aim to reduce any stress to the absolute minimum".
Nigel Griffiths does not quantify what they are doing to try to achieve this, there is zero in the way of detail, just this fluffy PR soundbite.
He also goes on to say "There will be much to enjoy this year. This includes the Prom. All Year 11 who wish to attend the Prom can do so". Please note the line "All Year 11 who wish to attend the Prom can do so".
Nigel Griffiths then immediately goes on to completely contradict himself with the sentence "Students can lose the right to attend as it is not an entitlement", with no quantification at all of reasons why they can lose the right to attend, simply that they can.
This looks like an example of negative motivational tactics.
An article released to the school via the Ross Gazette opens with:
"Headteacher, Nigel Griffiths recently received a letter of congratulation from the Children's Wellbeing Directorate at Herefordshire Council".
A freedom of information request was put to Herefordshire Council, to clarify if the letter had anything to do with "wellbeing" as many people naturally assumed that it did. Upon full reading of the letter it only appeared to be about academic progress targets (KS4) and it did not appear to relate to wellbeing, another reason to seek clarification.
The freedom of information request came back saying "Please note that this letter was a standard letter that was sent to all schools that met their KS4 targets".
So, it was confirmed that the letter had nothing to do with wellbeing at all. It was also just a standard letter sent to many schools, although it did come from a division of the council with wellbeing in their title.
SECTION TWO: JKHS odd 'activity' since the Open Letter
Another shop in Ross-on-Wye has been called by the school, (apparently this might have been a call from Nigel Griffiths himself - this will be confirmed), in an attempt to get them to remove leaflets that raise awareness of 100s of parents wanting a meeting with Nigel Griffiths and his senior staff about mental health issues.
The owner was asked if they had been 'forced' to put out leaflets, and answered no.
Many people are puzzled as to how any shopkeeper could be 'forced' to put out leaflets.
It has been noted as strange as to why Nigel Griffiths and JKHS would spend any time and resources trying to remove leaflets, when all they have to do is attend a meeting. The meeting has been offered to them at an independent venue, with coffee and biscuits supplied and all they have to do is come along and talk with parents, ex-pupils and concerned members of the community, nothing more.
Our thanks to the shopkeeper concerned, who has received a fresh top up of leaflets, and a thanks to all the kind staff in the shop who empathise with all those who simply want a meeting to help students who suffer.
Someone with a direct link to JKHS complained to Morrisons that Mark was outside the store harassing customers on a day he was there collecting signatures.
The manager came out with the complaint, he told Mark about the complaint that he was harrassing customers. Mark told him that he was simply stood there and that people were approaching him, and all he had done was lean against a post waiting for people to come across to him who wanted to sign the petition.
Whilst there talking to Mark, the manager was stopped multiple times by members of the public asking if they could interrupt him as they wanted to sign the petition. The manager apologised saying it was completely clear to him that the complaint was a lie and that he was completely happy for Mark to continue as is.
People are quite welcome to request the CCTV at Morrisons to confirm for themselves that the manager at Morrisons had been lied to and that Mark was simply stood waiting for anyone interested to approach him.
We have been told by a staff employee at a shop in Ross that they received a phone call from JKHS, in which they were asked to make sure that they do not show anyone a leaflet they had in their shop regarding the petition, saying that the information that the leaflet contained was incorrect, and that the school had not been approached about a meeting.
If that is what they said, then it was a straight out lie because this phone call from JKHS (and the leaflet it was referring to) took place LONG AFTER Nigel Griffiths had responded to the petition for a public meeting in the Ross Gazette saying "we do not conduct our business via social media or public meetings", which was a clear refusal to agree to the very public meeting being asked for.
Are you another business in town that has been contacted by the school about leaflets? Tell us about it! Contact us
At least one local shopkeeper, we have been informed, has said that David Boyd, Deputy Head of JKHS, was in town removing or trying to remove leaflets from shops / noticeboards.
This appears to be John Kyrle High School trying to act against Freedom of Speech. This is also more evidence of them taking further action to try to stop the Open Letter being heard. You can read more about the Open Letter here
It also appears that this is activity paid for by the taxpayer as it happened in the daytime when David Boyd was likely working, unless he was off sick or doing this whilst on holiday.
See the Open Letter Page for information about the Open Letter and Nigel Griffiths' reaction to it.
SECTION THREE: Chair of Trustees, Denise Strutt, not wanting to talk
Here is the letter back to Denise Strutt (Chair of Trustees at JKHS), after a letter was received from her which had been eagerly awaited but in it did she did NOT give further details of very meeting which she had "urged" to take place. Her offer to meet had been accepted.
Why won't the Chair of Trustees talk? This is about pupil wellbeing. It is extremely concerning that JKHS are acting in this way, and now it seems the Trustees are acting in the same way. Trustees should act independently.
Other parents and ex-teachers had warned that even though all this is about is getting a meeting to suggest positive ideas and changes, that the JKHS Headteacher Nigel Griffiths will likely encourage a self-investigating complaint to be made. A complaint, or official complaints procedure is self-investigating, and many people say their experience is the school will say it has investigated and there is no problem. The people parents and ex-teachers who warned about this certainly were proved right, whatever the reasons for the school doing trying to manipulate things in this direction.
Note that Nigel Griffiths has made a statement to an investigating MP that denies any problem with mental health at the school by using the made up logic that children who suffer from mental health issues don't pass exams, and that because JKHS results in league tables are good, there is not an issue.
It seems Nigel Griffiths wishes to route people into a complaints procedure, even when as in this case what is being talked about is a request for a positive meeting by over 300 people, which is far from a complaint, it is about talking and looking at positive ideas and changes, talking to all parents, including those who have a lot of experience in dealing with mental health issues. it also appeared that Denise Strutt (the Chair of Trustees) followed this same approach, and with clarity showed she demonstrated she is not interested in meeting unless it is to hear a self-investigating complaint either.
It appears this looks like it could be a blatant attempt to force someone into an internal complaint procedure, which the school can easily shut down, and other parents are saying they feel that this has happened to them with similar concerns.
So, a second letter reply was sent to Denise Strutt, pointing out a few of these things, and inviting her again to get in touch if she wishes to engage on the matter. Denise Strutt never replied to either letter.
At time of writing, JKHS have made no attempt to meet with the over 300 people who've asked them for a meeting to discuss ideas around how the school can improve around mental health.
Read this second letter below...
SECTION FOUR: News on progress of JKHS accepting the public meeting
Unfortunately, Nigel Griffiths, Head Teacher at JKHS has NOT yet agreed to a public meeting about pupil well-being despite over 300 people asking for it to take place.
You can read more about the petition and the request for a public meeting on the home page.
As soon as there is news that Nigel Griffiths and his JKHS senior staff are willing to attend, it will be reported here.
The Public Meeting will take place at the Larruperz Centre, Ross-on-Wye on a date and time convenient for all parties. All concerned parents, ex-parents, ex-pupils, mental health professionals and interested members of the community will be invited to attend.
SECTION FIVE: News of this group's activity
Want to read the statement to the BBC by JKHS Headteacher Nigel Griffiths? Click here
On 12th October 2018 a question was put to Herefordshire Council in their quarterly meeting, about engaging with a particular school.
This question and its answer were recorded, as are all these council meetings, you can listen to it right now by clicking here
The question was put:
"It’s good to hear the council are engaged on this topic in so many areas.
Considering that most adolescent mental health issues come to light when children are at secondary school, in their teenage years, I would assume the council members would agree that schools in the county should encourage, welcome, and act upon relevant feedback provided by students and parents.
People who have real life experience of mental health issues in schools have a unique ability to provide easy and workable solutions to improve the lives of students.
Will the council show support for all kind, caring people in the community who simply wish to meet with their particular school, to help it improve on mental health issues where it needs to - to help pupils who suffer?"
The answer to the question said:
"...therefore I would certainly expect there to be a constructive dialogue between any concerned parent and the school, any carer and the school and so forth …if there is a specific issue it is important that that is raised with the school”.
So, the council supports parents who want to engage in constructive dialogue, which is all that is being asked for in a public meeting.
Note, raising issues, this is what this is about, it is NOT about using an internal complaints procedure, it is about talking, engaging, addressing issues, getting feedback and input from those people who have relevant experience who can help.
So, as for Nigel Griffiths, people are waiting to talk to him, to have that constructive dialogue, it is time to simply agree to a public meeting. To listen and talk, in order to help students who suffer from extreme anxiety and worse. It is easy, simple, and morally it is the right thing to do.
An original question was put to the Council earlier this week and answered, to read this other question and answer click here