CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Heathside: Owner to stay as Ofsted-hit private school seeks new backers

New financial backing sought as union says teachers are worried about salaries and pensions

05 July, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

THE owner and principal of a Hampstead private school which was rocked by critical Ofsted reports has no intention of stepping down despite its parent company moving to appoint administrators.

Heathside Prep, based at six sites, said Melissa Remus was staying as its head and that it was in talks with new investors.

The New Journal revealed exclusively last year how Ofsted had raised concerns about the school’s operation.


SEE ALSO INSPECTORS REPORT THAT HAMPSTEAD BOARDING SCHOOL IS ‘DISORGANISED AND UNSAFE’


It holds the keys to the Olde White Bear pub, where plans to reopen the bar have so far stalled despite a community campaign and a new licensee ready to start work. Heathside uses the upstairs floor as a classroom.

Last week, Remus White Limited and Heathside Preparatory School Limited filed papers at Bristol County Court with a notice of intent to appoint administrators.

A statement form Heathside sent to the New Journal said: “We have written to all Heath­side parents and staff to provide an update on the ongoing restructuring of the school’s leadership. In recent weeks, we have been working to identify an educational partner committed to protecting Heathside’s independence and core ethos, while giving the financial backing and administrative infrastructure needed to enable the school to thrive.”

The wait goes on to see The Old White Bear pub open again

It added: “We are pleased to confirm we are now in the closing stages of finalising an agreement and anticipate making a full announcement in the coming days. In the meantime, Heathside School continues to operate as usual.”

The school made no further comment over the court notice.

Sources at the school told the New Journal that they believed a wealthy parent has offered financial help. One who is close to staff at the school said: “Many parents are extremely well off, have invested their time and energy and like the Heathside. They want to help, but parents say they are also worried that the school will need to be restructured, which could mean reducing its size, selling off assets, and teachers are worried for their jobs.”


SEE ALSO TOWN HALL URGED TO FORCE RE-OPENING OF OLD WHITE BEAR PUB IN HAMPSTEAD


Heathside, which charges fees of £18,000 a year, was warned by Ofsted inspectors that there were concerns about safeguarding and record keeping.

The school received further negative feedback from Ofsted before it reported things were improving earlier this year.

National Education Union’s Camden secretary Gerald Clark said it had been approached in recent months by staff at the school to discuss fears over the payment of salaries and pension contributions.

Mr Clark said: “If an investor is to be found and take over ownership then this could ultimately be a good thing for the school. It would mean a higher level of accountability in terms of the management structure.”

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