Plan to change name of Quintin Kynaston School sparks anger
Academies ask parents for views at school hit by expenses scandal and negative headlines
08 June, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya
Alex Atherton, the headteacher at Quintin Kynaston
A SECONDARY school with a turbulent recent past could be about to change its name after being taken over by an academy chain.
Objectors to the possible switch at Quintin Kynaston School, in Swiss Cottage, say its new managers should not be trying to implement a “Year Zero” by removing the name of 19th-century education reformer Quintin Hogg from its front door.
The Marlborough Hill school endured unwanted headlines when it was revealed that Isis killer Mohamed Emwazi was a former pupil, while former headteacher Jo Shuter faced disciplinary action over her use of school expenses. More recently, it suffered a damning Ofsted report in which inspectors branded it “inadequate”, leading to the school being placed in special measures and taken over by the Harris Federation education charity.
The Federation, which runs 41 schools across the country, has suggested the new name for the school could be Harris Academy St John’s Wood – but critics have dismissed the switch as an attempt to erase history and stamp out the school’s individuality.
Michael Parker, of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It’s like everything before Harris took over no longer matters. Every school has its own history, ethos and quirks and what Harris don’t like are schools with individuality.” He added: “It is very disappointing that Harris intend to delete the name of Quintin Hogg. QK was originally the Quintin School, founded by the great education reformer Quintin Hogg in the 19th century. We owe a great debt to reformers like him who were determined that there be proper free education for the children of working people.
He added: “This change of name expunges that link. QK has a history to be proud of. September 1, 2017, should not be a ‘Year Zero’, before which nothing mattered.”
The school can count Madness singer Suggs and r’n’b performers Shola Ama and Tulisa as former pupils.
In a consultation letter to parents about the possible name change, the Harris Federation said: “All schools in our Federation have the words ‘Harris Academy’ in their name. We also try to ensure the name of the local area is reflected.”
Murad Qureshi, a former London Assembly member who attended the school as a boy, said the move was “outrageous”. He compared it to an estate agent “rebranding an area for their own marketing”. “They [Harris] are trying to run away from something,” Mr Qureshi said. “Before it was QK Academy it was a comprehensive, before that it was a grammar school. The name continues whatever form the school takes. There is also a happier legacy of the school. It has a pop song about it that was in the charts, Baggy Trousers by Madness.”
The school was founded in Regent Street by Quintin Hogg in 1886. In 1944, it moved to St John’s Wood, becoming the Quintin School, and was joined next door by Kynaston Technical School. In 1969, the two schools became Quintin Kynaston. Headteacher Alex Atherton said he was not in a position to comment on the potential name change until after the consultation was complete, but has said he is “delighted” about the school joining the Harris Federation.
A Harris Federation spokesman said they want to “help restore the high standards QK has traditionally been known for”. He added: “We are currently asking parents for their views and have received very positive responses on a range of issues, including the name of the school.”