Research perspectives

Holland Park School investigation

B3sixty has recently completed an investigation at an Academy Trust in London that has received widespread media coverage. The investigation process was typical of the type of detailed analysis that we apply to all our work. In most cases, the investigation and the outcome remain confidential. This is something which we place great emphasis on during and after an investigation. In this case, a summary of the outcome of the investigation has been published by Academy Governing Body and reported widely, so we felt able to take this opportunity to outline the process and impact such an investigation can have.

At B3Sixty we are very often approached to investigate complaints within educational establishments. The types of complaint we deal with vary widely. In this case, as in many, the complaints came from both former students and former staff. The scope of the complaints included misleading Ofsted inspectors, safeguarding flaws that risked the welfare of students, and bullying of students and staff. Due to the age and sensitive nature of these allegations and the fact that the allegations were said to have occurred over a long period, affecting a large number of staff and students, the allegations had to be identified before they could be investigated.

The investigation was carried out in a two-stage process:

  • Stage 1 – where staff and students were invited to send details of complaints to the investigation for review. A schedule of all complaints was compiled, together with supporting evidence. This was contained in an interim report delivered to the Board of Governors for their review. More than 100 individuals submitted evidence.
  • Stage 2 – where participants identified from Stage 1 were invited to be interviewed.
    B3sixty was able to ensure all potential complainants could come forward in a safe, sensitive and confidential environment and to take from them the evidence required to complete a balanced and impartial report. We were delighted that the reports of the investigation recognised that “The investigator’s view, based upon extensive and corroborative evidence provided during interviews, is that on the balance of probabilities every complaint is found to have happened.”

Once we have handed our report to the client, it is of course for them to consider and decide how to address any misconduct or grievance. In order to maintain our independence and professionalism we take no part in decision making, unless the client’s terms of reference request us to do so. The impact of the report can lead to disciplinary steps, reviews of policies, procedures and working practices and training opportunities.

We pride ourselves on providing a safe and impartial space for complainants and witnesses to provide their evidence. This was recognised in this case. What was also recognised was our professional analysis and evaluation of evidence, and the production of a reliable, robust and objective report.

If you have a complaint or issue that requires to be investigated, please feel free to contact us on