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John Kyrle Mental Health 5-minute read

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Here's a quick overview of what's happened since when over 300 people requested a meeting with John Kyrle about Mental Health. The school has refused to attend. 100s more concerned people are illustrating and supporting the urgent need for a meeting from experience, including parents, ex-teachers, mental health professionals, and affected ex-pupils.

If this is your first time visiting this site, once you've read this brief history, take a look around where you can read much more about every step of the way that there's been in trying to get a meeting and the overwhelming opinion from so many that it is desperately needed.

Open Letter

August 2018, an Open Letter is written to the school for publishing in the Ross Gazette. It expresses deep concern over how the school's senior staff pressure pupils in group talks and assemblies, saying they use fear of failure and guilt tactics to try to make pupils work harder for exams, and that this can potentially be very damaging to their mental health. It suggests a public meeting with the school where all concerned can discuss issues, to help the school improve and to help those pupils who suffer with mental health and anxiety.

School tries to stop Open Letter being published

The Ross Gazette approach JKHS for comment to include with the letter, and Nigel Griffiths (JKHS Headteacher and also a Lead Ofsted Inspector) seems to "threaten" the Ross Gazette to try to stop it being published. Telling the editor that "we've had a big meeting about it", and "whilst we can't tell you not to publish it" he told the editor "if you DO, there could be cause for action". The Ross Gazette then don't publish it.

Open Letter is distributed in face of the school's attempt to stop it

Upon hearing the paper is not publishing the Open Letter, it is handed out by hand around Ross-on-Wye and distributed in shops, with an incredible amount of support and many, many people saying they feel the same over what was written in the letter, and that they are not happy with JKHS when it comes to mental health. Many comments focus on peoples' unhappiness with the school failing to address issues as they see them, with its management, its pastoral care, and its senior staffs' approach.

A petition for a Public Meeting about Mental Health at the school

A week later, a petition is drawn up, which people can sign if they also request that John Kyrle have a Public Meeting about mental health. One person alone over a few hours collects over 300 signatures, names and addresses (only from people from Ross-on-Wye, and each one in pen and ink). Most of this time is spent stood still silently with a petition and a sign, with a constant stream of people reading the sign and coming over to express and talk about their worries about JKHS and their deep support for a meeting.

School out in town trying to remove Open Letter

It is reported from locals and shopkeepers that at least one teachers is out in town trying to remove the Open Letters from shops. As a result more people make contact voicing deep concerns and more copies of the Open Letter are requested as shops run out.

Ross Gazette reports about the petition

The Ross Gazette publish articles about the petition and the request for a meeting about Mental Health with the school, publishing the numbers of people signing. The number of people supporting the meeting quickly reached a number greater than 5% of the adult population of Ross-on-Wye.

People come flooding forward with experiences

This website is launched and together with its facebook group it is flooded with people coming forward to recount their children's experiences at John Kyrle, time after time people talk about the failures as they see them, and many talk of panic attacks, self-harming, mental health issues, bullying and apparent attempts to actively encourage them to take their child out of John Kyrle High School (into other schools, PRUs, or home schooling). This highlights there are concerns about off-rolling, and associated stress and mental health issues arising from these life changes for the young people affected.

Ex-teachers express their support

Ex-teachers from John Kyrle start coming forward expressing their support and the need for JKHS to be held to account for the approach of its senior management. This flow of more teachers and staff getting in touch keeps on going, with ex-trustees getting in contact to voice their support too.

Ex-teachers talk of concerns for staff at John Kyrle

Many ex-teachers talk of themselves or colleagues being what they consider to be mistreated, not supported, or even feeling bullied by senior management at JKHS. Many of them point to go take a look at the huge staff turnover at JKHS (18 new members of staff in one day at the start of the 2018 school year for example). Many recount events around ex-staff leaving often talking of pressures and expectancies put upon them. Their experiences are often like echoes of each other.

Leaflets are distributed and even more people come forward

Leaflets raising awareness of the need for a meeting, and the school's refusal to attend are distributed around town. As a result, the constant stream of people coming forward continues.

School tries to get shops to remove leaflets

The school phones shops, to ask them to remove leaflets, saying the information about a meeting is not true, although not attempting or being able to justify that claim at all. As a result, shops don't remove leaflets, they ask for more of them. Shops get in touch to express their disapproval over the calls they had from the school.

Chair of Trustees asks to meet then does not do it when taken up on it

Denise Strutt (Chair of Trustees) writes to the author of the Open Letter, urging to meet up. The author writes back welcoming a meeting but pointing out that he won't engage in one of the school's self-investigating complaints procedures, simply as it is clear the school have already tried to dismiss the meeting and refused to do it. He asks Denise to write back asap so they can meet up to discuss the issues. When Denise does write back she says she notes he doesn't want to proceed with a complaint and that's it. She never does get in touch about meeting up.

MP writes to Head who fails to answer why and dismisses issues with poor logic

Jesse Norman MP writes to Nigel Griffiths (JKHS Head) asking why he won't have a meeting, when over 300 people have asked for it. Mr Griffths writes back with no explanation to this, but tries to use the unsubstantiated and unproven logic that because results are good at JKHS, and that "pupils with mental health issues fail exams", they don't have any issue at the school. This is ill-informed logic, as there is no such correlation that is peer reviewed. In fact, a great many pupils with mental health issues will go on to get good grades despite what they are battling with. The issue is about Mental Health, NOT exam grades. Regardless, it is not for argument that over 300 people have asked for the meeting, and Mr Griffiths has refused to attend, and he completely skirted and avoided addressing this in his reply to Jesse Norman MP. For some reason, Jesse Norman didn't see the false assumptions and failure to answer the actual issue and doesn't follow up. It is also clear in Nigel Griffiths' letter back to Jesse that the pair of them are acquaintances of sorts and it has been observed as quite over familiar in tone.

BBC Hereford & Worcester lead news is on mental health and stress at JKHS

BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio run their lead news piece on Mental Health at John Kyrle High School, interviewing ex-pupils and parents who express their deep concerns and experiences. As a result, more people come forward with similar experiences. The school declines to be on radio and only issues a statement, in it Nigel Griffiths says he encourages parents to come meet with them and it is an offer extended to at least one parent they've spoken to, and it was not accepted. This is a lie - the BBC confirm which parents they told the school they spoke to, and it turns out it is only one parent that they mentioned. This parent was urged by the school to meet, and they wrote back to the school saying let's meet, and yet it is the school never did meet when asked to, and the school who didn't even follow up.

2nd Open Letter is written

A second Open Letter is written, explaining that a meeting is needed and many people need such a group meeting as not all people have the confidence to approach the school individually, and that some may want to just listen. It expresses the deep concern that the school is refusing to engage, even when 100s and 100s of people are concerned about mental health at the school. This 2nd Open Letter is available to read on this website as is more information about everything mentioned here.

Nigel Griffiths (Head) won't meet or even reply about meeting one on one

Nigel Griffiths is asked for a meeting one on one, to discuss mental health at John Kyrle. This is done in writing, inviting him out to lunch to talk about mental health at the school and to try to move things forward. This letter is sent to him 3 times, the delivery of it recorded each time and signed for. He never replies.

Denise Strutt (Chair of Trustees) won't meet either

Denise Strutt (Chair of Trustees) is asked in the light of her never following up on arranging a one on one meeting, to please meet to discuss mental health at the school. She refuses saying "that's not my role as a trustee". Even though the Governance Handbook that she is supposed to abide by states that it is her duty to listen to parents and the community and she is informed of this (this is also a clear duty of Nigel Griffiths).

Denise Strutt (Chair of Trustees) not fulfilling duties?

Whilst the Trustee Board, headed by Denise Strutt is supposed to police the behaviour of the Headteacher and the management of the school, remaining independent, it appears not to be doing this. The Head and management are refusing to listen to parents and the community, and as of this date are completely unaware of what the concerns and issues as seen by all these people are. The same goes for the Chair of Trustees herself, who has refused to meet.

JKHS attempting to look like they are doing good around Mental Health

JKHS have made multiple press releases that give the impression they are acting around mental health. One of these is the announcement of a "Wellbeing and Positive Mental Health Steering Group" which claims that parents, teachers, pupils, have come together. It turns out no parents have, the only parents on the group are staff that happen to have children at the school, and one GP who also happens to have children there. No independent parents at all.

JKHS Mental Health Steering Group not open to parents

A parent writes asking to be made a member of the "Wellbeing and Positive Mental Health Steering Group" to help the school improve around mental health. Nigel writes back dismissing them, saying the scope and purpose of the group has been misinterpreted. He says it is just a group put together at the request of pupils, to oversee the creation of a picture based charter. A sort of poster competition. The parent can't believe this story as it seems a bit wild that pupils would request a team of professionals be put together to oversee the creation of something like that, it is believed Nigel Griffiths said whatever he needed to to dismiss the parents involvement. When the parent wrote back saying he had 25 years experience in design and visual communication and would be able to help even more than Nigel thought, Nigel wrote back with a letter which didn't address anything he wrote at all. The parent never got to help.

Ongoing activities...

Ex-staff and teachers, professional mental health bodies, services and charities, as well as safeguarding services, ex-trustees, counsellors and councillors are all voicing long standing concerns and offering their assistance.

Over five hundred hours of consultation, meetings, cataloguing, recording and listening has taken place since August 2018 and is continuing all the time.

In the light of 10% minimum of schoolchildren suffering from mental health (about a minimum of 150 attending JKHS as you read this), the way a school approaches their education, as well as dealing with issues, is of utmost importance. Over 200 schoolchildren committed suicide in the UK last year, and reports of suicide attempts, self-harming, panic attacks and long lasting mental health issues from JKHS parents and pupils are just the worst cases. Many more children will be suffering from extreme stress which can turn into awful scenarios.

It is empathy and kindness towards JKHS pupils which is driving people to want to help John Kyrle High School improve itself around mental health, but they can only do this if the school engages. ....so far, the school has not engaged with any of the concerned people, as confirmed by Nigel Griffiths himself, and yet this is when over 300 of them have asked for a meeting and 100s more are supporting it online.

Still at time of writing, zero attempt by JKHS has been made to find out what the various issues are that 100s and 100s of people are concerned about. Compare this to roughly 500 hours of consultation and listening that has been done by this group.

A final and important thank you to many JKHS subject teachers!

There are many individual subject teachers at John Kyrle who do a fantastic job in being supportive when pupils have issues. On behalf of all the parents who recognise this and are commenting on it, a massive thank you. You set an example to the headteacher and senior management of the school.

It is recognised that some of you may do this with little support to yourselves, and your positive efforts are commented upon by many people when they are in touch about poor mental health at John Kyrle High School.

The number of people who have specifically commented positively on how the headteacher and senior staff deal with mental health currently stands at less than 5.

...remember, all that is being asked of John Kyrle is to attend a simple public meeting about Mental Health. Nothing complicated.

When the school does this, and listens to all those with first-hand experience and specialist knowledge, the school can likely massively improve and those pupils who suffer from anxiety and worse can benefit.

BBC Report on Mental Health at John Kyrle High School