Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Child Protection Policy - 5

On to paragraph 7.
7. The Designated Teacher for the Junior School and Early Years Foundation Stage is Mrs Monica McCarthy (Deputy Head of the Junior School) who may be contacted on 020 8862 2056. The Deputy Designated Teacher for the Junior School and Early Years Foundation Stage is Mr Robert Simmons (Headmaster of the Junior School) who may be contacted on 020 8862 2054. The Designated Teacher for the Senior School is Mr Stephen Oliver (Deputy Head of the Senior School) who may be contacted on 020 8862 2012. The Deputy Designated Teacher for the Senior School is Miss Fiona MacTaggart (Director of Upper and Middle Schools) who may be contacted on 020 8862 2021 They will (for each respective school/department):
How very curious. We finally have the names of the designated teachers and their deputies, along with contact details, for both the Junior and Senior Schools. But then we follow on with a new list of responsibilities.

Hang on a moment, weren't the responsibilities of the Designated Teacher listed in the previous paragraph?

Ah, I remember now, those were just the "main responsibilities", which turned out not to involve much in the way of an obligation to carry out any action at all. These new ones must be just mere "responsibilities".

One gets the overwhelming impression of a document rather thrown together in a hurry in order to satisfy an inspection requirement that there be a sheaf of papers somewhere with the words "Child Protection Policy" on the title page, but which nobody at the school has any serious intention of using.

Anyway, let's have a look at these new responsibilities:
  • advise and act upon all suspicion, belief and evidence of abuse reported to him / her;
Advise whom? Act in what way? Unless that is defined, they are free to do whatever they like. In essence, this commits them to nothing specific. This is becoming tiresomely familiar.
  • keep the Headmaster informed of all actions unless the Headmaster is the subject of a complaint. In this situation, the Designated Teacher should consult with Abbot Martin Shipperlee, Chair of Governors or in his absence, Dom Francis Rossiter, the Prior;
The Headmaster as a result is able to advise the Designated Teacher that the case he has been informed of doesn't form "proper circumstances" (as stated in paragraph 5) for a referral to an outside agency. Since "proper circumstances" are still undefined, there is complete discretion as to what they are, and there is nothing preventing the headteacher from advising the Designated Teacher accordingly. Remember, according to paragraph 3 "the Headmaster and Deputy Heads have very important roles in being available to all members of the community to offer advice" and I suspect they might consider this a most appropriate occasion for them to do so.

The Abbot and Prior are are good friends of the Headmaster. A problem with the Headmaster would reflect very badly on them, since they appointed him. So they will also be able to "consult" with the Designated Teacher and advise that these are not "proper circumstances" for an outside referral.

It gets even more surreal in the case of the Deputy Designated Teacher for the Junior School. He can inform himself of his actions (as he is also the Junior School Headmaster), and advise himself as to whether there are "proper circumstances" for an outside referral.

There's absolutely nothing in the policy that would prevent any of this from happening. They could do precisely as I have described, and still comply perfectly with the letter of this document. That is how utterly useless it is, and how it is that all these caveats provide the school with an excuse to do nothing.

Let's move on.
  • liaise with the SSD and other agencies on behalf of the School.
Well, we've already been told in paragraph 6 that they will be liaising with the SSD and other professionals. There's no need for a duplication.

Except for one interesting point. Here, the Designated Teachers are doing their liaison "on behalf of the School". But all the duties described in paragraph 6 are supposed to be carried out for the protection of the child. The Designated Teacher, if his/her role involves representing the the school as well as protecting children, has a clear conflict of interest, in that bringing to light a case of harm to a child might cause harm to the reputation of the school.

In matters of child protection, conflicts of interest built into procedures are totally unacceptable.


  1. Trust of St Benedict's Abbey Ealing14 July 2010 at 21:10

    "......should consult with Abbot Martin Shipperlee, Chair of Governors or in his absence...."

    That's the first time I have ever heard that St B's had Governors.

    As far as I know the School is run by the Trust of St Benedict's Abbey Ealing which is described on the Charity Commission in this way:


    All the Trustees are monks of Ealing Abbey. There are no Independent Trustees. Just contrast that with the Trustees of St Augustine's Priory School.

    There is the Abbot's Advisory Council to give the Abbot (Chairman of the Trust) advice on the School but this is not a Board of Governors.

  2. 21.10 I think you might be correct. It seems, in the absence of any explanation to the contrary, that the Trustees are the Board of Governors ("BoG") for the school. This is not claimed anywhere, parents are not informed, and needless to say it is unusual for new parents to enquire on the basis that they "haven't heard anything adverse about the school" and so like lambs they nod and smile and ask nothing. This behaviour pattern is common to most schools incidentally. Rigorous enquiries on important matters like the registered owner of the school, the governors and their independence, and safeguarding are either not on the list or forgotten. The Head is permitted to trot out his well rehearsed sales spiel without a searching question in sight. If you ask one you might not get that place! You as parents are being interviewed as well - "Are you PLU's?" the Head is thinking.

    St Benedict's school 'advisers' seem to carry no responsibility for the operation of the school in any sense. They seem to be sounding boards, cheerleaders and veneer. Can anyone evidence this is a mistaken interpretation?

    Sadly I've failed to locate the BoG's and their backgrounds on the Saint Augustine's site. If you can assist 21.10 I would appreciate it.

  3. 21:10 Details of St Augustine's14 July 2010 at 22:43

    You write:

    Sadly I've failed to locate the BoG's and their backgrounds on the Saint Augustine's site. If you can assist 21.10 I would appreciate it.

    Yes OK here is the list:

    "The Governing Body of the School [St Augustine's Priory School]:

    Professor A. Hemmingway, B.Sc., M.B.B.S., F.R.C.R., F.R.C.P. (Chair)

    [Gap for where Dom Gregory OSB used to be]

    Brigadier D. Cantley, O.B.E.

    Mr Geoffrey Bennett, M.A. (Cantab)

    Dr. M.M. Dowling Brannagan, B.A., M.B.B.Ch., F.F.R.(R.C.S.I.)

    Mrs H. Grewal, B.A.

    Mrs A.B. Kendall, B.Ed.


    The list of Governors of the School is included in the Accounts of the Charity each year on the Charity Commission website:

    "The School known as St Augustine’s Priory is registered as a Charity and is administered by St Augustine’s Priory School Ltd a Charitable Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales (Company No 4482913)."

  4. Abbot's Advisory Board14 July 2010 at 22:50

    "St. Benedict’s was founded in 1902 by the monks of Downside Abbey. The school site, in a pleasant West London suburb, is shared with the monastery, which became an independent community in 1947, achieving abbey status in 1955. Members of the monastic community serve as governors of the school and as its board of trustees, supported by an advisory governing body consisting of selected lay persons."



    St. Benedict’s, Ealing – Senior School

    Inspection Dates
    January 26th – 30th, 2004

    Trustees of St Benedict’s Abbey, Ealing

  5. I think the question is that now that few of the Monks teach at the school or have experience a governor of a private school would be expected to have whether the Board of Governors needs to include lay people.

  6. 21.10 Thank you. What you have found is a list of names (Of St A’s BoG’s) resembling a telephone directory. In fact there is usually more information in a telephone directory. St A’s and the majority of schools are guilty of this shortcoming. Why does St A’s not have a school management / administration tab to assist potential and present parents looking for such matters (Livingstone)? Bbut where are the all important accompanying bio’s similar to that which are present for the 'school advisers' of St Benedict's. We have no clue if the St A's Governors are 'independent' of the setting or consist of former and current parents and former pupils, suppliers to the school &c. I mentioned in a previous post 'concern 1 & 2' that it is vital to have truly independent Governors and that parents can assure themselves of this. It is particularly important when the dreadful subject of 'abuse' arises in an independent school in particular.

    Independence is also needed for many further reasons but PLU's are preferred because the attendant problem of ‘groupthink' is often present in the Governor’s who are responsible for choosing a new Governor.

    St Benedict’s does provide the names about Governors, but once again has one has to go in search of it when it should be on an ‘administration tab Livingstone clear for all to read. But disappointingly we can now see that the school has not one independent thinker on the Board and this is casue for concern.

    One should also reasonably expect all schools to make clear the legal entity that owns the school. When registering independent schools with the DfE this is question one. Parents should not have to go in search of such fundamental information.
    Here are the basics every parent needs to be able to readily access on any school website - The name of the owning concern, the directors of the owning concern, the names of the Governors and are these different to the directors of the owning concern and if so why, bio’s for the Governors which provides their connection if any to the school, the identity of the Governor with the Safeguarding portfolio? It is also a statutory requirement of primary legislation The Education (Independent School Standards) (England)(Amendment) Regulations 2008 which came into force in January 2009 that all Independent schools should feature a copy of the Safeguarding Policy on their websites.

    This information being unavailable or impossible to find should have distant alarm bells ringing because it suggests a cultural tendency by any school ‘not to inform.’

  7. History of Sex Abuse at Benedictine Schools

    The first link will provide information which is accurate as far as it goes but it is not up to date. It appears that the prevalence of sexual abuse in the English Benedictine estate of schools is cause for concern as this link indicates.

    As you can see there have been incidents of sexual abuse at Ealing, Buckfast Abbey, Ampleforth, and Belmont Abbey according to Wiki. But abuse did spread rather further than this within the Benedictine estate to include the Douai School, attached to Douai Abbey as reported in The Times as well as Downside School according to the BBC

    Were this prevalence of abuse to appear in an association of schools, or a single company operating these settings, I have little doubt that the DfE might be asking questions. However here we have separate Trusts for perfectly sound reasons which operate separate schools under one franchise but which an extraordinarily high rate of abuse in attendance?

    One school at which abuse occurred, Buckfast Abbey Prep school closed in 79. In this case it was the Abbott who was convicted of sexual abuse as reported once more by the BBC

    Given this history and the extraordinary events at Ampleforth, it is quite right that the safeguarding policy of St Benedict’s should be examined on this Blogsite. We read that the Abbott will not discuss the perfectly legitimate public interest concerns about the school’s safeguarding policy. Why not?
    I note that the recent ISI inspection report has been removed from the inspectorates website despite it still being available on St Benedict’s site. The ISI provides no explanation for this missing report – does anyone have any idea why this "inspectorate" seems unwilling to stand behind its last report?

    Despite the recent inspection and despite the seriously defective safeguarding policy that was in place at the time, the ISI noticed nothing wrong! This tells you a great deal about the veracity of the ISI’s inspection and reporting of safeguarding. Their safeguarding inspections and reports are as effective as the St Benedict’s safeguarding policy. In a word - useless.

    Following numerous recent updates by the administration of St Benedict’s to their safeguarding policy since the inspection, it still fails to commit to report all allegations of abuse to the LADO (in the case of adult on child allegations) or children’s services in the case of child on child abuse.


  8. I'm really scratching my head here, totally puzzled as to who might have set up that Wikipedia article (link above). Could it possibly be our very own insomniac, Mr West? No, surely not, the link's supplied by an ANONYMOUS BLOGGER; our great leader can't have stooped that low. Or can he...?

  9. Nope, nothing to do with me. There must be others on to you as well :-)

  10. Well Mr West you should be deeply flattered, 15:46 has imitated your style to perfection!

  11. Not hard. It comes naturally to those who do their research properly.

  12. HOLD ON!

    What is this vulgar 'on to you' stuff? (jonathan west above). I trust, it doesn't emanate from some unseemly sexual fantasy on the part of Mr West?!

  13. 'It comes naturally......' So you obviously know this blogger extremely well Mr West?

  14. 19:08 - You have a filthy mind. Have you ever thought of taking holy orders?

  15. The abuse at Douai Abbey school referred to above was carried out by an Anglican priest and was the second high profile Anglican priest jailed that month. Not just Catholic priests who abuse and not just the catholic church which mishandled abuse in the past

  16. 23.12 for accuracy let's recall the abuse at Buckfast Prep:

    hursday, 8 November 2007, 15:00 GMT

    E-mail this to a friend Printable version
    Monk jailed for schoolboys abuse

    Manahan had been ordained as a Catholic priest in 1952
    An 80-year-old monk has been sent to prison for 15 months for sexually abusing boys at a Roman Catholic school more than 30 years ago.
    Ordained priest William Manahan pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to eight charges of sexually assaulting pupils.

    The offences happened at Buckfast Abbey Preparatory School in Devon between 1971 and 1978. The school later closed."

  17. I have the solution 00.29! Let's nuke all Benedictine establishments - everywhere! But, wait a mo, why stop there? How much nuking do you think we need to do Memento Bucky? Perhaps, we need to nuke the whole bl**dy human race?

  18. Yes, 9:35, great idea! Secular tyranny's so much more efficient than its medieval counterpart, isn't it?

    'Nuking' may be a little extreme, though.

    Remember we now have the internet which is much cleaner! And, do also remember that, today, we can happily forget all that silly old supernatural stuff - we now have truly super NATURAL guides, like Mr West, to tell us exactly what to do and think. But, no 'feelings', please, we're born again Nietzscheans! (Sorry, Friedrich, I'm not really implicating you!)

    - K.R.

  19. The administration of the setting at which abuse occurred (Douai) is responsible for the actions of all contractors and staff whilst on the school site, during school trips or during extra curricular activities organised by the setting. The DfE makes this perfectly clear in its 'guidance.'

  20. I kniw that but just wanted to clarify as some bloggers here obviously have a strong anti Catholic agenda

  21. Just read the above comment! And, I'm shocked! 'A strong anti Catholic Agenda'? Where? Not on this blog, surely? What weird, distorted notions some people get!

  22. My feelings and sympathies are for the boys abused at St. Benedict's School over the last several decades. Remember, my interest came about not because the school is Catholic but because my son attended. Fortunately for him and for me, my son was not abused. Others have been far less fortunate.

    I wish to get the school's safeguarding arrangements into a state where they are fit for purpose. That requires that the Trustees go back and look at the mistakes of the past and work out how to avoid repeating them.

    From the way the Abbot is behaving, it looks very much as if he knows all-too-well what the mistakes of the past are, and dare not admit to them. After all, he was David Pearce's immediate successor as headteacher of the Junior School, and it is inconceivable that he didn't know perfectly well the reason Pearce was moved. But in his interview on the Sunday programme a souble of months ago, he claimed that he wasn't "officially aware" of Pearce's activities until 2004!

  23. Mr West, as you know, we have heard all this before, several times over.

    Could you please clarify at what point, in your view, ordinary human interaction becomes 'abusive' and when does such abusive action become 'sexual abuse'?

  24. With regard to sexual abuse, I would refer you to the definition given in London Child Protection Procedures, issued by the London Safeguarding Childen Board. Look at paragraphs 4.2.6 to 4.2.9 on page 121 for the definition of sexual abuse, and paragraphs 4.3.19 to 4.3.24 on pages 125-6 for guidance on recognising sexual abuse.

    With regard to wider issues of what constitutes child abuse, I suggest you read the equivalent paragraphs on those other varieties of child abuse in the same document.

  25. Mr West
    Was it not a teacher or a member of staff at St Benedicts school who reported the latest ABUSE of Fr David pearce to the local authoritys?.
    The child protection policy worked and Pearce was arrested.
    And were they sacked?....NO

  26. For God's sake, 18:58, SHUT UP! Your completely undermining Mr West's case!