From: Jonathan WestThe list of comments I attached was the same as I had previously sent to the Abbot (without receiving any reply), and had subsequently published.
Date: 11 February 2010 17:02
Subject: ISI Inspection reports
To: Senior School Headmaster
Dear Mr Cleugh,
I have just had the opportunity to read the ISI inspection reports for both the Senior and Junior School.
There is one matter about which I am extremely curious and I would like your help in clarifying. Paragraph 4.4 of the Senior School report and paragraph 4.5 of the Junior School report both make mention (using more or less identical wording) of an independent review that was conducted of the measures taken to minimize risk, following the case of Father David Pearce (though he is not mentioned by name in either report).
I notice that the most recent child protection policies published on the school website are dated 1st September 2009. I met the Abbot on 10th September to discuss issues arising from the conviction of Father David, and suggested that an independent review would be a good idea. He said that he would give the matter some thought, but did not promise to proceed with such a review.
On 2nd October, the day Father David was sentenced, the Abbot made a press statement in which he promised an independent review.
The promise of an independent review is also mentioned in the report published in December of the two Statutory Inquiries held by the Charity Commission. The Commissioners stated that they looked forward to receiving the report of this review.
The Abbot again promised a review in a statement made to the Ealing Gazette in response to the Charity Commission criticisms. This statement was included in an article published on 7th January this year.
I have in the past asked the Abbot for details of this independent review, but he has not so far been willing to provide any.
So perhaps you could help. Could you please indicate what information you provided to the ISI inspectors that led them to state that the review had been conducted and that "the advice from the independent experts has been fully implemented."
Furthermore, I have some quite serious concerns about the adequacy of the existing safeguarding policy as published. I have made those concerns known in writing to the Abbot in his capacity as chairman of governors, but have not had the courtesy of a reply.
I attach a copy of the comments I made to the Abbot. As you can see they go into considerable detail concerning the procedures described, and their shortcomings in terms of clarity and consistency.
Mr Cleugh replied two weeks later.
From: Senior School HeadmasterAn email assuring the paramountcy of the welfare of children is a waste of electrons unless it is backed by policies and procedures that actually protect the welfare of children. I replied as follows:
Date: 25 February 2010 11:54
Subject: RE: ISI Inspection reports
To: Jonathan West
Dear Mr West
My apologies for the delay in replying to your e-mail dated 11th February, but the school was closed for half term and I myself was away.
I do assure you that we do take our child protection procedures most seriously and review our policies regularly and with the guidance of both the Diocese and the Local Authority. The safety and welfare of all the children is of paramount importance to us.
When we are next reviewing our policies, which will be towards the end of this academic year, we shall take your comments into account.
From: Jonathan WestAnd answer came there none.
Date: 25 February 2010 18:46
Subject: Re: ISI Inspection reports
To: Senior School Headmaster
Dear Mr Cleugh
Unfortunately, you have neglected to answer the specific question I put. It was this:
Could you please indicate what information you provided to the ISI inspectors that led them to state that the review had been conducted and that "the advice from the independent experts has been fully implemented."
I would be grateful for a response on this particular point.
As it turns out, the DfE agreed with me that the school's procedures were inadequate - the headmaster would have been better advised to take some notice of me.
It's probably worth repeating Section 4.4 of the ISI's November report on the Senior School.
4.4 The trustees and advisers are fully aware of, and diligent in discharging, their responsibilities for the welfare, health and safety of pupils, including taking proper steps to review and evaluate the effectiveness of their child protection policies and procedures. A serious recent incident involving a member of the monastic community caused the trustees to request an independent review of the measures taken to minimize risk. The advice received from the independent experts has been fully implemented.
In the meeting last Tuesday, Mr. Cleugh gave a somewhat confusing account of this, suggesting that the ISI had managed to get two completely different cases mixed up, that there had been a separate review of the risks posed by Father Stanislaus Hobbs in addition to the diocesan review of Father David Pearce.
But if that were so, then the ISI would surely have made reference in this paragraph to two cases. But they didn't. The only reasonable conclusion is that the ISI was not made aware of the Hobbs situation. Given that Father Stanislaus Hobbs resigned as a Trustee in 2005 at the time of his arrest, the school had a statutory duty to send a Notification to the DCSF Teacher Misconduct Section in Darlington. And that Notification should already have been available to the inspectors when they arrived in November 2009.
And if the failure to make a Notification at the time in 2005 had merely been due to an oversight, it ought to have been rectified in information provided by the school in the pre-inspection questionnaire, so that the inspectors had full information by the time they visited.