Friday, 10 September 2010

The Safeguarding meeting

I decided that I would write to the headteacher at St. Benedict's to ask if I could attend the meeting next week.
From: Jonathan West
Date: 8 September 2010 15:54
Subject: Safeguarding Meeting 14 September
To: Senior School Headmaster

Dear Headmaster

As I am sure you are aware, as the father of a former pupil of St. Benedict's School I have taken a close interest in safeguarding matters at the school since the conviction of Father David Pearce last year. I note from the August edition of your Headmaster's Newsletter that you will be holding a meeting with parents on this subject in the Cloister on 14th September.

Since safeguarding is a matter of general public interest (for instance to parents who may be considering sending their children to the school in the future),  I would like to attend the meeting, and be able to ask questions. Please advise whether you have any objection to my presence at the meeting.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan West
I have received the following reply from the headmaster.
From: Senior School Headmaster
Date: 10 September 2010 16:53
Subject: RE: Safeguarding Meeting 14 September
To: Jonathan West

Dear Mr West,

Re: Ealing Abbey

I have received your email of 8th September, and the meeting I have called on 14th September is restricted to current parents, and current staff.

As you know, Queen’s Counsel, Lord Carlile of Berriew, is undertaking a review of all child safeguarding matters, both historical and up-to-date. I know Lord Carlile will be contacting you to arrange a meeting to discuss the close interest that you have taken in safeguarding matters at the School.

I should be grateful if you would kindly acknowledge safe receipt of this communication.

Yours sincerely

Chris Cleugh
Notice the request for an acknowledgement that I have receiived his reply. He wants to be sure that he's within his rights to throw me out and charge me with trespass if I were to try and sneak in.

This is of a piece with my previous requests to meet the Abbot. The school can hardly claim to be interested in making all possible improvements to child protection if they persistently refuse to meet with those who have knowledge of the matter and concerns about the situation.

It appears that they will do anything rather permit themselves to be in a position where they have to answer difficult questions in front of witnesses. If they have nothing to hide, why avoid speaking to me?

I have a number of important questions which it would be good for parents to be able to ask. Although I can't be there, the questions can. If you are a parent of a pupil at the school would like to help ask the questions they ought to be answering, by all means get in touch. Email me at

I acknowledged Chris Cleugh's email and asked him when the Terms of Reference for Lord Carlile's inquiry would be published. Until we see the terms of reference, we can't tell whether it will be another whitewash. I would be very happy to see the school make a real effort to put its house in order, and would unreservedly cheer and congratulate them if they do. But on present performance, we have to assume that the inquiry will be a whitewash unless and until we see evidence to the contrary.


  1. The only reason they do not want you there is that you know the questions to ask, unlike parents who will not dare ask any questions in case they are marked as troublemakers and their child's education prejudiced.

    This is what happens in independent education.

    It's an unacceptable environment in which to raise children.

  2. Go anyway - what can they do? To throw you out would cause a scene which they would not want. By the way do the journalists from the Times and the Telegraph know that there is a meeting? It would be interesting to see which journalists turn up - aside from the ealing gazette. Additionally the current head is no better than the Abbot by still allowing a 6th former to have contact with DP. Why did he not insist that DP should not come back to the abbey - he should have been nowhere near any child of any age. Two further acts were committed whilst DP was in the care of the Abbot in 2006. Where is Lawrence Soper - out of the juristiction how convenient. There is more here than meets the eye. I suspect as Ealing Police do that there is a ring. The school leaves you with a nasty taste and all the selected quotes lull prospective/current parents into a false sense of security and until you have been through the "system" you don't know about the lies etc. I urge you to go to the meeting.

  3. The ISI at it again - the inspectorate for ISC schools fears one thing above all others - transparency!

    Extracts from Oral and Written Evidence on the Work of Ofsted made to the Childrens Schools and Families Select Committee – published 9th Feb 2009

    Memorandum submitted by Mrs Stella R Davis, MA, Retired Teacher


    — That there exists inertia and confusion in the relationships between the DCSF, Ofsted and the private inspectorate, ISC/ISI (Independent Schools Council/Independent Schools Inspectorate). (Throughout this text I use ISI/ISC as occasionally I am not certain who employs whom. They were at that time the same company.)

    — That an individual who wishes to make an appeal concerning the independence of or the outcome of or the Report on an inspection by the ISC/ISI cannot and may not do so.

    — That claims made by Ofsted concerning their role in overseeing the work of the private inspectorate ISC/ISI conflict.


    1. Four years of research, mainly into one particular inspection, have shown a lack of procedural clarity within the DCSF and Ofsted. However, there is certainty about the outcome so far. An individual who wishes to make an appeal concerning the independence of or the outcome of an inspection by the ISC/ISI cannot and may not do so.

    2. Mr Bell says that Ofsted “quality assures the work of ISI”. He has also indicated in writing that there appear to have been “procedural irregularities” in this inspection, but, as HMCIS at that time, said that it was not within his remit to do anything about it.

    3. In inspections that are not of the small selection to be monitored, Ofsted allows the ISI to do its own quality assurance. Amanda Noble, on 2 January 2008, on behalf of Christine Gilbert says, “complaints against individual inspections must be handled according to the ISI’s own complaints procedure”.

    4. The ISI appeals procedure is simple. It does not allow appeal by individuals. Only member schools may appeal.

    5. Therefore there is no procedure in place to deal with poor quality, biased, inadequate or flawed reports, appealed by individuals, because it does not need one. Only schools, ie, members of the ISC, may appeal against any inspection. Individuals may not appeal. All the schools inspected by the ISI are members of the ISC. Mr Shephard, a barrister and former CEO of the ISC says in a letter of 3 January 2005, “Tony Hubbard is correct in saying only a school may appeal”.

    7. No-one outside the schools membership of the ISC may appeal—that would include teachers, whistleblowers like myself, MPs and teachers’ professional associations.

    8. An ISI Report is published on the internet world-wide on a site that is regarded by the majority to be of high quality and to contain the results of independent, objective, rigorous inspection. No-one leading a department found wanting has a professional future.

    19. I am not alone in knowing that private inspectorates are neither transparent nor objective nor independent. Nor am I alone in thinking that neither the inspections nor the procedures to deal with appeals from individuals are “fit for purpose”.

    29. The ISI/ISC has only one procedure to address concerns of any individual—“ISI rules are such that only a school can complain about a report”. So whoever wrote this note to Penny Jones of the DCSF, knew that this private inspectorate’s procedures to address concerns about inspections and reports was that “only a school can complain”. That is not “fit for purpose” if objectivity or independence is of concern, as that meant that only members of the ISC/ISI could complain.

    Getting the picture?

  4. yes go anyway. School were fully aware of last victim's "involvement" with monastery and did nothing to stop it. Open secret that victim was being prepped for joining monastery. Nothing was seen as abnormal but thats the probem. Exactly why did sopper suddenly stop being abbott?

  5. This evening the Bursar refused to let me enter the meeting as I am no longer a current parent despite the fact that I have just finished paying the last lot of school fees this August. What are they frightened of - there was security everywhere. The Bursar Mrs De Cintra is also the Secretary to the Advisors so she holds enormous power and has 3 children, 2 of whom are still pupils, she knows all financial details and personal details of all parents and staff and is one of the group who actually run the school, Mr Cleugh and the Simmons couple make up the rest. The abbot is a puppet to them all.