First let me describe what was promised at the parents' meeting on 14th September:
- Lord Carlile would be at the school on 5th October, and any parent who wished to speak to him could make an appointment via the headmaster's secretary Mrs. Simmonds.
- Notice of the inquiry would be placed in national and local newspapers, so that people can contact Lord Carlile directly at his chambers, and that parents could do this if they wished by email.
Although friends have been looking out for the adverts in the national press, there have been no sightings of any so far. If you happen to see one, do please email me to let me know.
The Terms of Reference are on the school website, in what web designers call a "level 4" location. i.e. one that can only be reached by at least 3 levels of link from the home (level 1) page of the site.
Currently on the home page of St Benedict’s we have the understandably vital announcement that there are a series of ‘Open Mornings and Evenings’ for which dates and times are provided. We also have the Latest News box on the home page which informs us of the following highly important events:
- International Music Festival Success
- Open House in The Cloisters
- Four Shipwrecks, a Wedding and a Funeral
- Historic first Tournament Win for U12 Netball Team
- Lower Fourth Green and Orchard Picnic
- Papal Visit – Twickenham and the Big Assembly
- A day to remember at Lord’s
- New Outdoor Play Area in Junior School
- Fencing Victory against Eton
- ‘Deutsche Abenteur’ at the German School
But strangely, no mention at all of an inquiry being conducted into child sex abuse at the school.
No one in web design expects any visitor to find anything posted in a level 4 location. And interestingly, even the level 4 page is lacking some rather important information. All of the following is missing.
- The timetable for the inquiry.
- Who the inquiry team wish to hear from
- Whether discussions with Lord Carlile will be confidential
- When it is expected that the report will be issued.
- Contact details and methods of contributing to the inquiry
- Location and dates of meetings
- Contact details for Lord Carlile
The overwhelming impression is that the school is keeping as quiet as possible about this inquiry, and doing all it can to ensure as few people as possible try to contact Lord Carlile. Then Carlile can produce a report saying that he didn't receive much evidence of abuse at the school, and this can be presented to parents as suggesting that it is all a storm in a teacup.
But if nobody (apart from readers of this blog) knows about the inqury, then the fact that Carlile receives relatively few submissions isn't evidence of anything at the school.
Parents, this is the kind of manipulation that is going on. The Trustees show no sign of any interest in having the inquiry get at the truth, they want an inquiry that can be presented as showing there is no evidence of widespread abuse.
And you might also like to consider that delay of a month between the ISI Supplementary Report being issued and copies of it being provided to you. Might it possibly be that in the intervening time, your cheques for the next term's school fees had to be sent? Of course, that wasn't the stated reason for the delay, the stated reason was that it would be impractical to contact parents during the holiday period. Of course it would. A letter might remain on your doormat for whole fortnight before being opened. So to prevent that, they delayed sending it for a month instead. Much more practical. Definitely. No question.