The School has now fully implemented all the recommendations made in the follow-up Inspection report and we now await the report from the Independent Review on safeguarding commissioned by Fr Abbot. Lord Carlile has amassed a great volume of evidence and is now collating it before writing the report. It now seems unlikely that his report will be presented to Fr Abbot until the end of this term. You will be kept fully informed of any developments. We hope to have more news by the time of the Parental Forum in March.This is remarkable, not so much as for what it says, but for what it doesn't say. Allow me to use my imagination to fill in some of the gaps.
The School has now fully implemented all the recommendations made in the follow-up Inspection report (but we aren't going to tell you what we have actually done to implement it, lest you try and compare it with the original recommendations and decide that we haven't done enough) and we now await the report from the Independent Review on safeguarding commissioned by Fr Abbot. Lord Carlile has amassed a great volume of evidence (despite our great efforts to ensure that publicity for the inquiry was absolutely minimal) and is now collating it before writing the report. It now seems unlikely that his report will be presented to Fr Abbot until the end of this term (but don't imagine that you will be allowed to see it then. We have no intention of publishing the report for a long time after that). You will be kept fully informed of any developments (but perhaps not by us). We hope to have more news by the time of the Parental Forum in March (actually, we hope to have no more news at all by then since every new bit of news on this subject seems to be bad).
In particular, the first statement seems very unlikely to be true. If you recall, the ISI recommendations were as follows
1. Ensure that any staff or members of the religious community live away from the school, if they are subject to allegations of misconduct related to safeguarding or convicted of wrongdoing.Father Stanislaus Hobbs and Father Gregory Chillman are both still listed on the Abbey website as monks resident at the Abbey. Both have been placed on "restricted ministry", though I understand that "most of" the restrictions on Chillman have been lifted. So at best, it seems unlikely that this recommendation has yet been implemented in full.
2. Follow the advice given to render the safeguarding policy a model of excellence in its wording, implementation and review.As parents you are in the position of trying to compare the school's actions (which have not been disclosed) against the ISI's detailed recommendations (which have also not been disclosed). Feeling confident that all is well? This the the safety of your sons and daughters we are talking about.
One thing is certain. The school's current child protection policy as published on the school website is still the one issued on 22 September 2010, which is decidedly not a model of excellence, as I have previously described. So, it is pretty clear that this action is not complete, if indeed they have even made a start on it.
3. Ensure that referrals are always made to the Independent Safeguarding Authority when appropriate. For historical cases, ensure that all relevant information is passed to the Independent Safeguarding Authority.The one decently written clause of the school's current child protection policy is a requirement to notify the ISA if a teacher leaves or is sacked in circumstances where his or her fitness to supervise children is in question. But this recommendation makes it clear that this clause of the policy was ignored in practice. Now you are being given a general assurance that all is now well, and yet the policy has not been changed, you are given no information at all as to changes in practice that will ensure that the ISA is notified in future, and you have been given no information at all about how many historical notifications have now been made retrospectively.
Still feeling confident?
4. Give greater emphasis to safeguarding in the school personal, social, health and citizenship (PSHCE) programme and reflect this in the school improvement plan.Have you seen the school improvement plan? It appears not to be a published document. So how can you tell whether this has been done? Does the improvement here achieve what you would regard as a reasonable degree of emphasis? How can you tell? Have you seen the new PSHCE curriculum?
5. Emphasise awareness raising and training in safeguarding across the whole community of school, Abbey and parish, with formal contact between the child protection officers.Do you realise that the Ealing Abbey website still does not have a safeguarding policy for the Abbey and Parish? The Safeguarding information page contains the following procedure-free statement.
The Parish of St Benedict, Ealing Abbey, is committed to the Safeguarding policies of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, to take all reasonable steps to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from any form of abuse or maltreatment and to promote a safe environment for them. This commitment flows from the fact that we are all made in the image of God and the Church's common belief in the dignity and uniqueness of every human life. We start from the principle that each person has a right to expect the highest level of care and protection, love, encouragement and respect that we can give. We will liaise closely and openly with statutory agencies to ensure that any concerns or allegations of abuse that are raised are promptly reported and properly responded to, victims supported and perpetrators held to account.But a pious statement of intent does not make a policy. There are no procedures. Admittedly that page does include a link to the website of the CSAS procedures, but there is no undertaking to ensure that they are followed, and even if there were, there is no means of ensuring this, since the CSAS procedures are general rather than specific to the individual setting, do not allocate responsibility to named individuals (they can't, being general) and clearly state that they are regularly updated, so nobody is in a position to know what their responsibilities are supposed to be, unless they review every page of the procedures on a weekly basis. And the procedures are split across literally dozens of pages. It is one of the most user-unfriendly websites it has ever been my misfortune to have to navigate.
The civil action successfully brought by C occurred in January 2006. It is now five years on, and still it seems that the response of the trustees remains characterised by foot-dragging allied to the hope that the problem will all somehow just go away.