Sunday, 13 March 2011

Mrs Gumley Mason's response to the ISI Report

There is something magnificently petty and small-minded about Mrs Gumley Mason's first public response to the publication of the ISI report.

Was it to call a staff meeting to discuss the report? Apparently not.

Was it to announce a parents' meeting at which parents could ask questions? No sign of it.

What appears to be the first response since sending out the report to parents (as she was legally obliged to do) is to bar links from this blog to the school website.

Today, I tried clicking a link from my previous article to where the ISI Report is published on the school website. Imagine my surprise when I found myself not at the ISI report but instead with the following page.

You are trying to access from a non-authorized domain. (

So, Mrs Gumley Mason's first response has been to try and bar links from this blog to the school website. It hasn't even been competently done. Immediately below the notice is a link to the very page I was trying to provide access to!

Against the possibility that she does get her webmaster to implement the block more effectively, let me tell you how to get round it. In future, when making links to the school website, I will provide the link directly, and provide the address of the link in text, like this. Here is the link, and here is the address of the link.

Copy the link address, paste it into the address bar at the top of your browser and then press Enter. If you use that method then there is no tag sent to the website indicating that you have been directed there from here, and you will get through unhindered. For as long as the attempt at blocking this blog remains in place, I will provide links in both forms, and will explain why I'm doing it that way. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to why the block has been implemented.


  1. This is now real evidence that Gumley Mason reads this blog !!!

  2. Good point 16:22 - Parents, pupils & staff now have a forum where thay can raise issues and be assured that Gumley Mason reading them.

  3. 16:22 and 17:37
    And moreover, we know she even reads the blog at weekends - the block was put in place after my previous article was published at lunchtime yesterday.

  4. She is to be congratulated on such a lightning response given the ISI's criticism of the use of ICT at St Augustine's. ICT is clearly excellent especially when it is motivated by the defence of reputations!

  5. Well, actually not that good 18.08. As Mr West pointed out it actually didn't really work.

  6. 18.08. A reputation for what???

  7. Don't like the message? Shoot the messenger.

  8. Perceived positon, status, importance, authority, and let's not forget 'junior' Debrett's! That probably gave her an orgasm.

    The school is her, she is the school. It seems to be a symbiotic relationship and of course she was a former pupil. She's not seen much else in life unfortunately which possibly explains a quote she once made that "men are to women as fish are to bicycles."

    And the big aspirational give away - name.

  9. Frances, (spelt in the ponciest way imaginable) is the poorest excuse for a human being letalone a headmistress. It seems that any incapable moron can now become the head of a school, franny dear, please resign and leave the school to benefit from its possibilities rather than being hindered by your idiotic mentality. You hire your dearest Andy to run around the grounds like a headless chicken instructing people where to plant flowers, there quite literally isn't a more pathetic job known to mankind. Franny you really are a child, please leave us alone.

  10. I am sorry I made a mistake as I realised the moment I pressed Post. Heyho!

    The quote was 'Women need men like fish need bicycles.'

    21.53 you make Andy sound like Chance the gardener from 'Being There.'

  11. Irina Dunn an Australian educator, journalist and politician, coined the phrase in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, 'Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.' Dunn is credited with creating this popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.

    That's told you Andy.

  12. My wife and I have followed this blog for some time now as we knew people from both schools.
    We find it curious that when the blog was mostly about St B's, the comments were about 80% against St B's and 20% in support.
    However, reading the comments relating to St Agustine's, we cannot find one in support of Gumley Mason or her husband although there are many comments in support of the school and the teaching staff.
    The Gumley Mason's are now the laughing stock of ealing and the main topic of conversation at chapel.
    As the strength of feeling against this pair is so strong, the Trustees and Governors cannot ignore the situation for much longer and they must take action against them to defend the reputation of the school. If they do not, then they are no better than the Gumley Mason's.

  13. As 11.39 suggests, this is a stress test of the St Augustine's Board. But frankly - the board is so weak it seems unable to squeak let alone act.

    As for the comments on this blog offering 20% support for the St Benedict’s - one should not defend the indefensible. The situation at St Benedict's is far worse than St Augustine's, and the board is similarly flawed and safeguarding incompetent. The 'school advisers' are nothing but irrelevant window dressing. The situation can only get better, but for this to happen significant change is required. Carlile's review is not designed to deliver change in any meaningful sense. You are more likely to see the report recommend the status quo with tweaks which will not serve pupils well. This should not surprise you, Carlile knows as much about safeguarding as the Abbey Trustees and it is they who hired him to do ‘the job’ demanded of it by the DfE. He was chosen at the recommendation of his old friend Nelson who is the school’s solicitor and a mate of the knot of management that run St Benedict’s many of whom were former pupils of St Anselm’s College in Birkenhead.

  14. I wonder if the Trustees and Governors actually are aware of the situation. Gumley Mason probably hasn't the guts to tell them.

  15. The ISI has just published the St Augustine's report on it's own website.

    Mrs Gumley Mason can't block links to it now.

  16. 14.44. You are right, of course. There are two issues here - what happened and what might have happened. Whilst what happened at St A's is, as far as we are aware, not the same as what happened at St B's, what might have happened is the same. Safeguarding means making sure the doors are bolted and the keepers of the keys need to fulfil their duties responsibly.

  17. We now await what the press make of it all.

  18. Not just the press 19.30. The Department for Education may take action, and certainly the situation will be monitored closely over the next couple of years ahead of the next inspection, which will be a standard five day inspection rather than an interim two day visit. This is standard practice when there are safeguarding failings.
    If there is proof available in the public domain that lies have been told publicly, in writing to parents, then given the 'Veritas' motto of the school this could make an interesting story. As you say we must wait to see.

  19. A key question which I would like to ask readers to consider.

    The school failed to return referrals to the ISA for two members of staff that left the school in circumstances which related to their 'suitability' to work with children. This failure has been highlighted in the ISI report.

    It is the registered owner of the school who is responsible for making a referral.

    1. Who is listed as the registered owner of the school with the DfE independent schools registration team?

    2. Did Mrs Gumley-Mason contemporaneously inform the governors of either or both these circumstances?

    3. If Mrs Gumley-Mason did informed the Governors of these circumstances at the time, why did the registered owner of the setting not return a referral?

    4. If Mrs Gumley-Mason did not contemporaneously inform the governors of one or both of these circumstances would the registered owner of the setting please explain to parents why not?

    As readers of this blog will appreciate, these are key questions that the administration needs to answer. Confidence in the administration is non-existent, and we need to establish clearly what is happening because the ISI has singularly failed to inform us of this very important point.

  20. 9.20.
    A careful reading of the report would seem to indicate the following:
    i) The proprietors are the Board of Trustees and this body is responsible for ensuring referrals are made.
    ii) The report makes it clear that the Trustees had not been kept informed and had not asked the necessary questions so as to ascertain the circumstances in which staff left.
    iii) Day to day matters are left to a board of governors.
    The questions are who had the responsibility to inform the proprietors and to whom did the Trustees delegate the job of making a referral.
    From the tone of the report it appears possible that the Trustees were effectively unaware of their legal duties and so both the Trustees and the Headmistress were jointly negligent.

  21. Thank you 13.11 but are there not further questions we should be asking?

    1. For example, has the Board been delegated responsibility for safeguarding by the Trustees? This is perfectly possible.

    2. If the Board was unaware of the safeguarding issues reported upon in the ISI document, what were they unaware of them?

    One can only conclude that they were unaware of them because the Mrs Gumley-Mason did not inform the board of the incidents, and the Board member with responsibility for safeguarding did not consider asking.

    This means that the Head could very easily have knowingly kept the board in the dark? Is this what happened?

    Can someone please tell us?

    Can we please also be informed of the name of the Board member with responsibility for safeguarding? This person is always nominated – unless this is another matter the ISI missed.

  22. 13.53. As clear from the safeguarding policy published on the school website the designated governor is Professor A Hemingway.
    Since the current policy is new, however, it is probably not relevant to the situation as described by the ISI.
    It has been stated on this blog that the previous policy was only on the school website since some time early last year.
    Everything depends on what the policy said at the time of the failures to notify and whether it designated a governor. If it did not then the Chair of Governors a the time would, de facto, be the nominated governor.
    The question of responsibility is difficult too. Statutory duties are duties on the responsible body, they can't be delegated, although the tasks related to their fulfilment may be.

  23. Can anyone enlighten us on Mr Gumley Masons qualification and what exactly he is paid for. Who employed him? Our school fees are paying his wages and I think we are entitled to know.


  25. 21.55 - Because the Dear Leader wants total control.

  26. From 14.53s point we need to know more about the policy at the time of the failings. Was is fit for purpose? Who was responsible for it? Was a governor designated? Mr West, is it possible for you to find out more about this and publish it? This could signal the possibility that there were even greater problems which the policy allowed to be swept under the carpet. If, as at St Benedict's, the leadership and governance of this school are at best naïve and at worst wilfully negligent (it appears from ISI to tend toward the latter) then the likelihood is that other cases have slipped through the net.
    A forensic examination of the whole mess is needed.

  27. Mrs Gumley-Mason please enlighten us to what your husbands job title is and in what capacity does he enrich the school!

  28. Have you heard the phrase Honesty is the best Policy, is not about time you held your hands up and answered questions truthfully and stop being such a control freak

  29. Mrs Gumley Mason should hold a meeting and invite all employees(parents)and answer questions raised. She's forthright and opinionated in all other areas regarding her school.

  30. Couldn't agree more in the school calender Mr Gumley Mason is listed as the Estate factor. What on earth is an Estate Factor? It seems to me that this job has been created for a person who can't actually get a job in the real world.

  31. why is Mr Gumley Mason listed as Mr mason in the school calender? is this deliberately done to prevent parents asking questions as to why Mrs gumley Mason has created a job for her husband?

  32. Its quite apparent that parents are scared to put their names to these comments and how it would affect their girls! What does this show you regarding Mrs Gumley-Mason we are all terrified of her actions and behaviour.

  33. While all this business of what Mr Mason does and how he got his job is all very entertaining, it is not really the main issue.

    Far more important is whether the school's safeguarding policies and practices have been and are sufficient to assure the safety of the children.

    The ISI report strongly suggests not.

    As for Mr Mason, I think that we have got the point about him now. If you think that he isn't doing anything to justify his salary, then this needs to be raised with the governors.

  34. Mr West, could you look at the 5.17 questions at some point and address those?

  35. 05:17 and 10:53
    I am continuing to research things. I have a day job as well, so there is a limit to the amount of time I can spend on this.

    As soon as I have more information which is adequately verified I will publish it. Watch this space!



    Ultimately, there is a balance that you have to decide on in such issues. If you don't raise the issue, or don't feel able to raise the issue, then you have to decide whether it is a sufficiently large problem as to justify withdrawing your daughter from the school.

    That's a decision that families need to make for themselves. So far as I'm able, I'm providing the information necessary to enable that decision to be an informed decision.

    Even if it were to be argued and hypothetically accepted that Mr Mason is being paid to do a non-job (and please note that I'm not asserting this), then you would have to decide whether this was sufficiently serious to justify taking your daughter out of the school.

    Everybody's values are slightly different, and so I shan't tell people what to think about this. My own personal opinion for what it's worth is that the safeguarding failings are a far more important issue. They are the clear responsibility of Mrs Gumley Mason, and directly affect the safety and welfare of all the pupils at the school.

    And with St Benedict's we have seen what disastrous consequences can follow from not having a good safeguarding policy and culture. If paedophiles get into the school, they can do damage for years or even decades, and wreck the lives of many pupils.

  38. If this was the state system do you think the head
    would get away with such a breech concerning the welfare of children, I would not have thought so.
    Mrs G-M should be honest and admit making mistakes, regarding employment of teaching staff, the only way to redeem herself is to resign.

  39. Sorry for going on about Mrs Gumley-Mason's husband, I find the whole set up of the school very frustrating, she will never give a direct and honest answer. The report that has been published really needs straight answers from Mrs G-M which I am sure we will not receive!

  40. 14:18
    About the comparison with the state system, I intend writing at greater length on this subject in a future article.

    Certainly the state system isn't immune from this sort of thing. Just last year a learning mentor at Dormers Wells High School was jailed for having sexual relations with pupils.

    The overall impression I get is that there is (a bit) more monitoring in the state system and less incentive to cover up incidents lest they damage the reputation of the school. But there are schools in the state sector with inadequate safeguarding, and sometimes OFSTED fails to spot this for an extended period.

  41. By the way, I'm getting a rather repetitive load of comments that appear to be all from the same person. They appear in bunches and say much the same sort of thing in slightly different forms of words.

    I rather suspect that we have a St Benedict's supporter who is trying to whip up outrage against St Augustine's in order to deflect attention from the shortcomings of St Benedict's.

    I have two things to say to that. First, I'm going to keep my eye very closely on St Benedict's, so any attempt at distracting me will fail. Second, repetitive comments in bunches like this will get deleted, whatever the motivation for posting them. I have already deleted several such comments.

  42. Thank you Mr West. You are quite right about repetitive comments but I think you may be wrong about a St Benedict's supporter whipping up outrage against St Augustine's.There is outrage in abundance against Mrs Gumley-Mason. She has bullied both children and parents since she came to power and the surprising thing is that parents have put up with it and continue to do so.

    Do you or does anyone out there know who actually owns the school? There is a lot of rumour and speculation about the ownership of the school and Mrs G-M's involvement. Mr West you are good at digging around perhaps you could find out. It might go some to explaining as to why she has essentially been unfireable! Forget about the Governors - they are all hand picked Yes "men".

  43. Parents are clearly concerned at the present position at the school for understandable reasons.

    Parents only have one option and that is to start speaking to each other. If you can manage to get the parents of between 30 and 50 pupils together to approach the governors then you cannot be ignored and such a grouping cannot be bullied. The Governors are going to do nothing without parents making a fuss. They will fear that you might do this and in turn you parents are in fear that your children will be bullied by Gumley-Mason. Doesn’t that tell you that Gumley-Mason is unsuitable for the role?

    Parents who wring their hands over whether they should do something need to put up or go away. These are very serious matters in play and they directly affect the welfare of your children. Do not for one moment think otherwise. There is also the matter of the Head who is seemingly disconnected from both the reality and the truth and who has the reputation of being a bully.

    For dithering parents, there is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, but which in my opinion it is impossible for you to stay silent. It is vital that these matters are raised with the governors and the Chairman of the boiasrd of trustees who is the registered owner of the school. Thirty to fifty pupils represents a very significant revenue hole which the school cannot ignore. The more parents you have the greater the power you possess.

    You will know the parents who are cheerleaders for Gumley-Mason, I imagine they are the sharp elbowed mothers who dominate the parents association desperate to be patted on the head by ‘Gummer’s’ in the hope this will help their daughter win a prize! And you will just as easily be able to identify the cheerleader teachers for their same Labrador qualities. Both of these parties are to be avoided. You could really do with a parent who is a solicitor to act as the chairman of the ‘parent collective.’ You are after all not a group but a collection of fee paying individuals with a shared concern about safeguarding, and who deserve explanations from the board about the quite abysmal report on safeguarding produced by the ISI.

    An approach like this to the currently silent governors (and owner) will prompt huge concern. It should not, but this is a board that has little talent, little experience in the subject of safeguarding, and seems dominated by the head who the board is meant to manage. I speculate Gumley-Mason did not inform the board about the circumstances in which the two teachers departed the school in circumstances that indicated they were unsuitable to work with children. This is a huge embarrassment to the board, and they are as guilty as Gumley-Mason so this possibly explains why they are as silent as the Head.

    In view of this inertia – the cruets need to be seen to be ‘bounce’ from the table so the board, the trustees, and the head understand you are not going to tolerate their silence over childrens your safety.


  45. I disagree Jonathan. It is important what Mr Mason does, our fees pay both his and his wife's salaries. It appears we've been let down on a grand scale yet have very little chance of doing much about it due to the complete lack of accountability. How do we proceed? We want a meeting where she faces up to her incompetence but we are fearful of the revenge she will no doubt seek from our daughters, our hands are tied I think.

  46. 17.28. If you look at the Charity Commission website and you will find details of the trustees who are cited as the company directors. This school is a charitable company, so as a company it does not exist to make profit but to do the work of the charity, in this case education.
    You can also search the company on the Companies' House website.
    As with any company the directors have certain responsibilities in law. The governors, in the case of this school, appear to have a role as something like unpaid senior managers. They carry out tasks related to the responsibilities of the trustees, who would be responsible for monitoring them. It is a very unusual and ill-advised set-up because there could easily be confusion about the lines of responsibility, and where the buck stops could vary depending on the nature of the buck. It may indeed be that there is some advantage to this set-up for some interested part; that remains to be seen.
    In fact what the report says is simply that neither body seems to either be clear what they are supposed to be doing or be doing it with any real effectiveness. This would appear to be mirrored in the way St Benedict's is run. The point is that it can all look ok while everything is fine, but when problems arise you suddenly notice that you have a house of cards. Shame really as they could both be outstanding schools with a shift of mind-set, looking outwards rather than inwards.
    It is always a mistake to confuse good fortune with good judgement; one is at the mercy of the former and is the master of the latter. There is a fundamental difference between doing things right on the one hand and doing things wrong but getting away with it on the other. The longer you do things wrong and get away with it the more you convince yourself you are actually doing them right. Here be dragons!

  47. I agree with what 18:37 has said. As parents you need to contact each other, and perhaps organise a meeting outside school premises. There are plenty of meeting rooms and church halls around that could be used for the purpose, or you could meet in somebody's home.

    This blog is available for you to swap ideas, but ultimately if you are going to do something, you will need to meet each other in person as a group and decide what to do.

    There must be some lawyers amongst you. Find out what your legal rights are in terms of demanding meetings with the headteacher and/or governors and trustees. Do some research. Find out who has the right to call a meeting of the trustees.

    A group, even just of 20-30 parents is a very powerful thing. A letter to the governors signed by 30 parents cannot easily be ignored, not least because if they try, you can phone the local paper and say that the school is ignoring you. The school and the governors will hate that kind of publicity.

    So get on the phone and email to each other and get a group organised.

    I can't stress how important this is. No matter how bright your children are, if they are abused at school, the chances are significant that their future will be seriously damaged and they will underachieve for decades, perhaps the rest of their lives. I can't provide details, but I have listened to the accounts of victims of abuse at St Benedict's, and they are heartbreaking. It affects them for years and decades afterwards.

    The best way of dealing with this is to ensure as far as possible that abuse can't happen in the first place. Don;t assume that abuse is something which which only ever happens to other people's children.

  48. Mrs Gumley Mason must be answerable to someone. Who pays here salary? We can lobby them for her removal and and ultimately question why she is still Headmistress.

  49. 21.20 you need to consider that abuse takes many forms. Although the focus of this blog has been sexual abuse, obviously physical and emotional abuse also counts as abuse. If you do feel that there may be consequences for your daughters if you complain then you need to give consideration to whether what you fear would amount to emotional abuse of your child. If the answer is yes this and this is a rational fear based on what you have seen happen in other cases, rather than an irrational one then do you not have a moral duty to act?

  50. This so valid mental or emotional abuse is so damaging to young children, and can scar them for life. This sort of bullying often goes unrecognised.

  51. 11.07 - you are entirely correct and I speak as a victim of sexual abuse at a prep school. Later in life I was told about emotional and physical abuse of a pupil at the same school.

    The management of the school 'persuaded' the victim's parents to remove him from the school, and the perpetrator was expelled.

    Victims and perpetrators are equally loathed by the management of most settings.

    Bullying is a very serious subject which is discounted and often trivialised by school administrations keen to dismiss a bullying claim which are often difficult to deal with.

    I know - my son has red hair. I've had to deal with a few situations.

  52. Re: 16 March 10.31

    You asked what an *Estate Factor* is, in terms of employment - apropros Mr Gumley-Warner's job at St Augustine's. The job is an agricultural role, basically making sure farms/game reserves maximise their profits. Quite why St Augustine's requires one is beyond me.


  53. This is truely outrageous who employed him what does he actually do? this needs to be answered.

  54. I am disgusted, incensed, appalled! I know the school is a Charitable Trust this is going to far with with the employment of Mr Gumley Mason. As far as I am aware there are no livestock on the grounds of St Augustine's; I am at the school most days and there are no warnings to be careful of farm animals, deer, pheasants etc. Please explain yourselves.

  55. How can we promote this website to all parents of St Augustines? To make sure they are fully furnished with the facts, parents comments and updates.

  56. 13:04
    You can phone or email all the parents you know, tell them about it, and ask that they in turn tell all the parents they know.

  57. The "Estate Factor" husband has made his wife fair game and peppered her with shot!!!!!

  58. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  59. Everything you have said is so true, the school would be a wonderful place without the Witch and her bumbling idiot of a husband. Get rid of them.

  60. 19.34 - I hope what you have said does not permit you to be identified. If you think it has make another posting asking Mr West to delete your entry and advise him where it is on his blog.

    GM seems not entirely balanced and prone unpleasantness.

  61. (I have deleted and re-posted 19:34's comment removing any information that might serve to identify the pupil concerned. JW.)

    The teachers aren't allowed to speak to us about the safeguarding at the school. My parents are paying for a service they're not receiving. The computers at the ICT suite have been there long before I joined the school. To find one of these computers free to use is almost a miracle as they're usually reserved for the junior school to play on Microsoft Paint with.

    Mr Mason, the 'estate factor' once barked at me for sitting on a desk, something I believe is far from his role or authority. He wouldn't have spoken to me if my parents or another adult was present so why behaviour like this is acceptable makes me furious I'm still at this school!

    She's even applied elitism to the 6th form, the Head Girl and the Deputy Heads have their own two offices which other members of 6th form aren't allowed to step in otherwise they'll lose their 6th form 'privileges'
    such as the right to leave school at lunch. This is practically Victorian.

    One of the teachers who was dismissed, Mr William Callaghan showed erratic behaviour throughout his employment. He emailed a member of the 6th form continuously asking her to go the pub with him and inviting her to his birthday party. He made inappropriate innuendoes continuously and stared at several of the girls in my class's cleavage. Several parents complained and nothing was done. It was only until he screamed at a student in front of the whole school when the head mistress was next door that she finally got rid of him. After he was dismissed from St Augustine's he went on to work at Notting Hill and Ealing High School as a private tutor because nothing was said by St. Augustines.

    I wouldn't advise this school to the parents of my worst enemy.

    Parents really need to rally together and do something, this has gone on for far too long

  62. Thank you, we now have a students perspective on a day in the life under G-M's regime. Something must be done, here is a pupil telling us and as parents we should be proactive and remove this odious women.

  63. I think its a high time that this school offers its pupils and parents the sort of service expected for the fees paid. Putting pupils at high risk of abuse by carelessly employing tutors that are not CRB checked is despicable! Its such a waste of money to have our children associated with a school that has failed to protect them. One more thing that has not been mentioned, Mrs Gumley Mason better learns how to deal with less achieving students. The only solution is not to ensure that she frustrates parents until they decide they have had enough and move their girls. The pastoral support is next to zero and this too needs addressing. I would assume Mrs GM goal in her role is to promote one big nuclear family hence Mr GM is in the school. So why can't she employ the same approach with her pupils?

  64. Why have the accounts for the last financial not been signed off. Can you please enlighten us?

  65. It looks to me as though the accounts each year are received in late April or May of the following year. If you check your calendar, you will see that it is not yet late April or early May 2011, and therefore the 2010 documents would not yet have been posted.

  66. If you read other blogs they have not been submitted for 2009, there are no postings for this year. Is this a clerical error?

  67. It says right on the Charity Commission website they were received May 17 2010 for accounts through July 2009. I suspect the accounts through July 2010 will appear in the next month. What do you not understand about that?