Thursday, 17 March 2011

Organising parents

This article is directed specifically at parents of pupils at St Augustine's.

As you can see from the ISI report, there have been severe problems with safeguarding at St. Augustine's school. And as you can also see from Mrs. Gumley Mason's covering letter and subsequent silence, it seems that there is not going to be any voluntary movement by the school on this issue.

So, if anything is going to be done, you are going to have to initiate it yourselves and apply some pressure. I suspect that you're going to have to meet and form a group. If you're in a group, bullying tactics can't work against you - you can't be picked off one by one. As for the possibility of retribution against your daughters, it is worth nothing that most people, including an overwhelming majority of teachers, have a sense of profound disgust at the idea of somebody deliberately harming children. As a result, I think you may find that a significant proportion of the staff are very sympathetic and would do their best to see to it that no retribution can occur, and will passively or actively cooperate in seeing to it that there are improvements.

So, what can you do, and what should you do? I'm not the person to tell you what you should do. It is your daughters' education and safety we are speaking of, not mine. You are the ones having to evaluate the risk.

I'm going to carry on doing some research as to what has been going on. I hope you will find that helpful. But I can't change anything directly. I have no standing with the school, for instance, I can't storm the headmistress' office and demand changes. But you can.

So, you almost certainly need to form a group if anything is going to be done. Then you will need to decide together what you want. It needs to be reasonably practical, and it needs of course to be something the school can legally deliver.

After that, you will need to decide how you are going to try and achieve it.

I'm sure there are some among you with legal experience and the ability to do research. I don't doubt that some of you have some degree of campaigning experience, either in local politics or in other kinds of campaigns. You are an educated bunch, wise in the ways of the world, and clearly wanting your children to have a good education so that they can achieve things and enjoy all that life has to offer.

If you decide that changes need to be made, then you have the means and the power to achieve this, if you decide it is important enough to put in the effort and start acting together. I'm very happy to offer ideas and suggestions if requested, but it is not my place to organise this. Start phoning and emailing each other.


  1. It may be useful for parents to understand the nature of shadow directorship of companies. If it is that a board of directors is itself effectively being directed by somebody/bodies else, then those people become shadow directors with de facto and de jure the same responsibilities as the board itself. If, as suggested, Mr and Mrs Gumley Mason have acted as shadow directors they are jointly and collectively liable for any failings. This is the 'company law' position. However, the Charity Commission takes a dim view of shadow directorship, for obvious reasons.

  2. You are of course absolutely correct. But what parents seem to be suggesting on this blog is that Gumley-Mason 'controls' the sychophants who form the board of governors.

    The board of governors are not to be confused with Directors of the Trust which has delegated certain, but unspecified and unclear (to parents) responsibilities, to the governors.

    If Gumley-Mason is acting at a shadow director to the Trust Company then this is a matter that should be brought to the attention of Companies House along with the evidence you have.

    But parents still need to get together as described in a previous post and Mr West's most recent article. The point made in this post regarding not being a group is important. It is far better to be a tight ‘collection of individuals’ in these circumstances and it provides more flexibility and greater strength and improve discipline of the participants.

  3. I think you will find the trust are also close friends of the Gumley Masons, the place is so incestuous.
    I agree parents need to form a group and be heard, any suggestions.
    I found about this blog from a teacher I think that speaks volumes.

  4. 10.23. You are right that a united front is needed from parents.
    The Trustees are the responsible body in law. They may delegate certain tasks, as any board of directors must.(Clearly only in very small organisations can the board members effectively do all the work themselves) However legal responsibility cannot be delegated. Systems for reporting and monitoring need to be in place so that the board members can be reasonably satisfied that their key responsibilities are fulfilled. The ISI report makes it clear that with regard to safeguarding this has not happened. In turn this raises the question as to whether it happens in other areas of the running of the school.
    Now, the question is what systems do the board members employ for monitoring? Do they visit the school on a regular basis and have discussions with staff? Is there any kind of open AGM or forum where parents and other stakeholder may ask questions or raise concerns? Do board members hold joint meetings with the governors and is there a written record of these meetings. Importantly, how does the Board of Directors evaluate its own performance and seek to develop its own effectiveness? How many members of the Board of Directors have received safeguarding training? As the employers ho many have received training in safer recruitment, since this was at the root of the problems the ISI found?

  5. In the circumstances you describe, Mrs Gumley-Mason’s influence over the board of St Augustine’s Priory School Ltd., who are responsible for ‘compliance,’ becomes very important and it is an avenue that should be examined.

    But, marshalling parents into an effective ‘collection of individuals’ with the express purpose of challenging the governors and the board of directors, is very important. Someone being a ‘shadow director’ is very hard to prove unless you are close to the situation, but what the ISI has put in front of parents needs to be explained by governors and directors.

  6. Why do the 2009 accounts remain unsigned? There have been plenty of rumours ciculating regarding this. One being that G M was booking all school trips on her personal credit card! Does anyone know anything about this? A proper investigation must be instigated.

  7. 14.22. Any member of the public can legitimately raise any concern they have, confidentially, with the Charity Commission.
    Their telephone number is 0845 300 0218.
    The charities concerned are:
    1. St Augustine's Priory School Ltd (Charity number 1097781)
    2. Trust property held by trustees of St Augustine's Priory. (Charity number 245367)

    If any parents decide to pursue this line, do keep us posted about the response.

  8. A meeting has been arranged by Mrs Gumley Mason
    on Fiday 25th March to discuss the ISI report.

  9. Call a 'snap' meeting so parents have less time to organise.

    Parents get organised so you are not isolated at this meeting.

    The forthcoming weekend is going to be important for getting organised.

  10. it's not snap it's over a week! what has she actually done to any of you? you sound like you are on a witchhunt! Has she ever done anything personally to any of you or are you just jumping on the band wagon? And who is the informant on the staff who seems to be providing alot of people on this blog inaccurate information?

  11. Hello Mrs Gumley Mason. How are you? I suspect that you will soon find out what it is you have done to all these people.

    As for staff informants, you are getting a bit paranoid. Everything I have said on this blog is based on publicly available information. I'm just good at research.

    And why are you getting so paranoid? Is there any reason that a member of staff would feel the need to do that? If so, I think you ought to tell us why you think that.

  12. A true Cheerleader emerges - once who sees no wrong in the ISI report or the actions that have since followed. You appear to neither recognise nor understand the risk to which the pupils of the school have needlessly been exposed. And you also clearly have no idea of the risk to which children outside the school have been exposed as a result of her breaking the law. One only has to be capable of reading the report to see these facts.

    Clearly you are a disciple of the dear leader.

  13. Regarding St Augustine's Priory:

    Teachers leave schools. Teachers leave schools because of complaints from pupils. This does not mean those teachers are ' a threat' to children. Thay have certainly been weighed in the balance and found wanting. They have even been highly unprofessional but they are not a threat to children and the said children do not need to be safeguarded agains these teachers - and certainly not in the way that Mr West keeps banging on about.

    For the record, the female teacher who left a)rolled up late b)ate snacks in front of pupils c)broke wind repeatedly. This is almost the stuff of farce, not threatening.

    Mr West talks about paranoia. I think the tedious protraction of this blog, which is riddled with inaccuracies, the arduous reiteration of points and general tone all point to somebody who needs to take a good look at the ever-diminishing circles of his own thought processes.
    He needs to get out more in the fresh air - 'methinks he doth protest too much'.

  14. 12:11.
    Since the events you describe don't tally with either of the cases described in the legal complaint the school made in the High Court, you are obviously describing a different case from those about which the ISI criticised the school.

    I wouldn't regard the events you describe as a reason to make a referral to the ISA.

    If you feel that there are inaccuracies, then you are welcome to point them out.

    As for the blog being tediously protracted, if that is your opinion you are under no obligation to read it all, or indeed any of it.