Monday, 7 March 2011

Questions for Mrs Gumley Mason

If you are a parent of a child at St. Augustine's, here are some questions which you may be interested in learning about. They are all questions which Mrs. Gumley Mason knows or at least ought to know the answers to.
  • When was the first draft of the ISI report provided to the school?
  • What modifications have been made relative to this draft in the final version?
  • What explanations did the ISI give for any changes made?
  • Did the school take legal action against the ISI?
  • What was the purpose of the legal action?
  • How much has been spent on this legal action, in costs, court fees and fees to the school's own solicitors?
  • How much of the headmistress's time has been spent on matters connected with the legal action?
  • Who made the decision to proceed with legal action?
  • When was the decision made?
  • Was the decision formally approved at a meeting of the Governors? If so, when?
  • Was the decision formally approved at a meeting of the Trustees? If so, when?
  • When was the action started?
  • What aspect(s) of the ISI report did the school object to?
  • Has the action been withdrawn? If so, when and why?
  • Does the school have any reason now to criticise the ISI's approach or anything in the content of the report?
  • Who is the new "independent governor" who has been appointed?
  • Was he known to the headmistress, any other members of staff or any governors or trustees prior to the search to appoint a new governor being started? If so, what is his connection with the person or persons concerned?
  • What version of the safeguarding policy was in force at the time of the OFSTED inspection in 2006?
  • Did it share any of the weaknesses recently criticised by the ISI?
  • For how long has the Central Register of Appointments not been properly maintained?
  • How many staff have been permitted to supervise children before their CRB checks were completed?
  • What is the longest period that a member of staff was permitted to supervise children before the CRB check was received?
  • What were the allegations against the two members of staff whom the ISI stated should have been referred to the ISA on their departure?
  • Have those referrals now been made?
  • Have referrals of anybody else been made to the ISA (or prior to 2009 to the Teacher Misconduct Section of the DfE) within the last 10 years up to the present day?
  • Are any referrals to the ISA currently being prepared or expected to be sent in the near future?
  • Have there been any incidents or allegations made against any current members of staff, governors or trustees, which if the present requirement to report all such allegations automatically to the LADO had been in place should have been so reported? If so, how many and will they now be reported to the LADO?
  • At the school, have there been any incidents involving or allegations made against Father Gregory Chillman, relating to his suitability to supervise children? If so, what are they, and what was done in response?
  • When did Father Gregory Chillman resign as chaplain and Chairman of Governors? Why?
If you ask any of these questions, then I would be very interested to learn what the replies are. Even a refusal to reply will be most illuminating.

Mrs Gumley Mason, I know you read this blog. Perhaps you would care to set the record straight by writing a further letter to parents clearly setting out your answers to these questions.


  1. I have another one. When will you resign as headmistress for failing to safeguard our children?

  2. I have a supplementary for the trustees of St Augustine's Priory Ltd., - when are you going to replace the board?

  3. Another 2 questions for her to answer -:
    1.How much is she paid for failing to safeguard our children.
    2.To what extent is her husband involved in management matters at the school.

  4. Get the local and national press on this. Everbody needs to know the situation.

  5. 24.27 Q#2 is an interesting one. The answer should be not at all - but if he is interfering (for that is what it would be in his current position) then his role would have many of the characteristics of a 'shadow director' which in company terms is illegal.

    I speculate that the ISI would be unhappy to discover that in reality his hands are on the steering wheel without any of the 'rapier sharp' board having a clue.

    But what would the ISI do? A = nothing!

    You are on your own parents. It’s Libya or bust because she will not without the blade of a Caterpillar tractor being imprinted on her back. You’ll see the skid marks down Castlebar for weeks if you succeed.

  6. Please help us, This Head has been a nightmare I only have 2 years of this person left and then we leave.
    Parents tell other people to look at this page I was told today about Mr West.

  7. According to an ex member of staff the husband has his fingers in every pie imaginable. He is only tolerated because of who his wife is. The impression I get from everyone who knows him is that he is virtually unemployable by normal standards. The odd couple indeed

  8. Gumley-Mason being a MA in classics from Cambridge, will be well acquainted with the rhetorical wiles of Cicero who was exceptionally skilled at painting a selective picture as if it was a whole. Cicero lived by the sword and died by the sword, and others who emulate the master of rhetoric might well do the same.

  9. How was Gumley Mason recruited as Head when she had no previous teaching experience?

    What is the story behind that?

    There must be something - such a staggering rise without experience is most unusual and suggests among many possibilities that patronage was evinced.

  10. A google search for 'Frances Gumley Mason' is revealing. Top of the search is the 'Rate my teachers' website which maybe gives an insight into how pupils at the school view their Headteacher.
    This blog comes about number five, after Debretts and The Tablet which published a trite, dismissive, rambling and barely coherent article about modern technology. Clearly the ISI were not impressed with the use of computers in the school.
    The fact that this blog comes up in this position must mean the readership numbers are high. Mr West, do you have information about these numbers? How many hits in an average week, for example?

  11. 18.23 if you have a look at the charity commission website at the trust property held by the trustees of st augustine's priory you will note that the accounts for 2009 have been submitted unsigned by Mr David Murphy, the chairman of the trustees.
    Is it possible he never saw them?
    If something as simple as signing on the dotted line is beyond him it is not surprising that safeguarding has been neglected.
    And guess what...he's not alone. If you look at St Benedict's accounts Shipperlee seems not to be able to manage to write his name either.
    Not just safeguarding illiterate it would seem.

  12. I've just understood what was meant by the Greek thing on an earlier thread. If was something like 'setting the wolf to guard the sheep'.

    Well, well, well.

    ' Oh, what a big nose you have grandma!'

  13. 14.17. In answer to question number 1 the charity commission filed accounts for St Augustine's priory school show that one person earned over £100,000 in the year to April 2009. This must be assumed to be the headteacher.
    At St Benedict's the accounts filed for the same period show a little more detail. They indicate one person earned between £110,000 and £120,000. This must be assumed to be Cleugh.
    It is worth noting that this information is now almost two years old, so doubtless these said salary levels will have increased by 2011. It will be interesting to see the accounts for 2010 when they are uploaded.

  14. 22:04
    I do have traffic monitoring on the blog. Traffic varies depending on how much I've been able to publish. I've just checked the logs for this week, and the rate has been 700 pageviews/day for the last 7 days.

    That's definitely higher than average, though not my highest peak. That came last September at the time of the St Benedict's safeguarding meeting, when I had about 1000 page views per day for a week or so.

    Taking the peaks and the troughs, I average 4-500 page views/day. The vast majority of the readership is local - i.e. from London.

  15. 22:04
    By the way, I just checked the final figures for yesterday - 1033 page views yesterday.

  16. Between them they must earn the best part of 200K! Amazing you can do such a poor job and still get paid that sum. How has this happened?

  17. Mrs Gumley Mason is in a difficult position, but to be fair to her, I am told that the two staff were dismissed, only when their competence became publicly questioned.

    Mrs Gumley Masons's real problem is different. The report would seem to be the end-product of many months negotioation between school and ISI, apparently with an (unsuccessfull ?) attempt to stop it through injunction. Throughout, I hear that staff have been repeatedly told by the headmistress that she knows nothing about the report at all. This has also been repeated in a letter to us parents. A public meeting to discuss the report can only be undesirable to her, and risks making public what is now a (relatively ?) open secret. Were the background to the report to become truly public, then she would have to consider her position.

    ....and so, there can be no meeting to discuss the report?

  18. 19.50 much of what you say may be fair comment but you are missing the whole safeguarding point. Employment law allows for the termination of contracts for reasons of redundancy or misconduct such as theft etc. These however are not safeguarding issues, are they? So, if the school should have made referrals, then there were clearly safeguarding question-marks. This is the point of what the ISI found. These people may have been dismissed on the grounds of competence, but this would be using a secondary reason to dispense with their services. This is against the law. If there are safeguarding concerns about a member of staff and the member of staff leaves, either voluntarily or as a result of some kind of action by a school, then the school must refer. It is not, however, the school which makes any decisions to bar the individual from work with children or vulnerable adults, it is the ISA.

    So, to recap. There must have been a serious concern about the suitability of the two members of staff otherwise there would have been no need to refer them to the ISA. It is not a question of being fair to Mrs Gumley Mason; she broke the law.

  19. And by failing to make a referral to the ISA she knowingly recycled two adults who were a risk to children, (potentially?) back into teaching without hindrance.

    The only other school that I know of to have done this is St Benedict's.

    This is why referrals are statutory tools.

  20. Gumley Mason must be sacked by the Trustees immediately. Murphy and Hemingway must also go.
    Parents lets take action and tell this bunch of idiots that are so called trustees and govs that we no longer have confidence in any of the bodies or the Headmistress.
    It has also been mentioned that the Headmistress has not even dicuseed the ISI report with her staff. The staff must feel angry that she does not even have the decency to discuss the matters raised with them.
    Its now time for a no confidence vote by the staff and by the parents to rid a good school of these bad apples and get back to the normal business of the school i.e. educating our children and at the same time, keeping them safe.

  21. Gumley Mason invited the staff to drinks Friday afternoon at a local pub to 'celebrate' the ISI report. A few teachers and admin staff went along. Many of us felt, to quote a colleague, that we'd rather 'drink bleach'. Since the report, there have now been 3 or 4 meetings, small or large, of staff and teachers. In none of these has Gumley Mason addressed the grave issues of the report, or admitted that she lied to us all along. This after an extremely uncomfortable meeting in the Chapel last June where we were accused of not 'loving one another', and today's priceless Ash Wednesday message that all of us are sinners and need to repent ...

  22. Leaflet CC47, available from the Charity Commission website, lays out very clearly the grounds for a complaint about a charity and the procedure for putting in process such a complaint. You may find it helpful.

  23. 'Public Concern at Work' (PCaW) is an independent whistle-blowing charity which offers guidance and support for situations like the one above.
    It's website is very informative and it offers confidential advice on the phone on 020 7404 6609 for people in organisations where there maybe a need to whistle-blow.
    PCaW's tag-line is: SILENCE ISN'T ALWAYS GOLDEN.

  24. It sounds very much like Gumley Mason has already lost the confidence of many of her staff.

  25. Mrs Gumley Mason's problem is that the school as a whole and the teaching staff and management are shown in the report as excellent. She is the main problem in the report and that is clear highlighted. However, as she is not normally the shy retiring type, she must know her number is up and she cannot get away with it any longer, thats why she is refusing to dicusss anything. If the trustees and governing body were worth anything whatsoever, they would have already recognised this. But it appears they are as arrogant as her. So I am afraid its up to the staff and parents to take matters into their own control.
    I am confident that when the report appears on the ISI website, the press will go to town on the matter.Lets hope she gets all she deserves along with Murphy, Hemingway, Chillman and Strahan. They have brought a good school and good teachers into disrepute through their own arrogance and selfishness.

  26. Reading your post 12.47 you are saying that the Head, the Trustees, and the Governors- are collectively useless. AGREED! The board lacks anything that resembles a backbone.

    This triumvirate are (in) effectively responsible for the place as we all of us know.

    They will cling to each other,all silent, each hoping the whole ‘unfortunate’ business will go away. But the report is going nowhere for another five years and two months. The silence of the head tells us a great deal. She knows she is in Queer Street and you are correct – she dare not speak about the subject because staff, if not parents, will deluge her with questions she will simply not want to address.

    Yup – it’s up to staff and parents because there is no one else. For the cork to come away from the bottle a metaphorical 'bomb' is now required.

  27. Fair enough if the Headmistress, Governors and Trustees do not want to address the issues and discuss the failings with the staff or parents, thats their choice. But as the circumstances are grave they should all just resign and let the school get on with its job of educating the girls. Its a simple choice if they cant face the music then GET OUT.

  28. What the board lacks, 15.11, is, it would appear, anything like independence. This was at the heart of the problems at St Benedict's. Clearly there is a need for changes at the top.
    You are mistaken about the five years and two months. In fact the interval between inspections is three years, so this should be two years and two months.
    Ordinarily there is a full (standard) inspection every six years followed by an interim visit every three. However, where there have been serious regulatory failings, and there is none more serious than safeguarding, the interim inspection is replaced by a full inspection.

  29. Mr West, have you been able to find answers to any of the above questions?
    If not, do you plan to pursue then with the trustees and governors directly?

  30. 22:57, I am still looking into it. There is no earthly point in me writing to Mrs Gumley Mason herself, I'm not the parent of a current pupil and I have no doubt that she will intensively ignore any letter from me.

    If any current parents would like to help out with finding out the true situation, I would very much welcome the assistance. Email me on

  31. Apparently, not only do we have our children's safety to worry about, but FGM and her husband are bullies who regularly victimise members of staff. Christian behaviour indeed.

  32. Yes 16.13. It seems that way and it is incredible that any organisation is run on the basis of personality rather than procedure. Where proper process is absent inevitable problems follow because there can never be consistency of approach. This in turn leads to unfairness and favouritism.
    It is a natural human trait to favour those who flatter our vanity, and this in turn leads us to give these flatterers power over us.
    In management terms this is dangerous because it means we judge what we hear on the basis of who said it rather than the quality of the thought. Boundaries thus blurred between personality and thought very quickly send organisations into tail-spin to crash landings.

  33. Just googled 'Mrs Gumley Mason'. This blog is in the top three hits. Never seen the like. Doesn't anyone have anything good to say? And what's the deal with the husband?

  34. Psalms chapter 52. Verses 2 to 4!

  35. 17.55. You have obviously never met them. You should consider yourself blessed.

  36. Why can't the trustees and the govenors see what everybody else can see?
    Are both these bodies a bunch of idiots or are they manipulated by the gruesome twosome as well.
    Answers on a postcard please.
    We parents would especially like to hear from Mrs Hemingway with an explanation as to why she and her fellow governors are continuing to support a headmistress that has failed in her very well paid duties, is a disgrace to the school, is dragging the school down and has been economical with the truth, to say the least, to staff and parents.
    Come on Mrs Hemingway, get your head out of the sand. Prove to us all that you actually stand behind the school motto "Veritas" unlike your headmistress.

  37. Q: Are these two bodies manipulated by the gruesome twosome too?
    A: Yes

  38. I’ve been following this blog with interest. I spoke to an ex-member of staff who commented that unfortunately the current staff are unlikely to take any action. Apparently its well known that some staff will report any discussions to the Head, although their identities are uncertain. Any member of staff who speaks out will become her next target for victimization.

  39. Management by fear.

    And is the management structure controlled exclusively by the Gruesome Twosome?

  40. Maybe you should consider what good the head has done for the school! It is easy to critise and easy to forget that the school was close to closing before the head came in! She has made the place better and she has turned the school into one where people want to stay to do their A-levels and where people actually get the results to get into the universities they want! She has done this by employing good staff who actually care about the children and care about what they do! So the head is not all bad!

  41. She has broken the law on safeguarding. Were the Governors informed? If they were they are complicit in the breach - if they were not then the Head has misled them. Which is it?

    She has permitted members of staff to leave St Augustine's who are a known risk to children and for all any of us know they returned to teaching as a result of the statutory referrals not being made.

    She is roundly disliked by staff as is her interfering husband.

    The school is succeeding despite of her, not because of her.

    The ISI report is roundly critical of the senior management - which means the head and the Governors. The report is complimentary of the teaching but teaching is a very self-motivated profession. Were it not, the place would be in a even deeper mess. So well done the teaching staff who have sadly been let down by the Head and the Governors.

  42. 15.25. Listen to yourself! You are actually admitting that it is the staff who have changed the school. There is no room for urban myth here. There is a shortage of places in independent schools in wealthy areas like Ealing, so the so called achievements are really nothing that special. It's is the job of any headteacher to employ good staff - why would they employ bad ones?
    Ask yourself what has been done that any other head would not have done, or indeed you yourself if you were head. Where does the idea that it's all so special originate from?

  43. As a parent who has been closely associated with the school for a number of years, it is a source of sadness to me that the tactics of management in this school have forced the departure of some of the most dedicated, professional and well liked members of staff. Bullying should be stamped out wherever it rears its ugly head. No ifs, no buts.

  44. which teachers 22.58?

  45. I think parents should know Mrs Hemmingway the head of the governors is also known as Professor Evans her eldest daughter was Head Girl, what a suprise.

  46. Each year the Head Girl is chosen by "a democratic process" with the Headmistress having the final say! Enough said for democratic process!!

  47. There is no democracy in this school. It is just run for a few people.

  48. Just like to say thank you to Mr West. We had an offer for our daughter to attend St A's in September and paid the deposit. We have an offer from another school and were in the process of looking at the pros and cons of each before making a final decision. I've only just become aware of this issue so do not know how much truth there is in the allegations but even the smallest risk of a child's safety being put at risk is unacceptable. The more parents are made aware of the issues, the more likely you are to see change.

  49. Mrs Gumley Mason can you please explain why 2010 annual reports have not been submitted.
    Please give us some credit, we get the impression you feel that most people are beneath you in intelligence; first the ISI Report, now the Accounts. Is their anything else you have not disclosed?
    I look forward to an answer though I doubt one will be forthcoming.
    This can not go unreported to the relevant Government bodies and Commissions.

  50. Mrs Gumley Mason thinks she's above the law and answerable to no one. It's always been her way or no way. She will never change she's been in control for far to long.

  51. 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.

  52. The accounts have not been submitted for 2009 if you check the Charitable Commission Website (1097781) they would have been document April/May 2010.
    Why have they been held back?
    Only Mrs GM can answer this question, I doubt we will receive an acknowledgement!

  53. This is very peculiar the accounts are missing for the period 2009.
    I feel St Augustines should be fully investigated on all accounts, the welfare of its children, the administration of child protection and their finances. The trustees must be made fully aware of all these irregularities.

  54. Come on Mrs/Mr Gumley Mason you are not normally shy, answer the question, and while you are at it can you reveal how much we the parents paid to protect you good names in the recent court case. Look forward to your reply.

  55. 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?

  56. Thank you 14.04 you forgot to mention how much your court costs came to.

  57. What do you not understand regarding telling the Truth 14:04. You have just given a straight forward answer, why is this not possible in all questions asked of you, trying to stop the disclosure of the ISI Report where it questions your suitability with the position you hold. You should have been upfront and honest from the beginning and acknowledged mistakes were made instead you have wasted invaluable school monies to defend yourself and the report was upheld. Will you be reimbursing the school for solicitors fees?, as this could be spent on a far more worth while cause. I look forward to your PROMPT and Honest response.

  58. You will be in for a long wait, as the court proceedings were to defend her good name and not for the benefit of the school, surely she should be liable for the costs incurred.