Friday, 25 March 2011

A quick final thought before the meeting

It occurs to me that a possible approach that may be taken by Mrs Gumley Mason will be to try and pass off the ISI's criticisms as relatively minor, that they have all now been dealt with and there is no more reason to be concerned.

But consider this, The criticisms in the published report are the ones the school got upset about. So upset that they obtained a High Court injunction to prevent publication. High Court injunctions are neither sought nor granted casually. So they managed to persuade a very skeptical and hard-bitten judge that this was a really serious matter and that the school would suffer irreperable harm if the ISI report were to be unfairly published, and that they had a reasonable chance of demonstrating that the ISI's report was so unfair that no reasonable person could have reached the same conclusions.

Well, it has now been published, still containing the same criticisms. From the tone of Mrs Gumley Mason's accompanying letter, it would appear that they were hoping that nobody else would notice how devastating the report actually is.

I suggest you treat the crticisms in it as seriously as the school did when they initiated the High Court action.

170 comments:

  1. I feel that they -are- relatively minor, and compared to the great things that Mrs Gumley-Mason has done for our school, they hardly merit her resignation.

    She is a wonderful head mistress and I, for one, would be extremely sad to see her go.
    I know that many others feel the same.

    I wonder if you're going to publish this?

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  2. Pass me a sick bag.

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  3. There was a lot that was wonderful about St Benedicts at a time when abuse was going on and at a time when I was a pupil. Many parents then, although less so, our pupils, were starry eyed about people like Father Laurence Soper, and some of these individuals were truly wonderful teachers. Please let's step back and see the whole picture - the consequences engendered the lack of safeguards in highly charismatic but egocentric leadership. Risks no children should be forced unwittingly to encounter. Please let's not be starry eyed. I urge you from experience, in this case not as a parent (although I have that experience too) but as a pupil. By the way, Jonathan is blunt but he is right.

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  4. It's one thing being blunt about the recent report and the incidents surrounding that, it's another to just be downright rude about a person.
    I understand mistakes have been made but I hardly think it's fair to personally victimise a person.
    Obviously there is something that needs to be resolved here, but there are better ways of doing it than being aggressive and insulting.
    For example, the comments about Father Gregory are ridiculous. He made an 'inappropriate remark'. Nobody was hurt.
    There has also been a massive amount of exaggeration coming from the pupils. I was in sixth form at the time of many of the alleged events, such as one of the teachers 'harassing' a sixth former to go to the pub and his birthday, and they just didn't happen like that. I know the students and I know the full story, and these lies shouldn't be spread and taken as fact.

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  5. There is not, and never has been, any abuse at St Augustines. Do not equate it with St Benedicts. Ask the Ealing Social Services, ask the police, ask the Ealing lead for safeguardng schools, ask the school.

    This is a distasteful, specious site, with no decent moderator, who have many people posting with no connection to either school.I have a daughter who was educated at St Augustine's and never once did she feel unsafe. She still has a great love of the school, great life long friends from it and great fondness for her teachers. She is a well rounded happy young woman, one who was not particularly academic but the school found her strengths and nurtured them.

    Shame on all of you who wish to take away, what she was so lucky to have, from other girls.

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  6. Another point - injunctions are equitable remedies and the Equitable Maxims apply:

    He who seeks Equity must do Equity

    He who comes into equity must come with clean hands.

    **

    Also it is not cheap to instruct Counsel to settle the pleadings and appear in Court. They will also had have to pay the ISI's legal fees as they lost. Costs follow the event.

    Not much change from £10-12,000 I'd wager

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  7. Father Gregory was a teacher at St B's when I was there. He was a wonderful teacher of RE, witty and entertaining and full of flair. I was a contemporary of Julian Clary who many years later wrote in the Independent about a "Father G" who did a mass beating of children in his class. Clary speculated at the end of his article about sexual pleasure from the beater. This article expressed the experience of many at the school. I am sure Father Gregory's inappropriate remark was in itself explainable, forgivable - and it's unfair to hold it against him. I am sure he is still witty and charming and very clever. I always personally liked Father Gregory, but many had reason not to. My experience is not the whole story, and nor is theirs, or taht of anybody from St A's. That is my comment on perspectives and surely it makes sense. On rudeness, I don't feel it is rude to construct an argument on facts and challenges and to invite refutation, even if it not exactly charming - it is actually something more important, a reach towards the truth which may not be complete but is more than we see anywhere else.

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  8. Thank you, anonymous 23:10. I couldn't have put it better myself.

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  9. 23.31 "There is not, and never has been, any abuse at St Augustines.(sic)

    And the poster demonstrates s/he doesn't understand the argument.

    You cannot possibly know whether there has/not been abuse at St Augustine's. None of us can.

    Why?

    Because the school has never had a policy to refer allegations to the LADO or the ACPC. No incident has ever been referred by the school's DO. The ISI report in part indicates this. Whenever incidents arise, as they have at St Augustine's, unless they are referred to the independent set of eyes and ears (the LADO) none of us can have confidence in the outcome. The reason for this failure is the defence of the name of the institution at the expense of the alleged victim of abuse.

    Any administration unwilling to apply the Ealing Safeguarding Board Guidance does so for reasons known only to itself.

    Until the guidance is adopted, and today the school fails to do this in its current child protection policy, then one needs to ask why.

    Unfortunately this state of affairs indicates that the Trustees are unaware of their statutory responsibilities. This in turn means the governors are also detached from the role they should have in this matter.

    These matters alone signify the incompetence of the administration.

    The ISI has not got to grips with the failure of the Trust in its report, and it needs to be asked some serious questions about this aspect of their inspection.

    I have not seen rudeness from Mr West - the contrary in fact. His accusers cannot contribute to the detail of the discussion because they have no knowledge of the subject which is complex and detailed. Once again as a starting point read the ISI report, then understand SVGA 2006 and onwards to Government guidance SCSRE and the more recent independent schools Act which came in to force in September 10.

    Yelling vacuously from the touchline without understanding any inch of the argument is unwise. These issues raised by the site are very serious and need to be resolved for the benefit of everyone at the school.

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  10. The issues raised aren't serious. Honestly.

    Yes, mistakes were made, and I understand that, but I think many people are over-reacting.

    Not everyone is a paedophile. The teachers reported in this case are not paedophiles. One was a not particularly amazing teacher, who annoyed pupils, and one was probably a little inappropriate with the sixth form.

    I would hardly deem that 'child abuse'.

    People are saying 'abuse could go unreported' - I'm pretty sure that could happen in any school in terms of the child not reporting it. In terms of Mrs Gumley-Mason reporting it to a higher authority; if anyone knew her, they would know that this would happen.

    However, as the case stands, that hasn't been any abuse. The school is extremely safe. It is old fashioned, and probably doesn't adhere to the strict rules and guidelines that it is meant to, but honestly, I would rather send my child to a school that was as encouraging as St Augustine's, and that made her happy, than a school that followed all the paperwork to a tee but made her miserable.

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  11. having read through most of this blog about St. Augustine's all i feel is that so many people have completely over reacted.Granted a few modern red tape beaucratic rules haven't been followed and i am sure that that will be rectified.I think the school create a fantastic environment for the girls to learn and reach their individual potential...and from my daughters experiences,a very safe and protective one.

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  12. we all want what 23: 10 and 23:31 say to be true. All of us who have integrity and care in our souls. And G-M clearly has many marvellous qualities - I'd like it if she had been my headteacher. But the same eulogies were aired about St B's decades before the sexual abuse problems which had been taking place at the time surfaced. At St A's, such problems may never emerge or even have taken place, even with involvement of certain monks whose name have been associated with the problems legimately - but let's for God's sake at least have the safeguards in place that are required by the law of the land and - and let's not knock the only person in England who will re-present the fact as documented in official reports, about St' A's failures to observe requirements.

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  13. As a ex-teacher of St. Augustine's Priory, I know that a number of teachers in the early part of the last decade were "dispensed with" as the Headmistress more or less victimised them, so parents who say that to disagree with her risked her victimising their children are quite correct. The school was not a pleassant place to work in for those staff before they left.

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  14. It is anything but a fantastic environment for any student.

    I am convinced that some of the glee club posters can only cope with reading OK! magazine, but the ISI report which dispenses more serious information that requires research, disection and consideration is several steps too far.

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  15. Anonyomous 00.08 my experience of Father Gregory is that he was a nasty, hypocritical, bullying alcoholic who employed an arch and pompous manner to compensate for his complete inability to manage a class, manage teachers, or simply to teach. He could barely stand up at assembly some days and the Upper Fourth and Lower Fifth were often to be seen turning their faces away in disgust, so strong was the reek of alcohol from him. Add to this the fact that he, like every adult involved with St benedict's in the 1970's and 1980's knew damn well that 'GD' was a paedophile and you'll understand why I beg to differ from your warm recollections of him, though I accept the sincerity of your comments.

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  16. Dissection, from this glee club poster.

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  17. 10.48

    Not everyone is a paedophile. The teachers reported in this case are not paedophiles. One was a not particularly amazing teacher, who annoyed pupils, and one was probably a little inappropriate with the sixth form.

    I would hardly deem that 'child abuse'.



    'Not everyone is a paedophile.' The argument of the unwise. Where did you qualify in social welfare? Here is adult logic being mistakenly applied once again.

    People are saying 'abuse could go unreported' - I'm pretty sure that could happen in any school in terms of the child not reporting it.

    In terms of Mrs Gumley-Mason reporting it to a higher authority; if anyone knew her, they would know that this would happen.


    I agree with the first point, without doubt. Only 10% of abuse ever gets reported according to the Lancet paper of November 2008. So we concur.

    For your second point you make a confident unevidenced statement. You cannot prove it though because you have no evidence. Then consider the school child protection which in its current edition once again does not undertake to report allegations of abuse to the LADO which complies with Ealing Safeguarding Children's Board (15.2.1). Why not?

    Without the school undertaking to report all allegations of abuse (of all forms, not just sexual allegations) to the LADO, parents are permitting the school to do as it wishes contrary to all guidance.

    A written undertaking engrossed into the schools child protection policy is vital because there is no statutory requirement to refer allegations to the LADO. All that exists is a 'professional expectation' that staff will report. 'That is all you've got.' And the 'oh so polite' expectation is worth nothing as has been shown consistently in safeguarding in education.

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  18. I have just read this blog, directed to it by my daughter who has been attending St Augustine's for many years. I have been very disturbed to read it, not because of any shortcomings of the school with their child protection policy, but because of the thoroughly unpleasant vindictive nature of the postings. Much of it reads like a modern day witch hunt.
    My daughter loves her school, she has had many happy years there, with inspired teaching and excellent pastoral care. She has been more disturbed and upset by reading this blog than anything that has ever happened to her at school.

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  19. 12:25
    Yes, it is disturbing. I don't doubt that your daughter loves the school. But that has no bearing on whether the child protection procedures are up to the standard required by law. The ISI found that they were not. The school took the ISI to court over it.

    Does that not give you some small reason to be concerned?

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  20. 10.48 - and a school does not have to report rape because there is no statutory obligation to do so.

    So for an allegation that does not involve rape?

    No written undertaking = no need to refer to the LADO.


    How jolly convenient - yup!

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  21. Having read this whole blog, I think the correct thing for you to do is to declare your interest. As an 'atheist and confirmed member of the Church of England',(guardian.co.uk), do you have an unbiased attitude to faith schools and to Catholic schools in particular?

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  22. I think it is important to mention, from my experience as a pupil at St B's, that child predators flourish in an environment where parents think, or want to think, the school is wonderful, the teachers can do nothing wrong. I cannot emphasise enough that some of the monks at St B's took advantage of this situation to prey on boys and ruin their lives. It is to protect against this that the laws are in place. Unfortunately St A's has broken these laws and shows every sign of continuing to do so. THis is fact. Charisma, good intentions, charm, brilliant teaching ability, and wearing heart on sleeve by the headmistress may be very real, at least for some, but do not, I'm afraid, compensate for the legal failings, much as they may impress or intimidate parents. It is arrogant and blinkered to assume that the St B's situation could not repeat itself, or have done so, at St A's. I notice on this blog generally, both in relation to St B's and St A's, a lot of people missing the point by focusing on the good qualities of the schools or the teaching. To use a removed but not irrelevant analogy, Bernie Madoff, who ripped off investors in the US on a large scale and is now in jail, was charming, charismatic, understood investors, and everyone trusted and defended him, and yet he exploited the trust - we have no reason to believe that teachers in a relaxed regime, as allowed by headteachers who refuse to abide by legal safeguarding procedures, could not be doing the same. The SEC, the financial regulator, turned a blind eye to Madoff, trusting him, and this has led to a minor scandal. I am not personally au fait with all the legal nitty gritty (I am informed on these by this blog, for which I am extremely grateful), but I can see the issues clearly. Legal requirements - broken by St A's - children at risk. Don't believe St B's can't repeat itself. And why was Father G (seriously suspect) ever allowed into St G's, and teachers known for turning a discreet blind eye allowed there, like Mike Strachan (a man of integrity but an establishment man)? I can name others. As an ex-St B's pupil, I know what can happen if safeguards are not in place - sexual abuse for years. Don't anyone dare to come out any more with this "isn't it all delightful" spiel if they're willing to endorse lawbreaking - because one person's child got through the system happily, it doesn't mean everybody did. Happy to discuss this point with anyone here.

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  23. I concur with the sentiments expressed @12.25. This blog is doing serious harm to many children. It represents, in its own right, a form of child-abuse and Mr West and his fellow contributors ought to be ashamed of the tenor of very many of the postings to this blog.

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  24. 13.50 - look at the ISI report. Read the grounds.

    The school has failed you and more importantly the pupils on safeguarding. It continues to do so by not adopting 15.2.1 of the Ealing Safeguarding Board's guidance.

    Why do you think this might be?

    I somehow don't expect an answer.

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  25. Still waiting for Mr West to declare his interest..

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  26. 13.30
    If you have read the whole blog, you will undoubtedly have read the article Why do I keep on at this? which describes why I keep on at this.

    Although that article was written in the context of St. Benedict's rather than St. Augustine's, many of the points there are equally applicable to both schools. I don't see any need to repeat them.

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  27. St Augustine's is a completely separate school to St Benedicts. As a parent of St Augustine's I ask that you have the courtesy to leave us alone and let us deal with any issues about child protection ourselves.

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  28. 20.17

    "Safeguarding is everyone's business"
    Jim Gould - Chairman Plymouth SCB, at a press conference for the report of the Serious Case Review into the abuse at Little Ted's nursery.

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  29. JW clearly needs the oxygen of publicity;without publicity he has no purpose and I would like to suggest that his followers need to consider their motives.

    Is it all about safeguarding ?

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  30. 20.17 they haven't dealt with with child protection, that's what this blog is about. They tried to hide the truth, they broke the law. Are you as a parent going to deal with the issues yourself, can't wait to hear your intentions and how you are intending to deal with the issues of child protection. What qualifications have you got?

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  31. One might wonder why the comments criticising me, without exception make no answer at all to the facts that I mention, and instead either make airy claims that all is well, or try to engage in character-assassination.

    Why won't you address the issues raised, not by me, but by the ISI? After all, if those issues are addressed and dealt with, you'll be able to find out if it is all about safeguarding, because you'll then find out whether I stop talking about the school. I assure you I will, as soon as I am satisfied that the safeguarding arrangements are fit for purpose.

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  32. We as parents should thank Mr West for ensuring our children will be safe, without his involvement alot of parents would be none the wiser. How can you defend an establishment that broke the law, it's fact it's in black and white.

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  33. 13.50 My cildren have read this blog and I can honestly say it hasn't done them any harm, if you seriuosly think this is doing your child serious harm may I suggest you don't let them read it. It's not compulsory reading.

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  34. Obsessive Interference.
    Obsession can take many forms some are more or less benign others are far from benign. Clearly many contributors feel that the obsessive behaviour exhibited by Mr West and his fellow travellers is far from benign, being (Mr West's rationalisations notwithstanding) positively harmful and, ironically, most specifically harmful to those Mr West and his blog claim to seek to protect.
    Mr West attempts to defend his activity by saying no one is 'making any answer to all the facts' to which he has drawn attention. This, of course, is nonsense and unworthy of any further comment. But, I urge Mr West to take to heart the plea of the parent @20:17 and 'have the courtesy to leave us (parents, staff, etc) alone and let us deal with any issues about child protection ourselves'. However, sadly, I doubt Mr West has the strength of will to desist from his meddlesome and destructive behaviour in which he not only seems to delight but to take a perverse pride.

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  35. 20.17 - you know nothing about safeguarding.

    Have you read the child protection policy?

    Do you know the statutory framework?

    Do you understand the ISI report?

    Are you familiar with the reasoning for the school seeking an injunction against the ISI?

    Are you familiar with the inspection framework and its safeguarding limitations?

    Are you familiar with SCSRE which is currently being revised?

    Are you familiar with SVGA 2006 and the changes within this Act that so adversely affect the making of Referrals to the ISA?

    Are you familiar with the role of the DO and who that is at St A's?

    Are you acquainted with the role of the Trustees regarding safeguarding? I hope so because they appear to have no clue which is why St A's is in such deep mess.

    Let's face it you know very little - and still you reject a helping hand. Is it possible to be more unwise?

    Keep watching this blog - I speculate there are a number of resourceful people assisting Mr West. The seriousness of the situation at 'your school' will eventually penetrate your cranium. St A’s shares a great deal in common with St B’s, don’t fool yourself otherwise it would be most unwise.

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  36. Mr West's actions have not ensured anything. His chosen manner of involvement, with this vindictive and destructive blog, should make anyone question what his motives are.

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  37. Everyone's entitled to thier opinion that is why we are democracy.And 21.16 you obviously are in denial of the truth, the blog is niether destructive or vindictive. It's the truth, for some strange reason people have a problem with that.

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  38. 21.06 How can you ask to leave us staff, parents alone to deal with the child protection ourselves, the reason the blog emerged was the fact that St Augustine's complacency in this field put children at risk. I really cannot comprehend your not understanding this. Wakey up.

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  39. A genuinely interesting contribution from 13.34 on which I will be commenting when I've a moment.

    Then the contribution from 21.06 in stark contrast. Please note there is nothing about child protection in his/her comment - just complaints about West, who is subject literate, taking an interest. It is a most odd thing to complain about.

    Why is West's contribution causing you angst?

    I note that not a single complainant has so far made a single comment about the failure of safeguarding at St Augustine's.

    Is any parent aware of the extent of the safeguarding failures at St A's? Did anyone ask at the gathering on Friday?

    I speculate everyone kept silent.

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  40. Could 22.41 list the current safeguarding failures at St Augustine's that parents should be aware of.

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  41. 08.54 - please read the blog, most are mentioned many times.

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  42. Mr West's contributions on child protection are largely sane and sound and can be listed simply, clearly and in a straightforward way. Some of his other contributions, together with those of his supporters are far from sound and sane being all too simple and straightforward. In short, critique is fine and helpful but ongoing abuse, gossip and bullying is not.

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  43. Stop associating St Augustine's with St Benedict's. They are two different schools, and the logic that 'abuse happened at St Benedict's, it must have happened at St Augustine's' is completely wrong.

    The school made a mistake in not reporting the two teachers mentioned, agreed, but that is something that can be easily fixed.

    The injunction taken out against the ISI report was not to 'hide it' from the public, but because there were inaccuracies in the report, which Mrs Gumley Mason didn't want to be taken as fact.

    Any other issues with Mrs Gumley Mason or St Augustine's, which have appeared in the comments section, should be taken up elsewhere, ie. with the school itself.

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  44. ADDING FICTION TO FACT

    12:04 - what you write is much, much too real! This blog is about mixing 10 parts unreality to every 1 part reality. Mr West's job is to encourage this mixture and in so doing conjure up as many mountains out of molehills as possible!

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  45. Mr West it is not a matter of 'thinking' but of seeing.

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  46. 14:03

    OK, what is is that you have seen that leads you to that conclusion?

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  47. At a conservative estimate, Mr West, around 60% of your blog!

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  48. 14:12

    OK, would you like to provide an example?

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  49. Still waiting to hear the details of current safeguarding issues which affect the pupils at St Augustine's today,this week,this month.

    If they exist;it is a straightforward,uncluttered request."Read the blog" is not an adequate response unless JW is incapable of precis.

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  50. Examples abound Mr West and I leave our fellow bloggers to find their own examples.

    However, as stated above, at a generous estimate 40% of your blog is useful, factual and by and large constructive. The rest....! Well, take a look for yourself, Mr West.

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  51. 12:04

    The injunction taken out against the ISI report was not to 'hide it' from the public, but because there were inaccuracies in the report, which Mrs Gumley Mason didn't want to be taken as fact.

    Could you tell me what inaccuracies were in the previous report?

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  52. 09.56 It is extraordinary that you can tell a West 'supporter' from a troll? Posters may not agree with what is happening at St A's or St B's but that does not make the poster a suppoter of West.

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  53. @ 13.04

    ADDING FICTION TO FACT
    This blog is about mixing 10 parts unreality to every 1 part reality. Mr West's job is to encourage this mixture and in so doing conjure up as many mountains out of molehills as possible!


    Well it's interesting that you confirm there is factual content in this site - but we can all see it exists in spades, but would you please bring the alleged fiction to our attention. Given your claim of 1 : 10 this should take you about two minutes, and please link us to the source points of the evidence you provide in your reply.

    I appreciate you may take a while. Previous posters who claim similar have all failed to provide evidence

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  54. I have been working at st augustines for a long time. I thought the issues in the report were about paperwork than anything else. I don't think there has been any more risk of abuse at St Augustines than any other school I know of.

    But now I am worried by what is happening to our school. Last friday there was an extraordinary staff meeting where the headmistress and Proff. Hemmingway read out a comment from this blog posted the day before. It talked about demoralised staff. The headmistress said we needed to decide on which side we were, and then left.

    In the shouting after this, many people said it was terrible that staff read this blog and did not support the headmistress. Nobody pointed out how the headmistress has lied to us and parents over and over again. She received the report early last summer and replied immediately. Many times she said to all staff that she knew nothing about this - even one time in the chapel last summer! We now know that she was lying then, and in novemeber she started court action. She never mentioned this to parents or staff. In fact she wrote a letter saying that she knew nothing.

    If anyone even dares to say this to this blog they are accused of being disloyal. Now we are in the situation that everyone, staff and pupils, know that the headmistress is a liar. She knows that we know this, but more than half the staff put their head in the sand and don't think this might be a problem in a Christian school. To think that this woman stands up three times a week and tells our children to be honest and kind to eachother. Everyone is laughing at her.

    And they are also scared - scared what she and her husband will do to their jobs. Already people are talking about who will have to leave; Others can't do it yet but will probably start applying if things come up. And now some sixth formers have told me that they must be loyal to the headmistress too.

    What is happening here ? I don't know who was at risk beforehand, but I m afraid that the headmistress has put our school at risk.

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  55. Still waiting to hear the details of current safeguarding issues.......but nothing yet.

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  56. Current safeguarding issues have been described in that the current child protection policy is not up to legal standards. I have already described how the section on reporting allegations is inadequate and contains weasel words. I have also pointed out how the definition of "sexual abuse" is so bad as to be positively misleading.

    We have not had any assurance that allegations or reports of abuse which should have been forwarded to the LADO have been reported retrospectively or will now be reported.

    I have had a reply from one of the Trustees, in which is it clear that he is not at all sure as to the legal obligations of the proprietors of an independent school, and in his ignorance decided that it would be inappropriate to attend the parents meeting last Friday.

    So you have a badly-written and misleading child protection policy operated by the headmistress, you have Trustees who don't know their statutory duties, and you have a situation where an unknown number of past allegations have been made but not reported to the LADO at the time.

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  57. Oh and by the way, based on the description of 19.04 above, you have an oppressive atmosphere at the school involving bullying and favouritism, ideal circumstances for abuse by favourites against others to continue unreported for long periods.

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  58. 19.04
    I have been working at st augustines for a long time. I thought the issues in the report were about paperwork than anything else.

    No, its not just about paperwork. It is about allegations of abuse not being properly reported to the LADO. It is about unfit teachers not being reported to the Independent Safeguarding authority when they are sacked. And it is about teachers being employed and permitted unsupervised contact with children when their List 99 and CRB checks have not been completed.

    This isn't about the paperwork not being completed. This isn't about everything having been done properly but not adequately recorded. This is about the necessary actions not having been carried out at all.

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  59. 19.34

    If you cannot be bothered to read - its all there! - I cannot be bothered to write any further.

    Start with the ISI report.

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  60. What a horrible place to work the headmistress and her husband should leave the school.The gruesome twosome will ruin the school if they are allowed to remain. I think she will be surprised at the number of parents handing in thier notice at the end of the term!

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  61. what an oppressive place to work, I as a parent have the utmost respect for most of the teachers, and i feel so sorry for them having to work in such an oppressive enviroment.

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  62. Who has put your school at risk? Whoever they've had a great deal of help from J West Esq!

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  63. Proffessor Hemmingway aka Dr Evans is Gumley Masons new puppet on a string. More fool her I always thought her to be intelligent.

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  64. 21.09 Keep shooting the messenger. You really cannot see you've been lied to and it continues. You may get it eventually, unpalatable as the truth is.

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  65. The school is not at risk - what nonsense!

    A senior employee of the school is at risk, members of the board of governors are at risk, and the chairman of the board of trustees is certainly at risk and several of his fellow trustees who are a little past their their 'effective to date.'

    Let's hope action is taken and that parents find the 'on' switch.

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  66. Mr and Mrs Gumley Mason, Prof Hemingway and Mr Murphy must be forced to resign asap to avoid bringing a good school into further disrepute. They have all failed pupils, parents and staff.
    The school needs a fresh start and can move on from this but change is now required.

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  67. 19.04 What is happening here? I don't know who was at risk beforehand, but I m afraid that the headmistress has put our school at risk.

    Although it might be hard to comprehend it is the children that were at risk and this continues. And it will continue as long at the Trustees fail to comply (i) with their statutory responsibility to embed effective safeguarding in the school. The Chairman of trustees is the registered owner and therefore responsible for achieving this but he is on holiday and failed to send a trustee to the parents meeting. (ii) with clause 15.2.1. of the Ealing safeguarding Children's board guidance which must be engrossed into the safeguarding policy immediately.

    To spell it out bluntly the trustees appear clueless (see West's posting @20.17) about their responsibilities; Hemmingway and her fellow governors cannot be effective if the trustees have no clue of their responsibilities; no trustee or governor is allocated with responsibility for safeguarding as far as we can tell - are you starting to get the picture?; the governors and the head are too close and suffering from groupthink, which is unhealthy to the point of dangerous, and does not bring much needed rigour to management; the designated officer for CP in the school should not be the head, it is very unwise and permits a head to control an allegation without thinking of the child first.

    I could easily continue - you need someone who understands safeguarding to get the mess sorted out, and that excludes the entire administration which tells you why the school is where it is.

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  68. 13.04 - you seem not to have not found your claimed fiction yet. Please post again when you do.

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  69. Fiction is not only a matter of untruth - though there has been a lot of that on this blog - but a way of presenting facts that makes of them more than is justified. The facts are embellished, distorted, coloured, dramatised or marshalled in such a way that we’re no longer dealing with serious issues but embroiled in a soap opera in which, week in and week out, ‘dark deeds in the woodshed’ are investigated by ‘the most brilliant forensic mind in Britain’. Like most soaps this one, at times, can make for compulsive viewing and, its producer/s keep a keen eye, we're told, on the ratings.

    However, this is, surely, not the way in which serious people approach serious issues? As with many soaps, this represents a dumming down of reality. The people portrayed are caricatured and issues reduced to playthings that can be toyed with more or less at whim. Entertaining maybe, but dramatisation of this sort belongs on the stage or TV screen and that’s where would be dramatists – good, bad or indifferent - should submit their work to professional scrutiny.

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  70. 09.35, would you care to provide an example of the untruths that you refer to? Just one teensy weensy example?

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  71. You have I think, over the past few months, become a tad more careful with your statements of ‘fact’, Mr West. But, to site ‘one teensy weensy example’, you engineered a good deal of fiction around the ‘arrest’/’non arrest’ of Fr Gregory Chillman and, as I recall, got yourself into something of a muddle.

    However, I note you do not deny your work as dramatist and, at that level, your efforts are sometimes quite impressive. For example, the way you managed to spin David Cameron’s appointment of Chris Pattern, as his personal representative for the papal visit, was masterly. You homed in, as a good dramatist would, on a single fact – Chris Pattern is an old boy of St Benedict’s and, therefore, the theme of your soap would inevitably take centre stage and overwhelm the entire papal visit. Cameron, the Pope and Chris Pattern would be put in their place and depicted as bit-players in your very own production. Sadly, that bit of the plot backfired, but, hey-ho, ‘the show must go on’.

    Many examples of inaccuracy and tendentious dramatisation are out there on your blog, Mr West. But, let’s allow our fellow bloggers to seek them out for themselves, shall we? That way, they’ll have more fun and that, in part at least, is what drama is all about , isn’t it?

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  72. I stand by my statements about Chillman. You will note that St. Benedict's discussed trying to get me to retract the statement, but obviously wiser counsels prevailed.

    But I also deny that I am dramatising. I'm prepared to justify everything I write here. But when I ask people to give a sepcific example of when I have made an error of fact, they become suddenly terribly vague. Do you have any explanation for that?

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  73. The explanation is very simple. Your entire blog is the example, Mr West! When asked to single out a particular instance or incident then, of course, people look vague - nonplussed - it's as though one were asked to say exactly what makes an Agatha Chrisie an Agatha Christie. The answer has to be:'Read her books'!

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  74. Well 09.35 - the only defence you have is one that attempts to deride and undermine. You have nowhere else to go - the facts on this site have been clearly stated and are there for you to contribute towards. But you don't. And it is with extreme irony that you manage to post below 00.00 who asks one of your fellow posters from the school of whinging contributors @ 13.04, to evidence any fiction.

    No one has managed to do this yet, including you.

    It was also this site - not the school's shaky administration please note, that brought you the details of the High Court proceedings that the school never owned up to taking, even after the release of the ISI report.

    But have you or anyone else asked the Head why this appalling situation occurred, where a member of the public, unconnected with the school, put the facts in front of you the paying parents? It's like something from a Brian Rix farce, and equally as unfunny.

    Start thinking.

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  75. 11:02, how much of this blog have you actually read? I suspect very little and then only entries that concern St Augustine's. If you read back, over the past two years or so of this blog, you’ll discover that St Augustine's is merely the latest instalment in a very long saga. No one is, or to my knowledge ever has, criticising the presentation of factual information most of which is commendable. But, give yourself a treat, or at least an education, and read back over the dozens of entries concerning St Benedict's and the community at Ealing Abbey. You may find yourself more than a little surprised (or sickened) at some of the language and sentiments you find there. Many statements regarding the school, its staff and the monks of Ealing Abbey are utterly shocking and are what one would expect to come from a group of racist ranters. Mr West has never sought, at any time or in any way, to put a stop to this kind of material and has dismissed any criticism of it by claiming, in effect, that injured people have a right to lash out, more or less at will, against those they feel have injured them. The results of this policy are, as you will see if you take the trouble to read through the blog, quite revolting.

    Start reading.

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  76. 11.01 - What a wonderfully bone idle contribution. You've clearly nothing to contribute.

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  77. Tell me, 12:21, in simple terms - every bit as simple as your last entry - exactly what you have contributed?

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  78. Reading the comments above stating the blog is like a soap opera reminds me of a letter we recieved from that woman GM, about a month ago. Yet again trying to defend herself.

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  79. I see 11:02's apparently thrown off balance by anyone seeking to 'deride and undermine' anything that appears on this blog. But how come so much of the blog is about precisely that? This blog is not, as 11:02 would have us suppose, a reasonable and reasoned debate about the shortcomings of certain schools - though there is some of that, of course - but represents far more a systematic attempt to undermine, discredit and deride a number of individuals along with the institutions with which they happen to be associated. It is this character assassination coupled with an apparent desire to bring down these institutions - something that goes way beyond any critique of administrative failings or even serious professional misconduct - that contributors like myself find so distasteful and wantonly destructive.

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  80. Who is 'that woman GM'?

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  81. @12:05

    "Many statements regarding the school, its staff and the monks of Ealing Abbey are utterly shocking and are what one would expect to come from a group of racist ranters".

    Please point out the alleged racist postings. I have been reading and contributing to the blog for about eighteen months and have not noticed anything of the sort.

    It seems that some supporters of St Benedict's and Ealing Abbey will resort to any baseless slur against Mr West and his supporters.

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  82. I don't think it's St.Benedict's or Ealing Abbey supporters I think you will find it's Mr & Mrs Gumley Mason, trying too divert attention away from themselves, this is the sort of sneaky thing they would do.

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  83. This poster @ 13.32 + 12.05 and 10.44 bears all the hallmarks of an Abbeyvista troll.

    Best ignored.

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  84. No, 14:00, there are, of course, no racist comments as such. You've missed what was, I would have thought, the rather obvious point. It's the tone and quality of the language that is being referred to. Like racist abuse it's dismissive of those it attacks and seeks as far as possible to dehumanise them. But maybe in your book that sort of thing is okay? It has certainly never bothered Mr West. However, please note, some of us still find it quite unacceptable.

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  85. Yes, best ignore anything that might upset one and remember all such disturbing comments must come from 'an Abbeyvista troll' and are, therefore, by definition beyond the pale!

    Who is this patronising guy @16:29? Are the people who read the blog unable to make up their own minds about what they read? Thank you very much, but I think we can do without the thought police!

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  86. This is all Crap he said she said bla bla bla, but not one post from Fridays meeting was it behind closed doors? So what was said? who was there? I Know do you?

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  87. Approval??? Bla, Bla,Bla

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  88. 17.51 Please inform us. We could not make it so interested to hear all takes on it.

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  89. 17.51 if we wanted to know what was said at the meeting we would have gone. Know doubt it was brain washing nonsense avoiding the real issues.

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  90. Goodness, what sort of contribution is that 19:04?

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  91. 19.22 Its an honest contribution obviously something you can't comprehend. Quite straight forward really.

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  92. 19:41, I thought, or imagined, you'd be just a little interested in getting at least some of your info direct from the horse's mouth? But, clearly things are not quite so honest and straightforward!

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  93. Will the administration of St Augustine's please respond to the following questions?

    A) Does the board of trustees understand their responsibilities for safeguarding and if so which Trustee is charged with embedding effective child protection into St Augustine's Priory School if not Mr Murphy?

    Will the board at the same time confirm that this trustee has attended Designated Officer Safeguarding Training and that s/he will adhere in to DfE guidelines for training in this regard in future?

    B) What responsibility for safeguarding do the "board of governors" have and where is this set out so that parents can understand the role of the Governors in these matters? Have the Trustees set out to the Governors their terms of reference? Which BoG member is charged with responsibility for safeguarding if any? This is not set out on St Augustine’s website and we should all be informed.

    C) When is the school going to engross 15.2.1. of Ealing safeguarding board guidelines into its child protection policy therefore ensuring that all allegations that are brought to the attention of the DO in the school are referred to the LADO? The current safeguarding policy does not commit to this.

    D) Who is the deputy Designated Officer for child protection in the school? There have to be two? Why are the designated officers not shown on the school’s website? Have the students been told who these people are and a start of year briefing?

    It is not wise for a number of very good reasons to have the head as a DO. The first reason is that all Head’s are CEO’s of the business and time starved. Safeguarding on the other hand needs time, and observation. For a pupil having to go see the Head in most schools is intimidating. Asking that students report ‘the impossible’ to a DO who is the head is expecting far too much. A protocol requesting the impossible either accidentally or purposefully, will ensure little will ever be reported.

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  94. You should put a counter on your blog- would be interesting.

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  95. I have worked at the school for a number of years as your poster above(28th March 17.43) also claims. I do not know who this teacher is but can confirm that she is in a minority of one. Mrs G-M is a strong headmistress trying to run a school with hundreds of pupils and their parents, and dozens of teachers and trustees. She is managing all these different interests amazingly well and I respect and I admire her.

    Mr West, you have highlighted serious issues for which we should all be grateful. It is in everyone's interests that St A's has the most rigorous and transparent safeguarding policies and procedures. I too was at the meeting last Friday and it was indeed an extraordinary meeting. Mrs G-M spoke with intelligence and knowledge and so did a number of parents. This is the first time I have ever seen such honest communication between parents and teachers at this school.

    Is this not the best way forward? Educating the children and parents at the same time, thereby encouraging the girls to talk about any kind of improper looks, comments and touching. It is not a problem at all at St A's but Mr is right, the policty and practice could be improved.

    Teachers and school cannot provide a guarantee but nor can any school or any orgnisation.

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  96. So 18.51 does Mrs G M run the trustess, i thought it should be the other way round.
    So everyone is answerable to her, I find it hard to believe that only one teacher doesn't agree with the way she runs the school.
    Do you think it acceptable her lying time and time again.
    There is nothing transparent about the way the school is run, it never has been or will be as long as she is head.
    Parents who have issues with the school didn't attend the meeting as they are aware of the repercussions our children would suffer by standing up to her.

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  97. SORRY THE ABOVE COMMENT WAS FOR 00.20

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  98. 00.20 In an enviroment where there are children there should always be a guarantee that children are safeguarded against any form of abuse whether it be physical or mental. How can you say this can not be guaranteed are you saying this is the case at St.Augustine's?

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  99. 00.20

    It is in everyone's interests that St A's has the most rigorous and transparent safeguarding policies and procedures

    There is a certain déjà vu about this posting. I think it has something to do with style of the authors writing which is so redolent of the St Augustine's website.

    But of course the posting is mistaken drivel. It is only in the pupil's interest to have “the most transparent and rigorous safeguarding policies and procedures.” Please explain how and why it is in the interests of a commercially operated educational company to have the same?

    And do you not see that the current statutory framework, such as it is, actually presents the administrations of such settings with a conflict of interest in reporting?

    To deny this is to deny day follows night, so would you please explain your reasoning?

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  100. You have admiited that children are not safe at St.Augustine's, as you cannot guarantee thier welfare what on earth is this about, nothing should be more important than the children's safety.

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  101. 00.20
    If Mrs Gumley Mason organises the trustees who is she answerable to?

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  102. 12:50 what a foolish comment! There are no absolute guarantees in life – that’s the nature of things. All one can expect, and demand, is that things are as safe as they can be. Baying at orfor the moon, as you are doing, is just plain silly!

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  103. 13.41
    We know there are no guarantees in life. The school should guarantee the childrens safety, accidents can happen, but to have inadequate safeguarding measures in place is totally unacceptable. What do you mean Deamnad no one has demanded anything all we have asked is that are children are a priority when it comes to protecting them, and Mrs Gumley Mason tells the truth!

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  104. @13:41

    If St Augustine's can not guarantee the safety pupils then it should be closed down immediately.

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  105. I am from the side that is supportive of St Augustine's.

    However the comment at 12.50 is unwise. There can be no guarantees, this is just not possible and I have no desire to waste my time explaining to you why.

    That having been said, the use of 'no guarantees' as a means of justifying failure in advance of it happening is unacceptable.

    Whatever St Augustine's is, it is not currently a safe school for children. It cannot be because of the many failings outlined in the posting at 09.40 above. And it is not limited to just those, important as they are.

    So the poster ar 00.20 who clearly reports to the deity - you and she are talking utter tripe to suggest the school is currently safe.

    IT IS NOT - the reasons have been given but no reply is ever given.

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  106. To 13:07 and 13:08, both of which I am confident are Mr West: these postings are a perfect example of this blog perpetuating falsehoods and misinformation, as mentioned earlier by other posters.

    For one thing, St Augustine's is not a "commercially operated educational company".

    You accuse a post of being "redolent of the St Augustine's website", as though that should in itself make the post inaccurate or bad, or as if the St Augustine's website was somehow full of misinformation.

    And finally, you state that a previous post "admits children are not safe at St. Augustine's as you cannot guarantee their welfare", although that's not AT ALL what the previous post said; it simply said that while the procedures at St Augustine's are rigorous, NO ONE can EVER guarantee safety ANYWHERE. I understood what the post was saying; why do you turn it into something else?

    And no - I am not Mrs G-M. I am not a teacher. I am a parent who sees that while some things at St. Augustine's could definitely (and should) be improved upon, there is an awful lot that is right at the school.

    Now, let US sort it out.

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  107. I could't agree more. A teacher has made it transparent that the school can not guarantee our children's safety, he/she says the same about most organisations this is irrelevant we are only concerned for the pupils at St.Augustine's.

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  108. 14.19 Oh its you again what qualifications have you got to 'sort it out' you seem to keep offering to sort it out. What are your proposals, and in what proffessional capacity can you 'sort it out'?

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  109. Who is this let us refering to I am a parent but do not have the expertise to sort it out. Are you suggesting we should get together over a glass of wine and write our own Child Protection Policy?

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  110. 14.19
    You are wrong I am not Mr West I am a parent just like you.

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  111. 14.19 – please stop being childish – I am not West and there is no reason for West to post other than as himself. Just take a look at the number of people who follow this site. It’s a very childish assertion.

    @ 14.13 I notice a typo - I am 'NOT' supportive of St Augustine's. I apologies for my error.

    For one thing, St Augustine's is not a "commercially operated educational company".

    It is. It is a LLC (By guarantee) has a balance sheet, and has to be commercial else it will not survive. It is therefore a setting that is commercially operated (as all independent schools are) and has to defend it's balance sheet to survive.

    In your third paragraph you are choosing to misinterpret what is being said - that is your prerogative so your response is irrelevant.

    For your fourth paragraph, see my posting at 14.13 with the correction above about “not being a supporter” of the school.

    You last paragraph - this site is a single interest site - safeguarding. Comments made by posters can be unguided and can stray from the core subject. May I suggest you learn to handle it.

    Can you please draw our attention to a posting from West that is not on the subject of safeguarding?

    Safeguarding at St Augustine's is not working, and children at the school are no safer since the inspection of the ISI as explained in posting at 09.40.

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  112. ENOUGH!!!

    All these very strong opinions from all these wonderfully intelligent and conscientious people.

    Let us all come together and look FORWARD and not back.

    Let us empower the children and teach them to be savvy about the ways of the world, including the tiny percentage of that world that just can't help themselves and cannot resist an underage child.

    Wahtever the posting, whether anonymous, from a pupil, from a teacher, from Mrs G-M, from a parent? Who cares? We live in a world of unregulated free speech. If you are not interested in St A's then you don't log in. Simple.

    Is it not time for a St Augustine's Parent Forum Blog?

    And open discussions about all matters however serious, sensitive, scandalous, outrageous. It could welcome all comments from all posters. Even you, Mr West. You can have a link to Confessions of a Skeptic if you want. You, after all, would have given birth to it, in a virtual sense, of course. If it affects our school, then it goes up there.

    If a pupil thinks a teacher is a bit dodgy then it goes up there. Simple.

    And finally, is it not time for an elected parent governor or two?

    We live in a new world of technology and blogging.

    St Augustine's, you must move with the times!

    Together. Pupils, Governors, Parents, Headmistress, Deputy Heads, Teachers.

    TOGETHER.

    Only an elected parent governor, parent forums and a St Augustine's blogsite can achieve true cohesion.

    It may be a little uncomfortable at times but so is the big wide world once we leave school.

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  113. Father Gregory Chillman used to be on the board of trustees at St Augustine's.

    Does anyone know why he was placed on a restricted ministry and whether he resigned or was sacked as a trustee?

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  114. 15.58 I really don't think it would work. I think it would encourage cyber bullying, and who would police the blog, making sure inappropriate material isn't posted.

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  115. 15.58 How can you ask pupils to place on a blog if they think a teacher is a bit dodgy, this is so dangerous the pupil might not like the teacher, those sort of comments could destroy a teacher, and if the teacher was a bit dodgy the safeguarding procedure shouuld be implemented. This is total madness.

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  116. The single biggest danger facing St Augustine's is the continuing presence of the GM's. They do try to manipulate every situation and only for their own advantage.
    Make no mistake about it they are only in it for the cash.
    Any idea that they care even a bit for anyone but themselves and their own ends is gradually becoming clear to everyone. That has been the biggest shock to any staff with half a brain.
    The only interest is power and their only hobby is bullying anybody who gets in the way. Nobody is safe.
    There are people here who do not share this view, and thats up to them. But they do need to keep an open mind, thats all, as the next few weeks go by.
    They need to draw thier conclusions based on what they have seen happening to other people. Not just what happens to themselves. It's never to late to wake up ans smell the coffee.
    The facts are these.
    Gumley Mason has lied to all the staff and parents about the publication of this report. Has she come back to you to tell you when it was really published or how much the action cost?
    She has also lied about Father Gregory and what happened in the sixth form kitchen nad that is a lie she's told in the court action. She said the school only knew about one incident but there were TWO.
    THERE HAS BEEN A COVER-UP!

    All St Augustine's readers of this blog who support the head and the heads man need to keep an open mind as they might all end up looking just as stupid as GM does now.

    WE KNOW YOU ARE A LIAR. YOU KNOW WE KNOW YOU ARE A LIAR. YOU WILL NEVER EVER REALLY BE IN CONTROL AGAIN. PRETEND AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE. NOBODY IN THEIR HEART OR HEARTS BELIEVES A WORD YOU SAY.

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  117. Only an elected parent governor, parent forums and a St Augustine's blogsite can achieve true cohesion.

    Cohesion of what? 15.58's idea is flawed before it starts. You could have started to sort out the faults and failures of safeguarding at St A's last Friday but nothing happened. Why not? Because no one (understandably!?) knows the statutory framework, the shortcomings in inspection, the dynamics of abuse, the responsibilities of various parts of the institution to protect children, the ESCB guidance, Safeguarding Children Safer Recruitment in Education (SCSRE) and its relationship to other parts of child protection which is spread all over everywhere and almost impossible to get into one place. Elements of the piecemeal statutory framework are contradictory – and none of the important stuff is statutory. The 'law', such as it is, is a reaction to the last crisis, and is the equivalent of the Dangerous Dogs Act writ large. Who wants to ask a question at a gathering like that only to be made to look silly? No one. So everyone listened and was "assured" because you wanted to hear everything was fine - and probably that is what you were told and it sounded credible.

    If a child is raped at St Augustine’s the institution does not have to report the crime to the police, the LADO or social services.

    This is because there is no mandatory requirement to report child abuse, and this includes the institution at which your children are educated. This applies to schools in England,Wales and Scotland.

    One simple question for you to answer in light of this news: What now is the value of the current safeguarding policy operated by St Augustine’s?


    Forgive me, I cannot deal with this love peace and harmony crap that emanates from this school. And the number of times the words caring, intelligent, strong, compassionate when describing the place and the person is vomit inducing. It's like walking into Laura Ashley (yuch - never!) when all 13 plug-in primrose pong plugs are on super turbo. You can have as much of all this as you like, but it is going to do nothing for the current state of child protection in your school.

    It's time for the glee club to wake up and get real, because the school you have chosen is currently not safe for your children.

    The last three schools attended by my children were in similar disorder, until I decided to engage. Pleasingly each school made changes to their policies which made them acceptable, or exceptional. The exceptional one pleased me greatly, but I was dealing with a safeguarding literate head who had been an inspector for the much respected Commission for Social Care Inspection. He was a pleasure to deal with.

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  118. Someone has made what, on the face of it, seems a sensible suggestion: Let’s have a St Augustine's Blog. But, subsequent postings have warned that that is not such a good idea at all, in fact, that it’s a very bad idea. Blogs, and this one is a prime example, give rise almost inevitably to bullying, abuse, bickering and mindless comments from people who are so mindless they imagine no one has caught their meaning and go on, therefore, repeating the same garbage over and over again.

    No! Blogs, at least of this kind, are not helpful at all, indeed, from what I can see, they are singularly unhelpful! Yes, I know, there'll now be postings saying how wonderful Mr West is and what great work he has done, etc, etc. That may or may not be the case, indeed some people may genuinely have been helped by him; but Mr West’s message, in so far as it is helpful, could be spelt out in clear, simple, sober terms that can be reflected on and, where necessary, acted on. However, in reality, what Mr West has offered is a platform that encourages not thoughtful debate but, on the contrary, reactions that, by and large, express the worst and meanest aspects of human nature. Do we really want more of the same??

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  119. Re the comment today at 17.10 in respect of Gregory Chillman, if true, then it would appear that the Headmistress has perjured herself in the court documents. Is that not a criminal offence?

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  120. That is an interesting point 20.02 - I will ask someone the hypothetical question tomorrow.

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  121. Oh, 20:02/20:29, the excitement of perhaps getting another person behind bars - that's always the ultimate goal, of course - is almost unbearable! Congratulations, you obviously have a nose for this sort of thing. It’s moments like this, one has to say, that make all this blogging worthwhile, again warmest congratulations. Keep up the good work.

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  122. So 09:27 - you think its acceptable, that it appears, that a head of a school has not told the truth on submitted court documents?
    If a person can't be relied on to do that how can their word be relied on for anything else they say.
    Its not about "the excitement of puting another person behind bars" - as you so elequentley put it - it's about finally getting to the truth and finding out what has actually gone on and what has been hidden. The end goal is the childrens saftey and if this hurts people on the way, then so be it. They should have been upfront and honest from the offset.

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  123. 09.27
    Oh dear someone's rattled your cage , why do you object so strongly to the truth, could it effect you in some way?

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  124. Yes, 11:52, it’s all about the truth! But the truth – and nothing but the truth - as any good parent knows, doesn’t always make for the safety of children.
    I’m not quite certain I understand your sentence: 'The end goal is the childrens (sic) safety and if this hurts people on the way, then so be it'. But, remember, 'on the way' it may well be ‘the children’ who are hurt most of all! Occasionally, the truth may set us free, but it can equally damage and cripple us. Tell the truth and same the devil? The devil, sad to say, isn’t so easily shamed! Raising a rumpus may sometimes be a necessary thing, but at other times it can bring about unforeseen and ugly consequences. Here, fine judgement is called for and all the more as young lives are at stake. Our children already find themselves in a society obsessed with naming and shaming, blaming and suing, are we to offer them just more of the same? People make mistakes, sometimes they even tell lies. But that is what people do. Our children are either harmed or protected by seeming how we cope with these universal factors and rushing ‘to pick up the first stone’ is, may I suggest, not the best we can offer them?

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  125. When a person is put in a position of trust we expect them to abide by the law especially where children,vulnerable, are involved its called a Duty of Care. Mrs GM is this such person and is re numerated accordingly, she has let children, parents, and the good name of the school down with her distortion of the truth.
    She is not very forthcoming with the cost of the court case, employment of unsuitable staff (her husband included)and now it has come to light that 2009 accounts have not been submitted. What else is she holding back. Mrs Gumley-Mason should look up the definition of Headmistress as she obviously needs clarification. I do hope they will publish her downfall in Debretts!

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  126. 13.06
    This doesn't make sense the truth should always be told, this is something that's instilled in children in a Catholic School, 'Tho Shalt Not Lie', are you saying that in some instances it's best to turn a blind eye?

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  127. 13.08 What a complete load of old tripe what on earth are you talking about. The truth at what ever cost should always be told, it is something that most normal parents drill into thier children from the moment they are capable of understanding.

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  128. 13:28

    As a good Jesuit, of course, I'm saying that! Have you not found that to be the case in your own life? Have you, whatever your Catholic School may have said, never turned a blind eye yourself? Have you also never been profoundly grateful when someone else has managed to turn a blind eye in your favour or on your behalf? Most of us can only manage to turn one blind eye at a time. But according to ancient traditon 'blindness' is often a sign of divine favour for along with it goes the gift of second sight, of profound intuition.

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  129. 'BUT THE TRUTH DOESN'T ALWAYS MAKE FOR THE SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN', Can you please explain what this staement actually means it's nonsical.

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  130. Yes, 13:36, you're probably right. But, what you offer a child at the moment of first understanding is what St Paul calls 'milk' later, when he had become a man and put away childish things/notions, Paul found he needed something more substantial. Might I suggest you also give it a try?

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  131. You are angry, wonder who you are! Children are innocent and parents will instill good morals. Who can help adults when they are evasive, untrustworthy Mrs Gumley-Mason!

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  132. I am not commenting on my life, turning a blind eye when children are at risk is not an option.
    Do you actually comprehend anything that's been written on this blog, I must assume obviously not.

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  133. You can turn a blind eye in certain circumstances, in this instance where children are involved absolutely not. Shame on you, for even thinking this, it is our role in life to protect, nurture and to instill in them integrity, honesty and to respect others.

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  134. 13.43
    All very interesting but totally inappropriate.

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  135. You are talking nonsense and making crass statements, children's welfare,happiness and security should not be mocked!

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  136. 13:36 right now I can think of at least a dozen questions I might put to you and to which you would not, I guarantee, give a truthful answer...not that is were you not protected by anonymity.

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  137. Totally agree with 13:57 never a truer word said.

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  138. Dear Parents, Governors, Trustees and Staff,

    You must at all costs keep an open mind as the events of the next few weeks unfold.

    If the headmistress is your friend, or has done you a particular favour or has treated you well these are all personal views, and you are entitled to hold them on a personal level.

    Friends should not abandon each other even when it becomes clear that wrong has been done. You may love the sinner, but you can still hate the sin.

    However, you must understand that the certain things are wrong, bith morally and legally.

    You must be prepared to have been wrong about somebody you trusted. You must be prepared to admit this to yourself and you should start preparing yourselves now.

    Mrs Gumley Mason has lied and has covered up her actions in the persuit of her own ends. This will become plain to you gradually fairly soon.

    If you are in the position of offering her some sort of advice it should be that she should resign now for the good of the school.

    Please pay heed to this.

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  139. Totally agree with 13:56

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  140. One does not turn a blind eye to matters involving risk to children. What I has been suggested is that our reaction/over-reaction to this risk can, itself, pose a serious risk to children.

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  141. 13.56
    I agree totally with everything you say, the poster at 13.43 and 13.50 is unbelievable, don't sound very stable.

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  142. 14.00 Ask away.

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  143. I think the guy branded 'unstable', whoever he (she?) is, may have a serious point. As the above reaction to his comments show there's more than a whiff of hysteria about much that is written about St Augustine’s on this blog and there seems to be nothing short of a witch-hunt in progress so far as the headmistress is concerned.

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  144. I am disgusted by the comments made by 12:09 and 13:36 (very informative no guessing who you are). The welfare of children should be paramount and never be taken lightly, your statements were totally irrelevant, hurtful, prejudice, without thought to children who have been abused and will live with this for the rest of their lives. You come across as educated and hold a strong Christian faith, your stupidity and reckless outburst is appalling.

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  145. I wouldn't call it a witch hunt, I think it's more about parents persuing the truth. If the truth had been told from the beginning and there was more transparency from the head i doubt these conversations would take place.
    The ball has been in her court and I don't think it unreasonable she answer questions that concern the running of the school. At the end of the day us the parents are her clients.

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  146. Well the headmistress must be honest, kind, considerate, helpful, compassionate, and above all tell the parents the truth regarding.
    1. ISI Report
    2. Court Costs
    3. 2009 Accounts
    4. Mr Gumley-Mason's employment
    5. Expenditures

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  147. What I wrote about turning a blind eye has been largely misread by contributors. The phrase was actually used in another post @13:28 asking '…are you saying that in some instances it's best to turn a blind eye?'

    My answer, as you know, was yes. However, it was not a yes to ignoring child safety but a yes to dealing with people's faults and mistakes in a more enlightened way which sometimes involved turning an intelligent ‘blind eye’. Thos occasionally, means overlooking something which we may find repugnant or unsatisfactory, in order to ensure that things move on and are improved. The answer to bad policy making is to rectify it. To set out on a vendetta against those who devised the failed policy is not only misguided but profoundly damaging; especially, in this case, to the children we have entrusted to their care.

    There is a refusal to face up to such intelligent compromise on this blog, or that’s how it seems to me. People who say they’re seeking to safeguard their children seem, in reality, hell bent on exposing their children to the worst kind of response to a difficult situation. In other words, how we deal with people, even people we may throughly dislike, is an all important part of our children’s formation, their education. How we behave either ‘draws out’ the best or the worst of them.

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  148. OK 15.12 WHO DID DEVISE THE FAILED POLICY?

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  149. We do need to move on but the whole truth must be told something that just doesn't seem to be happening.

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  150. "The whole truth and nothing but the truth", comes to mind.

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  151. 15.12 Why wont you answer questions asked instead of defending yourself, people just want to know the truth is that too much to expect.

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  152. 15.12
    Funny how all contributors misunderstood what you said.

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  153. over 160 comments, looking back over this blog is this not the most commented topic?

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  154. Come on 15:12 we all know who you are, would it not be better for all if you explained your decision making, none of us are perfect we all make mistakes and we learn from these. The ISI report has high-lighted failings in the protection of children and other areas, instead of taking the offensive it would have been far more productive to have been honest in the first instance. All the unpleasantness maybe have been averted, and parents alike may have respected you, though parents would have been disappointed in areas of your decision making regarding their girls welfare. You are a parent and I know you would want answers to questions raised concerning your children. This is not a witch hunt, but a forum for you to acknowledge and answer questions raised by the report, there have been too many incidents reported in the media to take this lightly. Your lack of response makes parents feel you have something to hide and ultimately our children's safety, happiness, security is all that we desire, for them to be well balanced individuals.
    So please just answer questions raised, it can not be that difficult for someone of your stature.
    You mock Mr West for high-lighting failings in the schools policy, realistically he has done you a service and should be applauded for taking an interest and defending our children. You could learn a lot from Mr West, and maybe you should invite him to discuss the ISI report, as he talks a lot of sense.

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  155. Mrs Gumley-Mason 15.12 is correct, you really bit, we all read the blog and your explanations were not misunderstood by us all. Your comments were wholly inappropriate and offensive, to make light of children's welfare is no laughing matter!

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  156. 18.06
    I agree with everything you say. We all know you read the blog Mrs Gumley Mason stop being a coward and answer the questions raised.

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  157. 14.02
    Have just read your posting you seem well informed can you give us any idea on what is likely to happen in the next couple of weeks I am truly intrigued.

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  158. 15.10
    Another question needs to be asked who wrote the child protection report

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  159. 15.12's argument is not new to this site. It was used in the defence of St Benedict's. It was also used in the exchanges over clerical abuse in Ireland.

    And here is Monsignor Maurice Dooley (professor of Cannon Law) and arch practitioner of an extension to this argument.

    Click here to listen to the exchange then click on Monsignor Maurice Dooley shocking argument

    Firstly Dooley claims it’s all about anti-Catholicism, so when Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein) speaks, Dooley's anti-Catholicism argument moves to another position.

    When concealing misdeeds around child protection any and all defences are used. This radio piece will show you how far the argument will be taken to defend institution that have an aversion to letting in legitimate daylight.

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  160. 11:18

    Can you not distinguish between -

    a) efforts to improve or correct lax child protection policies and

    b) the abuse of individual people and ongoing attempts to destroy both them and the institutions they serve?

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  161. 13.18 - Unlike many people I can easily recognise (a), and all the weasel words and the flim flams used to avoid having to report allegations. I also recognise an institution wanting to change and St Augustine's shows all the signs of being determined not to change.

    St Augustine's has a safeguarding policy that still does not accord with London/Ealing Safeguarding Children's Board guidelines, clause 15.2.1. - instead there is a substantial collection of words to describe what will (not) happen at at St Augustine’s at the point of referral (of an allegation) when the only words needed are those contained in 15.2.1.
    To not adopt this wording is to demonstrate a determination to adhere to ‘the old ways.’

    (b) Any attempt to conceal child abuse in order to protect an institution or a person associated with it, will reap a whirlwind entirely the design of the conspirators

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  162. Well put 08:24 those who criticise this blog have no idea what they are talking about. Good to see such excellent sense being spelt out - let's hope that those wretchedly stupid people get the message.

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  163. 13.18
    None other Mrs Gumley Mason why don't you try telling the truth you might feel better for it? Actually I doubt it you are so used to lying it comes naturally.
    Stop defending yourself answer the question, WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR WRITING THE CHILD PROTECTION POLICY ?

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  164. I repeat my advise to supporters of Mrs Gumley Mason. You are in for a monumental disillusionment in the next few weeks as you watch events unfold.
    Parents, teachers, governors, girls - all of you have been lied to.
    You need to escape from all the smoke and mirrors that surround this woman and see her for what she is.
    You believe that she has achieved a lot as headteacher, but is that really true. Ask yourselves 'what?'.
    Ask yourselves too why you think this. Is it just because she has told you it.
    The facts are that she is at best distinctly average, mediocre to the nth degree.
    What is amazing is only that she has managed to get away with it for so long. But that is coming to an end.
    The crunch time is coming as you see this non-entity for the non-entity that she really is.
    Keep an open mind now. Make sure you don't end up looking silly.
    She is a weak and needy character not deserving any special treatment from anyone after the poison she has distilled. Quite boring in fact.
    The next few weeks will be decisive. She will not survive them, although she doesn't have a clue what is coming next.
    Will it be a tactical resignation or will she hang around for the ultimate humiliation as everything comes out into the open. The lies, the cover ups, the abuses of power, the ruined lives.
    'Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. I will repay.'
    But in fact there is about to be justice here on earth.
    Prepare yourselves for a shock.

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  165. I can not wait to see the dimise of this evil woman I hope justice is done we have had to wait far too long.

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  166. I do hope the above comments are true after reading previous blogs, it has become quite apparent that Mrs GM is not suited for the post of Head Mistress, she would far more apt as a Prison Governor with her personality.
    What I find most shocking is her refusal to admit any wrong doing, though we instill in our children its always best to own up.
    If there is any justice in the world Mrs GM should be sacked and ordered to refund the court costs as St Augustines is a charitable trust and the monies could be better used. Why we should pay her costs is beyond me as she was defending her supposedly good name!

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  167. I wish the person 18:34 would enlighten us as to what is going to happen. I do hope we are not being given false hope and Mrs Gumley-Mason along with her husband will be removed from office.
    It will be a day of joyous celebration when those two vacate the premises.

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  168. I cannot say to you what is going to happen but it will.
    It will all come out. Everything. And that will be the end.
    Keep an open mind you are in for a shock.

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