Sunday, 17 April 2011

CRB and other checks at St. Augustine's

I've now learned how bad were the failings at St. Augustine's concerning the CRB and other checks on staff that the school was legally obliged to carry out. When the ISI visited, they discovered the following regulatory failures:
  • No evidence of references for 2 members of staff
  • References received after appointment for 2 members of staff
  • Qualifications, employment history and references dated five years before appointment
    for 1 member of staff
  • No evidence of employment history or references for 4 members of staff
  • No evidence for qualifications being checked for 2 members of staff
  • No date of CRB/List 99 check recorded for 5 members of staff
  • No date recorded for the CRB check for 2 members of staff
  • No date recorded for the separate List 99 check required when the CRB check is not received until after the employee has started work, for 3 members of staff
  • No date or name of checker recorded for overseas checks undertaken for 1 member of staff
  • CRB received after appointment, no record of separate List 99 check or appropriate
    supervision for 10 members of staff.
In that last case, the longest period a staff member was allowed to supervise children without proper checks having been carried out was 2 years.

There have been multiple failures to check some members of staff, but in total the ISI found shortcomings in the checks and records for 18 different members of staff.

CRB checks, List 99 checks, and checking of employment history and references is really basic stuff. This is the first line of defence against abusers getting onto the staff. If somebody has been recorded to be unfit to supervise children, then these checks, properly carried out, will prevent a potential abuser from being employed in the first place.

According to latest calendar there are 54 teaching and 24 non-teaching staff at St. Augustine's, 18 is quite a significant proportion of that total, nearly a quarter of all the staff. Quite enough for the ISI to amply justify its conclusion that this is more than a minor administrative slipup but is instead a persistent weakness in the school's processes, and therefore to state in the report that the school's "procedures for making and recording appointments have not been sufficiently rigorous".

In addition, the seven Trustees of the charitable company which owns the school are legally the proprietors of the school, and should therefore also have been included on the Central Register of Appointments and been subject to CRB checks. They were not.

The register still hadn't been brought fully up to date by the time the ISI made its second visit. And the school complained about the ISI's conclusions, and took court action to suppress the report and keep the extent of the failings from the parents.

Of course, all abusers abuse for the first time somewhere, and CRB checks won't catch somebody who hasn't been found out before, which is why there has to be a second line of defence in the form of good safeguarding procedures and proper reporting mechanisms. But the process designed to keep known abusers away, the first line of defence for the school, basically leaked like a sieve.

If the issue had been that all the proper checks had been made but the dates and other details not fully recorded on the central register of appointments, this might have been regarded as more of an administrative matter. But it seems that 10 staff were permitted to supervise children when neither their CRB nor their List 99 checks had been received, and that situation persisted in one case for 2 years. This is outrageous. It is also illegal, and it persisted for years with nobody among the governors or trustees noticing.

As headteacher and designated teacher for safeguarding, carrying out these checks is the personal responsibility of Mrs Gumley Mason.


  1. Safeguarding at St Augustine's?

    It would remind me of a cullinder but for the lack of any restraining alloy.

  2. We all now know what she was trying to suppress, obviously trying to intimidate
    Mr West and stopping the truth from coming out.

  3. This is probably only the tip of the iceberg. What is the truth behind the two teachers and Father Gregory?
    Are there any other dirty secrets she has been trying to suppress?
    Trustees, governors, parents, staff and pupils can now see what some people on here have been trying to tell them for months. Wake up, see the light and do something about the cause of the problems.
    The school's reputation has been tainted enough by one individual who appears to have a private agenda to protect herself and fuck anything thats gets in the way of that.
    It's time for a change at the top and a new way forward for the school.

  4. Parents - this shows just how much the school cares for your children.

    The Trustees are just as much to blame - read the ISI report - they seem to believe they can abdicate or delegate their statutory responsibilities.

    You cannot Mr Murphy. It's time you dropped your patronage of Gumley-Mason who demonstrates her safeguarding inabilities all too clearly. She is out of control - you've backed a looser!

    It's time for you to get a grip.

  5. What else are you hiding? As a supposedly intelligent amd well educated individual you must realise that the truth will come out, warts and all.
    Instead of persecuting, intimidating Mr West why not be upfront and disclose all. You are wasting police time, as well as Mr West's and it can not be pleasant for such an upstanding citizen who regards childrens wellbeing and safety paramount you should be applauded for high lighting these failings. Its a shame we can not look at Mrs GM in such a favourable light!

  6. So at last we have some indication of the CRB failures, and they are significant.

    It is and a stellar example of incompetence mixed with laissez faire and seriously risks the welfare of children at St Augustine's.

    But at the parents meeting - Gumley Mason did not apologise - why not? She should have, and she should have fessed up to the scandalous state of affairs that clearly exists.

    As a result of Gumley Mason misleading us all on the CRB issues, we now of course have to question her judgement on the Chillman “kitchen” incident because of course it was not reported to the ACPC (Area Child Protection Committee which preceded the LSCB), and so no one independent of the school investigated the matter.

    Why not?

    Then of course following the incident, Chillman miraculously became the chairman of governors - whilst potentially being a known risk to children. I do not like the sound of any of this - I'd go so far as to say it is malodorous.

    If anyone has any information that sheds light on this matter can we please hear it. The Governors and Trustees a poleaxed with inertia and I suspect ignorance of their responsibilities and what they should be doing to sort out all these matters.

    The next thing we will have is the head proclaiming safeguarding validation from Ealing’s. Spare me that please, I’ve seen such many mistaken proclamations from alleged experts, all you have to do is look at the ISI’s November 09 safeguarding report for St Benedict’s.

  7. How can somebody who,
    Be a role model for the girls in the school everything she has done over the last year is exactly what we teach our children NOT to do.

  8. An anonymous defender of the school posted on another thread the words "not everyone is a paedophile". Which is of course perfectly true and entirely irrelevant.
    The trouble is that, with nearly a quarter of the school staff going unchecked or inadequately checked, and with a head who apparently prefers "reputation management" to doing the job, there is no way of knowing which of the people caring for your children might be *already known* as abusers.
    Good enough? I think not.

  9. As parents I think we have a right to see her employment contract & see the amount of clauses she has broken by not adequately protecting our children whilst in her care.

  10. What qualifications and previous experience does she have to have been appointed to the post in the first place.

  11. Why are the trustees and governors not taking action against her for gross misconduct?
    They must have known the problems and the cause months ago. Their failure to act makes them no better than her.
    Its an absolute disgrace and they should all hang their heads in shame.

  12. Is it true that one of the deputy heads has resigned and has taken a classroom teacher's position at another local school?
    If this is correct then it evidences yet again the sad state at the school, even sadder for the poor soul who is taking a lower post just to get away.

  13. I really hope that is not true the deputy heads are outstanding teachers and will be a real loss to the school. We all know who should be going!

  14. Geez, people - if the school is so unsatisfactory, take your daughters out of it! The resulting loss in income and reputation is going to be a damn sight more effective in making change, if changes need to be made, than wibbling away on this blog which does, frankly, come over at times as a bit monomaniac. Remind us again how many children have come forward with claims of abuse? It seems like a really different set-up than St Benedict's and the blurring of the two does no one any favours.

  15. I also hope the rumors are unfounded, the Headmistress has shown yet again she can not be believed and if she had an ounce of decency she should resign, complaining about Mr West and reporting him to the police on more than one occasion she is making herself look a fool, a bully and harassing an individual. Is this how the staff and pupils feel if they dare to voice an opinion!
    Something must be done, it has got way out of hand. Let us not forget how this all materialized and who is to blame for not having adequate safe guards in place Mrs Gumley Mason.

  16. 18.35
    The school isn't unsatisfactory, the head is. Why should we have to find alternative schools for our children because of one persons incompetence.

  17. What you are witnessing is :

    (i) An out of control head.

    (ii) As a result of a board not being independent of the head.

    (iii) Governors equipped with gums only.

    (iv) A board of Governors with no control of the head because of (ii)

    (v) A board of governors which is an unnecessary extra tier of largely useless management non independent management.

    (vi) A board of governors which needs to be permanently removed – it’s not needed.

    (v) A board of Trustees which needs to be changed because they are ignorant of their statutory responsibilities and beyond their usefulness.

    (vii) A board of Trustees which has little or no independence viz. Relationship between Murphy and GM

    (viii) A board of Trustees that does not want the job or else they would not have appointed the bunch of sychophant governors.

    (ix) A collection of parents who continue to have the wool pulled over their eyes by the governors, the trustees, and the head.

    (x) A collection of parents who fear speaking out in case their daughters are bullied, because as we know bullying is what the head of the school does best.

    These are the ingredients for continuing problems.

    Solutions exist but is there the will to take action.

  18. Oh please, its quite obvious who you are. The ISI report has pointed out failings in the administration and child safety. Mrs GM as Head Teacher is responsible for all the schools failings in this report and if she was in the real world she would have been forced to resign, it is quite apparent that she answers to no one.
    It is obvious that this blog frustrates you otherwise you would not have wasted police time in harassing Mr West who is not biased, but a law abiding citizen who has a deep commitment for the welfare of children, and should be applauded for taking the time to high-light this report.

  19. 17:47 - You are missing the point.
    St Augustine's is a great school with great teachers. Its only the head that is the rotten apple. Nobody wants to see the school suffer whether it's financially or otherwise.
    The school's current bad reputation can be turned around very quickly once she goes.

  20. 18.35

    Geez, people - if the school is so unsatisfactory, take your daughters out of it!

    And place them where? This subject is call 'educational ecology' on which you score zero.

    if changes need to be made, than wibbling away on this blog which does, frankly, come over at times as a bit monomaniac.

    Is it possible to make a more stupid comment?

    Remind us again how many children have come forward with claims of abuse?

    It seems it is! For this idiot commentator it is essential to line up abuse victims as the only proof of poor safeguarding. To do this they must all first report the abuse - oh so simple!

    Go watch the BAFTA award winning documentary 'Chosen' which is free online - just Google the word Chosen and follow the links - then come back and comment again.

    By this time you should possess a small insight into the subject on which you are posting.

  21. Don't worry on that score - my daughter is OUT!

  22. First of all, West London isn't lacking in excellent girls' schools. I would have thought that any parent who genuinely cared about their daughters' welfare and who truly thought that the HM is so awful that the school is damaged thereby would have taken her out in a moment, as 20:39 is doing - respect to you for taking action in what you believe. I don't know her, btw, and she does sound a bit full of herself and hasn't behaved very sensibly or honestly in some of this. But that's very far from what's happened at St Benedict's, which was truly shocking.

    Again: how many pupils were abused at St B's? And how many at St A's? It seems very odd if there's a whole lot more to this story than has so far emerged, that none has come forward. I don't see that this is unreasonable - not one single case?? - and frothing at the mouth like this and flinging out terms like stupid, doesn't make you more persuasive.

  23. 19: 22. But the school doesn't seem to HAVE a bad reputation except in so far as a bunch of people are talking on this blog and slagging off the headmistress. There didn't seem to be a massive groundswell of complaint at the meeting that was held a few weeks back, so from an entirely outside perspective (I only found this blog because I used to be a parishioner at St Benedicts and went to one of the other local schools in Ealing) it just sounds as though a minority of people are pissed off and come and vent on here, making some pretty wide inferences and some not fully founded accusations. I don't know her, but I'm baffled as to how one person has so many people both terrified of her wrath and also refusing to take their girls out of the institution run by such a supposed megalomaniac. This makes no sense.

  24. Is it true that one of the deputy heads has resigned and has taken a classroom teacher's position at another local school?

    As I have commented before the institution is succeeding in spite of the head - so if senior teachers are now resigning then the last vestige of hope for the place is going with them while the sycophant governors and the geriatric trustees continue to their demonstration of inertia.

    Any decision on the future of the head is better than no decision – the parents staff and pupils are owed it.

    A hint.


  25. 18.35 says - "Remind us again how many children have come forward with claims of abuse? It seems like a really different set-up than St Benedict's and the blurring of the two does no one any favours."

    Isn't it wonderful - don't you admire the foolishness of the comment.

    No one from the operator checks the instrumentation of the plane, this is discovered during a CAA airframe inspection. The operators defence is "Remind me how many planes have crashed?"

    The plane crash of abuse is rarely seen contemporaneously - St Benedict's is a perfect example. And let us remind ourselves what was wrong there - CRB checks, the register, the safeguarding policy, and training. Does it sound familiar?

  26. And yet, despite all that......NOT ONE CASE OF ABUSE.

    Shocking for you isnt it West??!
    (I'm sure however that now you will censor this comment and not allow it to be posted as it pretty much defeats the central argument your blog is focused on)

  27. We don't really believe you 22:31. We are already guessing who you might be!

  28. You lost an nights sleep 02:56, just to make that pathetic comment! Maybe lack of sleep has clouded your judgement!

  29. 22.31
    You stumbled across the blog because you used to go to a local school and are a parishioner highly unlikey, who are you to have an opinion on the headmistress and the establishment if you've never met her.

  30. Do you seriously think I am the headmistress or something? Your snarky comment is typical of the rumour-mongering and unproved assertion that seems to be rife in the comments here. I started reading this blog last summer when all the stuff about St Benedict's was in the papers (FWIW, I was at one of the other Ealing schools. played St A's at hockey a long time ago and still go to St B's church with my family when I am in the UK, so Ealing education interests me a lot) and I thought JW did a smashing job of bring to light some pretty horrendous stuff, stuff that, whatever FGM's sins, hasn't actually been replicated at St Augustine's, whatever else has gone on. I have a perfect right to suggest that some people seem to have lost a sense of proportion and to wonder whether the comments here are representative of general opinion about the school.

  31. We are still not convinced 22:31. We thought that 'When you are in the UK with your family', you would find something better to do with your time other that post blogs to a website to which, by your own 'confession' you know absolutely nothing nor indeed anyone involved! Yet such passion - did your team lose the hockey match perchance?!!

  32. 22:31, blog 17:23, did not state that you were the headmistress at all, he/she merely enquired if you had met her! So you went to St Gregory's - is there another local Catholic school in the area? Which means you were 10/11 years old?!! Yet all these years later sad that is. Still, it must have been one hell of a hockey match!!

  33. 20:52 - I agree with what you say, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But since your comment many more hidden facts are now emerging, so you opinion may be changing.

  34. There are other schools in Ealing besides Catholic ones, you know! The few personal details I posted were really just to explain, not that I need to, my interest in the case. I don't know FGM, but I do know some people in the parish still.

    9.42. Quite possibly, and I am entirely open-minded, especially to rational, polite debate that you offer and which the tightly-wound and hostile 9.11 (who is this "we", by the way?) seems to be entirely unable to handle, but still, the set-up and what's happened isn't (yet) at all at the level of what happened at the other school.

  35. 13:53
    In terms of failures to report abuse, failures to have a proper written definition even of sexual abuse, procedures written to give as much excuse as possible not to report anything at all, this is all distressingly similar to St. B. If anything, St. A may even be worse in terms of the extent to which the school wasn't carrying out its CRB checks.

    Certainly, in terms of the outcomes, what we know of St. B is worse - in as far as there have been two former teachers (one of them a monk) convicted of abuses of children.

    But that shouldn't be much of a comfort to parents of pupils at St. A. The elements allowing abuse to continue unchecked and unreported are all there, lax procedures, leadership failings, misunderstanding of law and good practice, desire to maintain the reputation of the school.

    It may be that the reason that what has been reported at St B is worse than St. A because it in fact was worse. But it might be that the worst of St. A simply hasn't yet been reported. On the basis of the currently available evidence, we just don't know.

  36. 12:53 .... sorry to disappoint, I regularly go to sleep at 3/4 a.m. so no, I didn't "waste a night's sleep" writing my, according to you "pathetic" comment.

  37. 17: 23, exactly the same point should be made towards Jonathan.

  38. 22:31 ( agree with 17:23) We are parents of daughters at the school, unlike yourself. Not some 'visitor' who apparently 'doesn't know anyone or anything' but seems to have an awful lot to say. Does your family not keep you occupied on your visits to our fair shores? Perhaps you should just read the newest blogs, so that you can at least be an 'informed' visitor to our site. Mr West is doing a great job for us Parents and we really appreciate all his efforts.

  39. I find it abominable that you can possibly even begin to compare Chosen with anything regarding St A, 20:29.

  40. 15:33 At least Jonathan lives in the Parish and had a child at St Benedicts! He is concerned, as are we, with the lack of safe guarding measures! 22:31 As to us having a 'polite debate' with you, I personally don't give a rat ass what you think - you are not a parent!

  41. Happily, I am far away from Ealing right now, but that's the wonder of communication in the modern world. It's precisely because I have been reading these blogs that the St A's material seems less and less like the appalling stuff that happened at the other school. And I totally take your points, Jonathan, that maybe some genuinely shocking stuff has happened at St A's too, but so far nothing of the kind has emerged, in spite of your diligence. I'd still maintain a) that outcomes are more important than suppositions and pure guesswork and b) those who perpetrated wrongs at the other school had opportunities and a culture that seems different from what we are dealing with here.

    And what are you doing on your own behalf, 16.08?

  42. Perhaps more than you, as unfortunately you are 'happily far away'. I take it you weren't here for the meeting then. Jonathan is doing a great job and it took years for some of the abuse to come to light at St. Benedicts!

  43. 16:46 Not having a good holiday I take it - just stuck on a blog with nothing useful to say!

  44. Your last made me giggle, 17.10, nor am I on holiday, but a bit of a challenge to groupthink has its uses. And I agree that JW is working dead hard, 16.59, and I admire his intelligence and tenacity.

  45. Thank you for your sane and balanced comments 16.46. Mr West has spent many hours trying to wind up the parents of St Augustine's by regular speculations and 'what if's' about things that haven't happened at the school. Is this helpful to parents? in addition, his writings have unleased the lowest form of human nature in the responses of people here. It makes extremely depressing reading. Many of my positive comments about the school have not been posted. Would Mr West feel find that some of the guilt he feels about sending his son to St Benedict's is assuaged if he succeeds in undermining St Augustine's? I know you are even more unlikely to post this on your blog Mr West, but at least you will read it.

  46. How long did it take for some of the dreadful ordeals at St Benedict's to come to light?!

  47. 10.54
    I know that there was abuse going on at St. Benedict's in the 1940s which has only recently come to light.