Thursday, 21 April 2011

Teacher A

The Statement of Grounds contains this about Teacher A.
11. [Teacher A] was employed at the School from 1st September 2007, was suspended from 7th February 2008 (at which time she was already on sick leave) and her employment ended on 31st May 2008. The suspension was imposed on the ground that [Teacher A]'s CRB disclosure contained information relating to her husband and son which she said was inaccurate and was pending an amended disclosure. The Headmistress decided that under the statutory and guidance provisions then applicable referral was not required or appropriate. After speaking to Mrs. Culligan, the Headmistress made inquiries of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and was informed that [Teacher A] was "definitely not referral material". The Headmistress subsequently informed Mrs. Culligan of this.
This is about as uninformative as the statement about Teacher B. But it isn't what the ISI criticised Mrs Gumley Mason about. During the inspection visit, the reporting inspector asked if there had been any instances of staff who had left for reasons other than retirement, promotion, relocation etc.

In response, Mrs Gumley Mason mentioned Teacher A. She said that Teacher A had originally received a good reference from her previous school, but that the retiring head of the school had subsequently phoned her to tell her that Teacher A had done a voiceover for some sexually explicit material. Mrs Gumley Mason said that Teacher A had been dismissed immediately.

The reporting inspector asked what what action Mrs Gumley Mason had taken in notifying the appropriate authorities about the circumstances under which Teacher A had left. The response was that no action had been taken.

Again, the ISI obtained a letter subsequently sent by Mrs Gumley Mason to Ealing Children's Services, and again it did not contain the complete story as reported to the inspector, specifically omitting any reference to the telephone call from the teacher's previous employer. ISI checked with the Department for Education to see whether a referral had been made to ISA. Some months after the inspection, DfE wrote back to ISI confirming that no referral had been made, either at the time or subsequently.

One the available evidence, the ISI concluded that the LADO's advice should have been sought at the time, and that a referral should have been made.

The most remarkable thing about the case of Teacher A is that if Mrs Gumley Mason had simply kept quiet about Teacher A, the chances are quite good that the ISI would never have learned anything of the case. In essence, Mrs Gumley Mason has been betrayed by her own mouth.

It would seem that Mrs Gumley Mason was genuinely ignorant of the law on safeguarding and referrals. If she knew that she should have made a referral but didn't, then she would have kept very quiet about the case of Teacher A.But what appears to have happened is that she freely told the inspector about the case, apparently under the impression that she had done nothing wrong.

Such ignorance on the part of a headteacher and designated teacher for child protection is terrifying. The safety of 500 girls is at least in part dependent on the headteacher knowing what should be done in such cases.

It isn't even as if Mrs Gumley Mason is new to the job and still learning her responsibilities. She became Headmistress of the school in 1995. If I am correct in believing her actions are down to ignorance, then this ignorance has in all probability been going on for years and years. And the resulting shortcomings in child protection have gone undetected by probably three successive OFSTED inspections.

In a way, Mrs Gumley Mason has been very unlucky. The school has recently joined an Independent Schools Council member organisation and so the ISI become responsible for inspecting the school instead of OFSTED. Also, Father Gregory Chillman had recently come to the attention of the ISI in connection with the safeguarding failures at St. Benedict's. Had OFSTED been inspecting, or had Father Gregory Chillman not been chaplain and chairman of governors, then there is every chance that little or no effort would have been made to check the quality of safeguarding at the school, and you as parents would still have had no idea what was going on.

But then again, had the safeguarding been done properly and according to the law, there would have been no need to rely on luck.


  1. There is no way that Gumley Mason is genuinely ignorant on the laws of safeguarding and referrals.
    She has referred people in the past out of spite that has subsequently been thrown out at tribunals that Gumley Mason has lost.
    Everything she does has her own agenda behind it, so by not referring these 2 teachers and Chillman, you can be aware that there was a reason of her owm not to refer.

  2. This is a shocking state of affairs for the school.
    Why has the headmistress not been sacked for these failures and attempted coverups?
    Any other organisation would have dealt with her by now, so why has action not been taken against her?

  3. Maybe she was afraid that under scrutiny, everything would come out anyway and much better to own up. If someone drives their car along the pavement, leaving mayhem in their wake, if, when they are stopped and questioned, they claim that they didn't know it was illegal - are they guilty? My understanding is that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it!!

  4. Yes and she had 15 years in which to read the manual...

  5. She has referred in the past so she is fully aware of the rules.
    If she is trying to plead ignorance of the rules then this is yet another fabrication.
    I am sure evidence of her past referrals can be obtained.

  6. It's the centenery of the school soon, I do hope that the so called board have got rid of her by then else it will be farcical.

    This woman cannot be allowed to be the face of the school after all that has been uncovered.

    It is shameful that they have not taken any action whatsoever against her.

    Let us hope and pray they do something soon before the reputation of the school suffers any more.

  7. Yes 14.07, she has referred.

    When there was a PERSONAL agenda.

    A former head of PE, for example, an outstanding sports-woman in her own right, who had given many years of devoted service to the school, to name but one.

    But, of course, she had dared to ask awkward questions about where the nuns' money went to and what the Estate Factor husband had spent it on instead of a proper sports hall, which is what the nuns intended for their money.

    It's doubtful she didn't know the law, these coverups were more likely so as not to be proved wrong about something.

    The question now is if the present governors know about this or have allowed themselves to be convinced that it was all just 'a mere oversight in an over-regulated world.'

    Mrs Gumley Mason seems adept at confabulating plausible explanations that seem to fit all the circumstances, but plausibility is not the same as truth.

    And yes. Records are publicly available.

  8. You are right 14.39. As parents we really don't pay fees for amateurism. Mrs Gumley Mason is paid a great deal of money (according to the publicly published accounts over £100,000 pa) This should buy professionalism. Quirky excentricity can be entertaining, but we need to be reassured that there is also some substance and that our girls are being kept safe by somebody who actually knows what they are doing and takes that responsibility seriously.
    The board must act to ensure she is disciplined and either removed from office or comprehensively retrained before the parents vote with their feet.

  9. She cannot be retrained, she needs to be fired for gross misconduct and negligence.
    12:24 has told us about one failed tribunal, but there have been several that have cost the school financially with payouts that the school has been forced to make through her bullying.
    Enough is enough, the trustees and governors cannot sit on their arses any longer.

  10. 15.32 I really do not think retraining has the remotest possibility of working. To retrain you must first of all start by facing and admitting all the faults.

    "My name is ****** and I am an alcoholic." Can anyone realistically see Gumley Mason even admitting Tuesday precedes Wednesday?

    15.32 says but we need to be reassured that there is also some substance and that our girls are being kept safe.. This wretched word 'reassured' - is foggy nothingness. What we need to see is effective safeguarding with all allegations reported to the LADO for independent assessment, and that the culture of bullying so embraced by the head – ceases. It is inconceivable that this will happen with Gumley Mason at the helm. The school still does not commit unequivocally to reporting all allegations to the LADO for independent assessment. This shows a certain determination to continue to do what SHE thinks, in the teeth of 15.2.1. of the Ealing Safeguarding Children’s Board guidance.

    I suggest someone writes to the Independent Schools Team at the DfE and asks if, following the abysmal safeguarding report for St Augustine’s by the ISI, the DfE has put St Augustine’s under an undertaking to in future return referrals to the ISA.

    If this has happened, the DfE will have little hesitation in confirming it, and it indicates the DfE believes that Notifications/Referrals that should have been returned in the past were not. When a school has been placed under an undertaking, I believe it is incumbent upon a school to engross this requirement into its safeguarding policy because let’s remember it is the parents who are meant to hold schools to account for their safeguarding policy – there is no one else.

  11. Perhaps St Augustine's should follow the example of St Benedict's and commission Lord Carlile to produce a report on safeguarding failures at the school.

  12. if the trustees dont know or aware of all this why dont you print off hard copy of all these psots andsend it to them??

  13. .
    16.50 suggests there have been 'financial settlements' made by St Augustine's as a result of bullying by Gumley Mason.

    Can anyone cast light on one or more of these? One presumes staff decided to leave or were sacked and then took legal action against the school for bullying?

    Once again this is relevant background because it cuts to the culture in which children are being educated. Adults are meant to be good examples but the repeated assertions of bullying by the head, and the suggestion that staff may have successfully sued really does bring another serious failure to light which needs to be exposed. If staff have successfully sued the school for byllying by Gumley Mason, then one has to ask ‘why is she still the head?’

  14. We seem to have formaldehyde governance at St Augustine's. They are just visible and present only as a result of chemical intervention although capable of nothing.

  15. The culture of bullying and spiteful behaviour, unfortunately extends to some members of the admin staff. My experience with the Juniors Secretary was just unbelievable - she was extremely rude to me when my daughter was summoned to a meeting with GM. The Heads annoyance with my daughter, had obviously rubbed off! My daughter witnessed this and the fact she had been offered wine - all before lunch time. If behaviour at the top is appalling it will certainly filter down to the less able minded. What a very poor example to set a young child!

  16. Your daughter was offered wine by the HM? That IS a bit shocking, I agree.

  17. For the less able minded, 21:16, she overheard the Juniors secretary (and the P.A.) being offered wine. Glad you think it was a bit shocking too. Shame you appear to condone the bad behaviour of the secretary though - wonder why?!!

  18. Lots of people drink wine whilst they work, just ask a priest :)

  19. Yeah and just look at the trouble some of them have got into!