Thursday, 8 September 2011

New Safeguarding Policies

I've noticed that in the last week or so, both St. Benedict's and St. Augustine's have published new Safeguarding policies on their websites.

Here is the new St Benedict's policy.

Here is the new St Augustine's policy. (In case the block against links from here is still in force, here the the link address which you can paste into your browser.

I haven't had an opportunity yet to give either of them more than the most cursory glance. I do hope to review them in the next week or two and will report here. But if you are a regular reader of this blog, and have been through my review of the previous versions of the St. Benedict's policies, you should be able to read these new ones and come to an informed opinion of your own.

If you are a parent of a pupil at either school. then I very strongly recommend that you do read through the policy for that school. It is the safety of your own children that is at stake after all. Better still, I suggest that you read through both policies, and compare them with the policies of other local schools, so you can get a sense of their quality in comparison to others.

Of course, it is one thing to have a good policy, it is quite another to ensure that it is followed. In the past, both schools had policies which required sending notifications to the ISA (or before 2009 to the Teacher Misconduct Section of the DfE or its predecessors) when a teacher left and the school considered him or her to be unsuitable to work with children. But we know that both schools in the past have failed to make those notifications in accordance with their own policies (and for that matter as required by law).

So it isn't enough just to have a good written policy, it needs to be effectively implemented as well. It is perfectly reasonable for parents to ask questions about how the implementation of the policy will be monitored, and whether some kind of external audit will be carried out to check whether it is all working right.


  1. I agree, a school can have the most robust safeguarding policy but is the designated safeguarding officer does not follow the policy and report, the policy becomes ineffective.
    Mrs GM take note!!

  2. Mrs GM is a law unto herself, most unsuitable DSO ever.

  3. When she leaves who will be taking over the role as Designated Safeguarding Officer? I hope they don't make the same mistake again and find someone more suited to the job, ie. someone who likes children and is approachable!
    Considering the mess she has already made in this position I can't understand why she is still allowed to hold the position of Designated Safeguarding Officer, I think she should stand down now.

  4. Does anyone have any questions about the 'new' policy?

  5. Has it occurred to anyone to ask if any payment has been or is to be made to Mrs (or Mr) Gumley Mason in respect of their departures from the school, and if so how much and who agreed to them?

  6. The question is will the 'new policy' be adhered do it all looks fine on paper, but will the procedure be followed out?

  7. As an ex-St B's pupil, I feel it necessary to point out that not a single item in this new St B's policy would have stopped the monks from abuse as it took place. This is not about rules on paper. It's about emotional gratification and partly about working in the grey areas, where something that's not quite abuse has happened.

    What I am saying is that there is the issue of enforcement of the rules, but there is also the issue of interpretation of them, and the issue of knowing when there have been breachees. The grey areas to which I refer are within the culture, and are not pinned down by rules.

    It is very sad for me to say it as in many ways it is a brilliant school, but the case should be examined closely for closing St B's down. A culture is not changed that quickly.

    This is something the financial services industry, with the recent crisis, is starting to understand - my area of specialist knowledge. The parallels are there.

  8. Are parents happy that on paper the new policy is an effective and robust document?

  9. I sincerely hope that neither of them receive another penny of our hard earned cash they have had more than enough.
    Surely the futile court case, action taken to protect her good name the cost of which came out of our fees, I think she should be made to reimburse the school as it was of no to benefit the school in any way.
    Also I think we should be shown proof that her husbands job was truly justified, were was it advertised and how many candidates applied for the job?

  10. St. Augustine's Priory : From the Governing Body

    Dear Parents,

    The Governing Body is committed to keeping you informed of our actions during the transition process following Mrs Gumley-Mason's decision to step down at the end of this calendar year.

    The full Governing Body met last night to discuss this process and this Parent Mail is being sent to advise you that you will receive further details, by post, within a week from today.

    The Governing Body was delighted to be able to welcome our two newly elected Parent Governors to the meeting.

    Yours faithfully

    The Governing Body

    St Augustine's Priory
    Hillcrest Road
    W5 2JL

    020 89972022

  11. I think the governing body should answer the questions raised on this blog. The first being why did Mrs G M resign?

  12. And 19:35 just as importantly to whom did she resign, the Trustees or the Chairman of the board of Governors?

    Was there a payoff?

    This is an important question and the answer being made public might help start to explain to the serfs (fee paying parents) the opaque structure that is responsible for running this school that I understand is a Gumley Mason design.

    Who is in charge of the clattering train?
    The axles creak and the couplings strain,
    and the pace is hot and the points are near,
    and sleep hath deadened the driver's ear,
    and the signals flash through the night in vain,
    for death is in charge of the clattering train

  13. I am becoming so bone tired of the ongoing call to arms against Mrs Gumley-Mason, the Board of Governors, and the school in general. If all of you posting on this blog are indeed parents of girls at St. Augustine's, I ask you to please consider this: any prospective candidates for headmistress will surely be doing their research and will read this blog. Let's not drive the best of them away with an ugly, teeth-gnashing parent public.

    What's happened has happened (I for one am still processing what's happened); let's put it to rest and move on now.

  14. Why would there be a 'pay off?'
    Surely she has had to stand down, no one can make the mistakes she has and still be employed in such a position.

  15. 21:38

    No, that won't do. There have been serious failures of safeguarding procedures. Even if Mrs GM were regarded as being solely responsible for those failures and the attempt to prevent them from coming to light, a change of personnel doesn't automatically cause everything to be all right. Further effort may be needed to make sure that the written policies are right, and almost certainly there will be a need for education in awareness at the school to ensure that the reason for the procedures is universally understood and that the procedures are therefore carefully followed

    I have no doubt most of the staff would support the idea. But we have seen in other contexts merely thinking that abuse is not good is not by itself a guarantee that it will be halted when it occurs.

  16. 21.38
    These comments will not drive anyone away, most of the comments are aimed at the departing head, the staff on the whole are very kind caring individuals.
    The criticism regarding the school is also to do with the way the head has conducted herself.
    The governors have not done their jobs and they must expect criticism, they failed us.
    The school has every chance to succeed under new leadership. Their is only one person responsible for everything negative written on this blog,

  17. 21.38
    Any prospective Candidate will rise to the challenge and realise that parents take their children's welfare and education seriously.
    I think you are being a bit melodramatic, if it puts prospective applicants off they obviously aren't suitable for the job.

  18. Well the Trustees have certainly failed. I also suspect the Governors have failed. Gumley Mason certainly failed.

    Would a decent candidate be scared off by this blog?

    It is a fatuous suggestion. The school presents an opportunity for someone to show what they can do. Good people will be stepping towards the opportunity, only useless articles will be walking away.

  19. 21:38

    Perhaps we keep quiet, biddable, uncomplaining, fawning, as previous parents have been for years and which resulted in the situation we have now.

    Daughter promoting parents throwing rose petals in front of Gumley Mason in the hope it made their daughter headgirl were part of the problem, the 'glee club gang', because a side effect of their nonsense was to empower someone who is now departing for the very obvious reasons we can all now see thanks to this blog. But once again, we the parents are being sold a pup.

    Such denial by the administration is a very poor example to students, most of whom understand what is happening.

  20. 21.38

    Simple solution, stop reading the blog, you are obviously on of the Ostrich's.

  21. Some parents/staff don't want anything to be amiss at the school because they feel that they themselves have made poor judgement calls, and maybe feel guilty about that. Don't, because this was never your fault, none of it! As parents, we always want to feel that we have made the best decisions for our
    children, but confidence tricksters have always taken advantage of the nicest of people.

  22. I am a Grandparent of girls (happy & thriving) at the school and live in the locality,I have tried to make sense of what I have read on this page but it just seems to me like a free Daily Mail with added ignorance

  23. 23:39
    Ignorance is bliss!

  24. 23.39

    You need to read all of the site author’s comments and the evidence that supported his articles. Look at the report produced by the ISI - an inspectorate owned by the ISC and its associations – so anything but independent. Even it was unable to avoid publishing some of the facts about St Augustine’s despite it being disposed to being less that revelatory about these matters. You do not seem to understand the appalling structural issues that have been reported upon, and you have no comprehension of how they affect your grandchildren. There is nothing one can do about people determined not to see which seems to be the category into which you fall.

    Malleable, compliant, gullible parents and guardians are just what the administration of St Augustine's has had for years under the administration dominated by Gumley Mason. As a result, the institution ended up in the mess all of us, with the exception of you 23.39, can see. How those good staff, that certainly do exist at the school, have managed under the regime that is now crumbling, is beyond my imagination. To them, thank you and I sense that at last change may be happening which will make children’s lives safer and yours a great deal more enjoyable.

  25. 23.39

    I also was happy and thriving at my junior school, and went onto have a career that resembled a Brocks rocket, until circumstances combined to force me to face what happened to me at the age of twelve.

    No one knew of these things - not my friends, my parents who were by this time dead, and certainly not my partner. The secret that existed did so between me and the man who sexually abused me. Not until middle age did I face them and even then not from choice. The power of the rocket suddenly went out, and with it the limited control I had over my life since the abuse.

    Ask anyone about me when I was at school, and they would vouch that I was at the centre of most things. Same in my career where I suffered from workaholism, a common smokescreen for people who have been abused.

    Was I thriving, was I happy? Well the answer in reality was that I was not but parents, grandparents, friends, see mostly what they want to see. I’ve reflected on what they were seeing and I am of the opinion that certain matters should have been questioned, but the ‘rocket’ was thundering and no one would really have dared ask.

    A statement made by more than one acquaintance to me was “*******, you frighten people.” This had more than a grain of truth about it, it was a subconscious defence mechanism to stop people getting too close and asking questions.

    23.39, I hope your grandchildren are happy and thriving, but to be assured you need to comprehend the extraordinary events at the school. Nothing like them occurred at mine where nothing appeared to be wrong, everyone appeared happy, all were apparently being cared for.

    In fact the opposite was the true but the authorities only periodically saw problems, the parents almost never, except for one parent. My mother informed me some years later that the parent freely expressed her concerns about the teacher which resulted in my mother, in no uncertain terms, telling the parent to remain quiet or she warned, the man she was slandering by suggesting he had an unhealthy interest in children, would seek legal redress.

    The complaining parent quailed. What a terrible shame, because at the time the pupil the man was abusing was me.

  26. I think this is all so sad . My daughter went to this school
    And it was all so positive I cannot believe what is now coming out

  27. It IS a lovely school, do not believe what is written here, go and see it, visit, your daughter presumably has friends from her school days?

  28. There is nothing wrong with the school the problem lies with the headmistress and thankfully she is going.

  29. 18:10
    She should have done the decent thing and resigned long ago!!

  30. By clinging on for so long she has damaged the school. Thank God when she's gone we will get back our lovely school and great reputation once more!