Dear Parents,This communication is more remarkable for what it doesn't say than for what it does. It was in March 2010 that Chillman resigned as a trustee of St Benedict's and was placed on restricted ministry because of allegations.
Yesterday an article appeared in the Times (p.27) about Fr Gregory who was our chaplain for many years until he formally retired on October 3rd 2010. He had retired as Chair of Governors in June 2009. Fr Gregory was made aware in April 2010 of an historical accusation against him made by a past pupil of St Benedict’s School. He immediately informed this School and from that time on ceased to undertake any teaching activity at the School or to celebrate the regular weekly Mass. From that date on I had contact with the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), Ealing Social Services, the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Charity Commission regarding both this allegation and an historical allegation from St Augustine’s concerning inappropriate comments made by regarding Fr Gregory in 2004. Although we were advised by the authorities that he could have supervised contact and access to the School
I, together with the Board of Governors, decided for the sake of clarity to bar Fr Gregory from the premises while school was in session. He did participate in the School Carol Service and the Feast Day Mass both public events held at Ealing Abbey. The School has co-operated fully with all relevant authorities regarding these events and will continue to do so as required.
Please note the Central Register of Appointments (CRA), which includes all pre-employment checks and CRBs is regularly updated, is audited every term and was recently comprehensively and positively reviewed by the ISI at their follow up inspection.
Mrs F J Gumley-Mason MA (Cantab) Headmistress
I would be very interested to see the minutes of the meeting of the Governors from that time at which it was decided that Chillman should be permitted to continue formally to act as chaplain and governor, and what for what reason they decided against a clean break by simply asking for his immediate resignation, as appears to have occurred with his role as a Trustee of St Benedict's. That hasn't been stated. I'm also curious about how it can be an assistance to clarity that the reasons for the measures taken weren't communicated to the parents at the time.
I also think parents have a right to know more about this incident in St Augustine's in 2004. Did Mrs Gumley Mason know about it at the time? If so, what was done about it at the time? When was a report made to the LADO? What was the advice of the LADO? The relevant correspondence should at a minimum be provided immediately to the governors so that they can discuss it and decide what course of action should be followed.
As for the contact with the Charity Commission and everybody else mentioned, I can and will check that out. The Freedom of Information Act is a wonderful thing. The Charity Commission and Ealing Social Services are both government bodies covered by the Act, and although the ISI is a private organisation, all its papers on St Augustine's have been passed to the DfE since the DfE was added to the court case where the school sought Judicial Review of the ISI's report. The DfE most undoubtedly is covered by the FOI Act. So if it turns out that there has been a little bit of terminal inexactitude in that aspect of Mrs Gumley Mason's email, we will find out in due course.
This bit of Mrs Gumley Mason's email is fascinating: "From that date on I had contact with the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), Ealing Social Services, the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Charity Commission ...". Note that she "had contact with" them. She's not saying that she "made contact with" them. It leaves entirely unstated who initiated the contact. Did Mrs Gumley Mason contact the authorities to report the issue and ask for advice, or did they contact her to ask what on earth was going on? If Mrs Gumley Mason had initiated the contact, I'm sure she would have wanted to say so very clearly.
Again, it seems to me that the relevant correspondence should be provided immediately to the Governors, so that the truth of the matter can be established.
I already have reason to think that Mrs. Gumley Mason's account may be mistaken on certain points. Here is the relevant part of a letter sent by the ISI to Mrs Gumley Mason on 6th December last year, part of the letter describing the outcome of the school's complaint against the ISI.
We would point out that, during the period between the end of the inspection visit and the issuing of the report on 29th September, concerns relating to the role of this individual and the school and the correct reporting of these were raised with ISI by more than one individual. It was necessary for ISI to consider these alongside the issues which arose during the inspection, as agreed with DfE. ISI liaised with Ealing Social Care on these matters, and attended a strategy meeting.That indicates that, according to the ISI, it wasn't the school who raised the issue of Chillman with the ISI, but instead it was "more than one individual". I was one of those individuals. It also indicates that the school did not make any reference to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) at the time.
We agree that during the period of time in question, it was not necessary to refer Father GC to the Independent Safeguarding Authority. As Father GC has now resigned rather than resume his posts as Chaplain and Governor, the school should consider whether a referral is now required in line with its own safeguarding policy and the ISA's published guidance.
I'll probably find out anyway via the FOI requests I intend to make.
And when I do, I'll publish it here.