Monday, 14 November 2011

Write to your MP

If you are concerned about the abuses at St. Benedict's School, and the fact that the Independent School Inspectorate failed to detect the school's shortcomings, please write to your MP along the following lines.

Change the first paragraph as necessary if you live at such a distance from St. Benedict's that no pupils are likely to live in your MP's constituency.

I am sure that the children of some of your constituents are pupils of St Benedict's School Ealing, and that you have been as shocked as anybody else at the terrible abuses there which have recently been reported by Lord Carlile.

It is highly probable that the abuses could have been discovered earlier had the school been effectively inspected. However, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) completely failed to notice any problems with safeguarding at the school for at least two successive routine inspections in 2003 and 2009.

The Thunderer column in the Times today points out the severe shortcomings of the ISI in respect of safeguarding inspection, and also points out severe shortcomings in the law, in that unbelievably there is no statutory obligation on the part of schools to report allegations or incidents of child sex abuse committed by staff on pupils.

The Education Bill currently going through Parliament includes a clause which would enable the DfE to appoint the ISI to inspect welfare at independent boarding schools (those which are members of the Independent Schools Council). This responsibility is currently held by OFSTED. Baroness Brinton spoke forcefully against this extension of the ISI's powers in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords,.

In the face of the ISI's terrible failure to detect gross shortcomings at St. Benedict's School and elsewhere, and given that boarding school pupils are even more vulnerable to their setting than day school pupils, the last thing that should be happening is for the ISI's responsibilities to be extended to include the welfare of boarding school pupils.

I urge you to support the amendment introduced by Baroness Walmsley and Baroness Brinton, and to oppose any further extension of the ISI's responsibilities.
Email this to your MP, sign your email and give your postal address, so your MP knows you are a constituent.


  1. As someone who has worked for an MP, if you want them to read your e-mail seriously, I would suggest using your own wording rather than simply copying Mr. West's. Researchers tend to only pass on one e-mail where the content is broadly the same in all of them.

  2. P.S. I should add that there is nothing per se wrong with Mr. West's wording, its more a question of if you want the MP to read it or not.