Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Carlile Report analysis - 10

The next section, paragraphs 57 to 65, is titled "Convicted and Listed Monks". I'll take the first two paragraphs together.
57. There remained continuing concerns about what should happen to monks who had been convicted, banned (named in List 99) so that they should not work with children, or otherwise should not have any access to children in the school. This was a concern of mine from the earliest stages of my Inquiry. I have discussed the issue with the Abbot, who was alert to the inevitability of a change from previous practice. I recognise that the sense of responsibility felt by the Community for its Brothers, even those who have strayed and sinned heinously, is considerable.

58. I am pleased to say that the Abbot has accepted that another dwelling has to be found for any member of the monastic community falling within the categories described, and that none is at the Abbey now. This must continue as a permanent policy.
Unfortunately, at the time he wrote the report, the first sentence of paragraph 58 wasn't true. And moreover, the table following paragraph 33 demonstrated that it wasn't true. The table listed Father Gregory Chillman, and gave the outcome of one of the incidents involving him as "Deemed inappropriate behaviour: restrictions imposed". At the time of writing the report, Chillman was still living at the monastery. According to the Clergy page of the parish website, at the time of writing this blog, Chillman is still listed as being resident at the abbey.

It could be argued that Chillman, has not been placed on List 99 as Hobbs has, and has not been convicted of anything (unlike Pearce, who will not be permitted to return to the Abbey on completion of his sentence), and therefore he should not be required to move.

This is a line of argument that needs to be taken seriously. It is wrong, but the reasons for it are fairly subtle.

At the time Pearce committed his last offence, he had not been placed on List 99, and he had not been convicted of anything. In other words, his status was exactly as Chillman's is now - there had been substantiated allegations but no action by the secular authorities. The Abbot had knowledge concerning the risk that Pearce posed to children which was not known to the secular authorities.

There are two lessons to be learned from this. The first is that terrible mistakes are liable to occur if the secular authorities are not promptly and fully informed of all allegations, because they have the knowledge and training to make a proper evaluation and the school staff do not. The second is that a risk analysis and the decisions flowing from it mustn't depend solely on convictions. A person can have been convicted of no crime, not even have a crime alleged against him, and get have shown behaviour which indicates he is a danger to children.

It is now accepted by the Abbot that keeping Pearce at the abbey was a mistake, one which he has  gone round apologising to all and sundry for.

So why did he repeat the mistake with Hobbs and Chillman?

Why did he fight the DfE when they demanded Hobbs' removal?

Why did Chillman remain at the abbey even after the Abbot gave assurances to Carlile that no monks falling into the categories described in paragraph 57 remained at the Abbey? Chillman clearly did fall into the category and Carlile knew he did. Both Carlile and Cleugh looked extremely embarrassed at the press conference when they were asked where Chillman is presently living.
59. At the time of the inspection visit on 30 April 2010, the school’s safeguarding policy was found to cover most of the requirements which are the duties of governors of independent schools. However, the school’s written policy for dealing with allegations and suspicions of abuse was focused on investigation by the school rather than speedy referral to outside agencies. As a result, under Regulation 3.(2)(b) of the Independent School Standards Regulations, the school was required to word the policy so that it is clear that in the case of a disclosure or suspicion of abuse:

(i) the investigations are to be carried out by the local safeguarding children board or in case of doubt the advice of such an agency is to be sought;
(ii) the child’s interests are paramount;
(iii) referrals are made not only where a case is considered by the school to be serious and criminal;
(iv) no case of substance is investigated and dealt with under the school’s internal procedures.

The school was also advised that it must include in the policy the statutory guidance to be found in Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education; and the recently issued guidance on reporting to be found at www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/statutory/g0076914/dealing-with-allegations-of-abuse-against-teachers-and-other-staff (7 September 2011) and any successor guidance.
The version of the policy included in the appendix to the Carlile report does not include the statutory guidance referred to in the last paragraph above. It makes reference to the document from time to time. It does not incorporate the guidance.

Carlile is incorporating another large chunk of the ISI supplementary report as if this was the last word on making the school's child protection policy a model of excellence. The ISI has no power to insist on a model of excellence, all it has is the power to insist that the school meets national minimum standards. And those standards are pretty low. So for Carlile to keep quoting chunks of the ISI report and not go beyond them to describe what needs to be done in addition to ensure that the policy is a model of excellence is a clear abrogation of the responsibility he took on when he agreed to conduct the inquiry, and a failure against the standard he himself set to "use the lessons and failures of the past to ensure that such problems are avoided in the future".
60. Soon after the inspection visits, the school posted on its website a fully compliant version of its safeguarding policy, and it undertook that from September 2010 it would include examples of ways in which staff, volunteers and members of the religious community are guided to help avoid the possibility of allegations in the future.
There is only one place that Carlile could have got this information - from the school itself. It is simply not true, though Cleugh claimed it to be true at the Parental Forum in September 2010. The May 2010 version of the child protection policy was anything but compliant. I provided Carlile with a detailed analysis of its shortcomings. I also provided him with a copy of my correspondence with the DfE in which the DfE assured me that the May 2010 version of the policy was not regarded by them as the final complaint version, and that they were continuing to work with the school in order to ensure that a compliant policy was put in place. Carlile gives every appearance of just not knowing what he is talking about here, and not even being aware of the extent of his ignorance.

In the February 2011 Headmaster's Newsletter, it was claimed that the school has now fully implemented the recommendations of the ISI report. So clearly the school hadn't done that in the May 2010 version, and yet here is Carlile saying they had. This just looks incompetent - it isn't even correct against easily checkable public information, let alone the private conversations he supposedly has had with the DfE and ISI.
61. Under Standard 4C of the Independent School Standards Regulations, the school was required to ensure that the dates of checks are included in the single central register of appointments. This action too has been taken.
This is very basic stuff, it is first level safer recruitment practice. For a school to have a central register of appointments that is incomplete in any way is really gross negligence and in fact a breach of the law. There's not that much safeguarding law which applied to independent schools, but properly maintaining the central register of appointments is one of the few statutory requirements. This is one of the things the ISI insisted on, and it had to be and was done more or less immediately. For Carlile to be mentioning it a year later looks to me to be claiming credit for insisting on something which had been done before he ever started work.
62. The ISI recommended that enhanced emphasis be placed on safeguarding, and that the following precautionary action be taken where possible:

1.Ensure that any staff or members of the religious community live away from the school, if they are subject to allegations of misconduct related to safeguarding or convicted of wrongdoing.
2.Follow the advice given to render the safeguarding policy a model of excellence in its wording, implementation and review.
3.Ensure that referrals are always made to the Independent Safeguarding Authority when appropriate. For historical cases, ensure that all relevant information is passed to the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
4.Give greater emphasis to safeguarding in the school personal, social, health and citizenship (PSHCE) programme and reflect this in the school improvement plan.
5.Emphasise awareness raising and training in safeguarding across the whole community of school, Abbey and parish, with formal contact between the child protection officers.
Again, all Carlile is doing is quoting verbatim yet another paragraph out of the ISI Supplementary Report. This is all he has done with regard to the safeguarding policy - quote bits out of the ISI supplementary report.

Carlile has no recommendations concerning safeguarding policies beyond quoting parts of the ISI report which was published some months before he even started his work, and the implementation of which is being monitored anyway by the ISI and DfE. Goodness only knows how much money Carlile has charged for this report, but if they were expecting an expert view with substantive recommendations for future improvements in safeguarding policy and practice, they didn't get their money's worth. Since the school appears to be pretty happy with the report, perhaps that isn't what they were looking for.


  1. It boils down thus: the Carlile Report adds a lot of paper though no real guidance on the issue of how the school ought to go about drafting a safeguarding policy that is, genuinely, a model of best practice. It is disappointingly weak on the substance of how the school should learn from past mistakes and how, in the future, to minimise the opportunity for abuse to go unchallenged and unreported, as so obviously happened in the past with such dire consequences. By "implementing the report's recommendations in full", one is still left wondering if the net impact is likely to have a material effect on child protection issues. It has been said before but I will say it again, without a formal written commitment to report all allegations of abuse or inappropriate behaviour to the LADO for independent investigation(that is to say, all allegations of such behaviour perpetrated by employees of the school or Abbey residents against pupils of the school), the current post-Carlile child protection policies still allow the school discretion as to when and what to report. Since the school and Abbey have shown themselves in the past (and recent past at that)to be demonstrably unfit to exercise such discretion in a manner consistent with even basic child protection, it would be well advised to listen to the constructive criticism and advice being provided on this site. Mr West's advice thus far has been painstakingly forensic. dispassionate and, unlike Carlile's, free. The school would do well to heed it.

  2. The poster @ 10.50 has got it completely.