Ampleforth College banned from taking new students

Education secretary issues enforcement notice on scandal-hit boarding school over 'very serious' safeguarding failures

John Roberts

Safeguarding: The DfE has banned Ampleforth College from taking on new students

A scandal-hit private boarding school has been banned from taking on new students by education secretary Gavin Williamson over "very serious" safeguarding failures.

The Department for Education has issued an enforcement letter to Ampleforth College, in North Yorkshire, after an emergency Ofsted inspection of the school, the report of which has not yet been made public.

The notice says that the education secretary is satisfied, having read the report, that independent school standards are not being met at the £36,000-a-year, age 13 to 18 boarding school.

The restriction is set to come into effect on December 29 this year but this could be delayed by an appeal.

Ampleforth College said it has submitted a complaint against the findings of the Ofsted inspection and will be appealing against the DfE enforcement action.

The enforcement letter says that Mr Williamson has taken the decision following both Ofsted and Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) reports into the school since January 2016.  

Safeguarding concerns over Ampleforth College

It says: "The secretary of state also had regard to the fact that that the school is failing to meet the Independent School Standards, including standards relating to safeguarding and leadership and management, and in his view, these failings are considered to be very serious.

"It is acknowledged that the school has filed a complaint against Ofsted’s recent findings, and the secretary of state has carefully considered that complaint, as well as correspondence which sets out the school’s views on the contents of the report. However, having taken this into account, the secretary of state is satisfied that the standards are not being met."

The letter states that "the St Laurence Education Trust, the proprietor of Ampleforth College, is required to cease to admit any new students".

The restriction is set to come into effect on December 29 this year.  

However it also states that Ampleforth College has the right to appeal it and if its does so in writing within 28 days then the "relevant restriction will not take effect until such time as the appeal is determined, withdrawn or otherwise disposed of."   

This means Ampleforth College would be able to continue to admit pupils until an appeal was resolved.

The ISI previously found that Ampleforth College was failing to meet national minimum standards for the safeguarding of its students and suitability of its staff, 

In 2018 the inspectorate found that the school did not check “with sufficient rigour” whether staff have been barred from teaching or management when recruiting them.

A spokesperson for the college said: "Ampleforth College notes the Department for Education’s publication this afternoon of the intent to serve notice of an enforcement action. We will be appealing this on the basis that we believe, and have been advised, that it is unjustified and based on incorrect information.

"Given the very considerable steps forward that have been taken by the school to learn from the mistakes of the past and to put in place a robust safeguarding regime, a new senior leadership team, and a new governance structure that has effectively separated the abbey from the college, we cannot understand why this decision has been taken, and we cannot understand why it has been published, given the appeals process is still open to us. 

"As far as we are concerned, we will continue to educate our students to the very high standards they are used to in a safe and supportive environment. We have lodged a complaint to Ofsted and await the outcome of that complaint."

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "We were asked by the Department of Education to carry out an emergency inspection of the school as they had concerns. We do not comment on individual schools, but an inspection report, which includes the findings, will be published in due course.”

Ampleforth College has previously been strongly criticised for historic failings by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

A damning report in 2018 said that abuse was inflicted on children as young as 7 at Ampleforth College, in North Yorkshire, and that the school "prioritised monks and their own reputations over the protection of children."

 

 

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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