Ampleforth failing on safeguarding, say inspectors

Independent Schools Inspectorate finds that Catholic boarding school does not check new staff 'with sufficient rigour'

Ampleforth College

A private Catholic boarding school is failing to meet national minimum standards for the safeguarding of its pupils and suitability of its staff, a new inspection report shows.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate found that Ampleforth College does not check “with sufficient rigour” whether staff have been barred from teaching or management when recruiting them.

It also found that the governance and leadership of the £34,000-a-year school in North Yorkshire have not ensured systems are in place to monitor safeguarding procedures to keep children safe.

Tes revealed last month that the ISI had been sent into Ampleforth College by the Department for Education after the Charities Commission removed pupil safeguarding responsibilities from the school’s trustees over its concerns.

The trust that runs the school has been subject to an inquiry by the Charity Commission over its handling of abuse allegations. North Yorkshire Police have also launched a new investigation into safeguarding at the school this year. 

In addition, the force has three ongoing investigations into historic sexual abuse allegations at the school.

Now a new ISI report has found that arrangements to safeguard the pupils are not all secure or well managed.

The report says the school does not fully implement its own safeguarding policy for making referrals to statutory bodies; training staff; recording safeguarding issues or the safe recruitment of staff.

The ISI has told the school it must ensure that the safeguarding policy is implanted effectively in these areas.

Identifying safeguarding risks

The report also adds: “The school must ensure that it identifies the risks associated with the safeguarding of pupils and takes appropriate action.”

On staff recruitment, it says: “The school must ensure that all required checks are completed before an individual takes up employment and these checks are accurately recorded in the single central register.”

It also says Ampleforth College needs to ensure that risks relating to school trips are identified, assessed and mitigated.

However, the ISI found that the school is meeting standards for the education of its pupils, their spiritual moral, social and cultural development, the information provided to parents and the way in which complaints are handled.

The Charity Commission launched its statutory inquiry in November 2016 into the Ampleforth Abbey Trust and St Laurence Education Trust responsible for the school, to investigate trustees' approach to safeguarding and their handling of abuse allegations.

Last month it took safeguarding responsibilities away from the charity's trustees and gave them to solicitor Emma Moody, who has been appointed as interim manager. In this role, she will have the power to review the charities’ governance, leadership, management, culture, policies and safeguarding practices.

An Ampleforth College spokeswoman said: "Ampleforth College is already working with the ISI and the Department for Education to ensure that all standards are met in order for the school to be reinspected in due course.

"The college leadership team is also working closely with Emma Moody, the interim manager for safeguarding appointed by the Charity Commission.

"She is keen to support the college, its trustees and staff team and work collaboratively with us to further strengthen our processes and procedures in relation to safeguarding ensuring that our standards are the highest they can possibly be in this regard. We will be sharing the outcomes from her work as soon as they are available."

 

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