Exclusive: DfE orders inspectors into Ampleforth as new police probe is revealed

Police investigating 'safeguarding' at £34k-a-year Catholic boarding school

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The government is to send inspectors into Ampleforth College following the Charities Commission's removal of pupil safeguarding responsibilities from the Catholic boarding school's trustees. 

Tes can also reveal that North Yorkshire Police has launched a new investigation into "safeguarding" at the £34,000-a-year school this year. The force also has three ongoing investigations into historic allegations of sexual offences at Ampleforth.

The trust that runs the independent school in North Yorkshire has been subject to an inquiry by the Charities Commission over its handling of abuse allegations.

The Charities Commission has now appointed an interim manager to take over safeguarding at the school because of the way current safeguarding risks to pupils are being managed.

The Department for Education told Tes it had asked the Independent Schools Inspectorate to inspect the school as a result of the concerns.

A DfE spokesman said: “All schools should be safe places for pupils to learn and any allegation that children are being placed at risk will be investigated. We have asked the Independent Schools Inspectorate to visit the school and will publish its findings in due course.”

The Charities Commission launched its statutory inquiry in November 2016 into the trust running Ampleforth, to investigate trustees approach to safeguarding and their handling of abuse allegations.

It has now taken safeguarding responsibilities away from the charity's trustees and given 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.

She will also scrutinise the charities’ progress with implementing the recommendations arising from an independent review in 2017; and identifying and implementing any additional actions which are considered necessary or appropriate to provide a safe environment for children, young persons and vulnerable people at Ampleforth.

Harvey Grenville, head of investigations and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “It is of paramount importance that beneficiaries, and others who come into contact with charities, are protected from harm. We are not satisfied that the trustees of these charities have made enough progress in improving the safeguarding environment for pupils in the schools connected to the charities. For this reason, we have appointed an interim manager to expedite changes in the safeguarding arrangements at the schools."

A statement from Ampleforth Abbey Trust and St Laurence Education Trust said: “The safeguarding of children and adults is paramount in all the works of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust and the St Laurence Education Trust. We welcome the insight which Emma Moody and her team will bring to Ampleforth, and are committed to working with them to implement their recommendations regarding governance in relation to safeguarding.

"Ampleforth commissioned an independent report by Professor Sue Proctor last year to look at areas including its future safeguarding reporting structure. Its senior teams have been working towards these recommendations which have also been shared with Ms Moody and her team.

"We would like to take this opportunity to repeat our sincere and heartfelt apologies to anyone who has suffered harm whilst in Ampleforth’s care. If you would like to speak to somebody about this, please contact John Ridge on 01439 766434 or john.ridge@ampleforth.org.uk. If you would prefer to speak to someone outside of Ampleforth, please contact Survive on 01904 638813 to speak to a trained counsellor.”

Earlier this year it was announced that the trust's three-13 preparatory school, St Martin’s Ampleforth, was to close with pupils in Year 6 and above being integrated into the main Ampleforth College site.

 

 

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