A secondary failed to safeguard a girl from a boy who allegedly sexually exploited her in school, even though school leaders knew the teenager had been accused of two earlier rapes, Tes can reveal.
Just weeks after the alleged abuse of the key stage 3 girl came to light, the boy was convicted of the rapes of two other girls.
The parents of the KS3 girl told Tes the school failed to make sure the boy had no unsupervised contact with girls in school – even though this was understood to have been the recommendation of a risk assessment.
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The girl’s class tutor had raised concerns about the boy’s inappropriate relationship with the girl, but told parents the school's leaders did not act on them.
And the victim's parents said that, given the seriousness of the allegations against him, the school was wrong to accept the boy onto its roll in the first place after he was excluded from his previous school.
The school has since been rated "inadequate" by Ofsted, in what is believed to be one of the first cases of a school being failed for its mishandling of an incident of peer-on-peer abuse.
Tes is not naming the school to protect the identities of the young people involved.
John*, the girl’s father, said the first he heard about the boy was when he was contacted by the assistant principal, who informed him that the boy, who is several years older than his daughter, had sent an indecent picture to his daughter and one other girl.
The assistant principal had said to John: “You might want to ask your daughter about this boy’s past, because I can’t tell you.”
When John spoke to his daughter, she said he had been excluded from his previous school for allegedly raping two girls, but John thought this was just “Chinese whispers”.
A few weeks later, he was contacted by the school again, who reported his daughter had returned a picture of herself to the boy. There was also an allegation that sex had taken place on the school site, though the school said this was “not possible”.
John arranged a meeting with the school. In the meantime, he went to a parents evening. At the evening, his daughter’s tutor informed him she had been “flagging it up for months” to the school's leaders that this boy had an inappropriate relationship with the girl. “She says he’s very manipulative, he’s groomed her basically,” John said.
John urgently contacted the school because he was now concerned that his daughter and other girls in the school were at risk.
At this stage, the school confirmed there was a legal case involving the boy, and at John’s insistence confirmed he would be removed from school to be educated off-site. The school told John that a risk assessment had taken place, and while they refused to disclose the details, they insisted there had been “no unsupervised access to any of the girls whilst in school”.
Shortly afterwards, John’s daughter confided that the rumour about her having sex with the boy on the school site was true. At this point John contacted the police. The case concerning his daughter is currently with the Crown Prosecution Service, who are deciding whether to charge him with the offence of sex with a child.
A few weeks later, the boy was sentenced for raping the two girls.
Contrary to the school’s claim that the boy had been under constant supervision, John’s daughter maintained that he had “free movement round school like anybody else”.
John complained to the school. In addition to the failure to supervise the boy and respond to the concerns raised by the girl’s tutor, he believed the school should not have accepted him in the first place.
“Any reasonable person who knew any of the facts would have to question the risk and probability of him being a danger to others,” he said. The school said they had no choice but to take him, although in one meeting the head allegedly told John: “the school does frequently refuse basket cases”. John said he was “disgusted” by this “derogatory” comment.
The school maintains that at the time the boy joined the school, the boy had not been arrested or charged for any offence, and the school was only aware of an allegation.
The school refused to admit to the parents that they had done anything wrong in their handling of the case. “Parents are absolutely powerless", John told Tes, “the chair of governors is ultimately judge and jury… it was just a whitewash”.
However, Ofsted has inspected the school – John spent nearly a year begging them to investigate his concerns – and have rated it "inadequate".
The inspectorate found that safeguarding, governance, and responding to parental concerns were all inadequate.
Rachel Krys, co-director of the charity End Violence Against Women, said the school’s failure to take responsibility was similar to many cases of peer-on-peer abuse.
“[Schools] are refusing to listen and understand when they are getting it wrong she told Tes. She also pointed out that new detailed guidance on how should safeguard children in relation to peer abuse had been in place since September 2018.
“That is plenty of time for schools, and for school leaders and trainers, to develop training and their understanding about what that means to them in practice,” she said.
John told Tes he felt “vindicated” by Ofsted’s judgment. “It’s a small victory for us.”
However, he said he still hadn’t received the most important thing to him – an apology for his daughter from the school.
“All my daughter wants is an apology… for them to say ‘look we’ve got it wrong, we’re really sorry, but we’re going to put things right’.”
A spokesperson for the school said: “Keeping children and young people safe is our top priority and we have robust safeguarding procedures in place to help ensure this. We are currently working with the police as part of their investigation. As the legal process is ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this stage.”
*Not his real name