School pilloried by report

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
THE private boarding school which hit the headlines when a woman teacher was acquitted of indecent assault has been pilloried in a report published by social service inspectors.

The report lifts the lid on a school, whcih cannot be named for legal reasons, where jobs were handed out without checks for criminal records and where pupils pasted girlie pictures on the walls.

Inspectors reveal that four staff were subjected to child abuse allegations over five years, including Renate Williams who was recently acquitted. They describe a system where pupils and staff believed there was a culture allowing alleged inappropriate behaviour to be covered up.

At the time of the inspection last June, two ex-members of stff were investigated by the police and social services department. A third member of staff had previously been investigated. Fourteen staff have left in the past three years.

Now, in a highly unusual move, Education Secretary David Blunkett has allowed the publication of the report.

Ms Williams said she felt vindicated. "Something good has to come out of this. At least the report alerts parents who would otherwise have remained in the dark about what is going on."

She feels she was left unsupported and overburdened as a newly-qualified teacher which contributed to the pressures on her.

"This raises the issue of NQTs being exploited and taking on workloads they can't cope with."

News, 5

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