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Child Abuse by Teachers at Colet Court, Southbank, etc...

(124 Posts)
vegimal Fri 25-Apr-14 19:16:47

Do the reports of abuse by teachers at Colet Court, Southbank, etc... deter you from sending your DC to these schools? I am registering my DS for school exams and I wonder at what point do you decide it is worth the risk because a school has had such a successful track record?

Unexpected Fri 25-Apr-14 21:05:37


handcream Fri 25-Apr-14 21:14:49

I think you need to be pragmatic, some of these cases are 30 plus years old. Certainly the abusers aren't still there. I think abuse was rife in certain areas 3O years ago. The Church, private schools, children's home etc. Things are different now, whilst I think it not completely stamped out children do know their rights.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Sat 26-Apr-14 08:55:58

I think it's a bit like the safest time to sail on a cruise ship just after the Concordia sank etc.

What's important is that the publicity and awareness of these cases will provoke any current students to come forward with cases of abuse.

We have another 18 months before our son goes to CC. If nothing current manifests in that time, that's as much reassurance I can expect.

swirlingeddies Sat 26-Apr-14 11:36:06

Most of those cases were a long time in the past (the headline story that ran a few weeks ago talked about allegations of abuse taking place between the 1960s and the 1980s) and you should reassure yourselves that child protection and safeguarding procedures have changed and improved dramatically in the last 30 years. When I was at primary school in the 1970s corporal punishment was still allowed at schools, so the whole environment was radially different. All schools operate increased vetting and barring procedures and have stringent safeguarding policies. As marrieddad says, whenever historic incidents come to light, organisations are likely to increase their vigilance.

straggle Sat 26-Apr-14 23:43:27

In one of these cases the teacher worked there from 2009-2013. See here

I'd take particular care looking at inspection reports to see if the schools follow all procedures on staff vetting. Although paedophiles can slip through the net, if the school takes a cavalier attitude to CRB checking etc. I'd be really worried for the pupils.

Messygirl Sun 27-Apr-14 07:42:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pastpublicschoolboy Sun 27-Apr-14 20:04:33

If you wish how. To better protect your children at school. Might I suggest that you firstly put your naive opinions aside and realise that the abuse in Southbank school took place up until last year.
If you want to understand how abuse takes place can I suggest you follow this link to the BAFTA award winning documentary . Press the white triangle on the box called the chosen to play.
Good luck protecting your kids. If you don't ask awkward questions this may result
I was just sent away to be educated like your children .

vegimal Sun 27-Apr-14 20:44:40

Thank you for your considered responses. I've no hesitation in asking the school awkward questions and giving my DS age appropriate information but I obviously worry about the risk of sending my DS to a school where abuse has occurred. The defensive attitude of some of the school administrators is very worrying. I agree with pastpublicschoolboy that the cases of abuse at Southbank and even Colet Court are very recent. They were not incidents that occurred in a previous generation. The parents guide on were helpful.

swirlingeddies Sun 27-Apr-14 21:03:27

The cases at Southbank are certainly recent, but I've been unable to find any reporting on recent cases of abuse at Colet Court. Can you post a link? There is a story in the Daily Mail about a teacher who left recently, but there is no suggestion that he is accused of any abuse.

I think it's extremely important for parents to remain vigilant and these stories are truly very distressing - I'm very sorry to hear publicschoolboy's experience.

JonathanWest Sun 27-Apr-14 21:42:22

You may find this utterly unbelievable, but schools have no legal obligation to report suspicions, allegations or even known incidents of abuse to the authorities. A headteacher can know for certain (because it has been admitted to him) that a teacher has raped a pupil on school premises, but the head has no legal obligation to report anything to anybody.

This school when it caught an abuser, went to the trouble of consulting its lawyers to see if it had to report the abuse. The lawyers said no.

The police stumbled across the case 20 years later. The abuser got 5 years. The school was not prosecuted - it had not broken any laws.

So if you are considering sending your child to an independent school, look carefully at the school's child protection/safeguarding policy. What you want to see is an absolutely unequivocal promise that all child protection concerns will without exception be promptly reported to the authorities.

Look out for weasel words. For instance "should" leaves discretion as to whether they actually will or not. "In all appropriate circumstances" is another favourite, because they don't describe what kinds of circumstances are appropriate, so they can make that up as they go along. Read the policy from the point of view of somebody who might want to twist the words to find excuses not to report. Many schools don't want to report because an abuse scandal can be very bad for business.

The law hasn't changed on this in decades. There have already been reports in the news that Southbank International School was aware of at least one incident of concern about William Vahey but did not report it. I've looked at the Southbank child protection policy, it is on the school website. It clearly allows allegations of abuse by staff to be handled in-house if the school chooses.

It took me four years of solid campaigning to get my son's old school to reform its safeguarding policy. Abuse had gone unchecked there for 60 years (fortunately my son was not a victim). Three former teachers have been convicted. You can read about it here.

If you think this legal state of affairs is unacceptable, then please sign these petitions.

Daniel's Law

Mandate Now

JonathanWest Sun 27-Apr-14 21:54:43

By the way, don't rely on OFSTED or ISI inspection reports concerning the quality of safeguarding. Both organisations routinely miss even appallingly bad safeguarding practice.

vegimal Tue 29-Apr-14 20:46:12

Swirlingeddies The Times reported that there are so many Colet Court complaints that the police have set up a special taskforce. Gordon & Slater have said the cases are more extensive than any school. JonathanWest well done on your tenacity. It's a tragedy that you had to fight so hard.

Elibean Wed 30-Apr-14 11:10:25

I have girls, not boys, so am not considering those schools but totally understand how worrying the issue is.

Personally, I look for an openness in the school culture - a willingness to talk about bullying, for example, and issues with teachers: thats a starting point.

But abusers are very good at fooling their employers, so there is no abuse-proof system - at least in the short/medium term - that I know of.

Ultimately, I try and give my daughters a strong sense of personal boundaries, and talk about trusting uncomfortable feelings/talking to safe people if worried/their rights to feel safe and private in their bodies etc etc.

And hope that if something happened, they would tell us - or we would know, pick up on it, and deal with it immediately.

I have a close friend with a ds starting at CC next term, and others whose partners work at St Paul's, so have heard a lot about whats happened. My friend is clear that, whilst the school have taken action, the most important factor is her relationship with her ds, and her own awareness.


schoolnurse Wed 30-Apr-14 12:23:13

Schools i.e. teachers may not have a legal obligation to report suspicions etc but registered nurses do have a legal obligation under our code of conduct to report to SS any suspicions that we might have even if we have told by the school not too. Therefore any school with a registered nurse, even quite a few independent day schools will have a registered nurse on site and most boarding schools will, if we are suspicious or hear any allegations we will report it to our line manager and/or the person in the school responsible for CP if we get no joy and feel our concerns are being swept under the carpet we have to then report our concerns to an appropriate body which would most likely be SS. Failure to do this and then a future case of abuse being found would find us negligent and therefore a high risk of loosing our registration. When it comes to CP all normal issues concerning confidentiality are put to one side.
Most nurses especially those who work with children take this very seriously ŵe are more likely to over report than under report. We are expected to responsible for our own professional development and I attend a CP study day yearly.

swirlingeddies Wed 30-Apr-14 13:00:40

Vegimal, my specific question was about recent allegations of abuse at Colet Court; as I say, the Southbank case is very recent but I can't find any reference to allegations of abuse at Colet Court or St Paul's since the 1980s.

I agree with Elibean that all we can do as parents is ask the right questions of schools and talk to our children.

straggle Wed 30-Apr-14 22:01:32

I've found a Colet Court link here which, although it does indeed relate to the 1960s to 1980s, suggests at least six teachers were involved and the headmaster was complicit in punishing boys who tried to report the abuse. And a report here which highlights the damage done to the generation of that era.

vegimal Thu 01-May-14 07:27:18

The Times, behind paywall, for 1 May 2014 on page 7 has a one page article on the police investigation into St Paul's and Colet Court and allege the abuse was as recent as 2013. The reason I am following this case is that it Colet Court is one of the most popular schools for DS in West London among his cohort. DS would be sitting 7+ exams next year... Maybe not for this school if child protection - in practice - is so poor.

vegimal Thu 01-May-14 07:52:13

The Times, behind paywall, for 1 May 2014 on page 7 has a one page article on the police investigation into St Paul's and Colet Court and allege the abuse was as recent as 2013. The reason I am following this case is that it Colet Court is one of the most popular schools for DS in West London among his cohort. DS would be sitting 7+ exams next year... Maybe not for this school if child protection - in practice - is so poor.

Elibean Thu 01-May-14 11:22:23

Vegi, I thought the recent problem was in St Ps rather than in CC?

I know one of the people now responsible for child protection in CC. I would definitely trust him, but that's easy for me to say as I know him.

Have you been to see the school? Asked questions? I would do that, and then trust your gut instinct.

swirlingeddies Thu 01-May-14 12:19:38

Thanks for the links - interesting. The Times article does say: "In each case, the current leadership at St Paul's contacted police and social services when concerns were raised last year." So from that it appears that child protection procedures are currently being followed.

As Elibean says, all you can do is go and see the school and ask tough questions.

straggle Thu 01-May-14 20:05:38

A report in the Evening Standard says a police investigation named Operation Winthorpe is to investigate allegations involving 18 teachers at both Colet Court and St Paul's from 1960s to last year.

LadyRabbit Sat 10-May-14 00:38:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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