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Private school complaint

(29 Posts)
Bertha0208 Fri 22-Apr-16 06:58:16

I have a year 7 boy who has been privately educated (until this term)
I've pulled him from his private school due to a serious safeguarding episode while they were away skiing. The school have blocked my complaint, withheld evidence and basically denied any wrongdoing. However, I have soldiered on and am going to a governors panel next week. I now have a decent amount of evidence of the schools wrongdoing (and clear evidence that the headmaster lied) Has anyone else complained to this level about a private school? My son is now attending the local state school and loves it, wish I'd pulled him out years ago and saved myself a fortune!

happygardening Fri 22-Apr-16 08:58:11

I've never complained to that level but in my job (public sector) we get lots of complaints. My advise is for you to decide at the beginning exactly what you want to achieve by complaining; an explanation, an apology, reassurance it won't happen again, the staff involved to be spoken to, disciplined, sacked, some fees refunded (unlikely you'll get that), do you want the heads head on a platter or do you think the police should be informed? The school should have a written policy on managing complaints have you read it are they following it? If not why not? At the meeting present your concerns and evidence and explain what you want to achieve.
I strongly suspect that unless it's a serious safeguarding issue I.e. abuse then the governors will support the head and you'll hear lots of platitudes and you'll hopefully get an apology. If it is a serious sage guarding issue and it appears nothing is going to be done please go the the police, this is the only way this sort of thing can be stopped. Childline will be able to advise you if you're unsure.

BoboChic Fri 22-Apr-16 09:01:34

Have you got a lawyer? I have found lawyers to be invaluable when tackling school on tricky issues. Even if you only take advice "in the background" you will be far better informed of your rights.

What do you want to achieve?

Bertha0208 Fri 22-Apr-16 10:24:53

Thanks for the advise. I have engaged a lawyer but the bill is really mounting and I can see the school are circling the wagons to protect the school.
What I want is to expose the head for the duplicitous, egotistical overweight pratt that he is. No hard feelings on my part hey!
No lasting damage (hopefully) to my son but my god they handled it all so badly.
I have requested in my complaint an apology to my son, half a terms fees refunded and an investigation into how this happened. My husband thinks that if they agree (I know the apology is very unlikely) they will want to impose a gag on me to not talk about in. Hence this rant on here!
Don't think that private schools are in anyway above state at least in the state sector it is all transparent.

happygardening Fri 22-Apr-16 17:00:59

Frankly I doubt you'll expose the head in the way you would like, I suspect they will apologise, and do an "investigation" into what happened. If the safe guarding issue is about abuse of any kind to your DS or any other child then the teaching staff now have a legal duty to report it and you IMO have a moral duty to report it gagging order or no gagging order.
Good luck. flowers or maybe wine is more appropriate I hope your DS moves on and enjoys his new school.

neuroticnicky Fri 22-Apr-16 18:29:18

Unfortunately you will find that private schools have a bad record -generally far worse than state schools- at coming clean on any incidents which could damage their reputation. State schools are far more likely to report matters to the police/local authorities etc. Hence the ease with which so many sex scandals have occurred at private schools in the past-not just at boarding schools but even at London day schools. A friend of mine's DC was badly beaten up at private school recently and the school just closed ranks with teachers and housemaster all essentially lying . You will also find governors of private schools tend to rubber stamp the head's decision and try to sweep things under the carpet. Your best bet is therefore probably to make it clear to the governors that unless your demands are met and appropriate action taken in relation to your complaint you will be forced to make public disclosure (to any or all of the police, local authority and media as appropriate).

wonderpants Fri 22-Apr-16 18:35:58

You lost me at wanting to expose him for being overweight!
Not sure what actually happened, but daft statements will quickly lose you any upper hand!

In regard to safeguarding concerns, you can take them to the LADO (local authority designated officer for safeguarding) to consider. Allegations are taken very seriously!

neuroticnicky Fri 22-Apr-16 18:52:44

Sorry-forgot to say it may be too late for you now but I would also have demanded a lot more than half a term's fees refunded if the incident resulted in your DC leaving the school e.g.. start with at least a term's fees plus your legal costs (I asked DH and he said he'd have wanted them to refund all the fees paid since the beginning of the school year!)

apple1992 Sat 23-Apr-16 09:33:05

I would also be tempted to go to the media if you don't get the desired outcome. Having said that, we don't know what it is. What kind of safeguarding issue? And did harm come to your child?

LIZS Sat 23-Apr-16 09:41:03

If there was a breech of safeguarding you can involve the LA even if the school is private. Also ISI if they claim membership although it does lack bite.

Bertha0208 Sat 23-Apr-16 11:50:48

Thanks for all your help.
I've got to say ISI have been really helpful.
It's not over yet.

Clavinova Sat 23-Apr-16 13:14:54

Safeguarding also covers accidents (skiing trip - broken limb/unsupervised skiing?) which are of course a serious concern - why does everyone automatically suspect child sex abuse?

apple1992 Sat 23-Apr-16 13:56:50

Clavinova- my thoughts too. I've been on school ski trips so wonder what.

happygardening Sat 23-Apr-16 14:01:22

Clavinova you're right which is why I used the word "if". As you say the term "safeguarding" covers a very wide range of areas I suspect on school trips lack of proper and age appropriate supervision is likely to be the most common area where safeguarding concerns arise.

Balletgirlmum Sun 24-Apr-16 18:52:54

Is it an ISI school?

Dh teaches in an ISI school & a (unfounded) parental complaint triggered an inspection. The school were clearly told that if things were not satisfactory they could be closed down with immediate effect.

Bertha0208 Tue 26-Apr-16 06:47:50

Thanks for all your comments, it's been a terrible few months.
I've got the governors panel coming up in the next few weeks so I'm interested in
any advise.
One of the issues I have is that the boys concerned were interviewed by the male teacher and made to write and sign a statement of events.
Would this be correct protocol?
My son then asked if he could call me and was told a resounding 'no' by his female teacher. That breaks my heart that he was so far from home, needed me so much and I didn't even know.
Someone asked if they are ISI members. They are and as I said earlier ISI have been really helpful.

LIZS Tue 26-Apr-16 06:59:00

It may depend whether the male teacher was implicated or just recording facts while still fresh in their minds. There should not have been any investigation by him and nothing to done or said which might lead what they said, which may be why they couldn't phone. Have you seen the risk assessment paperwork, what are their procedures for trips?

Bertha0208 Tue 26-Apr-16 08:30:17

Thanks for that LIZS. No, I haven't seen the risk assessment paperwork but I did file a subject access request to the school, social services and the police.
For those who don't know what that is its a data protection law that allows you to view all documents emails, notes, etc from the school (and all institutions) that relate in reference to you and the incident. (Other names relating to the issue are blanked out)
It's an incredibly powerful bit of legislation. One well worth knowing about.
The female police officer I spoke to yesterday was unaware that such a law existed. You do pay a charge of £10 to obtain the documents.

Bryt Tue 26-Apr-16 15:18:07

I think the eco bubble was a which best buy

Bryt Tue 26-Apr-16 15:19:11

Oops sorry - don't know how that jumped there.

NewLife4Me Tue 26-Apr-16 15:28:53

My dd attends a school with a whole history of sex abuse and safe guarding issues.
It isn't true that schools get away with not reporting now.
In fact schools affected in the past are tumbling over themselves to make sure that every little complaint is reported first and then investigated. Even when it relates to the past if a new complaint comes in.
It has to be like this, they can be closed down with immediate effect.
Safe guarding doesn't have to be related to abuse or even anything physical like an accident.
dd school failed an inspection for safe guarding as files were left out on a desk instead of being put away. The schools aren't given long to put things right and nor should they be.

Balletgirlmum Tue 26-Apr-16 19:23:10

I think RBS failed one too Newlife!

NewLife4Me Wed 27-Apr-16 15:27:10

Really? Good grief, I guess it was similar though.
I think sometimes people read child protection and fear the worst. Even though every breach should be dealt with accordingly, it isn't always abuse.
Dd school had 3 months, that's all and they would have closed with immediate effect so we were told.
Once they have had problems they aren't just left to it neither and even though the inspectors say its a coincidence every time a new case is brought to light from maybe 30 years ago, inspectors turn up.
Maybe it's because of media reports.

t4gnut Wed 27-Apr-16 15:34:14

And that's private education for you - pretty much exempt from any of the oversight the state sector has.

Balletgirlmum Wed 27-Apr-16 17:32:42

It's interesting that all the MDS dance schools were inspected within a year of your school court case.

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