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The Inquiry into the St James Independent Schools in London

   
 
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After the inquiry
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  Calls for immediate action
Issues to be addressed
  Download the Governors' 26 January update on action after the inquiry
  Download the Governors' clarification of 'Key questions'
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After the Inquiry h

The Inquiry addressed complaints which were submitted to it about the physical punishment regime at St James and St Vedast Schools and was largely restricted to events in the 1970s and 1980s. The Schools’ response can be broadly summarised as: admitting and regretting that mistakes were (inevitably) made in ‘the early years’ as the Schools found their feet, but that this has no bearing on the Schools today.  In our opinion wider questions remain to be answered and the abuse cannot be blamed solely on the actions of a handful of ‘rogue’ teachers. The SES and St James bear institutional responsibility to those children who suffered under their care. They can’t wash their hands of this – particularly when a number of those involved remain in positions of authority.

Call for immediate action from the St James Schools

The initial Governors' statement on 14 January included an apology and acceptance of the Inquiry’s findings but gave no indication of what action the Schools would take. We called for the SES and St James to take responsibility for their failings and act with a number of resignations. We also raised issues we believe the Schools need to address.

On 26 January the Schools issued details (on their iirep website) of the action they were taking following the the Inquiry. They also outlined their reconciliation process. In early February they issued a "Clarification on Key Questions". They have comprehensively responded to questions about child protection policy and safeguards at the Schools today. However, they continue to reject calls for resignations and propose to make no changes to the Schools' governance or management. Their response to questions about SES (SoES) involvement in the Schools is in our opinion inadequate and inconsistent with other statements they have made.

We have written twice to the schools outlining the actions we and others believe are now needed and the issues that require clarification – the Schools' responses are recorded below.

Action The Schools response

16 January 2006: 

The Schools must accept the Inquiry's findings and apologise unequivocally to former pupils for their mistreatment and suffering.

14 January 2006:  

"The Governors have accepted Mr Townend's findings ...and apologise unreservedly to those whose welfare and happiness were affected by the regime at the time"

 

16 January 2006:   

"A full apology has been given. It is completely sincere..."

16 January 2006:    

The resignation of the Chair of the Board of Governors and all other current governors who served between 1975 and 1985

 

Awaiting action

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Issues requiring urgent clarification from the School Governors

Issues for clarification The Schools’ response

16 January 2006:    

Confirm whether any current St James teachers were named in the inquiry report.

26 January 2006:   

The Governors’ confirmed that of the current school staff, one admitted a single complaint of throwing a board rubber at a pupil, and two teachers were “accused of incidents falling into the category of over harsh or unlawful”, the governors are now considering “what, if any, disciplinary action should follow”.

 

Awaiting confirmation of governors' action

16 January 2006:    

Confirm whether any named teachers are currently teaching in other SES (SoES) schools

26 January 2006:   

The Governors confirmed that one former teacher whose treatment of pupils was “harsh but not unlawful” is currently teaching at an SES associated school abroad

16 January 2006:    

Confirm that appropriate education and child protection authorities have been notified of staff named in the report.

26 January 2006:   

The Governors confirmed they are working with the Metropolitan Police, child protection agencies, and the Education Authorities.

16 January 2006:    

Confirm whether the Schools will consult current parents to see if they wish to set up a Parent-Teachers Association (in the light of their previous refusal to accept a PTA)

12 February 2006:  

"The Governors are not aware of a demand for a ‘traditional’ PTA"

Awaiting action

16 January 2006:    

Confirm whether the schools will consider appointing non-SES governors including a non SES parent governor.

26 January 2006:   

“The board sees no need to change its policy on the selection of governors and there is nothing in the Townend Report which would cause it to do so”

16 January 2006:    

Confirm that the SES is no longer involved in selecting and appointing staff.

 

 

 

 

 

29 January 2006:    

Request confirmation of where this is set out in writing.

26 January 2006:   

“Appointments are made by the Head teachers and confirmed by a Management Committee of Governors. No other person or organisation is involved

 

12 February 2006:  

"The Headteachers are appointed by the Governing Body and are members of the SoES. The Senior Tutor [Donald Lambie, Head] of the SoES is consulted on their appointment"

 

Awaiting response

16 January 2006:    

Clarify what steps the governors will take to ensure the complete separation of the SES and the St James Schools, in line with the recommendations of the 1996 ‘St James Report’ commissioned by the current head of the SES

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 January 2006:    

We have highlighted the inadequacy of this response and asked for a further response including details of who appoints the governors.

26 January 2006:   

“the relationship between the SoES [SES] and the St James schools is clearly spelt out elsewhere on this website (www.iirep.com). Over 30 years the relationship has matured considerably. The intention of the Governors is to allow this relationship to mature further.”

 

12 February 2006:  

"All new parents are informed during their introductory meetings with Headteachers of the St James schools about the connection with the School of Economic Science ( SoES)." ...and... " The Headteachers also hold several meetings with either particular groups of parents, or the whole parent body. These are to discuss academic programmes, various curriculum issues , plus meetings introducing philosophy and meditation"

 

Awaiting response

29 January 2006:    

Confirm all members of the current school community (including parents) have been made aware of the inquiry and its findings.

12 February 2006:  

"All parents have been written to giving information and access to this website ( iirep.com) and those without electronic communication have been offered hard copies of the Townend Report".

We recognise the St James Schools have evolved since their early days, we are working to ensure that the inquiry marks a turning point, accelerating the process of positive change on which the Schools have embarked. We believe the actions and clarifications above are essential to this process and must run alongside the reconciliation process the Governors have now set out (www.iirep.com).

There has been no response from the SES to our call for an apology, or from the Education Renaissance Trust (ERT) regarding the removal of Mr Nicholas Debenham as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

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(120KB) Click here for the Governors' "Clarification of key questions" (12/2/06)
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(126KB) Click here for the further statement from the Governors & follow up actions (26/1/06)
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(210KB) Click here for the Governors' & Headteachers' statement (14/1/06)
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