Having just tried to explain in my own clumsy style how bad St Bede’s Safeguarding Policy really is, my good friend, Jonathan West, the scourge of the Benedictine monks of Ealing and Downside, has set my thoughts out in plain and simple language but in a Benedictine context.
Jonathan, more than any other person, brought the abusing staff at St Benedict’s School and Abbey, in Ealing, in North London, to book with his blog “Confessions of a Skeptic”. It was he, who forced the school to examine its ways with in the end the totally useless Lord Carlile Report. It was he who pressed the Vatican into a papal visitation, it was he who forced the Independent Schools Inspectorate to go back to the school and report on how really bad the school’s safeguarding policies were after they had whitewashed the place with their first inspection.
On Monday, 9th July, in his blog Jonathan examined the costs of that totally useless Carlile Report which had been ordered by the Abbot of the Monastery and by the Headmaster and which is growing upwards of £250,000. He had predicted this 20 months previously and had said it was only a reassurance exercise for parents and that is all it has turned out to be.
The results are that St Benedict’s Safeguarding Policy is no different than it was two years ago. The language is as vague as ever and “far too full of holes to give confidence that safeguarding is a priority”. There are no proper aims to measure any improvement in safeguarding; it is a totally useless document as is the Safeguarding Policy of St Bede’s College in Manchester. You would think that this is a particular Catholic exercise in futility, except we now know that there are hundreds, if not thousands of schools in the country who got a piece of paper and copied it and just put two fingers up to safeguarding and like most of the educational establishment in this country treated the subject very lightly. Jonathan actually states that a really good policy, thought about by a responsible person who has safeguarding at heart, is the one for Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College in Loughborough.
A well written policy authored by a person of determination and uniquely tailored to the school will mean that all staff will know exactly what to do once an occasion arises. In this regard schools like St Bede’s and St Benedict’s should be leading by example. Their policies should be shining lights in the field, that lesser establishments can devour and act upon. However management of both schools know that their history of abuse is part of the ethos of the school and cannot be eradicated. All they want, just like all the Catholic Church wants is for this uncomfortable subject of abuse to quieten down and be forgotten.
I find it strange why these establishments do not just heed the likes of Jonathan West, me in my small way and men like Tom Perry, who has been struggling for years with the inadequacies of safeguarding policies and what schools are allowed to get away with. It would surely be a cost effective exercise rather than a PR stunt like Carlile.
And talking of PR stunts, I have just been told that the recently hired PR/languages lady that St Bede’s have employed to shine up the face of the school and sort out the good alumni from the bad, the unquestioning from the questioning and put a line through the latter, could be a lady of my acquaitance, she who is supposed to be top ace hole in modern languages, I wonder could she be the same lady that I remember had a horrible time at St Bede’s in the ‘90s and caused the management of the day some consternation with her accusing finger. Luckily she recanted before her foul accusation went too far but it certainly caused some unhappy moments for the perfectly innocent pupil who was accused. Would she be one of the good or bad alumni and why should she return to the place that caused her so much pain and misery?
I know quite a few Old Bedians who have been contacted through her campaign of alumni cleansing and the contact fizzles out when too many questions are asked. I am waiting my turn but I do know that I am a long way down the queue after being unceremoniously dismissed on the cusp of my A Levels by that paragon of paragons, Mrs Tommy Duggan. But I think she might not have my new contact details with my migration to foreign parts, so I append them below.
Mr Paul Malpas
5 Wooden Bridge
E-mail – email@example.com
Tel No. – 00353 7196 63046
By the way I cannot post this blog today, 10th July 2012, because yesterday my blog was hacked by person or persons unknown and is off the air. My server in Siberia informed me and is rebuilding the site with hopefully better defences. So leave it a few days my friend the alumni cleaner before you contact me regarding your scheme and I should be back on the airwaves shortly.
It seems the hackers in fact did some damage and it took a fair amount of work by my Siberian friends and the site is still not right yet but at least I can get the basics sorted.