Statement from Professor Mark Bailey, High Master, St Paul’s School about the Serious Case Review.
St Paul’s School welcomes the publication of the report of the Serious Case Review (SCR) and the many recommendations it has made for improvements in the national system of safeguarding. The school has cooperated fully with the SCR, as it has with the survivors who have come forward in recent years.
The report in total contains 28 recommendations. Of these 9 relate to the school. These recommendations are designed to help us improve our existing practice, which already goes well beyond the statutory levels of compliance required of all schools. We have already implemented a number of those recommendations and have produced an action plan for the remainder.
The SCR report found that the culture at St Paul’s between the 1960s and 1990s tolerated physical abuse and did not act as a deterrent to sexual abusers. Both the national safeguarding system—such as it was—and the school culture seriously failed a number of pupils. We have apologised to individual survivors and to our community and we would like to unreservedly repeat that apology today especially to those who have come forward and to those who have not felt able to. We accept our institutional responsibility for past abuse, and we recognise the devastating consequences for the lives of the young people involved. We have spoken with everyone who has expressed a wish to do so and settled compensation claims fairly and as swiftly as possible, and this has been irrespective of the insurance position and without the need for victims to resort to litigation. The offer to meet still stands for anyone who has not yet come forward and we will consider other claims that arise.
The report spoke positively about current school practices. Since 2013 the school has handed all allegations over to the statutory authorities, whether to the police or to the Local Authority Designated Officer within Children Services. We will continue to deepen the strong and positive relationships that the school now enjoys with the statutory authorities.
Accepting responsibility for the past means embedding enduring cultural change for the benefit of current and future pupils. We are determined not to forget what happened, and to use those lessons to ensure the highest standards of care and safeguarding of pupils at the school. The report acknowledges our commitment to safeguarding as the highest priority, and our determination to ensure that the culture embedded in the school supports this. Since 2014, St Paul’s has been the subject of nine independent reviews and inspections. These have informed many changes and improvements that go well beyond the statutory minimum required of all schools in England and Wales and we now routinely offer training in safeguarding and mental health to staff at other schools in London.
This has been a painful period of reflection for the school. As High Master since 2011, I have endeavoured to ensure that the school has responded to the non-recent abuse allegations responsibly, by handing them over to the police so that justice is done, but also compassionately. I have met with every one of those former pupils who wished to meet with me, and our team sat through every day of every court case. We will ensure the lessons of this are fully learned and not forgotten.
Summary of recommendations in the review
The review has identified some gaps in the current national safeguarding system that need to be addressed. The report contains a total of 28 recommendations. Of these, 9 relate to improvements the school can make to extend its ‘beyond compliance’ safeguarding system. The remainder relate to opportunities for national learning and improvements in the workings of agencies in safeguarding.
Recommendations relate to a number of organisations, including: the School, DfE, Charity Commission, Met Police, Home Office, Royal College of GPs, the Disclosure and Barring Service, the Teachers Regulation Agency, and Department of Health.
Themes revolve around:
- Accepting responsibility in order to effect cultural change.
- Developing positive relationships and partnerships as a prerequisite for effective safeguarding practice.
- Working with safeguarding in a school environment – balancing various legal requirements.
- Developing and refining national systems and guidance.
- Managing complex investigations – the need for strategic oversight.
- Refining practice systems and processes within the School.
Follow links to the Kingston and Richmond Safeguarding Children Board pages for the full SCR Report and the media briefing pack