United Kingdom

£36,000-a-year Catholic boarding school Ampleforth College FAILS its Ofsted report

A top Catholic private school has failed its latest Ofsted report over pupil safeguarding concerns, just days after the government intervened to save it.

Ampleforth College, which charges £36,000 a year, was previously banned from taking new pupils after a child sex abuse scandal.

It was found by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to have covered up claims to safeguard the church’s reputation.

Ampleforth College (pictured), which charges £36,000 a year, was previously banned from taking new pupils after a child sex abuse scandal

The Department for Education is now lifting restrictions on the school, permitting it to start admitting new pupils again

Last week, it was revealed the Department for Education (DfE) decided the boarding school in York can begin admitting pupils again.

However, yesterday, Ofsted published a critical report following an inspection between March 23 and 25.

It warned school leaders had failed to identify serious risks, meaning accidents could happen.

Of two incidents where visitors had not been accompanied, one resulted in a ‘serious safeguarding incident’ and the other in a near-miss vehicle accident.

When there are risks to pupils, the report said some staff ‘do not have the knowledge required to triage competently or confidently’ and that ‘potentially serious risks are not identified and followed up consistently well’.

The report also found that pupils who miss lessons are not always followed up with quickly, meaning staff do not know where they are.

However the Department for Education is now lifting restrictions on the school, permitting it to start admitting new pupils again.

A department spokesman said its ‘robust action... has secured unprecedented commitments to improve governance and safeguarding at the independent school’.

They will be monitoring the school ‘closely and if it is not meeting the standards at the next inspection we will not hesitate to consider whether further action is necessary.’

Headteacher Robin Dyer said he welcomed the lifting of the restrictions.

He said: ‘However, notwithstanding the fact that our outcomes remain good - our students are happy and safe, and our parents overwhelmingly endorse the College - it is a simple truth that any criticism of our safeguarding policies and practice must be taken with the utmost seriousness.’ 

Ampleforth must now make rapid improvements to satisfy Ofsted or the Department for Education can force it to close.

The Ofsted report noted that in January 2021, during a review of the school’s safeguarding records, an external agency identified ‘a number of recent cases of very serious child-on-child abuse’.

The school is now reviewing the records of all the pupils currently at the school to investigate further.

However, the report noted: ‘Trustees are not confident that they have a full knowledge of all child-on-child abuse that has taken place.’

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