Scottish Daily Mail

Top school ‘ banned from tak­ing pupils’ af ter abuse scan­dal

- By Sarah Har­ris Crime · Society · Child Abuse · Violence and Abuse · Sexual Abuse · North Yorkshire · Downton Abbey · Ampleforth College · Ampleforth · Rupert Everett · Julian Fellowes

A LEAD­ING Catholic board­ing school at the cen­tre of a child sex abuse scan­dal has been banned from tak­ing new pupils.

Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Gavin Wi l l i a ms o n yes­ter­day launched en­force­ment ac­tion against Am­ple­forth Col­lege in North Yorkshire.

The school, which charges £36,486 a year for board­ers, has been ac­cused of fail­ing to safe­guard and ‘pro­mote the wel­fare of pupils’ and will be pre­vented from tak­ing new pupils from De­cem­ber 29.

Am­ple­forth last night at­tacked the de­ci­sion as ‘un­jus­ti­fied’ and said it would ap­peal.

The I nde­pen­dent Schools In­spec­torate vis­ited the school in March 2018 and found a ‘num­ber’ of in­de­pen­dent school stan­dards (ISS) were not be­ing met.

Am­ple­forth Col­lege, which boasts alumni in­clud­ing ac­tor

Ru­pert Everett and Down­ton Abbey cre­ator Ju­lian Fel­lowes, sub­mit­ted an ac­tion plan – which was re­jected by Mr Wil­liamson.

Of­sted car­ried out an ‘ emer­gency in­spec­tion’ in Septem­ber, which found fail­ings around the ‘wel­fare, health and safety of pupils’, the safe­guard­ing of board­ers and the ‘qual­ity of lead­er­ship’.

The en­force­ment doc­u­ment said ‘the St Lau­rence Ed­u­ca­tion Trust, the pro­pri­etor of Am­ple­forth

Col­lege, is re­quired to cease to ad­mit any new stu­dents to that school, and this rel­e­vant re­stric­tion shall ap­ply im­me­di­ately af­ter the ex­pi­ra­tion of the 28-day pe­riod for mak­ing an ap­peal’.

An ac­com­pa­ny­ing let­ter said Mr Wil­liamson con­sid­ered the fail­ings to be ‘very se­ri­ous’.

It added that the school has ‘ shown some will­ing­ness to im­prove and has made some progress since March 2018’ – but said it ‘has been too slow’ and ‘in­suf­fi­cient’. Two weeks ago, Am­ple­forth was heav­ily crit­i­cised for its re­sponse to claims of sex­ual abuse over a num­ber of years car­ried out by some of its Bene­dic­tine monks.

The In­de­pen­dent In­quiry into Child Sex­ual Abuse high­lighted that five in­di­vid­u­als – mostly monks – con­nected to Am­ple­forth, have been con­victed or cau­tioned in re­la­tion to of­fences in­volv­ing sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with chil­dren or pornog­ra­phy.

The re­port claimed Ab­bot Ti­mothy Wright, who was in charge of the col­lege from 1997 to 2005, had ‘ an im­mov­able at­ti­tude to al­le­ga­tions of child sex­ual abuse’.

A school spokesman said last night: ‘We will be ap­peal­ing this on the ba­sis that we be­lieve, and have been ad­vised, that it is un­jus­ti­fied and based on in­cor­rect informatio­n.’

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