Ampleforth College in Yorkshire has submitted a plan to government officials, which – The Times has reported – the school hopes will adequately address serious weaknesses in its safeguarding procedures and oversight regimen.
A surprise inspection in September discovered shortcomings that included failure to take “reasonable, timely and appropriate action to safeguard pupils,” found that police concerns were “not always given sufficient consideration,” and cited “serious weaknesses” in the handling of allegations on the part of school leadership.
“They have not established a well embedded safeguarding culture in the school,” the report said.
Widely known as the “Catholic Eton” – after the storied secondary school that has trained the elite of English society for centuries – Ampleforth College has been under the lights for years owing to alleged safeguarding failures and even active coverup of abuse, and has severed ties with the Benedictine abbey of the same name, which founded the school.
In its response to the inspection report, Ampleforth stressed the improvements already recorded. “We are a different College today and are determined to become an exemplar in safeguarding policy and practice,” the school said. Ampleforth also expressed readiness for new inspection as soon as possible: “We are always happy to be inspected and would welcome a further inspection at the earliest opportunity.”
“The failings of the past have been well documented,” the statement noted. “Our past has been the major driver in a fundamental transformation over the past 18 months,” it also said.
In the wake of the report on the September inspection, which was conducted by the well-known Ofsted consultancy, education secretary Gavin Williamson decided that the school would not be allowed to admit new students in the coming year unless it could show more significant improvement. That ban was scheduled to take effect on 29 December, but Ampleforth has appealed the decision and is awaiting new inspection.
If the next inspection does not show adequate improvement, the school could face closure.