Released: Tuesday 1st March 2022

Statement on the Residential Schools Report Published by IICSA

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (‘IICSA’ or ‘the Inquiry’) was established in 2015 with a wide-ranging remit to examine child sexual abuse and to make recommendations. The Inquiry’s work was divided across 15 investigations, one of which was the Residential Schools Investigation.

The Residential Schools Investigation (‘RSI’) examined:

“the nature and extent of incidents of child sexual abuse in residential schools, and the responses to those allegations by the schools and other organisations. The themes considered included governance and management of schools, inspection and monitoring, training and recruitment of staff, whistleblowing and reporting, school culture, and good safeguarding practice.” [p.15/para. 6]

As part of the RSI, the Inquiry heard evidence about incidents of child sexual abuse, harmful sexual behaviour between children and other safeguarding concerns which arose at 12 schools in England, including the four English specialist music schools. The report can be found here.

The report raises criticisms of the way in which The Purcell School responded to safeguarding concerns between the years 2007-2011 under the then incumbent Headmaster and Chair of Governors.

The School’s governing body and senior leaders deeply regret the historic failures identified in the report. The current Governing Body and Principal apologise unreservedly to all former members of staff, students and parents of the school whose complaints and concerns were handled inadequately by their predecessors.

A recent, unannounced ISI inspection (2021) which focussed on many areas of safeguarding, found the School wholly compliant and highlighted no action points. The current Governors, Principal and senior staff are confident that the School today has robust safeguarding procedures and processes in place and that these are widely understood by students and staff. The School has good relationships with the local authority (with whom it regularly seeks advice and guidance) and has an embedded culture of safeguarding throughout the organisation. The Governing body, who receive regular safeguarding training, rigorously scrutinises the School’s safeguarding practice through in-person engagement with staff and students. The conduct and performance of the Principal is monitored both by the Governing body through its meeting cycle and through one-to-one meetings with the Chair every half term. The Governing Body and senior leaders are confident that the necessary lessons have been learned and that current practice and guidance secures the safety and well-being of its students.

Should anyone wish to share any personal experiences related to IICSA’s report with the Principal or Designated Safeguarding Lead, please do not hesitate to contact us. Similarly, should anyone wish to discuss any aspect of the School’s current safeguarding practice, please contact the School.

Bernard Trafford
Chair of Governors

Paul Bambrough