NYCC: Safeguarding Crisis
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, updating readers on a significant development in the on-going Eskdale/Caedmon saga.
A disturbing number of Safeguarding issues (though even one would be more than enough) at what was then Whitby Community College (now Caedmon College Whitby – ‘CCW’ – following the amalgamation with Caedmon School – ‘CS’) were first brought to my attention towards the close of 2014 and at the beginning of 2015, in the aftermath of Mike WARD’s enforced resignation from his position as Chair of the Eskdale School Board of Governors, following nearly six years in the Chair.
I referred my concerns to Mr Barry KHAN, Assistant Chief Executive: Legal & Democratic Services on 22nd February 2015. I shared with Barry a scan of a document passed to me on the understanding that the anonymity of the informant would be, at all costs, preserved.
In the wider public interest, I reproduce the document here below – heavily redacted, for very obvious reasons.
On Saturday 7th March 2015, Barry KHAN visited me in Whitby to discuss the concerns I had raised. Following a long and candid exchange, Barry suggested that I should meet with somebody from the Safeguarding team. He stressed that Safeguarding stands independent of Children & Young Peoples’ Services – i.e. Pete DWYER’s department.
At 2:00pm on Monday 20th April 2015, I was visited in Whitby by Mr Dave PEAT, the Education Safeguarding Manager / LADO, North Yorkshire county Council. This was, of course, some six weeks after my meeting with Barry KHAN. Apparently, time passes slowly in County Hall – even when children are known to be at risk.
Dave PEAT – who gave me every impression of a man deeply committed to his work – was able to confirm that several of the allegations detailed in the above scan were known to him and his colleagues and had been shown to be accurate. He was able to confirm that a successful prosecution had taken place. We also discussed further allegations that Mr PEAT and his team had been unable to substantiate, principally because alleged perpetrators had vehemently denied the allegations, under robust interrogation. Some allegants had also denied that the alleged activities had taken place.
As we now know, from the detailed reporting of the literally thousands of offences committed by Peter JACONELLI and Jimmy SAVILE, even those victims who raised concerns often proved unwilling to endure the trauma and/or publicity that would inevitably arise from testifying in a court of law.
Nevertheless, it has been disappointing that neither CCW, nor Children & Young Peoples’ Services (i.e. Pete DWYER and/or Executive County Councillor Arthur BARKER), nor Safeguarding/LADO has been able to offer the public credible assurances that Safeguarding issues at CCW have since been eliminated. In fact, they have not.
In the past few weeks, since it became apparent that a significant number of Whitby children now face the prospect of having no other practicable option but to attend Caedmon College Whitby from September 2016, new information has been passed to me and I have been requested to act on behalf of a number of Whitby parents as Authorised Complaint Friend. It is my expectation that there will be more.
I have today written, supported by Cllr Rob BARNETT and Mike WARD, to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Education, Ms Nicky MORGAN and Sir Michael WILSHAW, Chief Executive (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector) of OfSTED, to lodge a Formal Complaint in respect of divers alleged breaches of Duty of Care on the part of Senior Management at Caedmon College Whitby (CCW), requesting an immediate independent investigation of unresolved Safeguarding issues at Caedmon College Whitby (CCW) and an immediate OfSTED inspection of the school.
Rob BARNETT is a retired teacher and union representative with nearly forty years in the teaching profession. Mike WARD (who is not related to me) is also a former teacher, education publisher and school governor.
Together, we intend to do all we can to ensure that allegations of bullying or inappropriate sexual exploitation are fully and professionally investigated by government bodies beyond the sphere of influence of any of the parties to the current proposals to limit choice for parents and students in the Whitby and Esk Valley area.
I attended the meeting of the NYCC Coast & Moors Area Committee this morning (Wednesday 23rd March 2016) for the specific purpose of sharing the above information with County Councillor Penny MARSDEN, Chair of that Committee, so that she and her fellow Committee members would be aware of this development, ahead of their deliberations.
In the interests of transparency, I presented her with the following letter, before the meeting began:
County Councillor Penny MARSDEN – Chair: Yorkshire Moors & Coast County Area Committee
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
I write to you, in the public interest, to apprise you of a development germane to Item 4 on today’s Agenda; perhaps also to Item 11.
I should hope that you and your Committee will be grateful for the information that, with the explicit support of Scarborough Borough Councillor Rob BARNETT [Lab.] (SBC: Streonshalh) and former Councillor Mike WARD [Ind.] (whose seat Rob claimed), and on behalf of a number of members of the public, in Whitby, who happen to be parents of children with unresolved safeguarding issues and who have requested me to act as their authorised Complaint Friend, I have written to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Education, Ms Nicky MORGAN, Cc:’d to Sir Michael WILSHAW, Chief Executive (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector) of OfSTED, to lodge a Formal Complaint in respect of divers alleged breaches of Duty of Care on the part of Senior Management at Caedmon College Whitby (CCW).
I have requested an immediate OfSTED inspection for CCW.
On a point of transparency, I have also copied in the Assistant Chief Executive: Legal & Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer for North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), Mr Barry KHAN, who will, no doubt, be happy to confirm the veracity of this information, at your request.
I shall also transmit the content of this letter to you by email, copying in Barry KHAN, when I return to my office. I would appreciate your e-acknowledgment of same, by return, for the record. Thank you.
Please be aware that it is my intention to pass a copy of this letter to the press, before I leave the building.
Naturally, I also reserve the right to submit a copy for publication to the North Yorks Enquirer.
I trust that my action in providing this information will be helpful to you and your Committee.
Yours, with kind regards,
It was some way into the meeting, and only when I raised a point of transparency, that Chair County Councillor Penny MARSDEN [Con.] (Weaponess & Ramshill) came to address the matter of my letter, whereupon she called a 2-minute adjournment to seek legal advice.
On resumption, County Councillor Penny MARSDEN asked her Support Officer Kate ARSCOTT to read out my letter – which she promptly did, quite beautifully.
Pete DWYER’s face was a picture – a picture of approaching thunderclouds.
Eleven members of the public spoke eloquently in support of the retention of Eskdale School – none against.
Of the County Councillors, only County Councillor David CHANCE [Con.] (Mayfield) stood out, having delivered a lengthy and rather technical justification for taking no part in the debate.
This was ably challenged by County Councillor Tony RANDERSON [Lab.] (Eastfield), who took exception to David CHANCE using his ‘explanation’ for taking no part as a statement in its own right – and, thus, a clear attempt to have his say, even while explaining why he could have no say.
County Councillor Janet JEFFERSON [Ind.] (Castle) – who will Chair the Overview & Scrutiny Cmmittee meeting on (the revised date of) 15th April 2016, assured Committee members (and members of the public) that every effort was being made to secure a Whitby location for the meeting.
County Councillor Janet JEFFERSON also announced the sad and sudden death of County Councillor Tony HALL [Con.] (Northallerton). It was disappointing that Chair County Councillor Penny MARSDEN did not call for a few moments of quiet respect.
Moving on: repeated attempts, by me and others, to elicit the names of those serving on the ‘shadow’ Governing Body for the ‘new’ school – ‘The Whitby School’ – were repeatedly ignored.
In the end, today’s meeting made no specific recommendation and the matter will now pass to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting on 15th April 2016.
Following the conclusion of Item 4 on the Agenda (the Eskdale debate), a short recess was called and some members of the public took the opportunity to leave the meeting, as did Executive County Councillor Arthur BARKER [Con.] (Swale).
Arthur did not take part in the meeting and at times his attention appeared to be elsewhere.
As he passed through the car park, one member of the public asked if had enjoyed his nap – whereupon Arthur flew into a rage, franticly repeating his refutation of the ‘accusation’ in loud and angry tones, before stamping off in the highest possible dudgeon. Apparently, he had merely been resting his eyes . . .
No doubt any Formal Complaint in regard to Arthur’s tantrum will be denied on the grounds that he was not acting as a Councillor at the time – either of his tantrum, or his apparent snooze.
On returning home, I emailed Pete DWYER, requesting him to comment on Safeguarding issues in Whitby – and elsewhere in the County – and to visit me to engage in an open and transparent discussion. Should such a meeting take place, I will inform readers in detail of any outcome.
Breath is not recommended to be held.