NYCC: Safeguarding Lock-Down
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, updating readers on the apparent refusal of the Local Education Authority to address Safeguarding issues at Caedmon College Whitby.
Something appears to be very wrong with the conduct and performance of Children & Young Peoples’ Services (CYPS) at North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).
On 23rd March 2016, and again on 1st April 2016, and yet again on 11th April 2016, I emailed Pete DWYER, the Corporate Director for CYPS, requesting a meeting to discuss a number of serious Safeguarding issues at Caedmon College Whitby (CCW). Pete DWYER is aware that I am the authorised Complaint Friend representing a growing number of families who have been unable to penetrate the Complaints Procedures of the school, despite facing ongoing ‘live’ issues including self-harming and bullying.
Pete DWYER ignored all three of those emails.
This left me with no alternative but to lodge a Formal Complaint against Pete DWYER on the grounds that he had failed to respond to Safeguarding concerns expressed on behalf of parents, with their specific authorisation to do so. I lodged the Formal Complaint with NYCC Asst. CEO: Legal & Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer Barry KHAN on 1st May 2016.
On Friday 6th May 2016, surprised by the fact that I had received no acknowledgement of my Formal Complaint from Barry KHAN, I spoke to him on the telephone. Barry KHAN professed not to have seen my email of 1st May 2016, so I re-sent it to him during the course of our conversation. I offered to withdraw my Formal Complaint against Pete DWYER, contingent upon Barry KHAN successfully facilitating the meeting with Pete DWYER which I had been requesting since 23rd March 2016. Barry KHAN agreed to progress the matter following the weekend – i.e. on Monday 9th May 2016.
Twenty days later, on 27th May 2016, I received an email from Barry KHAN offering to attend a meeting with me and Pete DWYER, and Dave PEAT (Safeguarding Manager / LADO), at County Hall. This added little to our conversation of 6th May 2016 – other than the inclusion of Dave PEAT.
Another three weeks had elapsed and still nobody at County Hall was willing to address the serious on-going Safeguarding issues that I had set before them over two months previously.
I responded to Barry at just gone midnight that same night. I copied in the ‘big players’:
I decided against “… with your safe families”.
Meanwhile, on 20th May 2016, former Chair of Eskdale School Board of Governors (and former SBC Councillor) Mike WARD – who has supported my efforts to progress the Safeguarding issues – had emailed Barry KHAN, urging him to expedite the meeting a.s.a.p.
On 22nd May 2016, SBC Councillor Rob BARNETT also emailed Barry KHAN, for the same purpose.
Neither of these emails has received an acknowledgement or response.
On Friday 3rd June. Mike WARD emailed Barry KHAN for a second time, again without acknowledgement or response.
All three of us have met with a stone wall.
Concurrent with the foregoing saga of one-way email traffic, I had also attempted correspondence with Mr Richard SIMPSON, who is the Chair of the Caedmon College Whitby Board of Governors.
My 20th April 2016 Formal Complaint against CCW Principal Keith PRYTHERCH, (on grounds of risking bringing himself and the school into disrepute by issuing wildly contradictory FOIA responses regarding, of all things, Safeguarding statistics; at least one of those FOIA responses must be false), remains unacknowledged by Chair of CCW Governors Mr Richard SIMPSON (pictured above) – though the school’s own Complaints Procedure specifies that:
- The Chair will send an acknowledgement within 5 working days of receiving the request and tell the complainant that a substantive response to the complaint will be given within 20 working days of receipt. If this timescale cannot be met an explanation will be given with a revised timescale.
Neither has Chair Mr Richard SIMPSON acknowledged my Formal Complaint against himself, in respect of his failure to adhere to the requirements of his own duty under the Complaints Procedure, as set out above.
Mr Richard SIMPSON is well out of time. Again. Clearly, he has no intention of abiding by his own rule book.
Mr SIMPSON has been variously characterised to me by teachers, former teachers, and Governors of neighbouring schools as a “‘How High?’ Merchant”, a “Yes-man” and even “KP’s sock-puppet”. I have never met him and must therefore reserve my opinion until such time as I have enjoyed that pleasure. But I do wonder why Mr SIMPSON has made the decision to depart so flagrantly from the regulations. I wonder, too, whether he could truly be said to have made that decision according to his own lights? Has he been ill-advised? And if so – then by whom?
I can confirm that NYCC Head of Legal Barry KHAN is fully aware of all this – and so is Pete DWYER. It would appear that such is the fervour with which NYCC supports Mr Keith PRYTHERCH and his compliant Board of Governors in their less than transparent ambitions, that every reasoned appeal to due process, innate fairness or, most importantly, the plight of these vulnerable youngsters, must fall, inevitably, on deaf ears. They appear to be set on ignoring Safeguarding – the unwelcome ‘blemish’ on the school’s public image – until after the amalgamation/annexation of Eskdale School, when academisation can be duly achieved, after the sale of the Eskdale site.
One might have expected the Governors to take another view of things; a less ‘commercial’ and more ‘caring’ view. (A more Eskdale view?). After all, some of them have kids.
But not all Governors have been attending meetings throughout these turbulent times. Not all Governors are pictured on the CCW web-site.
I would ask those who are (pictured above) to reflect on the question as to whether or not their aspirations for the school’s production-line future are more important than the immediate and dire need of even one youngster who is presently taking a daily berating or beating, or cutting her/his own arms, or legs, or chest – or throat? Or being groomed?
Until those absent Governors converge on the only right answer and shout it from the rooftops, it would seem to me that all roads will lead to the Principal and, thereafter, to the Chair of the Board of Governors – the determinedly evasive Mr Richard SIMPSON, whose record thus far inspires no confidence whatsoever.
But perhaps the absentees have already made their decision; is it their consciences that are keeping them away? That, I could understand. Or are they merely preparing to distance themselves from impending scandal? “Let good old Richard stay on the bridge of his sinking ship”, is it?
The only redeeming feature of this long-spun exercise in beating my head against the corporate stone wall is that Sir Michael WILSHAW, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, OfSTED, continues to confirm receipt of copies of all my correspondence with the relevant North Yorkshire institutions and is therefore fully aware of the persisting allegations regarding the ‘parachuting in’ of ‘more suitable’ teachers for the last Caedmon School OfSTED inspection – allegations now widely confirmed by CCW staff present at the time. This can be addressed by the National College of Teaching & Leadership, which has powers to prohibit offending teachers indefinitely (i.e. for life).