Ofsted accused of keeping quiet about sex abuse cases in schools

The education standards watchdog Ofsted will be accused tonight of keeping parents in the dark over cases where teachers have been convicted of sex offences against pupils at their children's schools.

A Channel 4 News investigation, due to be screened this evening, will reveal eight examples where Ofsted failed to highlight cases in which teachers have either been found guilty of committing sex offences against children or are awaiting trial.

The revelations have prompted Barry Sheerman, who chaired the Commons select committee covering education in the last parliament, to profess his "shock" and "astonishment".

One of the most striking cases involves Headlands school in Bridlington, Yorkshire, where five members of staff have been convicted of sex offences against pupils in the past five years. Seven Ofsted reports on the school covering the period say nothing about them – instead offering assurances about the quality of child protection at the school.

The mother of the last of the five victims, who was interviewed anonymously for the programme, said: "I think if they had been regularly reporting on safeguarding issues and had been honest about what had happened then things... would have been better for my daughter and maybe it wouldn't have happened."

In April 2008, a local authority report said there had been repeated safeguarding failures at Headlands. But when Ofsted published the findings of its latest inspection in May 2008 it made no mention of any previous problems. "Procedures for the safeguarding of students meet national requirements," it said.

In another case involving a special needs school in Buckinghamshire in 2005, one of the teachers, Anthony Bulley, pleaded guilty to six counts of rape and sexual assault against four boys. He was jailed for 10 years. The headteacher was sacked and was later criticised in a serious case review for failing to ensure the safety of pupils. In Ofsted's next report in 2007, the watchdog said that child protection measures were exemplary at the school and failed to mention the case.

Other incidents include a Birmingham school where a teacher was jailed for four years for having sex with a pupil. A report from Ofsted six months later said "effective child protection policies ... are in place". Of all the other cases examined, there was only one instance of Ofsted making any reference to a previous child protection failure.

Mr Sheerman said he believed the inspectors had a duty to parents to report on cases. "We've been going through some pretty hard times with Ofsted at the moment," he said. "It's growing fast, it's growing to be a very big inspectorate and it's time, I think, it needs to be assessed very carefully by government... to assess if it's fit for purpose."

During the general election campaign, Michael Gove, who was then education spokesman for the Conservatives and is now Education Secretary, promised a review of Ofsted's operations. He said the inspectorate had taken too much on and ought to concentrate on its core responsibilities of putting more focus on teaching quality.

Ofsted told Channel 4 News that they do not include details of offences when the situation has been resolved.

"It's not the case that issues like this are never mentioned in an Ofsted report," it added. "What parents... need to be clear about is that where Ofsted inspects a school and finds fresh evidence that the child protection has not been carried out, there will be reference to failings in an Ofsted inspection report.

"The focus of the current Ofsted inspection, school inspection arrangements, are to make very clear judgements about schools being safe places and actually carrying out their safeguarding responsibilities appropriately."

The full Channel 4 News investigation will be screened on Channel 4 at 7pm tonight.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'