Report into the Jeremy Forrest affair damns school for ignoring seven months of warning signs that led to the abduction of a pupil

Bishop Bell Church of England ignored reports that Forrest and "Child G" had been caught holding hands and texting inappropriately

Education Editor

A secondary school repeatedly turned a blind eye to evidence one of its teachers was having an affair with a pupil until it was too late to stop him abducting her, a serious case review concluded yesterday.

Seven months after the first complaint was raised, the teacher - Jeremy Forrest, from Bishop Bell Church of England school in Eastbourne, East Sussex - fled to France with her where they had sex. He has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

During these seven months, the school was told that the two had been seen holding hands on a school trip, had tweeted messages such as “miss you” to each other, while other pupils had spotted an “inappropriate” photograph of him on her mobile.

Yet the school repeatedly failed to see this as evidence he was an abuser and appeared to adopt a default position of supporting a colleague - unable to comprehend he could be in the wrong. 

“Safeguarding concerns were raised or came to light seven times (five of them by students),” concludes the case review. “The fact that none of these reports led to investigation is a cause for concern.

“Despite corroborative evidence the reports were dismissed, even though there was no indication that any of them were malicious or sensationalist.”

It added: “School staff need to reflect on how they were deceived and misled over a period of months by an unsophisticated and careless abuser, who did little to cover his tracks...

“All the specialist and senior staff in the school seem to have reconstructed the events into misconduct by Child G (the name given to the girl in the inquiry to protect her identity)

“Mr K (Forrest) became the victim. Even when reporting to this review after Mr K’s imprisonment, there was evidence of some school staff failing to recognise the child protection implications of some of the earlier events."

The report was also critical of the police and the county council, saying the police had failed to access indecent images of Mr Forrest on Child G after it had seized her ‘phone - declaring there was no cause for alarm. Senior county council officials had kept inadequate records of their involvement in the case, it added.

The review’s findings have alarmed ministers. Edward Timpson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, said: “For a school so comprehensively to fail to protect a vulnerable teenager from a manipulative adult who has been placed by the school in a position of trust is an abrogation of leadership and responsibility which had terrible consequences for this child and the family.”

He said the report revealed “systemic flaws” in child protection at the school “amid a culture which repeatedly ignored inappropriate adult behaviour while blaming the child and offering unsuitable advice to her”.

“The way that school leaders dismissed warnings made by young people about an improper relationship and the failure to provide any effective support to the child is inexcusable,” he added.

Terry Boatwright, the school’s executive headteacher, said: “We are extremely sorry for these previous failings, particularly for the impact they have had on the victim, her family and friends, school students, parents and all our staff.”

The school has implemented new child protection procedures and staff and governors received extra training, he added.

Cathie Pattison, who chairs the East Sussex Local safeguarding Children Board, said: “The report shows opportunities were missed to intervene sooner and more robustly. We need to do more to make sure established safeguarding procedures are followed correctly in schools, that records are kept when safeguarding concerns are raised, that young people are listened to and that families are involved when issues arise.”

The report also revealed that Child G had been involved in a safeguarding issue at the school beforehand - when a supply teacher had asked a number of pupils for their telephone numbers, and had made inappropriate remarks to them. At another school, he had made drawings of pupils - containing an explicitly sexual reference.

The school had also had a previous problem in 2008 when a member of staff used social media to try and “groom” a student,  However, any potential lessons learned from this incident did not appear to have been embedded in the school, the review added.

The seven tell-tale signs in 2012 missed by the school

February: Two pupils approached the head of the upper school to report Child G had a “crush” on Forrest after a school trip to the US. Forrest was spoken to about maintaining professional boundaries

March: A teacher emailed a colleague in charge of safeguarding to say she had hear Forrest and Child G “got close during the trip and had been caught holding hands”. The safeguarding teacher reported this.

March: It was reported by the safeguarding officer that Forrest took Child G out of a class claiming this was to provide her with extra maths teaching.

March: Two incidents of Child G not attending her class but going to the room where Forrest was teaching. Forrest was told to send Child G away if she tried to approach him in the classroom and keep his door open.

May: A student in Child G’s class said she had seen Twitter correspondence between the two which talked of “marriage falling apart”, “separate rooms” and “miss you”. The safeguarding officer advised Forrest to adjust his Twitter account so pupils could not access it.

July: Two ex-pupils came into school to voice concern about the relationship between Forrest and Child G - he had been seen picking her up from her work experience. Staff appeared oblivious to the possibility Child G was being abused by Forrest, says the report.

September: It was reported that another child refused to be taught by Forrest calling him a “pervert”. Deputy head spoke to Forrest “offering him support over his marriage breakdown and told him he should not seek support from a young girl”.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Network Manager - Oldham area - Up to £30,000

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

Teacher of special needs required for Burton on Trent

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Exciting Opportunity, Rand...

Behaviour Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Behaviour Support Worker Th...

Youth Worker / Teaching Assistant - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are looki...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home