The Times reports on the trial last year of a teacher at Ampleforth College, who was arrested on charges of sexual abuse against a pupil there in 1989. Originally he had been due to stand trial on charges of abusing several other pupils, but those charges were dropped, leaving only one witness to give evidence against him in court.
At trial, the teacher was acquitted. He has denied any wrongdoing.
An investigation by the Times has apparently discovered that Ampleforth asked the teacher to leave in 1989 after allegations were made against him by pupils of inappropriate contact. The police were not informed. It is also alleged that the police failed to contact two other former pupils, who could have been witnesses at trial.
On the 17th August 2016, I commented on another case involving Clifton College in Bristol.
I described how Section 218(6)(a) to (c) of the Education Reform Actintroduced regulations prohibiting or restricting the employment of teachers. That section applied to local education authorities (section 218(c) together with teachers employed otherwise by LEA’s (section 218(b) and further and higher education authorities (section 218(a)).
However private schools were not covered at that time.
The regulations introduced under Section 218(6)(a) were the Education (Teachers) Regulations 1989 No. 1319 which came into force on the 1st September 1989.
Regulation 7 stated that the regulations would apply in relation to the employment of persons— “(a) by a local education authority, as teachers (whether or not at a school or further education institution) or as workers with children or young persons;”
Regulation 10(2) allowed the Secretary of State to bar or restrict a person’s employment. The grounds for exercising that power were set out under Regulation 10(1)):-
“(a) on medical grounds;
(b) on grounds of a person’s misconduct (whether or not evidenced by his conviction of a criminal offence); or
(c) in relation only to employment as a teacher, on educational grounds.”
Regulation 11 stated:-
“Where a person is dismissed from relevant employment on grounds of his misconduct (whether or not he is convicted of a criminal offence) or his employers would have so dismissed him, or considered so dismissing him, but for his resignation, his employers shall report the facts of the case to the Secretary of State.”
The 1989 Regulations were replaced by the Education (Teachers) Regulations 1993 No. 443 which came into force on the 1st April 1993. These are broadly the same as the 1989 Regulations.
Later on, section 218(6)(d) of the 1988 Act enabled the Secretary of State to make regulations in relation to the restriction of the employment of teachers atprivate schools. That requirement came into force on the 1st January 1994 under Section 290(3)(b) of the Education Act 1993 and was preserved by Schedule 38 of the Education Act 1996.
Section 49 of the Education Act 1997 also inserted a new section 218(6A) & (6B) into the 1988 Act.
The grounds for restriction/disqualification were further extended by section 5 of the Protection of Children Act 1999 which inserted section 6ZA into the 1988 Act.
The regulations for private schools were introduced by Education (Teachers) (Amendment) Regulations 1994 No. 222 which came into force on the 1st March 1994. Regulation 3 amends Regulation 10 of the Education (Teachers) Regulations 1993 so that those regulations applied to private schools.
“Misconduct” was nowhere defined in the statutes and statutory instruments, but it was made clear that it was not dependent on a criminal conviction.
In the criminal trial involving Ampleforth College, the judge held that some of the allegations of inappropriate contact, did not (for the purposes of the criminal law) amount to indecent assaults. Schools that safeguard children should not take that ruling, as some kind of reassurance that physical contact between teachers and pupils, which could be viewed as inappropriate, do not require investigation. Schools are not criminal courts. A robust child protection policy should give examples of misconduct for the guidance of teachers and other staff.
Malcolm Johnson, Specialist Child Abuse Lawyer