20 January 2016
Southbank International School Criticised for Pupil Safeguarding
Southbank International school in London is still not doing enough to keep pupils safe from abuse, according to a serious case review.
The independent review into failings at the elite private school will today conclude that there is “still much to be done” to safeguard pupils.
In 2014, Southbank International confirmed that former teacher William Vahey drugged and molested pupils between 2009 and 2013. At the time, the school’s Chair of Governors said it was the “worst thing” he had ever known “in 40 years of education”.
Vahey, a US citizen who had previous conviction for a child sex offence, killed himself in 2014 following an FBI investigation that revealed he had preyed on up to 90 young pupils at different schools around the world.
The FBI investigation, which is still ongoing, is looking into Vahey’s 42-year career at 10 international schools throughout Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
New Failings at Southbank School
The serious case review was chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, a social work expert, and comes just over a year after Southbank International itself commissioned their own investigation and found that teachers failed to report concerns about William Vahey.
According to Southbank’s own investigation, the headmaster was said to have described one parent’s complaint as “vindictive” and also promised Vahey that his “fine reputation and standing in the community” will be maintained.
Since then, the school has made several “positive steps”, including the introduction of mandatory criminal record checks for staff and the creation of an independently-chaired pupil safeguarding committee. However, the serious case review will report that Southbank’s methods of keeping pupils safe is “still not adequate” and will recommend several areas of practice that the school needs to urgently improve.
Slater and Gordon have campaigned for the mandatory reporting of child abuse for some time now as we believe all people working in institutions such as schools who know that children are being abused should be required by law to report it to the police.
Efa Schmidt is a personal injury solicitor specialising in child abuse claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon have the UK’s most experienced team of abuse lawyers and are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse. Many of the people we represent were abused at institutions and by people in positions of power and trust.
We are currently representing a number of people who were abused by William Vahey.
For a free and completely confidential consultation, call us anytime on 0800 916 9046. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, contact us online and we will call you.
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