We strongly believe, and have been advised, that this is completely unjustified and based on incorrect information. We will be pursuing a number of different options to resolve the situation before the restriction is enforced, including an appeal, and we are very confident this can be achieved.
We are emphasising the truth, which is that the College is dedicated to being the best that it can be in every sense. In the last 18 months, we have put in place a robust safeguarding regime, a new and experienced senior leadership team, and a new governance structure - including new Trustees - that has effectively separated the Abbey from the College.
During this time, the Independent Schools Inspectorate has endorsed our actions through two successful inspections and we have made great progress in all areas. The DfE’s action does not reflect the school we are today. We cannot understand why this decision has been taken, and we cannot understand why it has been published, given the appeals process is still open to us, but we are happy to work with the DfE to make any other changes they feel are necessary. This is what we are communicating to the Department. Meanwhile, we will continue to educate our students to the very high standards they are used to in a safe and supportive environment.
We have been overwhelmed by the deluge of messages of support that current parents, prospective parents, alumni and friends of the College have been sending us. We are enormously grateful and take great heart from the sentiments being expressed and for the incredible depth of feeling about this great College. The buzz about this place, and the rapidly rising numbers of applications, are testament to our view that we are an excellent school. Independent market research carried out on 100 of our parents in October confirms this and finds that our pastoral care is considered outstanding. The report’s findings state:
Pastoral care remains an exceptional strength of the school. Parents remarked on an inclusive culture amongst the pupils, and with numerous mentions of individualised care by members of staff. Instances of criticism were unusually rare, and with no particular theme emerging. There is no concern about child safeguarding issues, with parents feeling this is entirely a historic matter, and that external parents’ criticisms on these grounds are annoyingly unfounded.
We have lodged a complaint to Ofsted and await the outcome of that complaint.