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St Olave’s School accepts criticism it cultivated regime of bullying

PUBLISHED: 10:02 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:04 16 July 2018

The chairman of the board of governors of St Olave's has promised big changes.

The chairman of the board of governors of St Olave's has promised big changes.

Archant

A historic Orpington school has been savaged in a new independent report for cultivating a regime of bullying and intimidation.

There will be an open meeting on Tuesday, July 17.There will be an open meeting on Tuesday, July 17.

And the Venerable Dr Paul Wright – Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley and chairman of the board of governors on behalf of St Olave’s Grammar School and the Diocese of Rochester – has both welcomed and agreed with the damning findings. He is also promising major changes.

The Liberal Democrats in Bromley have been leading critics of the way things were done at St Olave’s, Goddington Lane.

They said in the report the school was condemned for the harsh, unequal and illegal treatment of Year 12 pupils who were refused a place in Year 13 in July/August 2017.

The report also claims there were gross misrepresentation of the school’s financial status in order to pressurise parents to increase their financial donations, funds for under privileged children that were never distributed, a questionable relationship with a private company that owned the St Olave’s brand, and huge profits made by the school from the sale of mock exam papers to prospective parents keen to help their children pass the entrance exam.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Ian Catchpole said: “The report is shocking – we knew of the treatment of the Year 12 pupils highlighted in The Guardian last year, but the extent of the rogue behaviour of the school management is jaw-dropping.

“The school decided that chasing a good position in school league tables was more important than the health and well-being of their pupils. I have huge respect for the parents of the Year 12 pupils who took legal advice and challenged the practice of the school of refusing places in Year 13 to pupils who failed to meet certain academic criteria, a practice that is unlawful.

“No child can be excluded for non-disciplinary reasons, yet this practice had been in operation since 2014. Without the intervention of those parents the practice might still be continuing.”

In a letter to parents, the chairman of governors said: “We welcome the report and fully accept its findings and recommendations. We have already taken a number of proactive steps to address many of the issues raised, particularly around governance and student welfare. Listening and working with you as parents and carers, together with staff and students, has been key in making these improvements.

“We know there is still work to be done and so we will continue to work with you, the borough and the Diocese of Rochester as we seek to address any remaining actions.”

He said there will be an open meeting on Tuesday, July 17 at 6.30pm.

Mr Wright added: “Our aim is always to support students to grow and flourish and the personal welfare and educational success of your children is paramount. As we move forward, I believe there is much to look forward to as we continue to work together to build a positive future for the school.”

At Bromley Council, Cllr Peter Fortune, portfolio holder for children, education and families, said: “Bromley Council fully accepts the recommendations in this independent report which is extremely thorough and useful in pointing to a very much improved way forward for the school which better favours the individual development of pupils in a highly competitive grammar school setting.

“The LA (local authority) has been working with the new chair of governors and the new headteacher while the report was being completed to support change at the school. Following discussion with the LA, the school has put in place a School Improvement Partner to carry out an annual school performance review which draws on information about the whole life of the school and is not reliant solely on examination results.

“It is hoped a line can now be drawn under the events of the past few years and the school and its pupils are allowed to continue to build a fulfilling environment in which pupils are encouraged to develop, thrive and achieve academic success.”

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