School missed chances to 'blow the whistle' on Petts Wood paedophile teacher Jeremy Forrest
PUBLISHED: 15:03 16 December 2013 | UPDATED: 11:52 17 December 2013
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School staff missed repeated opportunities to blow the whistle on inappropriate conduct between teacher Jeremy Forrest and a teenage schoolgirl before he abducted her, a damning review has found.
Concerns raised by children about the growing closeness between married maths teacher Forrest, from Petts Wood, and his pupil were “repeatedly dismissed”.
Forrest, 31, was jailed for five-and-a-half years for child abduction and five charges of sexual activity with a child at Lewes Crown Court in June.
The case of Forrest and the girl, referred to in the report as Child G, attracted worldwide attention after he abducted her to France and they spent seven days on the run.
The report reserves particular criticism for Bishop Bell C of E School, in Eastbourne, with some staff failing to recognise the child protection implications in some events and believing Forrest was the victim.
Evidence of an inappropriate relationship between Forrest and the girl first surfaced during a school trip to the United States in February 2012.
Two pupils approached the head of the upper school and reported rumours that the girl had a “crush” on Forrest since the trip.
The report said: “It is striking that it was, overwhelmingly, young people who raised concerns about this situation.”
Mr Boatwright, executive headteacher at Bishop Bell C of E Schoo, 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.
“We are also grateful to the wider school community for their continued support and understanding during this difficult time.