The future of Ampleforth College is secure after the Secretary of State for Education removed the restriction order preventing recruitment of new pupils.
The school said in a statement given to The Tablet that the lifting of the order followed Ofsted’s recent progress monitoring visit which found many improvements to the College’s safeguarding procedures and the submission of an action plan demonstrating the College’s long-term commitment to safeguarding excellence.
However, in the latest additional inspection report Ofsted actually says that the overall outcome is that the school “does not meet all of the independent school standards that were checked during this inspection”. Of the residential provision, the report says: “The school does not meet all of the national minimum standards that were checked during this inspection.”
The report continues: “Although some improvements have been made since the previous inspection in February 2021, weaknesses in the school’s safeguarding practice remain. A culture of safeguarding is still not embedded. These standards remain unmet.”
Last November, the education secretary banned Ampleforth from taking any new pupils because of a failure to meet “standards relating to safeguarding and leadership and management”. In an enforcement notice to the St Laurence Education Trust, the education department cited an emergency Ofsted inspection of Ampleforth, founded in 1802, which charges fees of £36,000 a year. In February, pupils from the school pleaded with prime minister Boris Johnson that the restriction order be lifted.
Robin Dyer, head teacher, said: “This is welcome news. However, notwithstanding the fact that our outcomes remain good – our students are happy and safe, and our parents overwhelmingly endorse the college – it is a simple truth that any criticism of our safeguarding policies and practice must be taken with the utmost seriousness.
“We welcome scrutiny as an opportunity to improve. It is our intention to be the best we can be in all areas of education, to continually progress, and to work positively with all stakeholders to achieve this aim. We are excited about the future and the prospect of equipping our students with the skills and attitudes that enable them to navigate the challenges of today’s society safely and happily.”
Emily Konstantas, chief executive of the Safeguarding Alliance, an independent safeguarding firm working with Ampleforth College, said: “The Safeguarding Alliance began working with Ampleforth College at the end of 2020. Throughout that time, the College has worked tirelessly with the support of The Safeguarding Alliance to put in place robust safeguarding practices and procedures.
“While embedding best-in-class practice and a culture of safeguarding takes time, the College has been unrelenting in its determination to drive improvement and ensure safeguarding remains a top priority. Given the current public focus on safeguarding, Ampleforth College should be showcased for its open and transparent approach and commitment to ongoing change.’
Rose Craston, a parent, told The Tablet: “It is the most fantastic news. I think everyone feels such a great sense of relief. I am so happy for the staff and pupils who can now enjoy school without a terrible threat hanging over them. For the children particularly, who are so proud of their school, they now know they can stay, their siblings can join them and future pupils can enjoy this wonderful school.”