The headmaster of one of Britain’s leading Catholic schools, Ampleforth, has been suspended from the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) amid ongoing concerns over abuse and safeguarding.
The HMC confirmed that the headmaster of the school in North Yorkshire, Fr Wulstan Peterburs, has been suspended. A spokesperson for HMC told The Tablet: “This is because the most recent Independent Schools Inspectorate inspection indicated that the school was not meeting HMC’s membership requirements. We hope and expect that the school will quickly address these concerns.”
A spokesperson from Ampleforth College said: “Fr Wulstan appreciates the ongoing support he is receiving from the HMC and is keeping them fully updated on the progress Ampleforth College is making following their recent inspection.”
The suspension comes after the Charity Commission announced in April that it had appointed an interim manager to take control of key pupil welfare responsibilities at Ampleforth Abbey and the St Laurence Education trust which runs Ampleforth’s prep school, St Martin’s Ampleforth.
The commission said it had taken action because of “continued concerns about the extent to which current safeguarding risks to pupils at the schools run by the charities are being adequately managed.”
In a statement back in April, Ampleforth Abbey said the appointment of the interim manager was a “precautionary measure.”
The commission appointed Emma Moody from the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson to be the interim manager of both charities, giving her the powers and duties of a trustee over safeguarding-related matters.
It opened inquiries into Ampleforth Abbey and the St Laurence Education Trust in 2016 over their handling of allegations of child sexual abuse. A series of recommendations arising from the review were published in March 2017.
Last November, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard that multiple allegations of sexual abuse had been made against 40 monks and teachers at the boarding school and Abbey. The claims spanned the past 60 years.
Since 1996, three monks and two lay teachers have been convicted of sex crimes against pupils who attended the schools between 1960 and 2010.
On the opening day of the IICSA hearing, Matthias Kelly QC, made a statement on behalf of Ampleforth expressing regret for past abuses.
“We wish to apologise for the hurt, distress and damage done to those who suffered abuse when in our care. We will do everything we can to ensure that there is no repetition," he told the inquiry.