A check costing £6 could have saved teenager from repeated rapes by a Whittlesey teacher
- Credit: Archant
A simple check today costing just £6 could have saved a teenager who was repeatedly raped by a teacher at Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey.
The attacks, that took place in the early 1990s, have been called the most shocking a solicitor has seen in her line of work and resulted in the victim being paid £550,000 compensation from Cambridgeshire County Council.
The scandal was unveiled on the BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire programme and has prompted a letter to parents from the chief executive of the college trust assuring them that today there are more robust checks in place to safeguard students.
One of the most glaring omissions from more than two decades ago, the solicitor said, was that the sexual predator teacher was not placed on what is called List 99 - now known as the Children’s Barred List.
List 99 had been in place for years when the Whittlesey rapes took place,
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List 99 was a secret register of people barred from working with children by the Department of Education and Skills and contained the names, aliases, dates of birth and national insurance numbers of those people deemed not suitable to work with children in schools, social work and voluntary settings.
Today, for just £6 if an organisation is registered, or £12.50 if not, a quick check of that list makes sure a person is suitable to work in a school while waiting for the full CRB checks to come through.
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The reason the teacher was not on the list is that Cambridgeshire County Coucil failed to act on concerns of a social worker.
Rebecca Sheriff of Bolt Burdon Kent solicitors, who represented the woman said: “So many opportunities were missed to stop this.
“A Cambridgeshire social worker attended both trials for the charges of illegal sex with vulnerable children and noted all of the inconsistencies with the teachers evidence.
“She put this in writing to the council yet he went on to teach at Sir Harry Smith community college.
“Even the head teacher at the school was not told of his past hence why she gave him a glowing reference when he moved on.
“He was finally struck off and put on List 99 at the third school.
“There was no reason this should not have happened before he even got to my client’s school.
“He should never, ever have met her, but instead was given total unfettered access to her.
“The damage he caused her is irreparable and was totally preventable.
“It is one of the most shocking cases I have ever seen in my line of work.”
Parents of students at Sir Harry Smith were sent a letter by Jonathan Digby, chief executive of Aspire Learning Trust, which said: “It’s deeply regrettable that these incidents happened and we offer our sympathy to the victim.”
However, the whole system had changed from 25 years ago, he said.
“At the time the only form of checks that existed was a police check of any convictions a teacher may have had and this teacher at the centre of the allegations was never convicted of any offence.
“Nowadays, schools check individuals who come into unsupervised contact with children with the Disclosure and Barring Service DBS and the Department of Education list of people banned from working with children.
“References are also taken up and any teacher who had been previously convicted of an offence or dismissed from post is identified.
“Safeguarding at the college has the highest profile. I would like to reassure all parents that as a college we do everything we can to keep our children safe.”
• The Children’s Barred List (formerly List 99) check allows educational establishments to check against a database to see if there is a possible match for a person included.
• If their name shows then employment by them is prohibited.
• The information on the database is held under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and is maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
• The Children’s Barred List check (formerly List 99) is not a comprehensive check . This can only be obtained through an enhanced criminal record check. A separate Children’s Barred List check, may enable an applicant to start work while the enhanced disclosure is being processed.
• Educational establishments like schools, colleges and nurseries can apply for a Children’s Barred List check if their applicant:
• Undertakes unsupervised activities like teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children, providing advice/guidance on well-being, or driving a vehicle only for children.
• Has an opportunity for contact in thier work at eg schools, children’s homes, childcare premises. This does not include work by supervised volunteers.
• Provides relevant personal care, eg washing or dressing or health care by or supervised by a professional.
• Is a registered childminder and/or foster-carer.
• CRB checks were launched in March 2002 and were run by Capita.
• The DBS was formed in 2012 by merging the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.