26th June, 2019

Update from Claire Smith, Chair of the St Laurence Education Trust

Ampleforth Abbey and College

Following the Independent School Inspectorate's recent progress monitoring visit to Ampleforth College and St Martin's Ampleforth, Claire Smith, Chair of the St Laurence Education Trust, has issued an update which you can read below:   


Dear all,
As you are aware, Ampleforth College and St Martin’s Ampleforth had a progress monitoring visit from the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) on 22nd and 23rd May 2019. We have now received the final reports and they can be found here: Progress Monitoring Visit Report Ampleforth CollegeProgress Monitoring Visit Report SMA
The reports recognised that the quality of education provided at our schools, including the lessons on preventing bullying and health education, met standards, as did our safeguarding policy, structure for handling concerns and training of our staff. The report into SMA recognised all standards had been met, with the exception of overall leadership, which is shared with Ampleforth College. I would like to congratulate David Moses and all of the staff at SMA on this achievement and their continued dedication to the children in their care.
The Interim Manager appointed by the Charity Commission also voiced her full confidence in the Director of Governance and new Director of Safeguarding to the inspectors.
We are sorry that we have not yet met all the required standards set out by the ISI. We have recognised where poor judgement and a failure by individuals to follow robust policies despite comprehensive training resulted in unacceptable mistakes being made. Each incident has been, or is being, investigated and addressed with the authorities and the students and parents involved. An internal action plan addressing all issues raised in the report is already underway and being reviewed by external bodies. 
In light of this, I wanted to update you before the end of term on our search for a new Headteacher to whom Deirdre Rowe will hand over before she leaves us. The trustees of the St Laurence Education Trust wish to thank her for her hard work and commitment as Acting Head.
Matthew Craston has been leading the search with other members of the St Laurence Education Trust (SLET) and we have a dual strategy. We are seeking to appoint an interim head who is a change management specialist and will focus on everything which is needed to fulfil the needs of the inspection and strengthen the current leadership team. Candidates for this shorter term position have already been shortlisted. We are also recruiting a permanent head with the strategic vision to take us into a new era. We should be in a position to make an announcement on the interim role by the end of July and the permanent Head by the end of October. 
We have been working with the educational division of Perrett Laver, a recruitment specialist who work through personal approaches using their own extensive networks, particularly given their recent work in Catholic education with Downside, Prior Park and others.
Both appointments will strengthen our leadership team and help the school to meet all standards when the ISI visit us again. They are being selected to augment the skills of the existing senior leadership team and will work closely with Wade Tidbury, Director of Safeguarding, to ensure that all staff implement every one of our policies.
We are keeping the Department for Education and the ISI informed as we now start our shortlisting process for a permanent Head. The interview and assessment process will be rigorous and will not just assess skills and experience but also the candidates’ fit with Ampleforth. We will be inviting staff and students to take part, and their views will be considered in the final round of interviews.
We are proud of our school and our pupils and will continue to work with the ISI, DfE and other external parties to ensure we meet requirements. Thank you to all of the staff for their outstanding hard work and dedication. Thank you to all parents too, for their continuing support and help. The achievements of our students and their happiness here gives me great confidence in Ampleforth’s future.
This is my last message to you as I reach the end of my term of office at SLET. Earlier this year we approached Society, a leading search firm in trustee recruitment, to conduct as comprehensive a search as possible for candidates, including the Chair of SLET. We expect to make new trustee appointments over the summer. Meanwhile, two new trustees join us this month: Meg Baines and Richard Tams. Chris Adams, an experienced SLET trustee, will be interim Chair over the summer period.


As always, if you have any feedback or questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch via the clerk to SLET, Carl Bilson, via Carl.Bilson@ampleforth.org.uk

Best wishes,
Claire Smith
St Laurence Education Trust