School pair stay out of sight as search extends across Europe

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The Europe-wide search for runaway schoolgirl Megan Stammers and her teacher yesterday failed to uncover any confirmed further sightings, six days after they fled to the Continent.

UK police were working with Interpol, the French Missing Persons Bureau and other law enforcement agencies in Europe to trace Megan, 15, and 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest.

The last confirmed sighting of Megan and Forrest – who taught maths at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex – was from CCTV cameras on board a Dover-to-Calais ferry at 9.30pm last Thursday.

Pictured arm-in-arm and hand-in-hand, the release of the two images of the pair together was intended to trigger a response from the public about their whereabouts.

Late yesterday, Sussex Police said they had no further update on the status of the investigation as anxious friends, family and strangers implored Megan online to get in touch with loved ones.

The force refused to be drawn on whether they have evidence of them using cash cards or ATM machines, and there has been no comment on whether mobile phone cell site analysis has yielded any leads.

Officers had previously said that although Megan and Forrest entered France, they could have travelled further.

The search continued as fresh concerns emerged about the child protection policies at the pair’s school.

Child abuse campaigner Lucy Duckworth said she had written to Education Secretary Michael Gove earlier this year highlighting her worries about the Bishop Bell school but did had not received a reply.

Amid concerns about child protection in church schools in the Diocese of Chichester, Ms Duckworth wrote to those in the area asking to see their safeguarding policies.

She claims that staff at Bishop Bell were hostile to her demands and, when the policy was put online this year, ex-teacher Ms Duckworth alleges it contained a number of inadequacies.

She said: “The policy does not commit to informing parents or the local authority of any suspected or known abuse.

“If there was a robust policy in place, the parents would be informed.

“What we found was there was a whole section on safe recruiting but very little on how to effectively protect children.

“I’m convinced that, had that policy been in place, the parents would have been able to make a decision on their prolonged contact and Megan would be with us.

“Executive headteacher Terry Boatwright says his policies are robust but I would like to see evidence of that.

“I struggle to understand how he is still walking through those school gates still.”

The Department for Education had not responded with a comment last night.

Mr Boatwright said: “Bishop Bell School has a robust safeguarding policy in place, takes safeguarding very seriously and the effectiveness of its safeguarding procedures is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.”

The school has been under the spotlight over the way it dealt with warnings about a relationship between Megan and Forrest.

It has been alleged that their closeness prompted concerns following a school trip to Los Angeles in February.

East Sussex County Council confirmed it and school officials were “addressing and investigating concerns” but the authority had not revealed when those were made.

Eastbourne MP, Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd, publicly defended the school, saying its inquiries into the fears about Megan and Forrest would have been conducted in an “exemplary manner”.

Girl group The Saturdays urging Megan to contact her family. The band’s Francesca Sandford tweeted: “Megan, on behalf of myself, Mollie, Vanessa, Una and Roch, please come home or call your mum. Everyone is so worried about you! Lots of love x”.

Bandmate Rochelle Humes added: “Megan please come home! Everyone is concerned and just want you home. No one at home will be mad at you just happy to see U! All our love xx”.