Former students write open letter to Lady Lumley's School in Pickering over critical Ofsted report

Former students of a school have issued it with a litany of anti-bullying recommendations, saying homophobia, sexism and racism and bigotry towards working class pupils went unchallenged by some teachers there for many years.
Lady Lumley's School in PickeringLady Lumley's School in Pickering
Lady Lumley's School in Pickering

In an open letter, members of Conscious Raising Ryedale called for an overhaul of bullying policies and strategies at Lady Lumley’s School in Pickering, following a highly critical Ofsted report which rated the school as inadequate.

Following the publication of the Ofsted report earlier this month, the school said it had introduced measures to tackle the issues Ofsted highlighted, but continued to question whether the findings relating to unchecked bullying were accurate.

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A joint letter to parents from headteacher Richard Bramley and chair of governors Stephen Croft posed the question: “When you read the report, did it sound like the school your son or daughter goes to?”

After introducing an interim board for the school, North Yorkshire County Council said it had “zero tolerance of bullying or prejudiced behaviour of any kind” in the schools it runs and there have been claims that the information Ofsted inspectors received was not representative of the wider school community.

However, members of Conscious Raising Ryedale said Ofsted’s concerns were a fair reflection of the school, and called for it to learn from ex-student’s experiences to offer solidarity to current students.

In a series of personal testimonies, members of Conscious Raising Ryedale, described “intensive, day-to-day bullying” at the school, with one recalling how teachers had “joined in with laughter”, leaving “a lasting sense of insecurity over who I am, low self-esteem, and a variety of mental health issues”.

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Speaking about the “systemic homophobia and bullying culture in the school”, another said: “The fact that the head said this is not a reflection of the wider community is simply not true. The children who bullied myself and my peers are their parent’s children. Sexism, homophobia and racism is rife in Ryedale.”

In a particularly harrowing account, one former pupil told how homophobic abuse had been written across his school book, he had things thrown at him whilst eating dinner, how he was called demeaning names and was pushed down the stairs.

The open letter stated: “Teachers turning a blind eye to racist and/or homophobic comments have meant that a culture of casual racism and homophobia has prevailed and we are aware that raising awareness of this doesn’t solve the problem, but rather targeted commitments to change will.”

The recommendations include a full review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and for it to be reviewed yearly until Ofsted rates the school good in areas which impact bullying.

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The former students’ group said the school needed to implement an adequate reporting system, a more robust monitoring process and for the school to publish its findings, establishing regular school-wide events and introducing a code of ethical behaviour.

North Yorkshire County councillor for Pickering Greg White said it was important to allow the school’s new governance to take effect and that the school would want to demonstrate it had a zero tolerance approach to bullying.


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