Government lifts ban on new admissions at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire

A BAN on admitting students that could have forced the closure of a leading North Yorkshire independent school has been lifted by the Government.

A view of Ampleforth Abbey and College in North Yorkshire Picture: Dan Rowlands/ SWNS.com

Ampleforth College was told by the Department for Education in November it could no longer accept new pupils due to “very serious” safeguarding failures uncovered during an earlier inspection.

An Ofsted inspection out last month said the £36,000-a-year boarding school, which is within the grounds of the Benedictine Ampleforth Abbey, did not meet all independent school standards checked during an inspection in February.

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However the DfE said they had secured “unprecedented” commitments to improve governance and safeguarding and expect it to meet the standards by the next Ofsted inspection in the autumn.

Among the changes, the school had to appoint new trustees with no previous connection to either the school or Abbey.

It is also to commission twice-yearly independent monitoring reviews of its safeguarding practices, with findings made available to the DfE.

The DfE said: “We will be monitoring it closely and if it is not meeting the standards at the next inspection we will not hesitate to consider whether further action is necessary.”

In 2018 a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse found leaders at Ampleforth and Downside School in Somerset hid allegations of “appalling sexual abuse” inflicted over decades against pupils as young as seven to protect the church’s reputation.

The latest Ofsted report found that leaders had started to improve safeguarding processes and procedures, but said these improvements were "not yet fully embedded."

It went on: "As part of their very recent review of past records, leaders have come across some serious safeguarding concerns that had not been referred to the relevant authorities.

"These concerns have been referred to the appropriate agencies now. Leaders are currently in the process of undertaking a full review of all information they hold to ensure that no further concerns have been missed. This review is ongoing."

It also said 465 out of 484 parents and carers responded to a "parent view" survey during February's inspection.

It went on: "Parental responses indicate widespread support for the school and the headteacher. The overwhelming majority of the 465 free-text responses are positive.

"A very small minority of parents mentioned concerns about bullying."

On its website, the school has expressed "profound regret and sorrow" for the "failings of the past".

Head Robin Dyer told Times Radio in December that Ofsted, the Independent Schools Inspectorate and the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Partnership did not understand that ties with the abbey, which set up the school in 1802, had been cut.

He said: “They seem to feel that the old relationship of the past continues and that isn’t the case. We’re now separate institutions.”

In February MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake told the House of Commons that he believed “relatively minor recent issues” were being used as an excuse to close the college.