On the 1 March, 2022, the report into historic abuse in residential schools was published (IICSA), with harrowing stories involving 160 schools and numerous instances of terrible abuse for us all to learn from.
Statement of the Boarding Schools Association to which The Royal School has committed.
“The Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) welcomes the publication of this report and we will be examining its findings in full. What is clear from the report is the terrifying and truly shocking behaviour of individuals who abused the trust of the young people under their care in the most sickening, vile and abhorrent way.
“The BSA continues to stand firmly with all survivors of any form of abuse and has the greatest respect and admiration for their courage in speaking out. This report would not have been possible without them, and we would encourage anyone who has experienced abuse in any form to contact the appropriate authorities immediately so it can be investigated fully.
“We wholeheartedly support the recommendation that ‘Schools need to accept that “it could happen here”, and in the case of harmful sexual behaviour between pupils that “it probably is happening here”.’
“We have a zero tolerance policy to all forms of abuse. In 2016, we developed a Commitment to Care Charter, which all our member schools must follow, placing the safety and wellbeing of all students at the forefront of everything they do. We also provide guidance and training to staff working in boarding schools, including on dealing with peer-on-peer situations and supporting survivors of abuse.
“There has been strong progress made in recent years to keep our young people safe. However, this report reminds us all just how vital it is that the education sector continues to strive to provide the highest standards of safeguarding, and offer the very best pastoral care for students from professionally trained staff.
“Once again, we would also repeat our call to the UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to introduce the mandatory reporting of abuse, like in Northern Ireland and many other countries around the world, to improve safeguarding and child protection even further.”
Robin Fletcher, CEO, BSA and BSA Group
We, as The Royal School, (a state funded Academy – Free School) are absolutely committed to doing what we can to support any person, whether related to The Royal or not, and assist in whatever way that individual or group feels is helpful within our resources. We have worked closely in recent years with former pupils who have made contact with the school to support all of our community.
The trustees of The Royal Wolverhampton School Foundation, which once owned the predecessor school, will strive to support those who have suffered abuse as part of a unified and supportive approach of School and Foundation.
We publish above the BSA (Boarding School Association) statement regarding that report and how we as a school community support both the spirit and recommendations that arise for residential schools and settings.
The Principal of The Royal School, Wolverhampton has stated:
“I am desperately sorry for any hurt pupils have experienced in the past and we as a community are absolutely determined that we put in place such measures to make it impossible for those activities to be repeated and to support within our resources those who seek it.
Sadly, we cannot change the past, but we are determined to learn from it and are committed to support anyone harmed by such activity. We can only assist though where people come forward and engage productively to find some form of solution, if it exists, to address those past experiences.
Where we find safeguarding issues in our current ‘free school’ (Academy) we speedily and actively engage with relevant external authorities, in a multi-agency approach of transparency and openness. We have developed a reputation with Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together (WST), the police, local authorities, and social care systems so much so that they place with us a significant number of vulnerable young people in day and boarding school settings.
That does not change the experience of those former pupils I know, but indicates our approach to putting children first to enabling them them to be successful young people, able to contribute to society in a positive and confident manner.
I would encourage former pupils to engage and work collaboratively with us to try to find solutions and support for those who may have suffered in their experience. I do believe that together we can help begin that recovery process for those and I would very much commit myself to be an agent of that process if considered appropriate.”
Chair of trustees of The Royal Wolverhampton School Foundation, Peter Hill, has said:
“We are all saddened and appalled by the experiences recorded in the IICSA collation of testimony and echo the School’s comments. We have heard similar stories concerning the predecessor school. These experiences have been frighteningly common amongst people who attended residential and other schools in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. There is no excuse for what happened at the predecessor school.
I and my other Trustees, absolutely deplore and deeply regret the abusive actions of some pupils and staff of the predecessor Royal School, which clearly took place and often went unpunished.
I experienced a 1960’s education, though not the extremes of treatment outlined in the report, and joined the Board of the predecessor school partly to ensure the lack of support and harsh, callous treatment of pupils I experienced would not occur at any school for which I had a responsibility. During that 28-year period the behaviour of pupils and staff significantly improved to the extent that the current school is widely recognised for its outstanding support of vulnerable young people and particularly boarders for whom it is their home.
We meet former pupils, from recent times and from long ago, at school events. They often come to see what it is like now and how much it has changed. We hear too the positive experience of many who would wish their voice to be heard, as well as, hearing of those who had such a hard and damaging time and may still be struggling to live with that damage. Some would not want to visit the school. We will strive to support them as part of a unified and supportive approach of School and Foundation.
The predecessor school, sometimes known colloquially as the ‘Ophney’ no longer exists. The Foundation, as it is now called, operates independently of the Free School (Academy) to “advance the education of persons of school age”. It receives donations and bequests, from Old Royals and others and responds to requests from the school to support needy pupils, often by helping to fund a period in boarding. It has no staff, property or other assets apart from a permanent endowment to support recent leavers. As such, its ability to offer support to those who were abused at that school is limited.
Two of the three current Trustees were former pupils from that period. As Trustees we commit to aligning ourselves with the commitments referred to above and play a part in meeting former pupils, understanding their experiences and trying to offer some personal comfort where appropriate.”