A top state secondary school where children allegedly tied a black pupil to a lamppost and whipped him in a ‘mock slave auction’ could be closed.
According to The Sunday Times, Beechen Cliff School, one of the highest-ranking state schools in Bath, has been given a ‘termination warning notice’ by the government, threatening to withdraw its funding.
Former students of the school include ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers, Nobel prize winner Sir Richard Roberts and Amy Williams, the first individual British gold medallist in a Winter Olympics for 30 years.
Ofsted inspectors have said the safeguarding plans of the school are not effective
Avon and Somerset constabulary interviewed the pupils involved in the so-called ‘slave auction’, which took place on school grounds in January during a lunch break.
The pupil was also allegedly poked with sticks and called racist names.
News of the incident emerged a week after police arrested two students for racist chanting against a Nottingham Trent University student in her halls of residence.
Headmaster of Beechen Cliff, Andrew Davies, initially expelled three of the pupils allegedly involved — but governors later ruled that they could return to class. Four other boys were excluded for a fixed period.
An online petition calling for ‘something to be done’ has gathered more than 2,000 signatures since it was launched in March.
The Department of Education is awaiting a response from the school following it issuing a termination warning notice
Beechen Cliff, a day school which also offers boys the option of boarding, was described two years ago by the Tatler state schools guide as having ‘an extensive extracurricular menu’.
However, The Sunday Times has been told of allegations of other disturbing incidents on the premises. A source told the paper that a French boarding pupil had been called a ‘dirty croissant’ by a teacher, an incident thought to be under investigation by civil servants.
The move, threatening possible closure of Beechen Cliff follows a damning inspectors’ report written after a snap inspection in May, which found safeguarding was ‘not effective’.
In 2014, Ofsted rated the school outstanding, however the governing body has now said the school is inadequate in two out of five measures of education standards and required improvement in the other three.
Ofsted said the language used by leaders and governors during the inspection to describe the alleged racist incident in January gave ‘serious cause for concern’.
The school has been given a ‘termination warning notice’ by the government, threatening to withdraw its funding
‘They still do not appreciate its true gravity, and little appears to have been learnt from the way that this issue was handled,’ says the report. ‘The school’s current plans to improve safeguarding are weak.’
Inspectors also said the school was illegally excluding pupils by sending them on extended study leave.
This comes as some parents came out in support of Beechen Cliff after the report was published, signing an open letter that said their boys were ‘happy’ and felt safe at the school.
In a letter to the local paper, a former headmaster, Roy Ludlow, said the inspection report painted an ‘unrecognisable’ picture of the school and had exaggerated its ‘few faults’. He also said the school had ‘succumbed to political pressure’.
The Department for Education said it was awaiting a response from the school to its termination warning notice before deciding what to do.