A top boarding school has been told it will be closed by Government officials unless it sacks Britain’s strictest headmaster.
Education minsters issued the warning to the £37,500-a-year school after it emerged headteacher Toby Belfield had sent ‘flirty’ messages to young girls.
In a series of texts married Mr Belfield, 47, called the girls ‘cute’, ‘naughty’ and discussing one’s virginity.
Toby Belfield, Principal of Ruthin School, pictured outside the school, in Denbighshire, north Wales
Toby Belfield complimented a student’s red dress, said he would visit pupils at University, and asked about their sex lives
The texts, sent to six different girls according to sources, are thought to have been circulated in north Wales before being passed to officials.
Mr Belfield, who is head of Ruthin School in North Wales, told one girl: ‘I’ll visit you at university to check you are still an angel.’
In another message he said: ‘I worry, definitely, about you and sexual behaviour.
‘You might need my support and you shouldn’t risk not having it.. All the boarding staff have been told you are a potential sexual threat to young boys.’
Mr Belfield told one girl: ‘Imagine if I found your new tattoo — I’d have to expel you.’
In another message, the teacher said: ‘Where is your love for your principal, it has vanished. So rude and cruel to me. Breaking my heart.’
Teachers have said he has not been seen since last term, and there has been no comment about where he is, or about the report stemming from the unannounced safeguarding visit.
One person linked with the school said they have been told ‘nothing’.
The private school boasts a string of successful ex-pupils including Beatle John Lennon’s son Julian in the 1980s.
Principal Mr Belfield was previously dubbed Britain’s strictest headmaster when he sent an email to parents saying he was looking to expel students.
Toby Belfield is pictured on the left. There is no suggestion that the student pictured alongside him was the recipient of any messages
He told parents that too many students were registered as ‘sick’ when they were just ‘tired’ and disapproved of relationships between pupils.
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Government Education Minister, said the school must take immediate action.
She said: ‘The Welsh Government has no powers to direct an independent school to dismiss a member of staff. That is the responsibility of the proprietor of the school or where there is a Board of Trustees or Council of Management.
‘However, I expect every independent school to act in the best interests of pupils, and to ensure that they meet their legal safeguarding responsibilities.
Mr Belfield (pictured) was previously dubbed Britain’s strictest headmaster when he sent an email to parents saying he was looking to expel students
‘However, in the event that an independent school does not act to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are pupils at the school in a way that Welsh Government and other bodies think is appropriate, the ultimate sanction would be to remove the school from the register of independent schools. This would mean the school could no longer offer full-time education.
‘In considering such action, any Minister would have to reflect carefully on the significant and far-reaching consequences for the school, staff, pupils and community.’
A safeguarding report by Care Inspectorate Wales found the school was putting pupils ‘at risk of harm’.
Now a report has found the school has ‘serious shortfalls’ where pupils are ‘not appropriately safeguarded.’
It said: ‘We found some staff did not always feel supported, morale was low and they felt undermined and vulnerable by the lack of effective oversight by the council of management.’
The report also found students did not ask for help with their mental health because they were scared of losing a place at university.
Married north Wales teacher Toby Belfield (pictured above) struck up a conversation with Cat in 2018 and inundated her with messages for nine months
It said: ‘Policies are discouraging young people from coming forward, accessing support in relation to their mental health in fear of losing their place at school or university.
‘Policies relating to their emotional health were inadequate and discriminatory.
‘The counsellor had not visited or supported any young person at the school in the 12 months preceding this inspection, even though the need was apparent for such a service.’
The report also found there was a failure to ensure staff followed a professional code of conduct that ‘resulted in young people being placed at risk of harm’.
The school charges £37,500-a-year for full boarding and up to £14,500-a-year for day pupils.