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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Investigation Report

Second Mellor review

74. One of the recommendations that Mrs Mellor made in her February 1992 report was that there should be a further review of the school in six months’ time. She attended a Governors’ meeting on 20 January 1993 at which her remit for this review was discussed. It was intended that she would spend time with all the pupils in the classroom and residential units. The suggested remit was to include evaluating the mental health of pupils, considering whether the approach of the school as regards its pupils was a healthy one, the needs of the pupils, the level of staffing, and observing the happiness of the pupils. Mrs Mellor said that she would bear those requests in mind but would also pursue her own remit. Her review was designed to help determine if the school had a future.[1] It was intended that she would spend a week there.[2]

75. Ms Mellor did eventually return to the school to carry out her review, but not for many months later. The delay was evidently a cause of concern to Diana Cavanagh who wrote to Mrs Mellor in May 1993 stating that she was rather anxious that they close the chapter of Knowl View School.[3] Mrs Cavanagh later confirmed that Mrs Mellor would visit for two days on 23 and 24 June 1993, and that the Education Department’s own report to the Council on school development issues would rely heavily on her report on progress since her last report.[4][5]

76. There was no written report of her review but verbal feedback instead, which was noted in a meeting of 28 June 1993. The notes of the feedback show Mrs Mellor’s feedback to have been glowing in its terms, and that it even went so far as to say the school compared favourably with similar schools and had the potential to become a centre of excellence.[6] In her evidence to us, Mrs Cavanagh agreed that the conclusion was too uncritical.[7]

77. Children were still being exploited at Smith Street toilets well into 1992. Social care files of two of the boys record that in August 1992 they were “offering their bodies for sale/offering to masturbate any man who might fancy it”.[8] Consideration was given to cautioning them as a means of dealing with their exploitation. These were children who had been the known victims of exploitation since 1989. Regardless of whether these boys still attended the school or not, this demonstrates that the risk of exploitation was still very real and that there was a need for vigilance.

78. Children at the school were still vulnerable to sexual abuse outside the school itself. A log of 9 June 1994 recorded that the police had investigated a male at whose flat three pupils from Knowl View School had spent the night. He was noted not to be a Schedule 1 offender, but that “child protection … have had they say ‘dealings with him for enticing young boys into his flat’”.[9]

79. Staff relations do not appear to have ever really been placed on an even keel at Knowl View despite the best efforts of Mr Bradshaw. There were ongoing serious staff incidents from 1992 onwards.[10] These included in July 1992 the school attracting embarrassing publicity in the local press due to the ‘sex in a tent incident’, which involved two members of staff having drunken sex in close proximity to where pupils were camping in a French campsite.[11] There were also a number of allegations of assaults by staff against pupils that gave rise to disciplinary procedures. Mr Bradshaw confirmed that he had taken disciplinary procedures against three staff for the use of inappropriate, excessive force.[12] There were even disciplinary measures taken against two members of staff who did not have the qualifications they claimed to have had.[13]

80. There were industrial tribunal proceedings against the LEA that demonstrated that a copy of the Mellor report was in circulation among staff (when it ought not to have been). A listening device was also found to have been planted in a staff meeting.[14] Mr Bradshaw’s view was that there had been a battle against the staff culture for two years but that it had improved thereafter.[15] A letter to Liz Dobie in October 1992, signed by some members of staff, referred to their working alongside colleagues in whom they had no confidence. This appears to relate to the ‘sex in a tent’ incident, and confirms the “battle” Mr Bradshaw described.[16]

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