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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The residential schools investigation report


C.1: Introduction

1. In this investigation, mainstream schools where all or some of the pupils reside overnight during term time are referred to as boarding schools. Pupils may return home for some or all weekends, or only during the school holidays. Most boarding schools now also educate day pupils. Some boarding schools offer ‘flexi-boarding’, where children may reside at the school for just one or two nights a week, or a fixed number of days in a year. Many offer extended days for day pupils, who may be permitted to arrive early and stay late to participate in extracurricular activities or study time. The majority of boarding schools in England are independent (fee-paying) schools. There are 31 state-funded boarding schools which charge fees for their boarding element only. All boarding schools in Wales are independent schools (further details about the different types of schools in England and Wales, and the numbers of boarders, is set out in Part A).

2. During this investigation, the Inquiry considered child sexual abuse and safeguarding concerns at 10 boarding schools.

2.1. The closed residential schools account submitted by Counsel identified a number of complaints of sexual abuse which occurred at four boarding schools in England in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s: Ashdown House, Sherborne Preparatory School and St George’s School, which became Dalesdown School.[1] These were independent preparatory schools for pupils between the ages of 8 and 13. A teacher at Ashdown House, Martin Haigh, was convicted of sexual offences against four boys aged 7 to 12 years old who boarded at the school during the 1970s. Allegations were also made against other staff which did not result in convictions.[2] St George’s School and later Dalesdown School were owned and run by the headteacher, Derek Slade. Slade severely beat, sexually assaulted and raped boys in his care. In 2010, Slade was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment for sexual offences committed in the 1980s against 12 pupils. Two other teachers at St George’s School, Alan Bridgen and Gerald Singer, also sexually assaulted and raped boys at the school. A third teacher was charged with sexual offences against pupils but took his own life before the case came to trial.[3] Sherborne Preparatory School was owned by the headteacher, Robin Lindsay. In 1998, an Independent Schools Tribunal prohibited Lindsay from teaching and from owning an independent school, concluding that he was a “fixated paedophile” who posed a risk to children.[4] In 2014, eight former pupils of the school made allegations to the police that Lindsay had sexually abused them as children but he was by then suffering from advanced dementia and was judged not fit to stand trial.[5]

2.2. In Phase 1, evidence was considered relating to the four specialist music schools in England – Chetham’s School of Music (Chetham’s), The Yehudi Menuhin School, Wells Cathedral School and The Purcell School for Young Musicians – which are independent boarding schools that also take day pupils. (See Part B, where incidents of child sexual abuse and safeguarding concerns at these schools are set out in detail.)

2.3. In Phase 2, evidence was considered relating to Clifton College, an independent boarding school which includes day pupils, and Ruthin School, an independent day and boarding school in Denbighshire, North Wales. (See Part B – Clifton College – and Part J – Ruthin School – for further details.)

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