Please read the BBC News article here.
Safe Schools Alliance UK are incredibly concerned by the consistent safeguarding failures in this case. Once again, the failure to apply even the most basic safeguarding principles has resulted in children being harmed.
We are also, once again, disturbed at the The BBC’s reporting of this story. Sean Aldridge did not ‘have sex’ with these children, he groomed and abused vulnerable pupils whom he had a duty of care towards. This is the most sickening and despicable breach of trust.
Without detracting from the fact that the person responsible for the abuse of these four children is Sean Aldridge, serious questions need to be asked about the kind of culture and poor decision-making that enables abusers such as him:
– Why was Aldridge promoted to Head of Safeguarding after previous allegations had been made against him?
– Were correct safer recruitment procedures (which draw heavily on the findings of the 1992 Warner report and the Bichard Inquiry which resulted from the Soham murders) used in his appointment?
– Have lessons from Serious Case Reviews been learnt? If so, why are the same mistakes still being made?
These questions MUST be answered — not only for the sake of the victims and their families but also for all other children who are put at risk by the oversight and incompetence of adults whose duty it is to protect them.
Safe Schools Alliance UK would also like to highlight that it is particularly important for Physical Education staff to follow stringent safeguarding protocols due to the additional potential for compromising situations (changing, assessing minor injuries, travel to sporting events etc). It is paramount that PE staff and sports coaches protect both themselves and their students. It is also important that, understanding the additional safeguarding risk within Physical Education, PE staff are vigilant of their colleagues’ behaviour and know how and where to report concerns.
Safe Schools Alliance are also disturbed by the comments of Judge Roger Etherington who appears unaware that ‘a special rapport with pupils’ could in itself be deemed a red flag and not a positive trait. Those who are well-versed in safeguarding (as we would hope judges presiding over such cases are) are all too aware that predators commonly display ‘breathtaking arrogance’ and act in plain sight without fear of consequence — as Aldridge did.
Safe Schools Alliance UK would also like to praise the bravery of the women who Aldridge abused during his time at the school, whose evidence has now been used to convict this dangerous predator. We are sorry that they were let down by those who had a duty to protect them.