Numerous recent convicted teachers reveal extent of abuse in schools
As a solicitor for survivors of abuse, I already had no doubt about the widespread levels of sexual abuse at schools in the UK, both in the past but still ongoing.
Yet even for me, the number of cases reaching a resolution in the last few has been surprising and is indicative of a very widespread problem. These cases have involved abuse that took place from the 1960s right through to the modern day and have spread across the country from York to Kent to Cornwall. These cases from just the last few weeks include:
- Lawrence Pollard being convicted of abusing pupils at an East Yorkshire school where he was a Dormitory Master. The abuse started in the 1970s.
- Russell Tillson was convicted for abusing pupils as a teacher at Tonbridge School in Kent. The abuse starting in 1984 but carried on for many years.
- Retired teacher Piers Le Cheminant was jailed for nine years for sexually abusing boys at the Salisbury Cathedral Boarding School. His offences including the sexual abuse of an eight-year-old boy and took place over 20 years between 1965 and 1986.
- Science and technology teacher Mark Langford from Beccles in Suffolk was originally arrested for possessing illegal images until forensic examination of his devices then led to him being convicted for grooming and sexually abusing a 15 year old pupil whilst he was teaching at a school in Lowestoft between 2004 and 2006.
- Thomas Marriott, a former teacher at St Peter’s School in York, a private school for children aged two to 18, was convicted of two offences of sexual activity with a girl at the school whilst he was in a position of trust over her and sentenced to a suspended sentence of 21 months. These offences occurred in the last decade.
- Terence Burke has been found guilty of abusing two girls at Falmouth School, a school at which he had been assistant headteacher and also, tragically, the safeguarding officer. The offences took place over different periods of time.
The individuals who made the brave decision to come forwards and disclose their experiences should be applauded. Plaudits should also go to the police forces who completed the successful and no doubt complex investigations into these abusive teachers.
Nonetheless, it is shames our society that the abuse of children at school by teachers and staff members is so widespread. Safeguarding is revealed to have been failing for decades and not fit for purpose and even now has not kept up with the pace of technological change.
Parents are already worried about how to ensure their children are safe from bullying, harassment and sexual abuse by their peers and fellow pupils – without having to worry about whether the staff members employed to look after their children are also abusers.
I have extensive experience in representing survivors of abuse and I am happy to advise anyone who may need support in this regard.