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Eastbourne school blamed in report following Jeremy Forrest pupil abduction case
School chiefs have been blamed for ignoring a series of whistleblowers' concerns about a teacher's conduct before he abducted a teenage pupil and had sex with her.
Jeremy Forrest, 32, was a teacher at Bishops Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne when he started a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old girl, known as child G.
The pair sparked an international manhunt when they went missing for a week in September 2012.
A damning review has now criticised the school for “repeatedly dismissing” pupils' concerns about his behaviour - especially after the pair had been seen holding hands on a school trip to America when the girl was 14.
The in-depth investigation, which was published yesterday, also questioned the actions of the police and the local authority in preventing the incident.
Terry Boatwright, the school's headteacher, said the school was “extremely sorry for its previous failings.”
He added: “In 2012 there is no doubt that in this case the school did not act with the correct level of investigative rigour, administrative efficiency and consideration for the concerns being raised by students.
“However, safeguarding at the school has changed markedly in the intervening period.
“Given the learning which has taken place, the policies and procedures now in place are probably amongst the most rigorous and comprehensive safeguarding frameworks in the country.”
Forrest and the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found together in Bordeaux.
The married man was jailed for five-and-a-half years for child abduction and sex offences in June this year.
The results of a Serious Case Review by the East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board published yesterday found the girl was not given support by the school so she could disclose the abuse at an earlier stage.
It also said the school's failure to involve her mother was a "cause for concern".
Sussex Police was also criticised for not referring initial allegations of abuse to its child protection team.
The report said the force's “overall management of the allegations at the time was not sufficiently thorough” while it claimed East Sussex County Council's children's social care services “may have ended their involvement too speedily”.
Detective Superintendent Paul Furnell, of Sussex Police, said it had noted the recommendations and would be carrying out a six-month review into how its specialist child detectives worked.
Ged Rowney, the council's interim director of children's services, said: “We have not waited for the publication of this report but have taken action already to address the recommendations the review made for us.”
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