Avanti House has today (31.03.2017) published this update to it’s website concerning the recent 4-hour lockdown, police search and allegations of sexual assault by one pupil against another. We reproduce it in full:
Dear parents and carers
We would like to express our gratitude to you for your support and patience during what has been a challenging few days. It is during such difficult times that the trust and support from our parent body means so much. As we expected, our students were nothing short of exemplary in their conduct throughout; know that they are a credit to you and the school.
The Trust has had senior presence at the school during the past days and is absolutely confident that the all students are not only safe, but also that the school acted in the most appropriate way throughout. This has been endorsed by the police and the various social services agencies which have been involved.
Please be assured that we would never have allowed the students on site if there was any doubt about our ability to keep them safe. They are our utmost priority, as they are yours.
We are sure that you appreciate that we are limited in the information we can share while a police investigation is ongoing. During this time, we have been as transparent as we have been allowed to be. All information is being released in the most immediate manner possible. The integrity of the investigation and wellbeing of pupils are paramount.
The significant police presence naturally aroused concern. We are aware of some rumours circulating and are now able to clarify some of these.
As you know, we were required to keep the students back on the first day. We tried our utmost to keep the delay to a minimum but working through the entire school did take time. As part of the investigation, the school carried out a search based upon police advice. The next day (Thursday) the police also thought it was necessary for lockers to be searched. Sniffer dogs were on site on the first day (Wednesday) but they were not searching for prohibited items. We wish to confirm that there was never any allegation or search related to knives, drugs or other prohibited items.
The allegation was one of sexual assault by one pupil against another. The investigation has been focussed on establishing the facts around what occurred. This was an isolated incident and the situation is of course fully under control.
Immediately after the incident was reported, the school and Trust assessed any remaining risk. We were utterly confident in our arrangements for the ongoing safety of the students and decided, having taken police advice, to keep the school open and return to normality as soon as possible. Measures taken by the school included heightened supervision and speaking to students to ensure that they felt safe.
As we would expect, our staff have been completely focussed on the job at hand and will not have responded to parent queries made during this time. It is of course important that we retain that focus for staff and appreciate your patience as we work through this.
Our sincere thanks to all those parents who have expressed their trust in the school and offers of support by email, calls and messages. This has helped us do our job and we really appreciate it.
Our students continue to demonstrate the real meaning of Avanti as one family as they approached members of staff yesterday and today asking after their welfare and offering their support. We are so fortunate and grateful to have a school community like this.
Frankly, this raises more questions than it answers: “Sniffer dogs were on site on the first day (Wednesday) but they were not searching for prohibited items” – so what were they searching for, and, if not prohibited, why search for it? Why search lockers? Why detain all children for up to four hours? What are the “various social services agencies” referred to?
There’s no doubt that the school acted appropriately at the time, but there seems to be an awful lot unanswered, which will hopefully come out over the following days as investigations continue.