Police investigate allegation of inappropriate touching during Thanet school visit to residential centre

Image Kent Police

Kent Police is investigating an allegation that several Thanet schoolchildren were inappropriately touched during a visit to a residential activity centre last week.

The safeguarding allegation was raised during a trip to the Kingswood centre in Ashford by a group from Thanet. The complaint involves a person not connected to the school.

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “At 3.17pm on Friday 26 May Kent Police received an allegation that several school children were inappropriately touched by a person during an external outing.

“No arrests have yet been made and enquiries to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the allegations are ongoing.”

Safeguarding issue

Michaela Lewis, Executive Head Teacher for Viking Academy Trust schools Upton, Chilton and Ramsgate Arts Primary, said immediate action was taken once the allegation was raised.

She said: “The senior management responded immediately following an alleged safeguarding issue that was raised during a visit to a residential centre.

“The school’s safeguarding team have been in close contact with the management at the centre and other  authorities involved.

“Every effort was made as soon as we were contacted to clarify the situation, and parents and families were kept informed throughout.

“The school has a very highly-regarded duty of care and our leadership team have been involved as much as it is legally permissible. Clearly our primary concern was our responsibility to our pupils and their families, and our response has been swift and professional throughout.

“We are working in partnership with the police, Kent’s Safeguarding Team and the management of the residential centre to support a thorough investigation.

“As a school we undertake rigid and appropriate risk assessments for every trip, visit or residential educational event involving our children.

“We will offer additional safeguarding support when children return to school on Tuesday, June 6.

“We fully understand the concerns of parents and families and the depth of their feelings. However, as this is a police matter, we are acting responsibly within the framework of the legal procedure. We are not at liberty to share any further information while any investigation is ongoing.”

The Kingswood centre has been asked for a response.

Parents’ anger

However, parents say they have been kept in the dark and are angry at how the situation has been handled by the school.

One parent said: “They have tried to keep us and our children quiet and it’s disgusting. They wouldn’t allow affected children to contact parents.”

They added that the they had not been kept informed, saying: “(They should) keep us in some form of loop. Speak to us with any form of compassion.”

Another said: “As parents we’ve been left in dark and told absolutely nothing by the school. And I mean nothing.

“Our children came home and told us. The children have also said they were called to a assembly and told not to talk about it. The school dropped our children home without telling us anything.

“A lot of children came forward to parents about (the allegations). These parents didn’t know where to turn through lack of support or communication from school so we turned to each other. We are all disgusted and both parents and children feel  let down by the school .

“(In my opinion) this was a serious safeguarding fail. Staff clearly weren’t with children during activities. Children weren’t believed on Thursday and left crying and parents were not informed or supported or given any information or points of contact.”