Children were 'plied with alcohol, groomed and assaulted by staff'June 9, 2022
Vulnerable children were ‘plied with alcohol, groomed and sexually assaulted by staff’ in homes and schools run by firm which was rated outstanding by Ofsted
- Employees claim young people failed by leaders at Calcot Services for Children
- A number of damning allegations have been made following a BBC investigation
- The company insists it has commissioned an independent review of its services
Vulnerable children were allegedly plied with alcohol, groomed and sexually assaulted by staff in home and schools run by a company rated outstanding by Ofsted.
A number of young people were failed by leaders at Calcot Services for Children, according to some employees.
The company, which runs eight homes, four schools and supported living accommodation in the south of England – many of which have received top rankings from the education regulator – says it has commissioned an independent review of its services after a damning investigation by the BBC.
Among the allegations reported are claims that children were abused, taken advantage of by staff who would bribe them with booze, and that some workers leaving the company were told to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said she was ‘appalled’ by the apparent findings, which she said revealed ‘actual harm’.
The reports come against a backdrop of huge financial gain for the company, having made profits of 42% in 2020 and 36% in 2021 – double that of other major care providers.
A number of young people were failed by leaders at Calcot Services for Children, according to some employees
Maggie McCarthy, who used to work at Calcot-run school, Eton Dorney, was one of the former employees to raise concerns
The BBC investigation involved speaking to a dozen former employees, including one support worker who said she felt the firm put profit before childcare.
She said it was all about ‘getting that high-level amount of funding for children with challenging behaviour’.
But Maggie McCarthy, who used to work at Calcot-run school, Eton Dorney, questioned what huge sums of council funding for pupils was spent on, claiming some children received no extra support despite an allocation of £23,000 for one-to-one teaching.
Other claims included Calcot allegedly not reporting to Ofsted, as they should have done, incidents where students absconded and tried to commit suicide.
A spokesperson for Calcot told MailOnline: ‘The company has reviewed all the matters raised by the BBC and is confident that the correct procedures have been followed.
‘We are open and transparent with the regulators and commissioners and any matters which we become aware of are reported in the correct manner.
‘The sector is rightly subject to stringent regulation and the company prioritises safeguarding all children in its care.
‘It has a history of more than 30 years caring for and educating vulnerable and challenging children.
‘After being contacted by the BBC with its allegations, we will be commissioning an external independent review of our services.
‘All the company’s children’s homes and schools are regulated by Ofsted and inspected as per regulations.’
A spokesperson for Ofsted, which rated many of the charity’s sites as outstanding, added: ‘We will and do use the range of enforcement powers that are available to us when we have concerns about the safeguarding children.
Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said she was ‘appalled’ by the apparent findings, which she said revealed ‘actual harm’
Mohamed Abdulmohamed was the behaviour lead at one school run by the firm which has come under fire following an investigation by the BBC
‘This can include us stopping additional children from moving into a home, stopping the home from operating or issuing legal notices.
‘Even though our powers are limited for group providers, we can and do use information reported to us to look across all the individual settings in a group.
‘Our actions in relation to the homes reported in the BBC investigation will become clear when the reports are published.
‘We take information from whistleblowers seriously. In respect of those who contacted Ofsted regarding Calcot, we have taken action in each case.
‘Our biggest priority is that children are cared for by people who keep them safe and who provide them with good outcomes and experiences.
‘We do everything that we can within the legislation and the resources we have to ensure the suitability of a children’s home provider.’
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