Eastbourne: School Shocked By 'Betryal'

22 June 2013, 08:19 | Updated: 22 June 2013, 08:29

Bishop Bell school say there are deeply shocked and saddened by Jeremy Forrest's relationship with one of his pupils.

The former maths teacher is serving a five-and-a-half year sentence for running away to France with a 15-year-old pupil and for five counts of sexual activity with a child.

The school said in a statement they were deeply shocked by the actions of Forrest and his betrayal of the trust that was placed in him.

Sussex police are also investigating whether Forrest contacted the girl he ran away with to get her to change her evidence.

The trial judge said her evidence differed from what she had originally told police.

The jury took less than two hours to convict Forrest. The defendant, who remained stony-faced, turned to the girl and said: "I love you,'' as the verdict was about to be announced. The girl sobbed and said "I am sorry'' as he was led back to the cells."

Forrest befriended his "vulnerable'' victim when she was just 14 .

Statement From Bishop Bell C of E School:

"As a school community we have been saddened by the events which led up to this trial and the impact they have had on all concerned.

"We remain deeply shocked by the actions of Mr Forrest and his betrayal of the trust that was placed in him. It is important that the strongest possible message is sent to all who work with children that they hold a position of responsibility and trust for the lives, and wellbeing, of those in their care.

"We take our responsibility extremely seriously and our safeguarding policies and procedures are robust. However, we are determined to implement any learning from these events to ensure that all pupils at the school are as safe as they possibly could be."

"In response to your questions about how the school handled the situation, the school would like to say the following:

"In terms of our investigations, until September 2012, the school only had very limited anecdotal hearsay and no evidence of a relationship. However, even so, everything was investigated following appropriate safeguarding procedures.

"Prior to the events of September 2012 and the formal child protection investigation that took place then, the school had investigated reported concerns, involving the Local Authority at the appropriate points and following its advice.

"At no point did the school find evidence of a relationship and at no point did the reported concerns reach the threshold to involve the police formally.

"The police became formally involved in September 2012 when further, and more serious, concerns were raised. At that point, in line with standard practice, the school shared its information with the police and other agencies.

"Even then, having that information and after investigating more serious concerns than the school had received, the police informed the school that they too had found no evidence to support arresting Mr Forrest and handed the matter back to the school.

"At that point, it was the school's intention to refrain Mr Forrest from work whilst it undertook a further investigation of its own into possible professional misconduct. However, Mr Forrest never returned to work after 19th September."