The education secretary, Michael Gove, was personally warned last month about alleged child protection failures at the school attended by Megan Stammers, the 15-year-old who absconded with her 30-year-old teacher last Thursday. This is from the Guardian…
Gove was contacted by Lucy Duckworth, a former teacher and child protection campaigner, who was researching child safety policies at church schools overseen by the diocese of Chichester, including Bishop Bell school in Eastbourne, where Megan and the maths teacher Jeremy Forrest started a relationship before absconding on a cross-channel ferry to France.
Sussex police said they had not found Megan and Forrest six days after they disappeared and were “considering a number of hypotheses in conjunction with our European colleagues” – Interpol and the French authorities – as a huge online appeal to trace Megan continued.
The force declined to confirm or deny reports that the pair had been interviewed before they absconded or whether or not one or two of their mobile phones had been seized for analysis. Police said they became aware of the relationship last week, but would not say exactly when.
Sky News reported a French prosecutor saying Forrest was not facing arrest as their disappearance is being treated as a missing persons inquiry.
Singers from the girl group the Saturdays were among those who urged the 15-year-old to contact her family after a picture of her posing with the band member Frankie Sandford was published.
Pupils and teachers posted appeals on the school’s website for Megan to return. “Dear Megan,” read one from “Mrs B”. “We miss you so much in the lessons. It is not the same … too quiet. Come back soon.”
The headmaster, Terry Boatwright, has previously said the school and the local authority were “addressing and investigating concerns that had been raised” when the teacher and pupil fled. Reports suggested staff and pupils became aware that they may have been in a relationship as far back as February on a school trip to Los Angeles when they were seen together.
Duckworth said she wrote to Gove about Bishop Bell school and how she “was deeply concerned about the situation of child protection in the diocese of Chichester” after receiving an unhelpful reply to her request for child protection information from Boatwright.