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The London Oratory School

We felt unsafe in the sixth form at the London Oratory because of vile sexual harassment that wasn’t taken seriously, say two former pupils

Two former pupils from The London Oratory have described how they endured shocking sexual harassment at the school.

Lucy* and Katie* attended the west London school for their sixth form studies.

The leading Catholic state school in Fulham has recently come under fire for allegedly fostering a rape culture. 

Its alumni include actor Simon Callow and the children of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg.  

Both ex-pupils claimed to have been harassed by fellow students and say their accusations of sexual harassment, intimidation and stalking to teachers were not treated seriously. 

The pair said they were left feeling neglected and unsafe on school property.

The London Oratory’s headmaster Dan Wright issued a lengthy statement to SW Londoner insisting they took the claims seriously.

Lucy claims she was stalked by a male student in the lower school over three months.

She said: “It was mostly online, which was part of the issue because I didn’t know it was someone from the school.

“A lot of it was stalking, following me home, photographing me on my way home. Sending me messages about what they were going to do to me, sexually.

“Then it got a lot scarier, talking about the details of my bedroom. So, at one point I felt as if I was in a lot of danger.”

When checking her requested messages on Instagram Lucy claimed she discovered she was being bombarded with abuse from boys in the years below her.

She said: “It was very confusing, saying that everyone in the school knows I’m a dirty slut.”

When the abuse escalated the police got involved. 

“It eventually came out that it was coming from a boy in school and he had edited pictures, claiming them to be me under a fake account with my name,” Lucy said.

According to Lucy, police advised the issue was dealt with internally as they were both pupils at the school.

The boy was suspended for a matter of days but eventually returned. Lucy claimed she was asked by teachers not to discuss the incident with anyone else and to move on. 

“The school’s response was very much that I needed to be careful about how people can access my details online.

“Yes, they punished the boy, but they let me down,” Lucy said.

As a result of the harassment, Lucy said she felt too intimidated to travel to and from school at normal hours as she feared she would be confronted by her stalker. She said she began eating lunch in the toilet to avoid the crowds.

Lucy claimed the school failed to inform her teachers of her trauma and she was reprimanded in lessons for losing focus. 

She said: “There was never the comfort where I felt I could talk to a teacher and not fear that I was going to be blamed for what happened.” 

Credit: Lexi Iles
INTIMIDATED: Alleged victims of harassment were left feeling unsafe at the school

Katie claims to have had a similar experience during her time at The Oratory. 

She said she also began receiving unsolicited attention from a boy in the lower school which started in silent study in an area that only sixth formers were permitted to use. 

Katie said: “He would come and sit next to me, I’d find it a bit annoying but you couldn’t react without rock solid evidence.

“He started being a little odd with me, unsolicited kind of behaviour making me uncomfortable.

“It went from me going to study, sitting down at my desk to get on with work and I’d hear a voice from under my table, comments about him looking up my skirt.” 

Katie alleged that when she took the case to a senior teacher, she was advised to ignore the behaviour as the pupil would be leaving in a few months after he finished his exams. 

She claimed she had been told if she was focusing on her work, she would stop noticing the unwanted attention.

Katie said: “It’s very hard to work when someone is under your desk, no matter how hard you concentrate.

“The general consensus was essentially just you have to deal with it he’s a younger year and he probably just fancies you, but I didn’t feel safe.”

Both Lucy and Katie experienced further harassment and abuse during their time at the school from fellow male pupils. 

Due to the school’s alleged response to previous concerns, the pair said they never felt comfortable reaching out for support.

When allegations emerged online via the LOS Testimonies page on Instagram, which has since been taken down, Katie felt compelled to get in touch with the senior members of staff about her own experience.

She composed a lengthy email about her time at the school, starting with an introduction and stating that she was no longer a pupil.

The reply she received told her to check ‘Parent Portal’, something that can only be accessed by current pupils.

Katie said: “I am not a parent at the school, I made that very clear in the first line and immediately I felt that they hadn’t even bothered to read the first sentence of the email.

“I put a lot of time and emotion into that email so that they could understand the experiences of past pupils, and just to get that response was so upsetting.”

The school issued a statement to SW Londoner, stressing it was committed to supporting victims of harassment.

It read: “It is right there is a light being shone on the testimonies that have been shared on Everyone’s Invited

“These are extremely serious issues that deserve public scrutiny and we are absolutely committed to rooting out any behaviour of this kind – it is completely unacceptable and we do not, and will not, tolerate it.  

“Our deepest sympathies are with those who have suffered these dreadful experiences, and we encourage anyone who has concerns or who has experienced this to come forward so we can take swift action, including involving the Police.

“As those who have made these specific allegations wish to remain anonymous, it would not be right for us to share details on the specific circumstances. That said, for those who have been affected or have concerns, we have counselling and support programmes in place both inside and outside the school’s structures. 

“This is something we take very seriously, and over a year ago we commissioned an externally led review and as a result of that prior to lockdown had been putting in place a revised comprehensive pastoral programme across our whole school community to explore issues around having healthy relationships and respect for one another.

“This tackles head on all of the relationship and online challenges young people face today as they emerge into adulthood.  This is now being rolled out across all year groups and covers a range of areas, including age relevant approaches to the contemporary challenges of online lives, social media and pornography. 

“In sixth form, we continue to focus on personal responsibility, self-development and considerate co-existing, amongst much else. 

“The programme extends to integrating peer, cross year and parental involvement through discussion groups, issue sharing and workshops.  In line with statutory requirements, the School put its RSHE programme through a parental consultation process back in January and February 2021: respondents were unanimously supportive of it.

“Given recent developments, we have carried out two detailed consultations with sixth formers on what more we could be doing to prevent issues around sexual abuse and harassment both in school and outside of it. 

“We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure these issues are dealt with properly and that we have the right culture for our boys and girls to prosper and thrive.”

*Names have been changed to keep interviewees anonymous.

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