Minister “will consider closing private school” unless shamed headteacher is sacked

(Title Image: Ruthin School)

Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), has threatened to suspend independent Ruthin School from providing full-time education unless its headteacher, Toby Belfield, is sacked.

Belfield – who’s been an outspoken critic of Welsh-medium education in the past and has been described as “the UK’s strictest headteacher” – kept his job in May 2019 despite sending sexually suggestive social media messages to female pupils at the school. The texts reportedly included references to pupils’ virginity, physique and sexuality.

Estyn reported that the school – which charges up to £35,000-a-year – doesn’t comply with standards of welfare, safety and health of pupils.

Independent schools are directly answerable to the Welsh Government and not local authorities, but the Minister doesn’t have any powers to dismiss headteachers. Instead, in a written statement the Minister said she could use powers to remove the school from the register of independent schools, effectively closing it.

Ruthin School said: “The Principal has not been carrying out his role whilst these investigations are ongoing. We are not in a position to share any further information at this stage but will do so as soon as we are able to.”