Top headteacher’s anger at having to warn girls to be wary of lone police

Fionnuala Kennedy of Wimbledon High School
Fionnuala Kennedy of Wimbledon High School

Teachers feel “defeated” that they have to warn schoolgirls to be wary of lone policemen, the head of a London girls’ school has said.

Fionnuala Kennedy, head of the £21,000 a year Wimbledon High School, said she is “breathless with anger” at the “failing of the Met police to protect girls and women”.

She spoke out following the conviction of David Carrick who carried out a campaign of sex offences while a serving officer, the latest in a series of scandals involving Met officers.

She warned that teachers now have to balance encouraging girls to be confident, with giving them practical tips on staying safe, including the advice: “Don’t allow a lone policeman to approach you, at any time.”

Her comments came after Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley admitted he cannot promise women in London that police officers to whom they report crimes are not themselves sex offenders.

Writing on her school blog, Ms Kennedy said: “I am angry at how little we have moved forward since the murder of Sarah Everard, since campaigns such as MeToo and Everyone’s Invited.

“I am angry about the utter failing of the Met police to protect girls and women, to take them seriously, to listen to them and to act upon their reports, to properly screen and vet their own employees, to be actively curious about what is happening in their workplaces, to stand between the vulnerable public and these officers wielding unchecked power. All of it leaves me quite breathless with anger, in fact.”

She warned that misogyny and prejudice is flourishing in schools, as highlighted by the popularity of controversial misogynistic “influencer” Andrew Tate, adding: “As educators we feel somewhat defeated, stuck between continuing to empower our students and ensure they feel confident and comfortable in their skin, whilst also giving them the tools they need to combat the dangers out there including practical, pragmatic tips to stay safe and well, such as, don’t allow a lone policeman to approach you, at any time. A reminder: it’s 2023.”

The latest revelations about the Met police also highlight the importance of all-girls’ schools, Ms Kennedy said, adding that as headteacher of a London girl’s schools she is “angry and tired” of being told that all-girls communities are no longer relevant and do not prepare students for the real world.

She said: “If the ‘real world’ means the very people who are meant to protect us…are the ones abusing and assaulting and killing us - then that’s not a world I want young people to be experiencing as they grow up.”

She also warned that discussions of Andrew Tate in the classroom should be carefully planned and carried out by experts, otherwise schoolgirls will be forced to listen to hateful misogynistic views.