Ian Devlin

Letter from the Head Teacher

                                                                   60 William Guy Gardens, Talwin Street, London, E3 3LF

Tel:  020 8981 2413 Fax:  020 8981 2418


17 June 2016


Dear Parent/Guardian,

We are writing to express our thanks for the very positive and warm responses we received this week when we spoke on the phone to parents about Ian Devlin.

As you know, a few people in the community have raised concerns about Ian’s employment here. Some highly-emotive language has been used, which has been picked up by parts of the media. We do appreciate the sensitivities of the situation, but in such circumstances, it is also most important that we remind ourselves firstly of the facts and, secondly, of the fundamental reason for this School’s existence and its success.

Firstly, the facts. Ian Devlin was sent to jail in 2001, for manslaughter, having been found guilty by reason of joint enterprise, when another person killed an Asian man in an attack which took place when Ian was 16, a child in legal terms.  Ian Devlin appealed against his sentence in 2003 and the Court of Appeal upheld his appeal.  The Court of Appeal ruled that there was "considerable doubt" as to whether Ian Devlin's actions at the time were racially motivated and reduced his sentence.

Ian Devlin first worked on the School site in 2010 as a forklift truck driver but at that time he was an employee of a construction company sub-contracted by the Local Authority under the Government's Building Schools for the Future Scheme (the "BFS" project).  He was then employed by a second building company, again sub-contracted by the Local Authority, which was working on the School site up until the completion of the BFS project in July 2011.  As well as working at the Ian Mikardo High School, Ian also worked at a second school nearby as part of the BFS project during the School's summer holidays of 2011 and 2012.     

It was therefore in this context, and after having already worked at the School site for some time as part of the BFS project, that Ian was first engaged directly by the School in a temporary capacity.  It was only when the School came to employ Ian Devlin directly in 2011 that it became aware of his past.  Ian was born and has lived in the local community for most of his life.  However, before taking him on, the School went through a rigorous process of checks, including full, official safeguarding checks and risk assessments, consulting and taking advice from the Local Authority to ensure that a safe appointment could be made.  The School and Local Authority ensured that all regulatory requirements were approved and careful consideration was given to all of the relevant factors before it was decided to offer him a position of employment.

Ian Devlin had therefore been working and living in the local community for a number of years before he was employed directly by the School.  Careful consideration was given before the School decided to offer him a position of employment.  The School was not at all insensitive to Ian's past, but our focus at that time was to ensure that we were making a safe recruitment, not determining whether or not it was correct that he should work in this community at all, as the reality was that he had already been doing so for some time.  On being offered employment, Ian initially worked under supervision but he is now seen as a full and trusted member of staff.

As you can see, employing Ian was not a decision that was taken lightly, but it was taken in the full knowledge of the facts, and in the spirit of a School that is dedicated to giving individuals a new chance to make things right, to make something worthwhile of their lives. Our motto, as you know, is Come with a Past, Leave with a Future. So many of our children have thrived in the spirit of that motto. And Ian Devlin has thrived too. He has been an exemplary employee, a positive role model for young people, showing that it is possible to make a worthwhile and fulfilling future after such a difficult past.  As you know, Ian has worked closely with our students and with you as parents and guardians as a facilitator for the parenting programme of "non-violent resistance", which promotes respectful, non-violent engagement between people.

Once again, thank you for your understanding and your support. All of us at Ian Mikardo High School believe in the importance of trying our best to do something special. It is not meant to be easy, but it is often incredibly rewarding. Like so many of our students, Ian is an example of how lives can be changed for the better. We want all of our students to leave this School with a future.

With very best wishes,

Claire Lillis                                       Julie Pierzchniak                                         

Headteacher                                     Deputy Head and Head of Safeguarding