Former Pupils Open Civil Lawsuit Against Swalcliffe Park School

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Nathalie Swanwick

Abuse Claims Solicitor

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In November 2022, 10 former Swalcliffe Park pupils took legal action against the specialist Oxfordshire boarding school after suffering alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse from staff members and classmates between the years of 1975 and 2008.

In this article, we’ll look at how the former students were affected by their time at Swalcliffe Park as well as the school’s response. We’ll also explain what you can do if you’ve been affected by any form of abuse at Swalcliffe Park or indeed anywhere else.

What was the Impact of the Alleged Abuse?

Although the details of the allegations made against Swalcliffe Park have not been widely shared in detail, it’s clear to see that the claimants’ time at the school has caused them great distress over the years. One of the alleged perpetrators named is the school’s former principal, George Pettingale, who reportedly worked at the ‘special school’ for three decades, starting in 1952. Mr Pettingale has since died in 2006.

One of the men who came forward was a student at the school from the years of 1975 to1980. He has said that his experience at the school has “haunted” him throughout his life. He has suffered with anxiety and depression and even contemplated suicide and engaged in self harm when he was feeling at his lowest. He went on to say:

“For many years I have had to carry this burden but now that my complaints are finally being listened to, I feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The claim for compensation which was submitted on behalf of the 10 men pursuing the legal action is said to be for the sum of £1 million.

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Types of Claims Following Abuse

There are two types of claim you can make for child abuse – a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) claim or a civil claim against the defendant through the Civil Courts. We show the amounts of compensation that can be awarded in both types of claims below.

The amount of compensation you can receive from a child abuse claim varies depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The type and amount of abuse you have suffered
  • The length of time the abuse took place
  • The psychological effects of the abuse
  • The costs of appropriate psychological therapy
  • Loss of earnings and if the abuse you suffered caused you a disadvantage on the open labour market

Due to the complexities involved in child abuse cases, nobody can accurately value a claim at the outset of a case and every case will be different. 

For a free confidential consultation and free legal advice contact our Abuse Claims Solicitors. Ask about Legal Aid or if we can deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis. We understand that access to legal support is crucial for survivors pursuing compensation and funding options like this as it makes sure that financial constraints don’t stop survivors from seeking the justice that they deserve.

How has Swalcliffe Park School Responded?

A spokesperson for Swalcliffe Park School has said:

“We have been aware of historic allegations dating back more than a decade and that pre-date the Senior Leadership Team’s management of the school.”

The spokesperson said they were “hugely concerned” by the allegations but was keen to point out that the school now considers safeguarding as “paramount” and also referred to the Ofsted “Outstanding” rating they received in March of this year.

What Can You Do if You’ve Been Affected by Abuse at School?

If you experienced any form of abuse whilst at school, we would first encourage you to report this to the police. We know that the thought of talking about the abuse you suffered after so long can feel daunting, but this could be the first step towards you getting a sense of justice and access to vital support.

Our Abuse Law Solicitors are experienced in this area and can help you to navigate the criminal reporting process. We may also be able to help if you decide to make a civil claim against the school responsible for breaching their duty of care towards you. 

When you’re ready to speak to us, we’ll listen to the details of what happened and work to hard to get you the compensation and support you’re entitled to. For free initial advice, get in touch with our approachable Abuse Law team on 0808 239 1287 or  request a call back.

Alternatively, if you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact one of the below organisations for help:

  • Support for Survivors – can be contacted on 0115 962 2722 or by email at [email protected]. Further information can be found on their website at
  • The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) – can be contacted by telephone on 0808 801 0331 or by email at [email protected]. Further resources are available on their website at


BBC News. (2023, November 9). Former Swalcliffe Park School pupils file £1m claim over alleged abuse. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

Oxford Mail. (2022, December 6). Former Swalcliffe Park School pupils file £1m claim over alleged abuse. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). How to Report Being Abused to the Police. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

1.     Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Child Abuse in Schools. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Abuse Claims Solicitors. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood). (n.d.). NAPAC. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

Support for Survivors. (n.d.). Support for Survivors. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

Nathalie Swanwick

Abuse Claims Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Nathalie began her legal career in 2009 after completing her law degree at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2008. She has specialised in abuse claims since 2010, and went on to qualify as a Solicitor in 2013.

Following her qualification Nathalie specialised in a range of personal injury claims including abuse claims and criminal injury claims. She has acted for clients who have suffered life-changing injuries such as brain injuries.

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