Slater and Gordon Lawyers on Friday announced it was investigating bringing compensation claims and a class action on behalf of child sex abuse survivors who attended Beaumaris Primary School and other government schools.

A damning board of inquiry report tabled on Wednesday derided the state’s Department of Education, finding it woefully failed to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse as it did not have policies to deal with allegations or convictions.

There was a culture of covering up abuse in favour of protecting schools’ and teachers’ reputations, the report said.

Slater and Gordon Victorian abuse law practice leader Sam Carroll described the findings as deeply concerning.

“It was clear the Victorian Government did not have any processes in place to adequately respond to sexual abuse in government schools or to protect the safety of children,” Carroll said.

“It is our preliminary view that these failures may give rise to a potential claim for those affected by abuse at Victorian government schools during this time.

“Slater and Gordon is considering the best way to assist those affected by these findings to obtain the compensation they deserve.”

The law firm urged sex abuse survivors who wanted to pursue a claim to contact it.

About 120 victims, affected community members and stakeholders told their stories to the inquiry.

The students were usually boys aged between nine and 12 years when the abuse started.

Sometimes the abuse happened once or a few times but for others it was sustained over weeks, months or years.

After the inquiry’s report was released, a spokesman for the Department of Education said it was “deeply sorry” for the harm inflicted and committed to victim support and ensuring it wouldn’t happen again.

Arnold Thomas and Becker Lawyers are pursuing claims against about 240 Victorian schools on behalf of almost 400 people who allege they were victims of abuse at school.

Among the former students, 100 have approached the law firm in the past six months.

Most attended state schools but some attended independent schools.

Some of the abuse allegations date back to as recently as 2019, Arnold Thomas and Becker abuse practice head Kim Price said.

Price called for a full and proper probe into Victorian schools’ practices and policies for dealing with sexual abuse allegations.