When I occasionally get to see a documentary about education in another country, I have a natural tendency to assume that the work is somewhat representative of the traditions and quirks of schooling in that country. It’s not necessarily true, of course.
And then I wonder which documentary about U.S. education would be most representative of K-12 schooling here to a foreign audience. One of the many about schools in tough urban neighborhoods? One about competition to get into oversubscribed charter schools? There are so many, about so many diverse aspects of education here, that it would be hard to pick one that was truly representative.
So what is one to make of a documentary about a private boarding school in Ireland that is full of quirky characters?
“School Life” is a 100-minute film by Neasa Ní Chianáin, an Irish documentarian whose first acclaimed work was about an asylum. (“School Life” was evidently titled “In Loco Parentis” before being changed.)
There were things about my early childhood that I did not understand. I accepted, but did not really question. I knew the bare bones: that my father had died in the war and that, to enable her to pursue her career in the documentary film industry, my mother sent me to a boarding school when I was nearly three. And I knew that she had married my stepfather in 1947, but it wasn’t until four years later, when I was 10 and she was pregnant with my half-brother, that I finally came home for good to lead a family life.
My childhood before that was a bit unorthodox and rootless, but not unhappy. The schools I went to were well chosen, caring and liberal. I remember long, golden summers on the Sussex Downs spent with friends of my mother and filled with fun and kindness. My paternal grandmother, who often looked after me, was always loving and welcoming – with buttons to sort and cakes for tea.
The head of a religious order has expressed “sorrow” that monks abused boys at Fort Augustus Abbey School but said his congregation cannot be held responsible for what happened.
Dom Richard Yeo, abbot president of the English Benedictine Congregation, said he believed the allegations of former residents who say they were abused at the fee-paying Highland boarding school, which closed in 1993. But the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was shown a submission from the congregation which said it had “no remit or authority” to acknowledge or accept abuse. The inquiry heard allegations have been made against six monks who taught at either Fort Augustus, on the banks of Loch Ness, or Carlekemp Priory School in East Lothian.
A leading private school with links to the royal family has contacted more than 3,000 former pupils asking them to report evidence of abuse they may have suffered during their time there.
Allegations of historical abuse at Gordonstoun junior school emerged two years ago.
Prince Charles is a former pupil at the boarding school, near Lossiemouth in Moray, and disliked his time there so much he described it as being like “Colditz in kilts”.
It is one of a number of independent schools in Scotland named by Lady Smith, the judge who is conducting a national inquiry into historical abuse in the country.
The Times (subscription)
The disgraced Charterhouse physics teacher was found to have had sex with a pupil before he was convicted of possessing extreme porn
A disgraced former physics teacher at a Godalming boarding school has been banned from the profession for having sex with a pupil and filming their encounter on a camera bought with school money.
Dean Richard Johnson, 53, abused his position as a teacher to have a sexual relationship with a female pupil at Charterhouse School in 2008.
A professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership revealed that the then 18-year-old pupil’s complaint of their relationship was what led to his conviction for extreme pornography, for which he was spared jail.
Sex abuse victims have been “utterly marginalised” by an inquiry set up to help them, one of the victims claimed.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is examining the extent to which religious groups and local authorities failed children.
Earlier this week a latest victims group – Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) – withdrew from the process.
The IICSA said it had “taken on board” a number of issues raised by SOIA.
SOIA said the group had taken the decision to withdraw “with regret” but said the inquiry was “not fit for purpose”.
Set up in 2014, the inquiry has been beset by controversy, with three chairwomen stepping down, lawyers quitting and victims losing faith in the process.
The Firm, as Dad called it, knew that agents’ children were a liability so they dangled the carrot of free private boarding school in front of them to keep us out of the picture. Mum and Dad were the first generation in my family not to go down the mines or become skivvies, they knew what lay behind them. My parents were desperate that their offspring should come to see themselves as confident, entitled, well-educated and to have social capital and opportunities that had never been extended to them. The upper-class MI6 leadership was made up of people my father respected and wanted to emulate.
The state exploited this longing and so my brothers were shipped away at six and seven years old, never to return. Later – until I managed to escape – I spent a year in what was essentially a prison for posh children. A growing body of evidence has shown that these institutions inflict deep psychological wounds, and this has indeed been my lasting experience. My eldest brother died at 24, and I wonder whether things would have been different for him had he been allowed to stay at home. I now understand that my childhood and family were shaped by state intrusion and secrecy.
Alex Renton finds our attachment to boarding schools inexplicable — despite being himself one of Eton’s finest ‘products’
Would you send your child to summer boarding school?
Would you send your child to summer boarding school? The thought first crossed Kiloran Heckels’s mind four years ago when her eldest, Katie, was 10. Looking for a way her daughter could spend the holidays enjoying activities – without wasting time in traffic jams, ferrying her from sports games to arts workshops to play dates around their south London home – the company director sent her to Uppingham, the Rutland boarding school founded in 1584, which counts Stephen Fry as one of its old boys.
A teacher at one of Britain’s most prestigious public schools had sex with a teenage pupil in his classroom, a misconduct panel heard.
Dr Dean Johnson, 52, a physics master at Charterhouse in Godalming, Surrey, revealed his fantasies in Facebook messages to the girl beforehand.
He also asked what her underwear size was before buying stockings and presenting them to her gift-wrapped.
The astronomy and astrophysics specialist, who joined the £36,000-a-year boarding school in 1997, is facing a teaching ban after the panel found the allegations proven.
It heard he resigned in 2013 when the relationship came to light, after the girl complained to police.
An investigation led to his conviction for possessing extreme pornography, which depicted a woman being hanged, in 2015. He has since taught abroad.