The Spectator Debate: Is boarding school cruel?

Rather than “cruel”, maybe boarding schools are “damaging” instead? Boarding School Syndrome anyone?

“For Alex Renton prep boarding is a hideous anachronism, for Lara Prendergast a source of fun and friendship”

The Spectator

The Tunbridge Wells headmaster of an ‘excellent’ rated school says it is not a ‘pushy hot house’

A headmaster has tried to reassure parents his Tunbridge Wells school is not apushy hot house” after it was rated “excellent” in all areas in its latest inspection.

Holmewood House School is a private day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 to 13 in Langton Green led by James Marjoribanks.

It was awarded the Independent Schools Inspectorate’s top rating for both “the achievement of pupils, including their academic development” and “the personal development of pupils”.

Kent Live

Radley to export Boarding School Syndrome to China

THE prestigious British boys’ boarding school Radley College recently came to Shanghai to interview Chinese students.

The number of Chinese applicants increased to 60 this year from 38 last year, said BE Education, an organization helping Chinese students enter schools in the UK, the US and European countries.

Harry Hammond, senior master of the boys’ school, and Vanessa Hammond, its registrar, recently talked about the school, its standards in selecting students and its cooperation with the Shanghai Schools at recruitment and school fair in Shanghai.

Shanghai Daily

Singing teacher at Catholic boarding school had sex with pupil and encouraged her to take drugs

A singing teacher at a prestigious Roman Catholic boarding school had sex with a pupil after giving her free lessons​ and sending her a picture of him in the bath.

David Brown, 46, also encouraged the 18 year-old to take drugs after telling her how much they would boost their sexual relationship.

The relationship was only discovered after the schoolgirl’s mother found messages on her iPhone – which Brown had given her – and on a laptop which discussed their sex sessions.

Brown, who worked at Worth School in West Sussex, was banned from the classroom for life after admitting unacceptable professional conduct and conduct which may bring the profession into disrepute.

The Telegraph

BBC News

Daily Mail

Country Life magazine endorses Alex Renton’s book. With The Lady be next?

Stiff Upper Lip review: A book that asks ‘powerful questions that parents can’t ignore

Alex Renton is a seasoned journalist, a war correspondent for the London Evening Standard who also worked for Oxfam in East Asia, a prize-winning food writer known for his campaigns and investigations and the author of a robust book about eating meat. He has got about a bit. But when, in 2013, two days after Christmas, he read a headline in the Daily Mail, ‘Boris school at the centre of probe into sexual abuse’, he says he burst into tears.

The prep school, Ashdown House, that he and Boris Johnson had attended was being investigated by police following allegations of historical child abuse. Four months later, having returned to the school for the first time, posing with his wife as prospective parents, Mr Renton wrote a long, moving article for The Observer, part personal, part dispassionate inquiry, about Ashdown House and boarding schools in general.

He had, he said, confronted his ‘demons’. But he also summoned up demons for his readers. Out of the enormous feedback he received then, this heart-breaking book has emerged.

Country Life

The stiff upper lip: why the royal health warning matters

It was Diana, of course, who opened the floodgates of tears that swept away the notion of the British “stiff upper lip”. The public mourning at her death was seen as a turning point for a nation where emotional repression had been a point of pride. So it seems fitting that this week it is her sons, William and Harry, who are warning us that our emotional journey is not yet over.

Last week, Prince Harry described how he went for counselling after repressing his own grief over the loss of his mother led to a two-year period of anxiety, anger and “total chaos”. This week, his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, has gone on to warn in an interview that keeping “a stiff upper lip” should not be at “the expense of your health”.


Books podcast: The British boarding school

“The happiest days of your life?” This week in the Books Podcast I ask the authors of two recent books about boarding schools whether the system that has formed the characters of the British ruling classes for several centuries is a blissful idyll or the Stanford Prison Experiment in cricket-whites. I’m joined by Ysenda Maxtone-Graham, whose Terms and Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding Schools, 1939-1979, is a shrewd history of the fluctuating jollity of hockey sticks, and by Alex Renton, who in Stiff Upper Lip: Secrets, Crimes and the Schooling of a Ruling Class argues that British boarding schools have for many years been incubators and enablers of sexual and psychological abuse, and have psychologically damaged whole generations of their alumni.

You can listen to our conversation here.

The Spectator

Private school housemaster cleared of abusing boys after victim’s father writes to court to defend him

A private school housemaster has been cleared of abusing boys after one of the alleged victim’s fathers wrote to the court to defend him.

Christopher Griffin, a housemaster at the prestigious £10,000-a-term boarding school, was accused of “sexually touching” pupils’ feet in their bedrooms late at night.

Two teenage complainants said they were pretending to be asleep when they claimed the married teacher came in and placed his hand under their bed covers.

An investigation was launched in March 2016 after a pupil told authorities that Griffin would regularly place his hand under his duvet after midnight and stroke his feet and massage his lower legs for up five minutes.

A second boy then alleged that the year before he had both his feet stroked and “lightly squeezed” one night by the defendant with his door closed. He also described how he could feel the defendant’s breath on his feet as he lay in his cabin bed.

The Telegraph

Boarding school housemaster not guilty of sexually touching pupils’ feet

A boarding school housemaster has been cleared of touching the feet of two teenagers for sexual gratification.

The Reverend Christopher Griffin was accused of “stroking and squeezing” the feet of the pupils at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, in 2015 and 2016.

The 57-year-old, of Ingleton, North Yorkshire, said he had only touched their feet to check up on them.

He was found not guilty of five counts of sexual assault following a four-day trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

During the hearing, the male pupils, both over 16, claimed they were pretending to be asleep when he came into their rooms and placed his hand under their bed covers.

One described being “freaked out” after feeling him breathing on his feet.

BBC News