It can last a lifetime. The toll of being sent to boarding school at 7…

One painful moment from my childhood remains so sharply defined in my memory that it has the power to make me cry — even now.

I am a boy, aged just eight, sitting at a window in my boarding school, scanning the drive, waiting for my father to turn up and take me on an afternoon outing.

Minutes tick by. The arranged time for our meeting passes. I wait, still hopeful, expectant, excited.

Daily Mail

How I came to terms with the horrors of my boarding school abuse

Mark Stibbe, a former vicar who lives in North Yorkshire, is among those to claim to have been abused by youth worker John Smyth, who ran Christian holiday camps. As other victims waive their right to anonymity, here he tells his story in full.

iNews

Another pointless tickbox “outstanding” boarding inspection

What is the point of these Ofsted inspections that are mere tickbox exercises for boarding? Where are the social workers assessing why each boarder has been placed in care, away from their families?

The UK is a small country and we no longer have an Empire. There is no longer any need for children to be sent away to loveless institutions (regardless of how comfortable they are).

If a teenager chooses to board at 16+ and it is exclusively their decision, then we at Boarding Concern will support their decision (subject to proper safeguards). But there is absolutely no need in 21st Century Britain to send children and young teenagers away from home, given the disastrous history of British boarding.

Everything else is just pointless PR puff.

“Delight as Wymondham College earns ‘outstanding’ inspection grade”

Eastern Daily Press

USA: Former students sue over alleged abuse at boarding school

A lawsuit against a Harrison County (WV) boarding school, forced to close about three years ago, alleges a “culture of silence and secrecy” at the school led to widespread abuse.

Two former students of the Miracle Meadows School in Salem filed the lawsuit late last month in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The former students, who are identified only by their initials, L.B. and T.B., claim they still suffer because of the alleged abuse — and always will.

Miracle Meadows had its state-recognized education status revoked in August 2014, and the Department of Health and Human Resources removed the school’s 19 students.

The former students claim they were subjected to neglect and extreme physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

Between 2009 and 2014, the school was named in more than a dozen complaints involving abuse and mistreatment of students, the Associated Press previously reported.

West Virginia Gazette-Mail

Social workers avoid inflicting boarding school syndrome on disadvantaged children

It seems that social workers can see through the flogging of failed boarding as some sort of salvation for disadvantaged or vulnerable children.

There have been so many of these trendy almost fetishistic projects to give disadvantaged children “a taste of the boarding” in recent years. All have failed.

Boarding School Syndrome does not discriminate across social class. It affects us all. We need good day schools, with children and teenagers raised at home, not in loveless institutions. If families need support, provide it without sending the children away.

In the meantime, let’s blame the social workers for being perceptive…

“A scheme to offer free boarding school places to vulnerable children has failed because social workers thought they ‘wouldn’t fit in’ and refused to make referrals, charities say.

Many assume for ideological reasons that boarding is ‘not right’ for children from certain backgrounds, those leading the project claim.

It would have provided free places at leading private and state boarding schools for those at risk of ‘poor social and emotional outcomes’ because of family difficulties.”

Daily Mail

The Telegraph

A letter to … My parents, who abandoned me to boarding school

I can understand why you did it. In theory. I understand that you wanted to give me the best education money could buy. I don’t blame you for sending me away to an extremely strict boarding school when I was very young. I think you genuinely thought it was best for me – and for my younger brother, who you also sent away, to another boarding school in another part of the country, miles away from me.

Read the full letter in The Guardian

Justice for the Shirley Oaks survivors?

We note the publication by the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) of their report today. The report detailed systematic abuse by 60 paedophiles against thousands of young people in the residential care of Lambeth Council in South London.

We also note the comments by Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, that the Home Office should also be held liable for the abuses at Shirley Oaks.

We wonder if the Department for Education should be held liable for abuses that boarding school survivors suffered (and continue to suffer) in schools regulated and approved by them? Especially when schools have closed down and former proprietors, etc have died or disappeared.

The Guardian

BBC News

Are boarding schools… Really a home from home?

They are keen to distance themselves from the bleak educational gulags of the past, but parents’ confidence in boarding schools has been severely shaken by recent reports of an alleged [sexual] assault at the King’s Hospital school. Do these institutions offer a suitable environment for young people to grow up in?

So asks the Irish Independent in an analysis of boarding.

The broadcaster Ivan Yates once said of his boarding school experience that “terror mixed with homesickness” led him to cry himself to sleep, night after night.

The modern Irish boarding school is keen to present a more humane image than that of the bleak educational gulags suffered by Yates and many of his contemporaries in the late 1960s and early 70s.

The advocates of modern boarding institutions insist that they are ideal places for young people to grow up in. Often situated in fine rambling country houses or castles along tree-lined avenues, boarding schools supposedly offer their students the opportunity to spend all of their time with friends, playing games and taking part in spiffing Harry Potter-style adventures.

In this idealised world, presented in some of the school brochures, living in one of these institutions is like having a five-year sleepover – the only difference being that you are not at home.

Their apologists will tell you that they teach children independence and self-reliance.

The children may be homesick at first, but the parents are reassured that the offspring will get over it.

Most of Ireland’s 29 boarding schools have gone to strenuous lengths to present a more homely atmosphere: the cold, spartan dormitories with row upon row of steel beds have been thoroughly revamped, and the modern-day resident can expect much more than a breakfast of lumpy gruel.

The article goes on to quote Prof Joy Schaverien at length:

To hand over your boy or girl to the care of teachers or other supervisors, who are often complete strangers, for most of their teenage years, requires a remarkable level of trust, according to critics of the boarding-school environment.
Read more: Panti Bliss on his boarding schools experience: ‘Abusers were probably wary of mouthy kids like myself’

“You send a child to boarding school and they are left to the vagaries of whoever happens to be taking care of them, and the group of children they are with,” psychotherapist Joy Schaverien tells Review.

“They might be lucky and have a lovely group of children and kind adults; or they could be exposed to highly disturbed people, and there is nobody there to protect them.”

Schaverien, a therapist based in England, came up with the term ‘Boarding School Syndrome’ to describe a set of lasting psychological problems that are observable in adults who, as children, were sent away from their home to boarding schools.

Symptoms, according to Schaverien, may include problems with anger, depression, anxiety, failure to sustain relationships, and fear of abandonment.

“The child learns not to cry because they don’t get a normal response.
“Usually, when they are at home, a child gets a loving response, but that may not happen, so they learn not to show emotion. In later life that can show up in a lack of empathy.”

Much of the therapist’s work is based on younger children going to boarding school, but she believes it can also have a dire effect when a child is 12 or 13.

“It depends how vulnerable the child is. At puberty, children still need to have loving adults around them and education in emotional relationships.”

Irish Independent

Forthcoming book by Alex Renton

This is the story of generations of parents, Britain’s richest and grandest, who believed that being miserable at school was necessary to make a good and successful citizen. Childish suffering was a price they accepted for the preservation of their class, and their entitlement. The children who were moulded by this misery and abuse went on – as they still do – to run Britain’s public institutions and private companies.

Confronting the truth of his own schooldays and the crimes he witnessed, Alex Renton has revealed a much bigger story. It is of a profound malaise in the British elite, shown up by tolerance of the abuse of its own children that amounts to collusion. This culture and its traditions, and the hypocrisy, cronyism and conspiracy that underpin them, are key to any explanation of the scandals over sexual abuse, violence and cover-up in child care institutions that are now shocking the nation.

As Renton shows, complicity in this is the bleak secret at the heart of today’s British elite.

Due for publication in April 2017 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion Books and available from Amazon and other sources.