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

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”.

TVN

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

‘A stiff upper lip damaged my childhood too’ Like William and Harry, Alex Renton survived Eton. He’s glad the emotional climate is changing

Stiff upper lip. There is no better name for the essence of classical Britishness. It is a phrase used the world over to describe us, sometimes in admiration, often in exasperation. It distils and bottles a variety of abstract British traits — the ability to laugh in the face of adversity, to keep calm and carry on, to take trouble full on the chin without complaint, to maintain an even keel and a degree of pluck — that together are the glue that bound the Empire. A very current argument says that stiff upper lips saw us through the Second World War, and so they will see us through Brexit. Rigidity below the nose (with a bit of hoisting up the chin)was, is and always will be the magic that makes Britain exceptional.

And now the heir to the throne has said that there’s “a time and a place” for stiff upper lippery, “but not at the expense of your health”. This lesson he has learnt as an air ambulance pilot, dealing at the sharp end with the epidemic of young male suicide attempts. His brother, Prince Harry, spoke out at the weekend about the years of “total chaos” in his twenties, coming close to mental breakdown, as a result of unresolved sadness over the death of his mother, at 12. Bottling it up isn’t healthy, the princes are saying. In fact, it causes more harm.

The Times

Time to Mind: Prince Harry’s candid interview about mental health will be an inspiration to many

For centuries the royal family has been a bastion of the “stiff upper lip”, eschewing public displays of emotion and seldom betraying any personal vulnerability or inner strife. Prince Harry’s recent interview on mental health and his battles with his own demons is a brave and welcome departure from that tradition. “There may be a time and a place for the stiff upper lip,” he said, “but not at the expense of your health”.

The Times