No criminal charges for former head teacher of Taunton boarding school

Chris Alcock, 58, resigned from Queen’s College last year

A former head teacher who was at the centre of the a police probe will not be prosecuted, it has been confirmed.

Chris Alcock, a former head teacher of Queen’s College in Taunton, quit his position last year amid claims he downloaded porn on school computers and conducted inappropriate adult relationships.

Until his dismissal, he had been head teacher of the £30,000-a-year Queen’s College since 2001.

He handed in his resignation after he was confronted with the the accusations he had breached the code of conduct at the school, founded 173 years ago on strict Methodist principles.

Somerset Live

‘Inadequate’ boarding school in Exeter where pupils were at risk of harm is revisited by Ofsted

Ofsted inspectors have returned to ‘inadequate’ Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education this week to conduct a monitoring visit.

During their two-day visit this Tuesday and Wednesday, inspectors have been focusing on improvements it has made in safeguarding, and teaching and learning. Last December the findings of the academy’s recent Ofsted inspection were announced revealing it was found to be at risk of harm.

The damning report said it was not providing an acceptable standard of education. It said failures by governors had put pupils at risk of harm and led to a serious decline in the school’s performance. Inspectors found a new child protection reporting system was “not fit for purpose”, and disclosed there had been an investigation into “serious allegations” relating to safeguarding.

 

Devon Live

Gordonstoun school asks former pupils if they were abused

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)

‘I am not a monster’… Priest denies using excessive force while punishing pupils at Highland boarding school

A priest denied he was “a monster on the loose who exploded with temper” as he punished pupils at a Catholic boarding school.

Thomas Seed, an 83-year-old former monk who taught at Fort Augustus Abbey, was giving evidence during the third day of his trial in which he denies assaulting eight boys in his charge.

A jury was told by five former pupils that Seed, also known as Father Benedict, would cane or belt them until they bled, with one accusing him of using a spiked golf shoe.

 

UK Boarding: the decline continues

New figures released today by the Independent Schools Council (the umbrella association for UK fee-charging/private schools) show that boarding in the UK continues to decline.

Another year of battering for the beleaguered boarding school industry with historic and current abuse allegations and prosecutions. Failures in safeguarding and child protection. Failures to comply with the minimum standards for boarding. On top of the growing awareness of the harm caused by Boarding School Syndrome. Batterings from the usually pro-boarding news media. And the publication of Alex Renton’s damning book, showing nothing has changed in boarding.

Largest decline is in girl boarders: -1.46% with those in single sex girls’ schools (GSA) down -4.0%. And a -2.4% decline in girls at boarding prep schools.

For boys, the drop is -0.3% overall with prep school boy boarders down -0.2%.

Shocking to see in the ISC’s figures that 6 year olds are still being sent away to boarding school.

More analysis to follow…

All figures from the ISC Annual Census 2017.

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

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