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

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