Benedictines ‘can’t accept’ blame for child abuse at boarding school

The head of a religious order has expressed “sorrow” that monks abused boys at Fort Augustus Abbey School but said his congregation cannot be held responsible for what happened.

Dom Richard Yeo, abbot president of the English Benedictine Congregation, said he believed the allegations of former residents who say they were abused at the fee-paying Highland boarding school, which closed in 1993. But the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was shown a submission from the congregation which said it had “no remit or authority” to acknowledge or accept abuse. The inquiry heard allegations have been made against six monks who taught at either Fort Augustus, on the banks of Loch Ness, or Carlekemp Priory School in East Lothian.

The Scotsman

Boarding school teacher facing teaching ban over allegations he had sex with a teenage pupil.

A teacher at one of Britain’s most prestigious public schools had sex with a teenage pupil in his classroom, a misconduct panel heard.

Dr Dean Johnson, 52, a physics master at Charterhouse in Godalming, Surrey, revealed his fantasies in Facebook messages to the girl beforehand.

He also asked what her underwear size was before buying stockings and presenting them to her gift-wrapped.

The astronomy and astrophysics specialist, who joined the £36,000-a-year boarding school in 1997, is facing a teaching ban after the panel found the allegations proven.

It heard he resigned in 2013 when the relationship came to light, after the girl complained to police.

An investigation led to his conviction for possessing extreme pornography, which depicted a woman being hanged, in 2015. He has since taught abroad.

Evening Standard

Daily Mail

UK child abuse inquiry: three Catholic boarding schools ‘should form case study’

Three prominent Benedictine boarding schoolsAmpleforth, Downside and Worthshould be examined as a combined case study for the UK child sex abuse investigation into the Catholic church, a preliminary hearing has been told.

The work of the archdiocese of Birmingham and its schools should also feature as a complementary case study, according to the lawyer in charge of the Catholic church strand of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA).

Setting out her recommendations for hearings planned in November, Riel Karmy-Jones QC proposed that an examination of a fourth school should be delayed because of an imminent criminal trial involving a former teacher.

Inquiries into allegations at Fort Augustus Abbey school in the Scottish Highlands should also be restricted to the movement of English monks transferred to the institution, Karmy-Jones suggested, because a separate Scottish inquiry into child sex abuse would deal with any offences committed there.

The Guardian

Ex boarding school worker faces jail for abuse of boys at Devon school

A former boarding school house parent has been warned to expect a jail sentence after he admitted the historic abuse of four boys.

Steven Joyce carried out the sexual assault on boys while employed to look after the welfare of vulnerable and troubled children at the Marland School at Peters Marland, near Torrington, in the 1980s.

At the time it was a privately run school for what were described as maladjusted children, but it is now a special school run by Devon County Council.

Joyce, now aged 66, was a house parent whose duties included comforting boys who were upset or homesick.

He was prosecuted after an investigation by Devon and Cornwall police in which specially trained officers carried out video recorded interviews with four former pupils, now all adults.

Steven Joyce, aged 65, of Erme Drive, Ivybridge, pleaded guilty to a total of 15 on what was due to be the first day of his trial at Exeter Crown Court.

Devon Live

Headmaster of Windsor prep school sentenced

A veteran teacher who retired four years ago has escaped prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old pupil at prestigious St George’s School at Windsor Castle two decades ago.

Latin teacher Anthony Brailsford, now 70, was briefly acting headteacher at the boarding prep school in 1993.

He committed the offences in 1997 and 1998.

On 13 Jan, he was given a six months suspended prison sentence by Judge Mr Recorder Christopher Quinlan QC at Reading Crown Court.

Windsor Observer

Daily Mail

Financial Times endorses Alex Renton’s exposure of boarding school abuse

“Anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison,” observed Evelyn Waugh. But in the journalist Alex Renton’s polemical new book about boarding schools, the stories of institutionalised humiliation and endemic physical and psychological abuse are worse even than what an inmate might expect in jail.

Financial Times

Former groundsman charged with 17 further sex abuse charges at North Devon boarding school

A former groundsman has denied a further 17 offences of sexually abusing a boy at the boarding school in North Devon where he worked.

Peter Weyman, aged 66, was already facing allegations of abduction and indecency but has now been charged with further offences at Exeter Crown Court.

Both sets of allegations relate to boys who were students at Chelfham Mill School, near Barnstaple, between 1992 and 1994.

Weyman, of Cleveland Close, Carlton, Lindrick, pleaded not guilty to 17 new offences of indecent assault or indecency against the same boy when he was aged nine to 13.

He has already denied one count of child abduction, five of indecent assault, and five of gross indecency at an earlier hearing.

Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, adjourned all the cases for a jury trial to be held at Exeter on September 11 this year and released Weyman on bail.

Chelfham Mill School was a privately run boarding school for 40 boys with behavioural difficulties, aged seven to 18, until in closed last year following an Ofsted investigation.

Devon Live

Tears on my pillow: Secrets, crimes and schooling of a ruling class

Alex Renton examines the disturbing brutality of boarding school life.

Short of prison, what can estrange a child so completely from parental love as boarding school?

Parents are replaced with new and often unsafe attachments; predatory abuse is not uncommon. My own boarding school in south London, called Brightlands (a misnomer for such a dark Victorian-era barracks), traded in beatings. Any of us caught masturbating or talking after lights out was made to strip in the bathroom down the corridor, where a sports master (it was always a sports master) beat us with a slipper. It was a shaming business that fills me even today with impotent perplexity. In some unformulated way, I understood that the punishments were a sexual outrage: the sight of livid marks on our posh white backsides must have excited that master.

At eight, in 1969, Alex Renton was sent to one of the country’s most expensive boarding houses, Ashdown House, a feeder for our most exclusive public schools (he later went to Eton). Young Alex knew nothing about the paedophilia and sexualisation of life at Ashdown, though his father (Tim Renton, later Margaret Thatcher’s last chief whip) must have had an idea: “Remember, if any of the older boys try to take you into a bush, just say ‘No’.” Naturally Alex had an abject terror of parental abandonment. Yet crying after lights out was punished with a beating. The headmaster turned out to be a sadist whose pleasure was to spank bared bottoms until they bled.

Renton, a “self-declared survivor” of sexual abuse, was frequently caned at Ashdown but, as he writes in this grimly absorbing account of British boarding-school life, it was not done to “sneak” on one’s tormentors. Boys had to take their punishment like men – like the men who meted it out. Life at Ashdown is so tear-jerking and brutal that Dickens might have invented the place. One maths teacher, Mr Keane, liked to offer sweets in return for a “rummage inside our shorts”. Renton told his mother about the fumblings but the headmaster’s wife managed to convince her that a formal complaint “would cause unpleasantness” and, anyway, “children made these things up”. Thus Renton was taught early on to expect disappointment.

The New Statesman

Boarding schools miss the point on the mental health crisis facing young people

Pressure on private school pupils to get top grades is leading some to self-harm, a clinical psychologist has claimed.

Tanya Byron, a clinical psychologist and broadcaster, told headteachers at the Boarding Schools’ Association conference in York this afternoon that “it’s not an exaggeration to say there’s a mental health crisis in children and young people”.

She said colleagues in London were seeing “amazing young people” who are “coming in chopping into their arms because don’t get enough A*s, but their mate does, and they are not thin enough and they are not hench enough and they haven’t got the right six pack. It’s all about perfection.”

She added: “And I would say in the independent sector you see more of that than anything else because often these kids come from families that are very aspirational.

“With respect to you all, because I understand you are businesses, you have to protect your brand and you have to get the grades, but at what cost? That’s all I’m asking you.

“What are we doing for children young people? Are they rounded? Are they resilient? I would argue no.”

When challenged by one head, she said said she “totally agreed” there was similar pressure in the state sector caused by league tables and the need to protect brands.

However, she added that the biggest group of problems that are growing are “amongst children of families that you see”, and added: “I would argue the mental health difficulties within the independent school sector is huge“.

Julie Robinson, general secretary of the Independent Schools Council, said: “I think our schools are particularly good on pastoral care and support. There is very good tutoring. Particularly in boarding, you’ve got house parents, you’ve got tutors, you’ve got layers and layers of pastoral care. And that’s one of the benefits – the wrap around care for the whole child.”

[This is the same Julie Robinson that failed to understand Boarding School Syndrome on a recent C4 News interview…]

TES

Boarding schools should be forced to report child abuse following John Smyth scandal

Boarding schools should be forced to report child abuse, a leading headmaster has said, following revelations that Winchester College students had suffered horrific beatings during summer holidays at the hands of John Smyth, a leading QC, in the 1970s.

Leo Winkley, the chair of the Boarding School Association (BSA) has urged the Government to make the mandatory reporting of abuse a legal duty for all teachers and youth club workers.

Addressing headteachers at the BSA annual conference, he said that institutions must “face up to the failures of the past” adding that there have been “too many times when our schools have failed to keep children safe”.

[But do the boarding schools get to decide what is “child abuse”, missing the point about Boarding School Syndrome created by abandonment, emotional abuse, sending young children away to board, homesickness? All are forms of child abuse and have no place in the 21st century….]

The Telegraph