When I occasionally get to see a documentary about education in another country, I have a natural tendency to assume that the work is somewhat representative of the traditions and quirks of schooling in that country. It’s not necessarily true, of course.
And then I wonder which documentary about U.S. education would be most representative of K-12 schooling here to a foreign audience. One of the many about schools in tough urban neighborhoods? One about competition to get into oversubscribed charter schools? There are so many, about so many diverse aspects of education here, that it would be hard to pick one that was truly representative.
So what is one to make of a documentary about a private boarding school in Ireland that is full of quirky characters?
“School Life” is a 100-minute film by Neasa Ní Chianáin, an Irish documentarian whose first acclaimed work was about an asylum. (“School Life” was evidently titled “In Loco Parentis” before being changed.)
There were things about my early childhood that I did not understand. I accepted, but did not really question. I knew the bare bones: that my father had died in the war and that, to enable her to pursue her career in the documentary film industry, my mother sent me to a boarding school when I was nearly three. And I knew that she had married my stepfather in 1947, but it wasn’t until four years later, when I was 10 and she was pregnant with my half-brother, that I finally came home for good to lead a family life.
My childhood before that was a bit unorthodox and rootless, but not unhappy. The schools I went to were well chosen, caring and liberal. I remember long, golden summers on the Sussex Downs spent with friends of my mother and filled with fun and kindness. My paternal grandmother, who often looked after me, was always loving and welcoming – with buttons to sort and cakes for tea.
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)
The Firm, as Dad called it, knew that agents’ children were a liability so they dangled the carrot of free private boarding school in front of them to keep us out of the picture. Mum and Dad were the first generation in my family not to go down the mines or become skivvies, they knew what lay behind them. My parents were desperate that their offspring should come to see themselves as confident, entitled, well-educated and to have social capital and opportunities that had never been extended to them. The upper-class MI6 leadership was made up of people my father respected and wanted to emulate.
The state exploited this longing and so my brothers were shipped away at six and seven years old, never to return. Later – until I managed to escape – I spent a year in what was essentially a prison for posh children. A growing body of evidence has shown that these institutions inflict deep psychological wounds, and this has indeed been my lasting experience. My eldest brother died at 24, and I wonder whether things would have been different for him had he been allowed to stay at home. I now understand that my childhood and family were shaped by state intrusion and secrecy.
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.
Australia has a different reason to the UK for providing boarding education. One of geographical distance. But homesickness is no respecter of reason.
“”In the UK, the popularity of boarding is less of a geographical factor and is much more of a realisation of what a boarding education can do; that it is more wholesome, well-rounded and incorporates making ‘better people‘ as opposed to just academically strong or sporting excellence – it’s much more holistic than that.”
Silcock, who began boarding aged seven, often speaks with parents worried about homesickness before their child begins boarding.”
We are not sure how Boarding School Syndrome, homesickness and abandonment makes former boarders “wholesome, well-rounded better people”…
Australian Financial Review
A former children’s television presenter has been jailed for sexually assaulting a young boy almost 60 years ago.
Former Jackanory storyteller John Earle admitted indecently assaulting the boy from when he was nine years old.
Earle, 87, was a teacher at a school in Okehampton, Devon, when he carried out the assaults between 1957 and 1961.
His victim Iain Peters, now aged 69, said the historic abuse had “blighted his life”.
He was jailed for four years and will sign the sex offenders register.
Earle admitted six counts of indecent assault on the boy while working as deputy head teacher at Upcott House Preparatory School.
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.
A headmaster has tried to reassure parents his Tunbridge Wells school is not a “pushy 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”.
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”.