Violence, cruelty and sexual confusion are as much a part of boarding school literature as japes and cricket. Alex Renton surveys a troubled genre from Kipling to Rowling
When Alex Renton wrote about being abused at boarding school, he didn’t anticipate the huge response. Or that he’d end up breaking down in a police station
It is, they say, good to tell the story. Let it out: nightmares are best cured by daylight. But what do you do next? Three years ago I decided to come out as a survivor of abuse, physical and psychological, at boarding school. I’m a journalist, so I did what comes naturally: I published an article in a magazine. I went back to my famous prep school, where a police investigation had begun. Ashdown House had made the front page of the Daily Mail because Boris Johnson, Damian Lewis and the Queen’s nephew David Linley had been there.
The Times (subscription required)
Longer article on Alex Renton’s blog.
As boarding schools in the UK tart themselves up and rearrange the deckchairs, they are just pricing themselves out of the domestic market. Why not just convert these schools to day schools to cater for local families. And no need to export Boarding School Syndrome around the world?
“That’s what they go to boarding school for! The VERY luxurious five-star dorms that boast sea views, gourmet food and gold taps in the loos
- UK boarding schools have been enlisting the help of cutting-edge designers
- Parents are paying up to £40,000 a year for their children’s education
- …but facilities include luxury dorms, yoga rooms and designer furniture“
But it’s still an institution…
Both of these issues are well established, with Nick Duffell identifying the latter back in the 1990s and Professor Joy Schaverien identifying the former more recently. And the mental health issues of boarders and former boarders so often raised in the media?
Don’t hold your breath!
THE Scottish Government is to bring forward a new law to criminalise the emotional abuse and neglect of children.
Childcare and early years minister Mark McDonald announced the move in response to the publication of two reports on child protection.
Mr McDonald told MSPs at Holyrood that the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 would be updated to recognise the impact of emotional abuse and neglect, as well as physical harm.
It follows the findings of a review of the child protection system led by independent chair Catherine Dyer and the publication of the Government’s child protection improvement programme report.
Mr McDonald said: “This Government is determined to ensure more of Scotland’s children get the best possible start in life. This means protecting the most vulnerable in our communities from harm, abuse and neglect.
One painful moment from my childhood remains so sharply defined in my memory that it has the power to make me cry — even now.
I am a boy, aged just eight, sitting at a window in my boarding school, scanning the drive, waiting for my father to turn up and take me on an afternoon outing.
Minutes tick by. The arranged time for our meeting passes. I wait, still hopeful, expectant, excited.
Mark Stibbe, a former vicar who lives in North Yorkshire, is among those to claim to have been abused by youth worker John Smyth, who ran Christian holiday camps. As other victims waive their right to anonymity, here he tells his story in full.
What is the point of these Ofsted inspections that are mere tickbox exercises for boarding? Where are the social workers assessing why each boarder has been placed in care, away from their families?
The UK is a small country and we no longer have an Empire. There is no longer any need for children to be sent away to loveless institutions (regardless of how comfortable they are).
If a teenager chooses to board at 16+ and it is exclusively their decision, then we at Boarding Concern will support their decision (subject to proper safeguards). But there is absolutely no need in 21st Century Britain to send children and young teenagers away from home, given the disastrous history of British boarding.
Everything else is just pointless PR puff.
“Delight as Wymondham College earns ‘outstanding’ inspection grade”
Maybe social workers are not caught up in the fetish of boarding? Maybe they do not want to send vulnerable children away from foster care and into loveless institutions, riddled with a history of abusing children?
And it has nothing to do with any fantasy of that perennial bogey “leftwing ideology”. Just practical, common sense that children are generally best raised in families than sent away to develop Boarding School Syndrome and or to become “Wounded Leaders“…
The Times (letters) (subscription)
A lawsuit against a Harrison County (WV) boarding school, forced to close about three years ago, alleges a “culture of silence and secrecy” at the school led to widespread abuse.
Two former students of the Miracle Meadows School in Salem filed the lawsuit late last month in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The former students, who are identified only by their initials, L.B. and T.B., claim they still suffer because of the alleged abuse — and always will.
Miracle Meadows had its state-recognized education status revoked in August 2014, and the Department of Health and Human Resources removed the school’s 19 students.
The former students claim they were subjected to neglect and extreme physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Between 2009 and 2014, the school was named in more than a dozen complaints involving abuse and mistreatment of students, the Associated Press previously reported.