Alex Renton: Fear, lies and abuse: the private school cover-up

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.

It’s still not home, is it?

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…

Daily Mail

UK government commissioning research to help schools identify which mental health approaches worked best.

We wonder if this “research” will examine Boarding School Syndrome or the Strategic Survival Personality?

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!

BBC News

 

How I came to terms with the horrors of my boarding school abuse

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.

iNews

Another pointless tickbox “outstanding” boarding inspection

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”

Eastern Daily Press

Boarding schools and social workers’ hostility?

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)

Social workers avoid inflicting boarding school syndrome on disadvantaged children

It seems that social workers can see through the flogging of failed boarding as some sort of salvation for disadvantaged or vulnerable children.

There have been so many of these trendy almost fetishistic projects to give disadvantaged children “a taste of the boarding” in recent years. All have failed.

Boarding School Syndrome does not discriminate across social class. It affects us all. We need good day schools, with children and teenagers raised at home, not in loveless institutions. If families need support, provide it without sending the children away.

In the meantime, let’s blame the social workers for being perceptive…

“A scheme to offer free boarding school places to vulnerable children has failed because social workers thought they ‘wouldn’t fit in’ and refused to make referrals, charities say.

Many assume for ideological reasons that boarding is ‘not right’ for children from certain backgrounds, those leading the project claim.

It would have provided free places at leading private and state boarding schools for those at risk of ‘poor social and emotional outcomes’ because of family difficulties.”

Daily Mail

The Telegraph

A letter to … My parents, who abandoned me to boarding school

I can understand why you did it. In theory. I understand that you wanted to give me the best education money could buy. I don’t blame you for sending me away to an extremely strict boarding school when I was very young. I think you genuinely thought it was best for me – and for my younger brother, who you also sent away, to another boarding school in another part of the country, miles away from me.

Read the full letter in The Guardian

Former boarder and author of Watership Down, Richard Adams, has died aged 96

The author of Watership Down, Richard Adams, has died aged 96, his daughter has said.

The tear-jerking children’s classic about a group of rabbits in search of a new home after the destruction of their warren was first published in 1972.

The tale, first told by Adams on a long car journey with his daughters, turned into a best-seller.

Adams, a civil servant from Newbury in Berkshire, also wrote Shardik, The Plague Dogs and The Girl in a Swing.

Watership Down won the Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction in the year of publication.

Boarding school

He suffered the fate of many middle-class boys of the period when he was sent to boarding school at the age of nine, where, by all accounts, he had a miserable time.

BBC News