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….]
Over the weekend, we at Boarding Concern have heard about a teacher at a boarding school who misbehaved in a grossly unprofessional manner towards a pupil in their care.
Whilst we cannot say more to protect the privacy and legal position of the pupil involved, this matter was not reported but dealt with within the school. This is exactly the same way schools dealt with these issues 20 to 30 years ago.
This is why we support the campaign to introduce mandatory reporting of these child protection matters to the appropriate Local Authority for further and full investigation.
We welcome the decision of the NSPCC to support the mandatory reporting of child abuse in boarding schools.
The BBC reports that Peter Wanless, who is investigating the handling of Home Office files relating to child abuse allegations, now supports the mandate campaign.
We have been supporting this campaign since its launch and we hope that recent developments will see future legislation on this issue.
Pete Saunders of NAPAC is quoted in the TES from January this year.
And the Independent Association of Prep Schools in another TES article miss the point when they think that children in boarding schools can only be harmed by “sexual offences”. A lot of harm happens just by sending a child away to boarding school. Ask Professor Schaverien…
The culture of silence and denial around harming children in boarding school continues…
We welcome today’s editorial and feature articles in the Observer newspaper supporting our call for an end to early boarding in the UK. This follows Alex Renton’s article in last week’s Observer.
Three letters have been published in today’s newspaper, including one from us:
We welcome Alex Renton’s contribution to the debate about children living in institutions. In the British care system, we aim to place looked-after children in foster families rather than children’s homes. When we know that children need love and attention within a family, why do we deprive boarders of this?
Suggestions that children choose to board implies that these children made an informed decision. This might be true for those over 16; it is not true for those under the “age of consent”. There is a trade-off to going away to boarding school. Shuttered emotional development, clinging to institutional life, compared with growing up normally within their family and community.
Tom Perry has also written a letter about boarding and the mandatory reporting of abuse. We support his campaign requiring boarding schools and other institutions to have a legal requirement to report abuse allegations.
Today’s Observer newspaper has an editorial questioning the practice of sending children away at an early age. The newspaper also has a feature article on our campaign to end early boarding, which we have been running since 2002. Our letter along with Tom’s and another appear on the paper’s letters page.
Share your thoughts with us on our Forum.
Schools are “no safer now than they were 50 years ago,” a victim of sexual abuse at one of England’s most prestigious (boarding) prep schools has claimed.
Tom Perry spoke out as 83-year-old Roland Peter Wright, the former headmaster of Calidcott Preparatory School was due to be sentenced today (Feb 6) after being convicted of abusing boys at Caldicott Preparatory School between 1959 and 1970.
Another former teacher at the Buckinghamshire school, Hugh Henry, 82, who was also due to be sentenced on abuse charges, died on Tuesday after being hit by a train.
More from the TES.