Tonight’s ITV film: how can we help?

If you have arrived here from watching the ITV documentary, welcome.

We at Boarding Concern offer support to former boarders, their partners and others affected by boarding.

We cover all types of UK boarding schools, including private fee-charging schools, state boarding schools, military boarding schools, local authority schools and schools for those with special needs.

We raise awareness of boarding issues, like you saw this evening.

If the film has left you needing someone to talk to right now, please visit our Contact Us page for services that offer support anytime.

We are not a specialist sexual abuse support service. If you are looking for such a service, please contact either NAPAC or The Survivors Trust for details of your local services.

If you have been the victim of a crime, including sexual abuse while at school, Victim Support can help you decide your next steps. If you would like help with your legal options, ACAL can help.

We hope that you find the information you are looking for on this website, or the others that we have linked you to.

If you choose to write to us, please be aware that we are expecting a powerful response to this film. This means that we might take a day or two to get back to you. However, we do acknowledge all messages sent to us.

Shocking scale of sexual abuse at UK boarding schools revealed by ITV documentary

This article and video contain material you may find distressing

An ITV documentary has revealed the true extent of sexual abuse at the UK’s boarding schools, with hundreds of people accused of carrying out sexual attacks in recent years and dozens of ongoing police investigations.

In the Exposure programme to be broadcast on Monday, journalist and author Alex Renton – who was sexually abused as an eight-year-old by his teacher at one of the country’s top boarding schools – investigates the private schools that appeared willing to disregard children’s safety, with some failing to take action against predatory paedophiles who groomed and assaulted young boarders repeatedly – sometimes getting away with it for decades.

Despite the years that have passed since Alex’s time at school, the reporting of abuse allegations is still not legally mandatory at all schools in the UK.

ITV’s Exposure made a Freedom of Information request to every police force in the UK and 24 responded. The results showed:

  • Since 2012, 425 people have been accused of carrying out sexual attacks at UK boarding schools
  • Not every force could provide further details but at least 160 people have been charged so far.
  • At least 171 of the total number were accused of historical abuse.
  • Since 2012 at least 125 people have been accused by children of recent sex attacks at boarding schools.
  • There are at least 31 ongoing investigations.
  • Just over half of the forces responded, meaning the total figure is likely to be far higher.

Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame – Exposure will be broadcast on Monday 19 February at 10.45pm (22:45) on ITV. 

Read more at ITV

ITV to screen boarding school abuse documentary

Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame – Exposure

Monday, 19 February 2018: 10:45pm (22:45 hours) ITV


An estimated one million people in Britain today went to boarding school. But increasingly the true extent of sexual abuse in these elite institutions is coming to light.

ITV’s Exposure investigates the private schools that appeared willing to disregard children’s safety, with some failing to take action against predatory paedophiles, who groomed and assaulted young boarders over and over again, sometimes getting away with it for decades. Did protecting a school’s reputation mean their pupils were put at risk?

This documentary follows Alex Renton, a journalist who himself was sexually abused as an eight year old by his teacher at one of the country’s top boarding schools.

Alex is sharing with Exposure a unique database, created from the huge personal correspondence he has received from victims of abuse since he began writing about his own experience of it.

Alex speaks with abuse survivors to expose the systematic failures that allowed paedophiles to go unpunished, and how in some cases this permitted them to continue teaching elsewhere in the private and the state sector, preying on more children. He also meets ‘James’, a former boarding school teacher and convicted paedophile, to ask the questions he couldn’t ask of his own, now dead, abuser.

Despite the decades that have passed since Alex’s time at school, the reporting of abuse allegations is still not legally mandatory at schools in the UK.

Exposure examines the current safeguarding procedures in place at boarding schools and asks whether these go far enough to protect children in the system today.

Alex Renton also has an article in this Sunday Times (18 Feb) about the documentary.

Monday, 19 February 2018: 10:45pm (22:45 hours) ITV

Chorister who sang for Queen sues boarding school for £650k over stalled career

Rhys Brown claims prestigious Lancing College didn’t support him after epilepsy diagnosis

A top chorister who claims a leading boarding school failed to give him the support he needed as he battled teenage epilepsy is suing for £650,000 damages.

Rhys Brown, 23, from Warwick, was in the choir at St George’s Chapel – where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will wed in May – and once sang a solo for the Queen.

And a glittering career beckoned when he won a musical scholarship to Lancing College, in Sussex, at the age of just 13, said his barrister Ghazan Mahmood.

Mr Mahmood added: “He had already achieved various musical accolades and was recognised as a highly talented individual with a potentially promising career ahead of him.”

But in 2008 – while still in his first year at the “highly prestigious” public school – Mr Brown was diagnosed with epilepsy, Judge Murray Rosen QC heard.

The school, which charges boarders almost £35,000-a-year, was duty bound to make “reasonable adjustments” to help him cope with his disability, added Mr Mahmood.

“However, these adjustments were not made, which resulted in a position where Mr Brown was unable to remain at the school,” he told Central London County Court.

“His time at the school ended when he was 14 and a half.”

Coventry Herald

Two tier charity warning over private boarding schools’ rates relief cut

PLANS to strip private boarding schools of tax breaks risks making them ‘second class charities’, ministers have been warned.

The Scottish Government has also been told the proposals undermine legislation which regulates all charities.

The concerns are raised in a series of emails from civil servants and officials from the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) revealed under freedom of information legislation.

Because private boarding schools are charities they qualify for an 80 per cent discount on business rates, but a review last year set up by the Scottish Government recommended the relief should be abolished.

The Herald

Underley Hall school owner ‘headbutted pupil’

A former pupil at a private boarding school was headbutted by the owner in a dining room full of other children, a court has heard.

The owner attacked the youngster at Underley Hall, in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, Carlisle Crown Court was told.

The owner, now 77, and four ex-members of staff deny allegations of cruelty and actual bodily harm.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place at the school during the 1970s and 80s.

Giving evidence, the former pupil told the jury he had been fighting with another boy in a dormitory before going to the dining hall for tea.

BBC News

Former Witherslack School staff deny child cruelty charges

Six former staff members at a Cumbrian boarding school have denied historical allegations of assault and cruelty.

The incidents are said to have occurred at Witherslack School in Grange-over-Sands between January 1973 and May 1982.

The men all pleaded not guilty at Carlisle Crown Court and were granted bail.

The trial, due to last about five weeks, will begin on 19 November.

BBC News

Boarding school boy ‘had eyes gouged’

Five men assaulted and bullied pupils at a private boarding school in order to “instil fear and brutality“, a jury has heard.

They have gone on trial at Carlisle Crown Court over claims relating to Underley Hall School in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria.

Prosecutors allege 10 boys were subjected to violence and humiliation.

Former owner and four former teachers and workers deny cruelty and actual bodily harm.

BBC News

Cumbria Crack

Reported sex offences against males in England and Wales up 200% in 10 years

Reports of sexual offences against men and boys have risen by more than 200% in the past decade, figures show.

Between 2006-07 and 2016-17, the number of offences reported in England and Wales rose from 3,819 to 12,130, said the Office for National Statistics.

Andy Connolly, from Survivors UK, said victims were beginning to feel they would be believed but there was still a “massive wall of silence”.

A 2015 survey estimated about 96% of offences against males go unreported.

Mr Connolly, chief executive of male rape and sexual abuse charity Survivors UK, said: “We do know of men who come forward and they just meet comments like ‘men can’t get raped, they can’t be sexually abused’ and are treated with disbelief that it is even a thing that happens to men.”

[This would include the recent increase in reported boarding school sexual abuse cases in England and Wales.]

Pupils were “physically assaulted and bullied” at a private boarding school

A jury has heard five men allegedly “physically assaulted and bullied” pupils at a South Cumbria private boarding school in order to “instil fear and brutality“.

The men, aged 58 to 77, have gone on trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

Between them they face a string of allegations of historical assaults and cruelty towards boys who had been referred to Underley Hall School, Kirkby Lonsdale, by local education authorities following professional assessments during the 1970s and 1980s.

Underley Hall, an independent boarding school for boys, opened in 1976 and closed in 2012.

BBC News

ITV News

Westmorland Gazette