Pre-teens don’t belong in boarding schools

There is no good reason why we should continue condemning innocent children to the insular world of boarding schools. And, for the record, I am not writing this from an ivory tower. Of the 16 years in the 8.4.4 system, I’ve been a boarder for the first 12.

I was barely seven years when I saw my dad walk out of the school gate, leaving me amongst strangers at a time when I was a stranger even to myself. The feeling of abandonment has stuck with me ever since. In this, I know I’m not alone.

Are boarding schools worth it? The separation from parents, the money paid and exclusion from society? Are boarding schools overrated?

Four things are worth remarking about boarding schools. One, a majority (if not all) offer an environment fraught with emotional, academic and social pressure. Expecting children under 13 to know how to respond to pressure is expecting something greater than a miracle.

At this vulnerable age, what children need most is an emotionally meaningful relationship, not pressure. And only parents can offer that. Teachers, however dedicated, cannot provide emotional satisfaction to every kid in the class.

If kids are to grow into healthy adults, they have to be brought up in a family, which is the microcosm of the society. Remember it takes a village, not a boarding school, to raise a child.

Is this from the UK? No, it’s Kenya…

 

First state-funded primary boarding school in the east of England

Sad news, that with all the evidence of harm from early boarding, the Sapientia Education Trust (SET) (of which Wymondham College is the founding school) has decided to open an early state boarding facility.

In April this year, SET was granted permission (by the Department for Education) to open the Sapientia Primary Prep School as part of a wave of 111 free schools around the country.

The school, for five to 11-year-olds, will create 450 places, 30 of which will be boarding, making it the first state-funded primary boarding school in the east of England.

Eastern Daily Press

CPS makes commitment to male victims of sexual abuse

Boarding Concern welcome the announcement today that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are “to issue guidance on handling cases of abuse against men.”

“The CPS has published its first ever public statement recognising the needs and experiences of male victims of offences including rape, […] and child sexual abuse.

Many male victims of these crimes never come forward to report them to the police. This can be for a variety of reasons, including fear that their masculinity may appear to be diminished if they report […] abuse or that homophobic assumptions will be made around their sexuality if they are raped by a man.

The CPS has always been committed to securing justice for all victims, both male and female, and applies policies fairly and equally. It has worked with groups which represent the interests of male victims to explore the issues they face in relation to these offences.”

While welcoming this progress, Boarding Concern want to see the CPS commit to securing justice for those who suffered abandonment, neglect, bullying, assaults and other trauma by being sent away to boarding school.

That these forms of child abuse continue to happen in the UK in the 21st century is a disgrace.

We can’t prevent Boarding School Syndrome so we will just take away their smartphones

Just when children and early teens need more private contact with their parents, one school plans to give them less…

Surrey boarding school BANS mobile phones

A Surrey boarding school has banned the use of mobile phones for year 9 and 10 pupils.

Cranleigh School is said to be the first in the UK to prohibit the use of the device for  its first two year groups.

The co-educational school in Surrey, educates pupils from age 13 to 18.

Staff claims that the move has proved popular with parents and pupils alike.

Deputy Head (Pastoral) Dr Andrea Saxel says: “We were already on the stricter end of smartphone use but this academic year we have decided to limit use in those two-year groups completely.

“Pupils have plenty of opportunity to contact home via private landlines and e-mail. [Not the same as being able to call or message their parents in private on their own phones without boarding schools monitoring their telephone calls and email messages.]

“There is extremely compelling evidence to show that constant access to social media sites is damaging to children’s self-esteem and mental health. [There is also compelling evidence of damage to children’s self-esteem and mental health from Boarding School Syndrome and other abuse at boarding school.]

Eagle Radio

Feeling down? It could be the ‘September blues’

BBC News has a feature on the “September Blues”. The article talks about the shortening days, the return to routine and the changes in the weather. Seasonal affective disorder

For some former boarders and most boarding school survivors, September brings back memories of something else. The return to institutional life after the brief escape of the summer holidays. The feeling of abandonment for those send away to board at too young age…

If this resonates with you, feel free to check in with us at our Forum and share…

Eurasian who went to British boarding school breaks his silence over abuse

How a Chinese mother’s dream of an English education for her son placed him at the mercy of a tyrannical ‘discipline master’, who was accused of both physical and sexual abuse during his time at the Grace Dieu Manor House, in England

Next month, thousands of Chinese children from Hong Kong and the mainland will head off or return to boarding schools in Britain for a prized education, but it was not always so.

When I arrived at my English prep school in 1953, having been raised in Shanghai and Bangkok, I was the only Eurasian out of the 100 or so boys at Grace Dieu Manor House, in the Leicestershire country­side. Asians would remain a rare sight at the school for a few decades more, until I was followed by a stream of Hong Kong Chinese in the run-up to the handover of the British colony to China, in 1997.

South China Morning Post Magazine

Separation anxiety disorder and boarding

Boarding schools have long been considered ‘psychopath factories’ in which abuse and humiliation are a fixture of daily life. Yet it is from these very institutions that many of our rulers have been selected.

The Pileus

Eddie Izzard: Boarding school can make you emotionally dead

Comedian, actor and marathon man Eddie Izzard believes the death of his mother, years at boarding school and ‘coming out’ as transgender have toughened him up. Hannah Stephenson catches up with the star and discovers his next challenge might just be the biggest…

Fifty-five-year-old Eddie Izzard is a tough character but you can understand why when you look at his past. The son of BP’s chief accountant Harold Izzard, his mother Dorothy Ella died from bowel cancer when he was six, a year after the family returned to Britain from the north, but his parents didn’t tell him she was dying and he wasn’t prepared for the emotional loss.

Soon after, he and his older brother Mark were sent to boarding school, another traumatic event which led to him battening the hatches emotionally, as detailed in a chapter he entitles ‘Exile‘.

We didn’t see Dad for two thirds of the year. I did a lot of crying and wailing. I was unhappy about everything and feeling sorry for myself. I cried till I was 11,” he recalls.

Boarding school toughens you up. It can make you emotionally dead because you are emotionally blocked, but you are tough. You can’t empathise or sympathise.”

He didn’t cry again until he was 19, when a cat was run over in the road in front of him. He picked it up and, realising that he needed to feel something, forced himself to cry.

I ripped open those pathways to ensure I knew how to cry. I knew it was bad not feeling anything.”

The Irish News

Someone needs to add Boarding School Syndrome into the mix…

At an event last week called “The Dark Side of Business,” held at the Corinthia Hotel in London, neuroscientist Tara Swart spoke about why psychopathic traits were so common in high-powered people.

She said many signs of psychopathy were also synonymous with those of strong leadership, such as callousness, impulsivity, aggression, and showing little emotion.

With more men in CEO positions than women, Swart says, boardrooms are severely lacking female characteristics such as empathy, intuition, and creativity. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and Swart acknowledged that some women were bad at empathy and some men were good at it — but as a general rule, she said, these tend to be female traits.

[…]

Some of Swart’s male clients were sent off to boarding school at a young age and had horrible experiences of bullying, institutionalised violence, and humiliation. But women experience these things too.

Business Insider asked whether the ways men and women coped with these feelings of shame and rejection had an impact on more men ending up with psychopathic traits.

[But no mention of Boarding School Syndrome?]

Business Insider

Local authorities know from past experience that dumping kids in boarding schools does not work…

And parents who want an exclusive, privileged education for their children will not want this for their children…. Merely a way to prop up overpriced fee-charging boarding schools when UK boarding industry is in decline. Unless propped up by overseas children. Boarding School Syndrome for all?

The Telegraph and Times reports:

Public schools are launching a new diversity drive that will see children who risk being put into care offered places at Eton College and Harrow School instead.

Under the initiative, named The Boarding Schools Partnership, youngsters from some of the most vulnerable families will enroll at some of Britain’s top boarding schools.

More than 80 councils have signed up to the scheme which will be launched on Tuesday by the schools minister Lord Nash and Lord Adonis, a former Labour education minister.

Harrow, Rugby, Benenden and Eton are among the schools taking part. Colin Morrison, chair of the Boarding Schools Partnership, said the school fees, typically ranging from £25,000-£39,000 a year, will be covered by their local councils.

[…]

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said that recruiting children for the programme was “incredibly challenging“.

“It was a real struggle to recruit enough young people to make even a smaller pilot trial statistically secure,” he said at the time.

“One of the major barriers was that some local authorities wanted to keep the children where they are, which is of course understandable. Some were worried that they wouldn’t fit in or that boarding school wouldn’t be right for them.”

[Not the only ones probably…]

The Telegraph