Jon Snow: C4 News presenter abused at Ardingly College aged 6

The Channel 4 News presenter, Jon Snow, was abused by a domestic servant at his boarding school when he was around six years old, in 1953.

It took him years to talk to anyone about his experience: ‘It is very, very difficult to do. But it’s an essential thing to do’.

BBC News

How do the parents of boarders treat their child’s teachers?

‘Workload issues may differ between state and private schools, but its effect is equally malign’

We need to create a more realistic working environment for teacherstheir mental health and general wellbeing will improve as a result, and that will trickle down to their pupils, writes one celebrated head

Well, the honeymoon’s over.  The start-of-term energy and optimism are wearing thin. Books are piling up, older pupils’ first major pieces of work awaiting marking.

No one goes into teaching assuming it’ll be easy. But now it’s getting darker earlier, the light’s shorter while days become longer: and half-term’s too far off yet to be counting down the hours.

Teacher workload is a problem, and teachers’ representatives are rightly more exercised about it than ever, while politicians largely ignore their concerns.

Having spent nearly all my career in private schools, I’m often asked how the independent sector tackles workload issues. My customary answer is that it’s much like the maintained sector: some schools manage them well, others work their staff into the ground, and all should look at the (frequently excessive) demands made of teachers.


Parents sometimes assume a right to contact their child’s teachers at any time they choose. Boarding-school staff, in particular, live in dread of the late-night (too frequently alcohol-fuelled, alas) email or phone-call expressing anger, accusation – even abuse. Many schools nowadays publish protocols in an attempt to protect their teachers from such exchanges.

TES News

Bullying: our daughter was hounded out of a top boarding school

When her teenager was badly bullied, one mother found that all that mattered to the school was its reputation

With the glorious benefit of hindsight I have no idea what we thought we were doing eight years ago when we decided to send our very urban youngest daughter to an all-girls boarding school in the middle of the countryside, miles from any form of civilisation. What misguided belief made us think that she would be happy and settled when she could visit us only every three weeks, and even then for less than 24 hours?

The Times (subscription)

Chair of the Education Select Committee calls for the end of across-the-board charitable status for private boarding schools.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative chair of the Education Select Committee, has called for the end of across-the-board charitable status for private [boarding] schools.

Writing for the Conservative Home website, Halfon, who is MP for Harlow and was skills minister between July 2016 and June 2017, says it is unclear why private schools should be regarded as charities and questions the purpose of granting them charitable status.

Halfon, who went to a private school, says that although many private schools offer bursaries, he is not sure whether they are actually reaching really low-income students and those from truly deprived areas.

Through their charitable status, private schools get significant tax breaks, including concessions with VAT and business rates – and, of course, no corporation tax if they make a surplus,” he says.

“Is it fair that these tax advantages are available to public schools, though further education colleges and public sixth-form colleges have to pay VAT on their purchases? Yet these latter institutions really do provide a ladder of opportunity to those students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Third Sector (registration required)

Watchdog will examine role of boarding school teachers who also set exam questions

England’s exams watchdog has announced a review of rules allowing teachers to set question papers, in the wake of allegations of exam leaks at boarding schools first revealed in the Guardian.

The development, which follows the revelation of cheating allegations involving Eton and Winchester, could put the future of the Pre-U exam under threat.

The investigation by Ofqual was given the backing of the schools minister, Nick Gibb, who said it was necessary to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the exam system.

The Guardian

BBC News

No criminal charges for former head teacher of Taunton boarding school

Chris Alcock, 58, resigned from Queen’s College last year

A former head teacher who was at the centre of the a police probe will not be prosecuted, it has been confirmed.

Chris Alcock, a former head teacher of Queen’s College in Taunton, quit his position last year amid claims he downloaded porn on school computers and conducted inappropriate adult relationships.

Until his dismissal, he had been head teacher of the £30,000-a-year Queen’s College since 2001.

He handed in his resignation after he was confronted with the the accusations he had breached the code of conduct at the school, founded 173 years ago on strict Methodist principles.

Somerset Live

‘Inadequate’ boarding school in Exeter where pupils were at risk of harm is revisited by Ofsted

Ofsted inspectors have returned to ‘inadequate’ Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education this week to conduct a monitoring visit.

During their two-day visit this Tuesday and Wednesday, inspectors have been focusing on improvements it has made in safeguarding, and teaching and learning. Last December the findings of the academy’s recent Ofsted inspection were announced revealing it was found to be at risk of harm.

The damning report said it was not providing an acceptable standard of education. It said failures by governors had put pupils at risk of harm and led to a serious decline in the school’s performance. Inspectors found a new child protection reporting system was “not fit for purpose”, and disclosed there had been an investigation into “serious allegations” relating to safeguarding.


Devon Live

Gordonstoun school asks former pupils if they were abused

A leading private school with links to the royal family has contacted more than 3,000 former pupils asking them to report evidence of abuse they may have suffered during their time there.

Allegations of historical abuse at Gordonstoun junior school emerged two years ago.

Prince Charles is a former pupil at the boarding school, near Lossiemouth in Moray, and disliked his time there so much he described it as being like “Colditz in kilts”.

It is one of a number of independent schools in Scotland named by Lady Smith, the judge who is conducting a national inquiry into historical abuse in the country.

The Times (subscription)

‘I am not a monster’… Priest denies using excessive force while punishing pupils at Highland boarding school

A priest denied he was “a monster on the loose who exploded with temper” as he punished pupils at a Catholic boarding school.

Thomas Seed, an 83-year-old former monk who taught at Fort Augustus Abbey, was giving evidence during the third day of his trial in which he denies assaulting eight boys in his charge.

A jury was told by five former pupils that Seed, also known as Father Benedict, would cane or belt them until they bled, with one accusing him of using a spiked golf shoe.


UK Boarding: the decline continues

New figures released today by the Independent Schools Council (the umbrella association for UK fee-charging/private schools) show that boarding in the UK continues to decline.

Another year of battering for the beleaguered boarding school industry with historic and current abuse allegations and prosecutions. Failures in safeguarding and child protection. Failures to comply with the minimum standards for boarding. On top of the growing awareness of the harm caused by Boarding School Syndrome. Batterings from the usually pro-boarding news media. And the publication of Alex Renton’s damning book, showing nothing has changed in boarding.

Largest decline is in girl boarders: -1.46% with those in single sex girls’ schools (GSA) down -4.0%. And a -2.4% decline in girls at boarding prep schools.

For boys, the drop is -0.3% overall with prep school boy boarders down -0.2%.

Shocking to see in the ISC’s figures that 6 year olds are still being sent away to boarding school.

More analysis to follow…

All figures from the ISC Annual Census 2017.