Corporal punishment in UK schools

Corporal punishment was prohibited in all state-supported education in 1986. The prohibition was extended to cover private schools in England and Wales in 1998, in Scotland in 2000, and in Northern Ireland in 2003. But in 2014 the Government confirmed that legislation does not prohibit corporal punishment in “unregistered independent settings providing part-time education”.

Country Report

Smacking to be banned in Scotland

Smacking children is to be banned in Scotland, the Scottish government has confirmed.

The move would make the country the first part of the UK to outlaw the physical punishment of children.

Ministers had previously said they did not support parents using physical chastisement, but had “no plans” to bring forward legislation of their own.

But the government has now confirmed it will ensure a bill lodged by Green MSP John Finnie will become law.

And it is understood that ministers will work with Mr Finnie to implement the bill in practice.

His proposals, which were out for consultation over the summer, would give children the same legal protection as adults.

At present, parents in Scotland can claim a defence of “justifiable assault” when punishing their child – although the use of an “implement” in any punishment is banned, as is shaking or striking a child on the head.

BBC News

The Guardian

Anthony Horowitz: ‘People used to disagree. Now they send death threats’

He had a privileged upbringing but then his family lost everything. As he takes his biggest risk yet, the writer talks about surviving his childhood – and the storm he caused about writing black characters

Being packed off to boarding school at the age of eight could have been an escape. But this was the 1960s, when beatings were a way of life in such schools. At Orley Farm in Harrow, Horowitz was often left bleeding after six of the best. He worries that remembering such things sounds like whingeing, when other children lived in dire poverty. But, as the patron of the anti-bullying charity Kidscape, he says: “Emotional cruelty ignores wealth and position.” Such vicious treatment of children in boarding schools in the 60s, he believes, has had a detrimental impact on society. “It is why so much of this country is dysfunctional.”

It was not just the beatings that scarred the writer: being plump and Jewish made him an easy target for other boys. At night, he escaped by telling stories to schoolmates after lights out in his dorm. In those tales, he found salvation and developed an ambition to be a writer. It is clearly painful to recall. Why does he talk about it? “For one very simple reason,” he snaps back, with barely concealed irritation. “People like yourself always ask about it.

The Guardian

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

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)

Tears on my pillow: Secrets, crimes and schooling of a ruling class

Alex Renton examines the disturbing brutality of boarding school life.

Short of prison, what can estrange a child so completely from parental love as boarding school?

Parents are replaced with new and often unsafe attachments; predatory abuse is not uncommon. My own boarding school in south London, called Brightlands (a misnomer for such a dark Victorian-era barracks), traded in beatings. Any of us caught masturbating or talking after lights out was made to strip in the bathroom down the corridor, where a sports master (it was always a sports master) beat us with a slipper. It was a shaming business that fills me even today with impotent perplexity. In some unformulated way, I understood that the punishments were a sexual outrage: the sight of livid marks on our posh white backsides must have excited that master.

At eight, in 1969, Alex Renton was sent to one of the country’s most expensive boarding houses, Ashdown House, a feeder for our most exclusive public schools (he later went to Eton). Young Alex knew nothing about the paedophilia and sexualisation of life at Ashdown, though his father (Tim Renton, later Margaret Thatcher’s last chief whip) must have had an idea: “Remember, if any of the older boys try to take you into a bush, just say ‘No’.” Naturally Alex had an abject terror of parental abandonment. Yet crying after lights out was punished with a beating. The headmaster turned out to be a sadist whose pleasure was to spank bared bottoms until they bled.

Renton, a “self-declared survivor” of sexual abuse, was frequently caned at Ashdown but, as he writes in this grimly absorbing account of British boarding-school life, it was not done to “sneak” on one’s tormentors. Boys had to take their punishment like men – like the men who meted it out. Life at Ashdown is so tear-jerking and brutal that Dickens might have invented the place. One maths teacher, Mr Keane, liked to offer sweets in return for a “rummage inside our shorts”. Renton told his mother about the fumblings but the headmaster’s wife managed to convince her that a formal complaint “would cause unpleasantness” and, anyway, “children made these things up”. Thus Renton was taught early on to expect disappointment.

The New Statesman

Britain’s most prestigious military boarding school ‘bribed teacher’s daughter to provide information that led to the arrest of whistleblower’

Britain’s most prestigious military boarding school is facing damaging new claims that it covered up allegations of abuse against students.

On Saturday The Telegraph exposed how the Ministry of Defence appeared to collude The Duke of York’s Royal Military School to stifle claims of bullying and abuse.

Kent Police launched a review into their alleged failure to investigate dozens of criminal allegations at the school, and at least one detective inspector has been disciplined.

The Telegraph

Ministry of Defence accused of attempting to cover up claims of abuse at top military boarding school

The Ministry of Defence is accused of colluding with Britain’s most prestigious military boarding school to cover up claims of abuse, The Telegraph can disclose.

Kent Police has now launched a review into their alleged failure to investigate dozens of criminal allegations at The Duke of York’s Royal Military School, and at least one detective inspector has been disciplined.

The force has set up a dedicated team to review claims about the school, which is seen as a breeding ground for future army leaders and boasts His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent, as a patron.

The boarding school near Dover, which has enjoyed visits from Prince Harry and the British Army’s Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, is listed on police records as the location for 38 crime reports over the last two decades.

The Telegraph

[In a telling development, the Daily Mail has removed comments from its coverage of this story…]

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