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

Councils pressured to place children in boarding schools instead of care

The government will lean on “reluctant” councils to place vulnerable children in boarding schools instead of costly residential care, an education minister has said.

Officials will promote boarding as an alternative to care, against what Lord Nash described as a backdrop of historic “prejudice”, as part of a drive to place more vulnerable children in state and independent boarding schools.

Boarding School Partnerships, an organisation that links care charities and councils with boarding places for children, was launched earlier this year with ministerial support and funding from the Department for Education and Education Endowment Foundation.

[Is this just an attempt to prop up the failing UK boarding school industry, bedeviled by ongoing abuse scandals and Boarding School Syndrome? If they can’t fill their beds with overseas students, let’s dump looked-after kids in them and tick another box…]

Schools Week

With serious sexual abuse allegations, Christ’s Hospital school fights back. With a silly puff piece!

Who cares about the colour of their socks or whether the uniform is the oldest or looks like Hogwart’s? Why aren’t these young children being raised at home, instead of in a loveless, ancient, allegedly dangerous institution? When there are sexual predators about? Who is looking after your children?

“Breeches, knee socks and frock coats – meet the children starting school in Britain’s oldest uniform”

The Telegraph

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.

Tanzania: Boarding School for Under-Tens? Not Ideal

African countries get that early boarding is a no-no. Why doesn’t the UK?

Sending children aged below ten to a boarding school is denying them their basic rights, which include parental love and care. The remarks were made by the Acting Director of Temeke Municipality, Mr John Bwana who is also Head of Children Department in the Municipality, in Dar es Salaam on the occasion to mark the International African Child Day.”

“Mr Bwana, who was the guest of honour said sending children below ten years old to boarding schools contributes to lack of parental love and care to the children.”

Twenty years of Harry Potter: help for a declining, outdated, abusive industry?

26 June 1997. The day the first Harry Potter fantasy was published.

By 2002, the UK boarding school industry was crowing about the tales being a white knight for their declining industry. They started refurbishing their dorms, building new boarding houses on the back of a work of fiction. Written by a non-boarder.

The reality is that sexual and other abuses continue. Just read the news reports on this site about current, active boarding school abuse cases. No amount of fictional wizardry can replace the trauma and abandonment of boarding.

2002 also saw the founding of Boarding Concern, creating a support and advocacy organisation for those identifying as boarding school survivors.

Today, twenty years later, the boarding decline continues, propped up by the predatory acquisition of children from overseas.

And the Hogwart’s Generation of Millennial former boarders are now beating a path to our door. Our analytics show they represent 20% of visitors to our website.

What we have learned from the Harry Potter generation is that boarding should remain just a work of fiction, a fantasy. There is no need to send children away to boarding school.

The Guardian

Fury at sex abuse inquiry snub: Former boarders ‘devastated’ by bombshell U-turn

VICTIMS who claim they suffered horrific sexual abuse at a Scots boarding school have been snubbed by an official inquiry – despite being backed by the PM who said they helped set it up.

When she was Home Secretary, Theresa May wrote to a former pupil of Fort Augustus Abbey school to thank him for his “invaluable” help setting up the English Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in 2015.

But the evidence of former Scottish pupils like him who attended that infamous boarding school is now unlikely to be heard at the powerful inquiry in London.

Last week, Fort Augustus Abbey was left off the list of schools to be examined by the IICSA later this year.

The snub has prompted fury among those who claim their lives were ruined by what they experienced at the boarding school.

Last night one victim told The Sunday Post: “This has come out of the blue. We’ve been waiting a long time for the inquiry.

“The effect is devastating on our mental health. There have been a number of suicides by ex-pupils because of the abuse.”

He said former pupils are very upset at the bombshell development, especially given Prime Minister May’s earlier support.

Sunday Post

UK government commissioning research to help schools identify which mental health approaches worked best.

We wonder if this “research” will examine Boarding School Syndrome or the Strategic Survival Personality?

Both of these issues are well established, with Nick Duffell identifying the latter back in the 1990s and Professor Joy Schaverien identifying the former more recently. And the mental health issues of boarders and former boarders so often raised in the media?

Don’t hold your breath!

BBC News