EXPERIENCES AT ST. VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE S.E.S

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:32 am

What was so striking about Nelson Mandela was that somehow he had been purged - he entered prison as a terrorist and emerged as a statesman. I don't know how it happened, perhaps only he could say, but it was truely remarkable.

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Merry
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Postby Merry » Fri Mar 03, 2006 11:25 am

Dear All,

Thank you for your responses.

Sam it would be great to hear from you so give me a buzz ? I don?t have your mobile number anymore. Great to hear from you too James, hope NZ is treating you well; sorry you are missing the heat wave we are experiencing here in England.

Thank you Nilsabm for your response. I would like to say that I know of no member of the SES who considers it to be the perfect organisation ? if only! Is there any organisation of whatever nature in the world that is? We are made up of members of society with all the foibles that go with that and I do not find it cosy ? my home, that?s cosy. Nevertheless, I should not and am not embarrassed to say that I find it and the people a huge inspiration in my life. However, it?s not for everyone and there may well be a time when I would consider it time to leave. With regard to what I described as righteous anger, I was not suggesting that civil war would break out between some ex-pupils and SES/St James with riots in the streets! I was trying to draw a parallel between personal feelings and what can happen when that spreads to a wider, larger group. I quoted the South African situation because it was an obvious example but it can be seen all over the world, Middle East, Northern Ireland etc. It would have been presumptuous to direct that suggestion to any particular individual. Surely this is recognisable? I certainly recognise it in myself, but what I do with it is the important thing.

With regard to the appointment of David Boddy as headmaster I can promise you that the proposition originally came from him and was not in any way to combat any negative publicity about the past. I assume (and it is just an assumption) that the reference to ?hard line activists? is directed to a few people who have been putting stickers on the windows at one of the schools and heckling outside etc, not the vast majority of those who suffered bad experiences at school. I also think that website needs to be more prominent and I will speak to one of the governors to suggest that it should be more easily seen. I hope you can also write to them and support that view.

Hello Daska, thank you also for responding. I am genuinely dismayed to hear you say that your attempts at reconciliation were stamped on. Can you say in what way? If you don?t want to publish it here you can always contact me privately and I would fight your case in whatever way I could ? assuming of course that you didn?t say you were going to put a curse of them and all their offspring for eternity etc etc. I don?t know what the promise I made you are referring to, please explain.

I am not a representative of the SES on this website and the offer to meet ANYONE is entirely personal and though it may not be believed, would be entirely confidential. Nilsabn and Daska, I particularly would like to have a drink with either or both of you whenever convenient. I would reiterate that I still believe that those who want to express their views would find their efforts much more effective if they were to directly contact the governors.

Keir, we used to spend evenings and weekends together and as far as I remember got on very well and yet your response to me is entirely negative. I doubt if there is one thing I can say that would elicit anything approaching warmth because you will find a cynical way of turning it in to something it is not. Was my account that rosy? I tried to make it balanced. I spent a lot time composing that entry so it would not give offence or lecture anyone ? I do not and neither does the school have a monopoly on truth but I do try to be open hearted and willing to hear alternative opinions. I would suggest you read Nelson Mandela?s autobiography ?Long Walk to Freedom? ? that would explain that it was love and forgiveness not anger that shaped his life behind bars. Yes I am concerned, concerned that people were badly affected by the early years at St James and concerned for the welfare of St James today because I cannot imagine there are many other schools that offer such a loving and nurturing environment described by many current pupils. My contribution here is what I am doing about it, speaking to the Governors is what I am doing about it and offering to meet anyone in a personal capacity is what I am doing about it.

Regards to you all.

Patrick Wyatt
Last edited by Merry on Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:03 pm

"Edited"
Last edited by Stanton on Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:12 pm

I am sorry that you think my posted reply was negative, it wasn't intended to be. It was meant to be challenging. I do try to stay on topic and not to let it become a sort of meeting place on the lines of friendsreunited because I think it has a serious purpose.

I don't think I have ever being accused of being more than six inches away from humour and warmth, but I am serious about the danger to the schools and SES of not addressing the arrogance of the leadership and the opaqueness of their operation.

I am intelligent enough to understand that adult members of the SES are making a choice that is often a compromise, and would agree that it is not the only organisation with faults.

I am not such a bitter bunny boiler as you might imagine me to be from my more passionate posts.

Thankyou to you and Stanton for pointing out my earlier post which has now been edited. Explanation is forthcoming in a PM.

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:18 pm

Thanks Rosemary,

A most perceptive and healing post. I could not agree more.

Keir

parent
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Postby parent » Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:47 pm

I could not agree more Rosemary.

Thank you. You have articulated it beautifully. Although my child is no longer at St. James - I would not like to see any of the current pupils not be able to hold thier heads up high and say- THIS is our school. It is not thier fault. The current pupils should not have anything to be ashamed of.

You are absolutely correct in pointing out that there is a huge OPPORTUNITY for the School. If the school chooses to ignore it or shove it under the carpet, then this will inevitably drag on.

I refer to this site simply out of concern for current pupils. Since my child is studying elsewhere, I do not need to back here. But because I am aware of what my child experienced and what I felt and saw, I would like to see this as a very important step for the School to be totally transparent.

Thank you Rosemary!

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Merry
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Keir and Rosemary

Postby Merry » Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:18 pm

Dear Keir and Stanton,

Thank you both for your pm's which I greatly appreciated, both warm and honest. I will respond privately in due course - it may be a day or two as I'm off home soon. I wholeheartedly agree that the subject matter here is serious, nevertheless I've already come across 4 people I haven't seen or spoken to in some time in the space of 24 hours (for you Keir it must 12 years?). Eat your heart out Friends Reunited!

Kind regards

Patrick
Last edited by Merry on Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

nilsabm
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Postby nilsabm » Sat Mar 04, 2006 9:54 pm

Dear Rosemary
I read your reply posted on Friday on this thread. I didn't have time to respond then, which is a shame, as I was deeply touched by the depth of your understanding and the eloquent way in which you said that the school leadership should live up to the values that it preaches. I am sorry to see you have retracted your statements. If you'd realised how reconciling it was to just read that post, I wonder if you'd have left it there?

Have you changed your opinions?

I thought that your message had a perceptive insight and forceful sincerity that could really have made a difference.

Best regards
Nils

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:07 pm

I've received several warm and sincere responses to the 'Dear Patrick' letter which I posted on this site last week. It was, however, originally intended as a PM but I clumsily pressed the wrong button! This is why I removed it. If, however, you are a former or current pupil of St James and would like to read the letter I would be very willing to send it to you if you PM me.

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:32 pm

I've been asked by one or two people to resend the post I deleted so, with a couple of minor amendments, I am happy to do so.

Dear Patrick,

I was pleased to see you post on the board ? well judged and friendly. It was the friendly tone that struck me most. Jaw, jaw is better than war, war any time. Whatever their reasons for continuing anger, the former St James?s pupils are ? without always admitting it ? begging for understanding, acknowledgement and a human face. It is difficult to be angry for long if these qualities are freely offered.

I?ve been posting on the board for nearly a year now in the hope that my responses will support any moves, however tentative, towards reconciliation. Often I feel that I don?t know how best to do this ? a bulletin board is so unlike other forms of communication. So unpredictable and ungovernable ? anybody could be out there ? but also engaging. Like treading on eggs. Over the last year I think I?ve begun to get the measure of it.

Perhaps I should state here that I was a student of yours last year for a short time which is why I feel I can write to you. I was in the School for twenty years, leaving in 1989 and returning in 2004. So my perspective arises from that experience.

I?ve gradually become aware that School members are depressed and anxious about the bad publicity surrounding St James and overflowing to the SES. It must also be so difficult to come to terms with damaging children when the opposite was intended. However, it?s my belief that the current crisis is also an opportunity. It?s a call to action. And from that action will arise a new sense of purpose.

How so? An opportunity? Yes. To enrol a metaphor for the occasion - Siva could be better understood in the School. The powers of destruction and creation attributed to Siva may usefully be employed here. We?ve seen some of the destruction ? and if Channel 5 has its way there will be much more ? but there?s been little beyond pleas for better behaviour from St James and an invitation to reconciliation. Like water off a duck?s back for some, just as the Townend report predicted when it said that if acknowledgement is not made to former pupils of the damage they sustained then talk of reconciliation is wasted breath. It couldn?t have been put more clearly.

Commissioning the independent inquiry was an excellent first step and it?s noticeable that the tone of the bulletin board has changed since it was published. Taking part in the enquiry was, in itself, a healing experience for many. At last! They were being heard. At last they were being taken seriously. The governors? apology was timely and sincere, although hedged with justifications. And since then the shutters appear to have gone up.

So why no resignations from the Chairman and the two governors in post during the worst of it ? 1975-85? If they had resigned on the day when the Townend report was published it would have been of huge symbolic importance. I remain baffled as to why they did not. Resignation would have said that they were men of principle who accepted their personal responsibility for the mismanagement of St James. As it is, it looks stiff-necked and arrogant. What value the governors? apology when it?s not backed up by action? Where?s the sacrifice? I?ve heard the most extraordinary excuses (I can only call them that) from Teacher100 (on the BB) and from one or two old friends in SES ? these range from ?We didn?t know of the abuses, so why should they?? to ?Governors only came in once a year and accepted the headmaster?s report?. This is not governance. (I?ve just read your second post in which you offer to speak to the governors and am delighted to hear of your willingness to be honest broker.)

Allied to this is the composition of the governing board. I can well understand why St James believes that only School members are fit to be governors ? but is this really so? Clearly, one would not want a warring board. But there?s a danger of governors being too close to teaching staff. A distance ? and thus a willingness to enquire, investigate, and not accept anything at face value ? may well be more feasible when a common School interest is not in play. Not so long ago I heard the chairman of governors say that he always believed it was the governors? job to support the teachers. Fine and dandy. But who, then, governs? A resignation of the governors concerned and a willingness to bring in ?outsiders? would neutralise some of the concerns expressed on the bulletin board.

There is, of course, the question of the connection between the School and St James. I appreciate that there has been far greater openness in recent years. Clearly there needs to be more. There are those who say that the connection must be severed but there is no reason for that and, from my reading of the BB, I think it will suffice if the connection is crystal and parents sign up to it right from the start. Literally. Piece of paper with signature at the bottom. Longish document. It would state the reason for its necessity and lay out in the most unambiguous terms what the child will experience at St James. There will still be complainers from time to time but they?ll have less to complain about.

There are those in the School who think that this matter will never be cleared up and that it will always be a running sore. That the complainers will never be satisfied. Yes, both St James and the School will be under scrutiny from time to time. It?s inevitable. What is happening here is that the sins of the fathers are being visited on the children. It?s a modern-day version of the Bhagavad Gita and all the more painful for being between members of the same family. This is why it is so important for the governors to act and to be seen to act.

Apart from the professional trouble-makers on the site there are the former pupils? needs to consider. Because they sometimes seem so threatening there?s a tendency to think the worst of them. But patient, loving kindheartedness can mend even the bitterest of souls.

I wish you all success in your endeavours.

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Merry
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Stanton - The new Desmond Tutu?

Postby Merry » Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:01 pm

Dear Stanton,

Thank you very much for your reply. It seems posting it on the board rather than sending it as a pm was a happy mistake! I remember you well and it doesn't surprise me to see you contributing so constructively here.

All the points you raise are valid and should be open for discussion. As you say a medium such as this has its positive and negative aspects and consequently resolution and reconciliation is not going to happen here but it may and hopefully has started that process. Speaking face to face is to my mind essential, which is why I keep going on about it and I know the governors want this to happen. The force of any complainant?s views would be so much more potent and I hope liberating for that individual if they felt able to express it directly. I appreciate it may well take some courage for ex-pupils to take that step.

You are certainly right that there are SES members who find this whole matter worrying and depressing, as of course do those who are complaining but you are absolutely right when you say that this is an opportunity and a great one at that, as long as the heart is in the right place from all sides. I don?t know if you saw the television programmes earlier in the week where Desmond Tutu brought together former IRA members and families of those who had loved ones killed during ?the troubles?. What an inspiration he was and what an inspiration that process was. Please don?t draw too many parallels with the above! It?s the process that is important.

I would be very interested to know if any ex-pupils have asked to meet the governors and how that went. Daska said his|her attempts were stamped on and I am still hoping he| she will contact me to elaborate. I hope Keir will not mind me mentioning this here but we have been in contact and hope to meet soon which I see as very positive.

My very best wishes to you,

Patrick

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mike_w
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Postby mike_w » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:38 am

Keir wrote: I do try to stay on topic and not to let it become a sort of meeting place on the lines of friendsreunited because I think it has a serious purpose.

Sorry to hijack this thread, but if people DO want a friendsreunited type meeting place, there is a yahoo group set up for that very purpose...

http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/St_V_J_Reunited/

You do need to give your real name & a few details to verify that you were a pupil at one of the schools - we have had a few clowns try to join who weren't for reasons known only to themselves.

Thanks

Mike

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Ben W
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Before you go off to friends reunited...

Postby Ben W » Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:39 am

As a newcomer...

Stanton,

I appreciate the chance to have seen this dialogue and to understand where you are coming from. I know you and I are potentially coming from differant angles in a separate thread - but it is nice to keep reminding ourselves of the human side of all of this.

Cheers,
Ben
Child member of SES from around 1967 to around 1977; Strongly involved in Sunday Schools ; Five brothers and sisters went to ST V and St J in the worst years

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Sat Mar 18, 2006 4:10 pm

Thank you for friendly post, Ben

1980sstJ
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Postby 1980sstJ » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:39 pm

David Lacey: shame on you.


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