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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Keir
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Location: London

Postby Keir » Tue Feb 14, 2006 1:57 am

By the way, the ST J punishment records were equally innacurate. I can remember week after week being sent to Debenham and getting the cane for black marks, where teachers handed them out 5 at a time (bad ones), and were so infrequent with the good ones, you got caned twice for the same black marks. No mention of that then!

I broke two windows during my entire stay at St J so not sure if that one was me or not. Macabre to try and recognise yourself from a caning record.

Suffice to say...sins of omission have been committed.

Frith
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Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2006 10:48 am

Thank you, ET

Postby Frith » Fri Feb 17, 2006 6:33 pm

Thank you for your encouraging reply. I certainly hope I can contribute constructively to anyone else's recovery. It's not all doom and gloom, however! I'd just been very moved by Matthew's account, and was remembering all the horror very vividly. In fact I've come an enormously long way and made a lot of progress. My children are pretty normal and happy now too, both in their thirties - but we're all scarred. I'd like to warn anyone to take great care before giving their heart to the SES, which is, after all, what it amounts to. It can be very dangerous.

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Sat Feb 18, 2006 9:41 am

Frith - I take it you are the person I read about in Secret Cult - and originally from NZ.

I found that part of the book particularly distressing - I wish you all the best.

teacher100
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Postby teacher100 » Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:35 pm

I have decided to join the discussion as I find the content of this website very distressing for two reasons.

Firstly, I have enormous sympathy with the experiences of people who have contributed to the website and I find the accounts very distressing in some cases. I do understand that terrible mistakes were made and these have been clearly stated in the inquiry report.

Secondly, I find the website distressing because generally the statements related to St James are very negative. The schools today are so different to what is being described, that I feel that I need to put forward a different view for the sake of a fair and balanced discussion.

I feel that I ought to display all of my cards and will no doubt get accused of vested interest.

I attended St James as a pupil from 1979 - 1985. I do remember it largely as a positive experience and when I left to go to a state school I was academically far ahead of my peers. There were incidents related to discipline where I did feel that students were treated overly harshly, but I was not one of them. This does not mean that I deny that other incidents, far worse, took place, but I do not remember them. I would like to say that I did enjoy my time at the school. I also joined the SES 11 years ago. My father is a member of the SES, but my mother is not, and they are extremely happily married and have been for 32 years. Most of my family and many of my friends are not in the SES. I have never ever been dissuaded from talking to any of them!

I left and went to several state schools as my parents moved around a lot, then went to an excellent and well known boarding school for girls in the north of England. I also had very good experiences there and went on to study Engineering at university.

I very much enjoyed engineering but had often thought of teaching, and decided to do a PGCE in Mathematics. After this, I became a teacher at St James Senior Girls' School. I have found the school to be particularly excellent in many respects. The teachers, many of who are in SES, but some of whom are not, are extremely committed to teaching and enthusiasts in their respective subjects. The standard of teaching in the school is very high, as shown by the outstanding results at GCSE and A level. Pupils at the school are fantastic. They are very open, honest, hardworking, generous and enthusiastic. Relationships between pupils, between staff and between staff and pupils are very warm and caring. For example each form teacher tries to see each pupil in the class for an informal chat on their own regularly. Some of the pupils in my class really enjoy this and will stay and chat after school quite happily.

There is no indoctrination taking place in the school. The pupils are very open-minded, but extremely independent and it would quite impossible to tell them what to think about anything! They are introduced to meditation, if they want it, and no pressure is applied by the school for them to do this. They are introduced to readings from many different faiths in assembly, and all the spiritual education taking place in the school is fully explained to parents who send there children here.

In short, I love it here, and it is a very good school. I am worried that current parents will read the contents of this website and decide to take their perfectly happy and well-balanced child away. If I did not know about St James and I read the contents of this website, I would be horrified, but it really does not represent the school now at all.

sugarloaf
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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2004 11:40 am

Postby sugarloaf » Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:46 am

Hi Teacher100, welcome to the board.

I?m very encouraged to hear that you have sympathy for those who have suffered at the hands of the school, and acknowledge that ?terrible mistakes were made?. I?m also glad to hear that it appears much has changed in the schools today.

It seems pretty much everyone ? pupils, staff, management, governors, and an independent QC agree that terrible mistakes were made, and that a number of children were damaged by the widespread and institutionalised mistreatment, including criminal acts, that occurred. The school today is apparently a fantastic place full of happy, safe, children, whose parents are all happy with every aspect of their schooling, including its relationship to the SES.

What?s not at all clear is exactly when this change took place. When did the school realise it had made terrible mistakes? Was it in 1983? 1985? in 2004 when Boddy took over? Or in 2006 when they heard the shocking result of the Townend report?

No one knows. And I think that?s what concerns a lot of people, no doubt current parents included. What you?d expect to happen when people make ?mistakes? like these (and for a school - on a scale of 1 ? 10, I?d put these at about 10) is they make some pretty drastic changes, pretty quickly, and they reassure everyone that its no longer happening ? can never again happen, not by telling them its not, but by demonstrating its not.

We now have the situation where the current governing board consisting of 4 individuals who were either governors throughout the entire period of abuse, or in one case a headteacher, and these governors refuse to take responsibility for their failings by resigning their positions - and also state they see no reason to change anything in the light of the Townend Report.

How can you expect current parents NOT to be worried?

I would be very interested to hear your personal take on the position the Governors have taken. If St James really is genuinly open & transparent I'm sure you would be happy - and free - to talk on the subject.

james
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Location: Leeds (currently in NZ)

Postby james » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:24 am

Hi sugarloaf.
The change at the senior boys occurred before my time 1998 - 2005. I joined the senior boys after going to the affiliated Alcuin School in Leeds and was never subject to any physical punishment.

Although I remember talks with boys about 3-4 years senior who remembered the cane, but who never said the were beaten / mistreated. At least at the senior boys. I have a friend who now must be about 24 now who said he remembered been clapped over the head, dragged by the ears etc. but that was in the junior school so must have been at least 15 years ago.

The changes have not occurred suddenly due to the report but over a long period of time as teachers that have carried out these cruelties have left or woken up to the fact that they simply cannot treat children in this way! Hi sugarloaf.
The change at the senior boys occurred before my time 1998 - 2005. I joined the senior boys after going to the affiliated Alcuin School in Leeds and was never subject to any physical punishment.

Although I remember talks with boys about 3-4 years senior who remembered the cane, but who never said the were beaten / mistreated. At least at the senior boys. I have a friend who now must be about 24 now who said he remembered been clapped over the head, dragged by the ears etc. but that was in the junior school so must have been at least 15 years ago.

The changes have not occurred suddenly due to the report but over a long period of time as teachers that have carried out these cruelties have left or woken up to the fact that they simply cannot treat children in this way!

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:26 am

teacher - nice to see you post. OK, it's "different" now, but where are the critical thinking skills? They are abysmally absent from posts by current students. Also basic grammar. And let's not start on emapthy and compassion....

Really they all remind me of the character Ja'mie King on a recent satire on ABC tc called We Can be Heroes.

The show is a total hoot - if it makes it to the UK I recomend it.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/heroes/jamie/default.htm

whitedevil
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Postby whitedevil » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:54 pm

A different guest,

If it's poor spelling and grammar you're after. I will get a Richmond college student on here post haste. If spelling and grammar are the only bones you find are worth picking (because they're the only ones you pick!), why are you here?
freedom wears your scars of desire

james
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Location: Leeds (currently in NZ)

Postby james » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:42 pm

I was going to post something harsh about the levels of literacy in other schools but I think Whitedevils post will suffice.

An example of speech normally met on the streets of Richmond. "Tafe bruv watygwan u bois wan sum grass, naaa bruv get aat u bois sum neeks ya naa"...... etc etc

And they do actually write like that, if you believe what?s written in the newspapers. (the article about the girl who wrote a whole essay in text message speak.)

Don't know what relevance that has to anything but it was quite fun to try and write.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me.
Last edited by james on Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sam Hyde
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Location: St James boys school
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Postby Sam Hyde » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:00 pm

It seems whenever challenged by a truthful account of how the schools are now, from anyone, teacher or pupil, you always revert to the pathetic argument about our literacy. Do you expect us to be Stoppard in the making??? Were you good at Vedic maths at school? Was I good at English.....Please lets come up with something else in defense to a clear and present compromise to your arguments?

Sam xox
thats old now, like me, only 4 weeks to go!!!!!
"I've never let my schooling interfere with my education"

Alban
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Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:23 am
Location: London

Postby Alban » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:25 pm

I actually agree about the spelling / grammar. It is not really of any consequence. There are people out there for whom communication is a real bind be it spoken or written and I don't think continually alluding to it is going to help them at all.

It's true that it doesn't reflect particularly well on the school's education, but I think that point has been laboured.

We all have our weaknesses (spelling was never a strong point of mine) so lets just put asside the personal comments and stick to the general subject matter of the forum...which I would like to point out is "General Discussion on SES" - Not how good or bad St James is now.

Maybe it is time to split the current forum out into education related threads and Cult based threads...what's the general consensus?

james
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:14 pm
Location: Leeds (currently in NZ)

Postby james » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:27 pm

Alban
Thank you very much.
I think it would be a good idea to split the forum, but it would be important for it to remain split, which I think would be difficult because the school and SES have such a link, and many of the discussions on the forum are mixed. E.g. they start on one topic, be it StJ or SES and invariably become blurred and end up containing debates on both.

However I think it would be good to split the forum so that parents with worries about the current school can visit a forum with debate solely on the school, thereby not be distracted by debate on the SES, which these days has a much smaller influence on the school as it did 20 years ago.

Not that I am trying to hide the fact that the school has links to the SES, I think it is important for parents to know this, and it is the schools job to tell them straight up. However for parents to find out within this forum it is a bit of a one sided view! I am in the SES but havn?t attended a group night for more than a month and do not take it seriously. I will be leaving shortly if the situation does not improve soon, E.g. the nights become more interesting and the subjects which we talk about becomes more varied.

daska
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Location: UK

Postby daska » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:54 pm

James

Would you be happy to explain what led you to join the SES?

james
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:14 pm
Location: Leeds (currently in NZ)

Postby james » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:00 pm

I will not lie; I joined mainly because my friends were. I have had many good times during my two and a half years, getting blind drunk on weekends and weeks and careering round Waterperry house, stealing and consequently crashing Bernard Saunders?s golf buggy. (Hope he doesn?t read these!) But I have realised (A moment of true realisation!) that none of the good times were a result of the philosophy. So im planning on leaving if things don't improve.

Alban
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Location: London

Postby Alban » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:30 pm

james wrote:I will not lie; I joined mainly because my friends were. I have had many good times during my two and a half years, getting blind drunk on weekends and weeks and careering round Waterperry house, stealing and consequently crashing Bernard Saunders?s golf buggy. (Hope he doesn?t read these!) But I have realised (A moment of true realisation!) that none of the good times were a result of the philosophy. So im planning on leaving if things don't improve.



yep, that's how I started...then I realised that some of these people were taking that stuff seriously...so I started asking questions of myself and realising how much of it had seeped through my defences.

Why don't you take a year or two away from all the SES influences in your life and then decide if you want to return to the fold, or continue with your life as-is.


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