Terms of Reference for all to see!

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Terms of Reference for all to see!

Postby ET » Sat Jun 11, 2005 10:09 am

Not sure why they want to keep these off the forum, so here they are:

Independent Internal inquiry into complaints from former pupils concerning past discipline policy and its application at St Vedast School and St James Independent Schools

Inquiry Chairman: Mr James Townend Q.C.
Clerk to Inquiry: Mrs Christine Betts


TERMS OF REFERENCE

1. To conduct a wholly independent fact-finding inquiry , to be known as the St Vedast/St James Inquiry, into complaints about past discipline policy and practice at St Vedast School and St James Independent Schools. The Inquiry will deal only with complaints from former pupils of both the Girls' and the Boys' Schools.

2. To make findings, to reach conclusions and, if so advised, to make recommendations.

3. To produce a report or reports to the Governors of the schools.

The general background and the aims, status and structure of the Inquiry are explained in the attached Appendix.

These terms of reference were approved by the Governing Body of St James Independent School for Boys
on 10 June 2005.



APPENDIX ONE

St Vedast/St James Inquiry

St Vedast and St James
1. St James Independent Schools ("St James") were founded in 1975 in London with the aim of educating boys and girls from the age of four and a half to eighteen. The School of Economic Science (SES) inspired the initiative through its work of teaching philosophy and economics, which had been taking place with adults since the mid 1930s. The key philosophical principle guiding the development of the four day schools ( senior boys, senior girls, junior boys, junior girls ) is that each child should be reminded of God as the Creator; should learn to live by the Laws and Regulations of that Creator, as expounded in both Western and Eastern scriptures; and that each child should be helped to reach his or her full potential, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. The core idea is that through discovery of an absolute intelligence in the heart of every human being, a spirit of unity can be understood which is beyond the divisions of race, colour, religion or gender. Education at the time was suffering from severe political interference and was generally regarded as being in decline. Standards of behaviour, and levels of discipline, were also generally thought to be declining. A group of parents, who were themselves students at the School of Economic Science, approached the Senior Tutor at the SES and asked for help and inspiration in setting up a new form of schooling which would re-establish some of the traditional English educational values, but which would also provide a new dimension of philosophical education. This form of philosophical education had not been tried before.

2. The original St James Independent School took boys and girls from the age of four and a half years to provide primary education.
However, in response to parental demand for secondary education, the governors decided to create St Vedast School. St Vedast ran from 1975 to 1985 when it closed.
The first Headmaster of both St James and St Vedast was Mr Nicholas Debenham, remaining as Headmaster of St James as it grew from a junior into a secondary school on its own account. In l993 Mr Paul Moss was appointed Head of the Junior Schools ( ages 4.5 years to 10 years). Mr Debenham remained in post as Headmaster of the Senior Boys ( ages 10 years to 18 years) until his retirement in July 2004.
St James Senior Boys School is currently an independent secondary school for pupils aged 10-18. The current pupil roll is 294. The Headmaster since September 2004 is Mr David Boddy.
St James Senior Girls School is currently an independent secondary school for pupils aged 10 - 18. The current pupil roll is 240. The current Headmistress is Mrs Laura Hyde. There are two junior schools, one for boys and one for girls, each taking 135 pupils. The current Headmaster for both schools is Mr Paul Moss.

3. St James is an independent charitable school. It is an activity of the Independent Educational Association Ltd, a company limited by guarantee, with charitable status, company number 1222329, incorporated on 8 August 1975. The objects for which the company was established are -
"To promote advancement of education of children and young persons and in connection therewith to establish and conduct in any part of the world a school or schools to give instruction in all branches of education including the preparation of pupils to sit for public examinations whether academic, professional or otherwise"

4. St James is governed by a Board of Governors. Mr Roger Pincham having served as a Governor from 1975, is the only Governor from the period l975-l985 still on the present governing body, although there are three Honorary Governors, Mr Bernard White, Mr Bernard Saunders and Dr James Armstrong, who served as Governors during that period.

5. During the 1980's, many of the Governors, staff and parents of these Schools had a shared background by reference to the School of Economic Science.
Background

6. During the 1980's, certain complaints and adverse publicity arose in connection with the School of Economic Science. There were a number of newspaper articles and in 1985, a book was published entitled "The Secret Cult". A later book "The New Believers" put forward alternative views. Both books will be made available to the Chairman of the Inquiry.

7. In about February 2004 the Governing Body of St James became aware for the first time of an internet message board called "Forum.whyaretheydead.net" on which a number of former pupils of St Vedast and St James were exchanging their recollections of experience as pupils primarily between 1975 and 1985.

8. Between February and May 2004 the correspondence began to increase but there was still no formal complaint to the Governing Body. There were, however, a number of private conversations between the message board correspondents, the Heads of the two Senior Schools and others when the possibility of a "truth and reconciliation process" was discussed.

9. The general nature of those discussions was reported back to the Governors. The Governors were also informed that three of the members of staff complained against are still employed by the company as teachers, two of them at the Boys' Senior School and one at the Girls' Senior School. Those members of staff were told of the message board and the informal discussions.

10. At a Governors' Meeting in October 2004 the Governors decided to establish an independent internal inquiry into complaints about discipline policy at St Vedast between 1975 and 1985 even though they had still received no formal notice of complaint. For this purpose they sought the assistance of Robert Boyd, a partner of Veale Wasbrough, a legal firm in Bristol specialising in advice to independent schools. Among other matters the Governors took note that -

10.1. The complaints are between 20-30 years old. Memories fade and it may be very difficult, or even impossible, for the complaints to be formulated and answered with factual accuracy.

10.2. The Governors have no power to require a current or former member of staff to take part in the inquiry.

10.3. If any of the complaints amount to an allegation of criminal assault then those complained against are entitled to the privilege against self-incrimination.

10.4. Those of the present Governors who were serving Governors between 1975 and 1985 may have a conflict of interests. Governors with any familial connection with the complainants may also have a conflict of interests.

10.5. The Governors owe contractual duties to the School's insurers to act in accordance with the terms and conditions of the School's insurance policies.

10.6. To have any credibility, the Inquiry must be conducted by a Chairman who is wholly independent of the governance and management of the Schools and the School of Economic Science. The Chairman should be at liberty to call on whomever he wishes for any assistance he may need as to the School regimes from 1975 onwards.

10.7. An Inquiry will incur the School in substantial costs and costs need to be contained within reasonable limits.

11. There followed a period of discussion and consultation following which it was agreed to widen the scope of the inquiry to include St James' Schools for boys and girls as well as St Vedast and to remove the time period of 1975 - 1985.
Aim and status of the Inquiry

12. The legal status of the Inquiry is that it is "without prejudice" which means that the statements made to the Chairman, and the Chairman's report, will not be able to be used as evidence in any legal proceedings.

13. The Inquiry has been established by and for the Governors. It is to be a private proceeding whose objective is to understand what happened at St Vedast and St James during the relevant years, why it happened and what lessons can be learned.

14. The Inquiry is not a trial, nor a court, nor a disciplinary hearing. It is not a law suit in which one party wins and another loses. No one is on trial. There will be no parties. It is not the same as the legal process in a criminal or civil court.

15. Even so, the Inquiry may result in criticisms of an organisation or individuals who will have an opportunity to answer any criticism. This is not the same thing as sitting in judgement.

16. It follows that the Inquiry will be a fact-finding exercise without any adversarial approach or procedure and it is emphasised that although the Inquiry has been set up by the Governors it is wholly independent of the Governors. The final report will be the report of the Inquiry Chairman alone.

Structure of this Inquiry

17. The Inquiry will be held at a convenient location in Central London hired at the expense of St James. The fees of the Chairman of the Inquiry and the associated costs of a secretariat and the administrative arrangements will also be paid by St James.

18. St James will not be able to pay costs of legal representation of any complainants who wish to contribute to the Inquiry.

19. The Chairman will be asked to take account of what might be termed five distinct interest groups -

19.1. Former pupils who have specific complaints.

19.2. Former pupils who wish to contribute to the Inquiry but have no specific complaints.

19.3. Current and former members of staff who were employed at the Schools during the period of the complaints received from former pupils, including the former Headmaster.

19.4. Current and former Governors during this period.

19.5. The present communities of the three St James Schools.

20. The Chairman will set the procedures and the timetable and give directions to the Clerk to issue notices. At this stage it is anticipated there will be four phases.

21. PHASE 1 - the collection of evidence. A number of statements have already been provided to the Clerk to the Inquiry in response to invitations on the "Whyaretheydead.net" website, the Seventh Form website and letters to former pupils from the current Headmaster of St James' Boys School. A number of other messages have been received indicating that the sender would wish to participate in the Inquiry once the terms of reference have been finalised and the Chairman appointed. The Chairman will, at his discretion, be able to accept any late interventions for consideration if they are deemed to be relevant to the Inquiry. The Chairman's ruling will be final. Those who wish to provide written information about their experience at St Vedast or St James will be asked to send their information to -

Mrs Christine Betts
Clerk to the St Vedast Inquiry
Veale Wasbrough
Orchard Court
Orchard Lane
Bristol BS1 5WS

Confidential e-mail: vedast@vwl.co.uk

22. The Clerk will collate all information received, together with copies of relevant information on the message boards and send it to the Inquiry Chairman, and to those complained against, who will be required to hold that information in confidence and not discuss it outside the Inquiry.

23. PHASE 2 will be the Inquiry itself. Each person who has provided written information or wishes to give oral information will be invited to attend one or more private interviews with the Chairman. The Clerk will be in attendance.

24. The Chairman will consider anonymous information attaching such weight to it (if any) as may be appropriate.

25. The proceedings will be tape recorded and tapes will be transcribed the same or next day. Transcripts and tape recordings will be the property of the Chairman who will make a transcript of each interview available only to the interviewee and to each person complained against. That will be done on an understanding of strict confidentiality.

26. The Chairman will also interview each person complained against who wishes to respond.

27. Even though the issues have already been canvassed on the Message Boards, confidentiality remains important to individuals and to the School for these reasons -

27.1. Most of the issues relate to events between 20-30 years ago. Those are the matters and disputes the Inquiry is seeking to resolve. The Inquiry must not be allowed to prejudice the current school community of staff, parents and pupils.

27.2. Much of the information is sensitive and relates to possible child protection issues

27.3. The Inquiry should not be seen as a way of gathering evidence for the purposes of a criminal or civil action; that emphatically is not its purpose.

27.4. The three members of staff who are still employed at the School have rights under employment law that the Governors are legally bound to respect.

27.5. It is in the interests of all concerned and the public interest that an Inquiry of this nature resolves rather than proliferates disputes.

28. Those complainants contributing information to the Inquiry and/or attending in person who wish to be assisted by a friend or legal representative may do so but at their own expense. The function of the friend or legal representative is to help the witness to give evidence and answer questions put by the Chairman. There will be no opportunity to question other witnesses.

29. The Chairman may ask questions of any witness or contributor. The Chairman will not appoint Counsel to the Inquiry. There will be no cross-examination by or on behalf of those persons appearing before or submitting written evidence to the Inquiry. The Chairman's principal role at this stage of the Inquiry will be to find the facts.

30. PHASE 3 will be the report stage. The Chairman will write his report in this form -

30.1. There will be a general report on the former discipline policy and its application at St Vedast and St James during the period covered by the complaints received by former pupils. That report will not name individual complainants or teachers. However, the Chairman, at his discretion, might consider producing a confidential report for the Governors on individual matters.

31. If the Chairman's report, or one of them, contains criticisms of an organisation or individuals, he will send a draft of such Report to each organisation or person who is criticised. That organisation or person will have an opportunity to comment on the criticisms before the Report is finalised.

32. When the Report has been signed the Chairman will send it to the Clerk for distribution -

32.1. The full general report will be sent to each Governor, each person complained against, and each identified person who has made written or oral contribution to the Inquiry. It will also be posted on relevant web sites.

32.2. Any confidential reports on individual matters will be sent to the individual[s] concerned and to the Governors. At the Chairman's discretion such reports may be anonymised.

33. PHASE 4 will relate to any action to be taken in consequence of the Inquiry's report. Where the report has made a recommendation that an organisation or person should take certain action the Chairman will write to that organisation or person requesting confirmation that the action has been taken. The Chairman has no power to compel compliance with any recommendations of the Inquiry but it will be part of his function to send a written notice to the Chairman of Governors and every other person directly affected, of a decision of any person not to comply with a recommendation, or an apparent failure to comply.

34. Upon sending such written notice or upon the Chairman deciding that no such notice is necessary, the function of the Inquiry shall cease.

* * * *

Formatting has come out a bit odd, but it's all there - enjoy!

:B-fly:

Liz

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Postby Daffy » Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:09 am

The one thing that struck me when reading the email was #12:

"12. The legal status of the Inquiry is that it is "without prejudice" which means that the statements made to the Chairman, and the Chairman's report, will not be able to be used as evidence in any legal proceedings."

This appears to suggest that by contributing to the Inquiry, you are giving up your rights to bring legal proceedings on the basis of the allegations you make to the Inquiry. That is not the case.

Making the Inquiry "without prejudice" means that if I bring legal proceedings against the School, teachers, governors or whoever, I can't use statements other people have made to the Inquiry, or the Inquiry report, as evidence. It does not prevent me from bringing legal proceedings and repeating my earlier allegations to the court. Nor does it stop me getting anyone whose evidence to the Inquiry is helpful to my case from repeating the same allegations to the court.

So the only real effect of making the Inquiry "without prejudice" is that, in the unlikely event that Nicholas Debenham turns up and admits to abusing us all for 20 years, we can't use his statement or the Inquiry Report as evidence that he did so if we sue him. If we have other evidence that he did so, we can still sue him.

Personally I haven't yet decided whether to contribute to the Inquiry. I have no present intention to bring legal proceedings against the School, but I certainly won't be waiving my right to do so.

If I do contribute, I will be making it clear that in doing so I am not to be taken to be giving up or limiting any legal rights I may have.

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Postby leonmich » Sat Jun 11, 2005 5:22 pm

so the purpose is

"To conduct a wholly independent fact-finding inquiry."

and,

"The Chairman's principal role at this stage of the Inquiry will be to find the facts."

then finally,

"The complaints are between 20-30 years old. Memories fade and it may be very difficult, or even impossible, for the complaints to be formulated and answered with factual accuracy."

So according to it's own "terms of reference" it is "almost impossible" the inquiry will satisfy its own fundamental no1 aim,to be a "fact-finding inquiry".

It is amazing that the inquiry already states that past pupils testimonies due to their age "cannot be formulated with factual accuracy", ie past pupils stories cannot be seen as being factual.


Well not only is that very handy for the accused organisation exhibiting an very noticeable bias the inquiry has already answered it's own first point before it has even started!

Actually early memories are often crystal clear as anyone who has worked with abused children will know.

Is it normal for an inquiries to be written by the accused organisation themselves, as this one obviously was? How is it then independent, as this one obviously isn't?

Ignore this inquiry and keep posting up past experiences. Soon there will be a very public searched linked website record of the true history of St James. They will have to live with it, and see it as "karma".
[/i]

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Independent ?

Postby Matthew » Sat Jun 11, 2005 6:27 pm

?
(CBetts' covering letter) The Inquiry will be held in central London between 20 and 24th June

A totally unrealistic and unacceptable deadline for a multitude of reasons, already clearly spelt out and previously communicated by Sugarloaf and Snowman here. It is now obvious that Boddy and company are determined to forge ahead with this ridiculous deadline of 10 am, 20th June (8 days from now). What a pity after we had appeared to be making good progress over the mutual agreement of the inquiry Chairman. Apparently the final terms of reference were released yesterday, with no time or opportunity given to negotiate over them. Clearly this whole thing has now become an exercise in damage limitation for St James Independent Schools and the SES.

? The scope of the inquiry needs to be wider than just just
(Title Page 1 - Heading) complaints from former pupils concerning past discipline policy and its application
.
It should be an inquiry into allegations of child-abuse.

?
(Title Page 1: 1.) The Inquiry will deal only with complaints from former pupils of both the Girls' and the Boys' Schools

Not good enough - it needs to also include former parents (my parents, for one, have a great deal to say on the matter!)

?
(1.) The School of Economic Science (SES) inspired the initiative through its work of teaching philosophy and economics, which had been taking place with adults since the mid 1930s.

A gross and blatant distortion of the definitions of the words 'philosophy' and 'economics'. Let's be clear that they are talking about the SES' own particular brand of philosophy and economics.

?
(1.) The key philosophical principle guiding the development of the four day schools ( senior boys, senior girls, junior boys, junior girls ) is that each child should be reminded of God as the Creator; should learn to live by the Laws and Regulations of that Creator, as expounded in both Western and Eastern scriptures.

What kind of utter BS is this to put into the first point of a TOR for an inquiry of this kind!!?? This statement is based on a completely biased and subjective belief system AND has nothing whatsoever to do with what the inquiry is supposed to be about!!

?
(1.) The core idea is that through discovery of an absolute intelligence in the heart of every human being, a spirit of unity can be understood which is beyond the divisions of race, colour, religion or gender.

Are we attending an SES part 1 lecture here, or have I been sent the wrong letter?!!

?
(1.) Education at the time was suffering from severe political interference and was generally regarded as being in decline. Standards of behaviour, and levels of discipline, were also generally thought to be declining.

According to who??!! Once again, a completely partial and highly debatable statement.

?
(1.) A group of parents, who were themselves students at the School of Economic Science, approached the Senior Tutor at the SES and asked for help and inspiration in setting up a new form of schooling which would re-establish some of the traditional English educational values, but which would also provide a new dimension of philosophical education. This form of philosophical education had not been tried before.

I had to blink when I read that last bit - have they really said that?!! What could they potentially be admitting to here? "This form of philosophical education had not been tried before" Well thank f..k for that!! Lets make sure it never happens again either!! But more importantly, these kind of statements are once again completely unacceptable as TOR for a supposed "INDEPENDENT" inquiry.

?
(7.) In about February 2004 the Governing Body of St James became aware for the first time of an internet message board called "Forum.whyaretheydead.net" on which a number of former pupils of St Vedast and St James were exchanging their recollections of experience as pupils primarily between 1975 and 1985.

More lies - where do they keep getting this arbitrary 1985 cut off point from?

?
(10.1) The complaints are between 20-30 years old. Memories fade and it may be very difficult, or even impossible, for the complaints to be formulated and answered with factual accuracy.

Lies. lies, and more lies. Surely Boddy isn't trying to influence the Chairman here is he? - perish the thought!! And then to further insult our intelligence by announcing this TOR has been written by Townend, when statements such as this and others have been lifted directly from Boddy's previous draft TORs. The fact is is that many of these memories, due to their appalling nature, will never even remotely fade; rather they will remain indelibly etched in our memory banks for the rest of our lives. So to try and suggest that these complaints could not be formulated and answered with factual accuracy is grossly patronising, insensitive, and inaccurate.

?
(10.2) The Governors have no power to require a current or former member of staff to take part in the inquiry.

Why not? Particularly the current members of staff that they still employ who stand accused.

?
(19.) The Chairman will be asked to take account of what might be termed five distinct interest groups -

19.1 Former pupils who have specific complaints.

19.2 Former pupils who wish to contribute to the Inquiry but have no specific complaints.

19.3 Current and former members of staff who were employed at the Schools during the period of the complaints received from former pupils, including the former Headmaster

19.4 Current and former Governors during this period.

19.5 The present communities of the three St James Schools.

What about former parents during this period as well? Once again the kind of inquiry structure outlined above is clearly biased.

?
(32.2) When the Report has been signed the Chairman will send it to the Clerk for distribution - Any confidential reports on individual matters will be sent to the individual[s] concerned and to the Governors. At the Chairman's discretion such reports may be anonymised.

This highly ambiguous statement needs proper clarification.

?
(33) PHASE 4 will relate to any action to be taken in consequence of the Inquiry's report. Where the report has made a recommendation that an organisation or person should take certain action the Chairman will write to that organisation or person requesting confirmation that the action has been taken. The Chairman has no power to compel compliance with any recommendations of the Inquiry but it will be part of his function to send a written notice to the Chairman of Governors and every other person directly affected, of a decision of any person not to comply with a recommendation, or an apparent failure to comply.

In the interests of fairness, the complainants that this correspondence relates to should also be sent copies of these letters.


They constantly harp on and on about wanting a fair and independent inquiry, yet they have just produced a TOR that would be so clearly and blatantly biased to any objective observer. For an organisation so concerned with speaking "The Truth" its remarkable how many examples of lies, deceit, and hypocrisy they have succeeded in printing in the space of just six sides of A4.
Last edited by Matthew on Tue Jun 14, 2005 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Free Thinker » Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:45 pm

Obviously I'm not involved in this in any manner but I am also appalled that parents of former pupils are not to be involved! So supposedly a child's memories are unclear and fade over time yet that child's parents aren't allowed to testify as to what they experienced or saw their chid experience (or remember in their unclouded, unfaded adult memories from adult experienced their children telling them!!!)

How awful!

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Postby a different guest » Sun Jun 12, 2005 12:52 am

There's also this

10.5. The Governors owe contractual duties to the School's insurers to act in accordance with the terms and conditions of the School's insurance policies.


It's standard in any insurance policy for the insured to never ever ever admit any possibility of liability.

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Re: Terms of Reference for all to see!

Postby ET » Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:48 am

ET wrote:3. St James is an independent charitable school. It is an activity of the Independent Educational Association Ltd, a company limited by guarantee, with charitable status, company number 1222329, incorporated on 8 August 1975. The objects for which the company was established are -
"To promote advancement of education of children and young persons and in connection therewith to establish and conduct in any part of the world a school or schools to give instruction in all branches of education including the preparation of pupils to sit for public examinations whether academic, professional or otherwise"


Matthew, I couldn't agree with you more, how can these terms of reference be "independent" if all of this rubbish is stated in them? For example, they fail to mention here that the IEA was set up by SES specifically in order to set up the schools. To an outsider, it might look like the schools were simply affiliated to this already existing association.

The timescale is quite simply a joke, and I don't think any of us who chose to wait until after the TOR were published before submitting have a cat in hell's chance of getting our submissions in on time. I also think this is totally deliberate on the part of the governors, and it seems to me that Mr Townend is being subjected to the same form of insidious manipulation as we all were, and all people who get involved with SES are, and I would feel sorry for him if all this wasn't so important.

:bad-words:

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Postby chrisdevere » Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:13 am

The timescales do seem mad! Not much more than a week to consider any statment wriote it up and send it in. No doubt many like me have busy and demanding jobs and simply can not find the time to fit this in with such short notice.
Christopher de Vere
chrisdevere@hotmail.com

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Terms of reference for all to see!

Postby Stanton » Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:58 pm

Please - there's been time enough since the enquiry was first announced to gather your memories together. And there's time now to send them in. What good is prevarication or complaining?

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Postby daska » Sun Jun 12, 2005 4:59 pm

No Stanton there hasn't. Not for those of us who are only beginning to allow ourselves to remember. Last night I managed, for the first time, to remember a conversation with my form teacher of over four years. Does that sound like I've had time to 'gather my memories together'! NOT!

And no way am I taking part in an inquiry which does not guarantee anonymity while my father is still in SES - quite simply, however I may feel about the mistakes he has made he doesn't deserve the fallout that will certainly come his way if I am named in a report. We all know how SES treats confidential and/or sensitive information: with contempt.

Once again they are manipulating what is allowed to be submitted, denying the possibility of factual or truthful accounts in all submissions in advance of the fact and generally behaving in a deceitful, hypocritical and dishonourable fashion.

So what's new...?

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Postby Stanton » Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:00 pm

One can be too cautious.

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Postby Alban » Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:57 pm

Stanton wrote:One can be too cautious.


RUBBISH!...when it comes to child abuse, one cannot be too cautious...what planet are you on Stanton!

As has been stated by so many above, this is just another damage limitation exercise. Did Townend sit down and write this TOR...I think not! I have never seen such utter rubbish in a supposedly independent TOR.

Can't the schools and governors see...that by producing this partisan rubbish, they are just showing themselves to be siding with the original abusers (which is hardly surprising). Any prospective parents reading this site will see through their smokescreen straight away.

Talk about digging yourself deeper into a hole!...Still I guess that's the thing about cults, they just go on blindly believing their own brand of the truth regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

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Postby a different guest » Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:37 pm

What if someone contacted Townend direct thru his chambers? If he was aware what many people think about the TOR... ???

Just a thought.

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Postby NYC » Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:08 am

As a new student in the American branch of the SES, I am continually amazed by the level of arrogance displayed by the School regarding this proposed ?independent internal inquiry.?

These Terms of Reference were obviously written ?in-house,? by an SES person.
STRIKE ONE for independence.

The Terms were NOT agreed to by the ex-students.

STRIKE TWO for an unbiased investigation. It is not solely up to the School to devise satisfactory Terms of Reference if the inquiry is to be meaningful. In a dispute requiring mediation, both parties must agree to the parameters of discussion before reconciliation can happen. One party can not frame the debate on their own terms and expect the other group to acquiesce.

Ex-students have formed at least one committee, SES Schools Action. I don?t see how any outside observer could possibly take this inquiry seriously unless and until the SESSA agrees with the Terms.

I would also hope that the practice of ?grooming? will be investigated by the Chair. If the School has an unofficial policy of matchmaking between female students and teachers or guest lecturers, as described by numerous contributors to this website, that needs to come out in the inquiry. It won?t unless someone complains about it.

The Terms have been made public nine days before the ?internal independent inquiry? is to begin.
STRIKE THREE for participation

This inquiry is asking people to recall deeply humiliating experiences. Some ex-students have described, in addition to being beaten, being forced to strip naked, being hit while naked, and living in such a climate of fear that they pissed themselves or vomited.

Sarah McGuiness describes a classmate ?made [to do] press-ups all through an hour long lesson until she lay on the floor crying and shaking. This was one act in a campaign of bullying against this particular girl. The fact that this girl's mother had recently died, and what she needed was extra care and support from her teachers, makes this story all the more chilling.?

It will take enormous strength of will for people who experienced this type of abuse or ?application of discipline? as children to walk into a room and recall it to a stranger while being tape-recorded. If the inquiry is to be valid, complainants must be given time to prepare themselves for this ordeal, as well as the practical aspects of arranging time off work, corroboration, etc.

It certainly looks like the School administrators are doing what they can to make it as difficult as possible to participate ? especially for those who suffered the most serious abuse, and who are still anonymous. These are exactly the people that a genuine inquiry should be most interested in serving.

?Surely there?s no point in having an inquiry unless people can contribute to it?
Sugarloaf

Daska puts it so well ? ?Once again they are manipulating what is allowed to be submitted, denying the possibility of factual or truthful accounts in all submissions in advance of the fact and generally behaving in a deceitful, hypocritical and dishonourable fashion?So what's new...??

But I would also like to point out that without the pressure the ex-students have brought to bear, the inquiry would not name St James, only St Vedast, and would only concern the boy?s school. The time period would be strictly defined as 1975 ? 1985 and the Chair would have political affiliations with at least one of the School?s Governors, Roger Pincham.

Nor would the school have made any special effort to ?trawl? for complaints as C Betts put it, (or as a less biased Clerk to the Inquiry might say, ?to contact former pupils through the alumni association.? None of this would have happened without you, the former students, holding the School administrators? feet to the fire.

As a current adult student, I am thoroughly disgusted by the arrogance on display in this TOR. It?s grotesque. However, all the changes in expanding the inquiry thus far do show me it is possible ? with an enormous amount of effort ? to change the way this organization functions. There must be some interest in a real inquiry or it would still be confined to St. Vedast, or only St. James Boy?s School.

NYC

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Mon Jun 13, 2005 8:53 am

Well, if you can't find a way to take part in the enquiry then at least write to the Chairman giving your reasons.


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