The Report

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
Alban
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The Report

Postby Alban » Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:16 am

Well, after months nay years of waiting, it's finally arrived. (http://www.iirep.com)

I have mixed emotions about it. My first, especially after reading all the opening stuff, was one of "Oh, here we go again", but when I actually looked at the content, there were still a number of Damning lines

"Whatever the provocation nothing could justify this mistreatment. It was clearly unreasonable and criminal"

My wife briefly looked at it and quite wisely stated that most enquiries have a lot of fluff in them and in comparison, this was pretty succinct. She also said, that as a journalist, there were loads of lines that she would use in a press release (such as the one above). Any paper picking up this report would take the highs and lows, and on the whole, there are a lot more "low" headlines in it.

It's going to take a while for the full extent of the emotions to come out on this, but the initial impression is that it isn't quite as one-sided as we had feared.

I would love to get my hands on a copy of the private report sent to the govenors!

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Postby a different guest » Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:41 am

well I put my journalist hat on and briefly skimmed for a whole 5 minutes (one has a short attention span when wearing a journalist hat) - and well, that was then, some mistakes were made, but HEY this is now and how wonderful the schools really are.

The SES have managed to turn this whole thing into a PR exercise promoting the schools!

Nice one eh?

Alban
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Postby Alban » Sat Jan 14, 2006 1:35 pm

I'm not so sure. It is only possible to play the All-in-the-past card when all ties with the past have been severed - but as anyone can see, that is not the case, and parents of current pupils will note that and of course be concerned.

I agree, there is a load of everything's-so-much-better-now-type-spin but there are always two sides to any story and an enquiry will hardly ever come down completely in favour of one side (especially when it is commisioned by the other).

There is very little mention of the repression of emotions that went on, but to be honest, unless you'd been there and lived through it, it is always going to be difficult to understand that aspect.

Most of us on this board will point to massive ommissions in the report based on our own experiences, but given the circumstances, I think that the report is not as bad as it first seems.

One glaring contradiction highlighted in the report is where it is stated that caning was seen as the last resort before expulsion - but if you look at the reasons for the punishments then this is clearly not the case. Are they expecting us to believe that if caning had been outlawed 20 years earlier then 170 odd pupils would have been expelled.

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response to report

Postby ross nolan » Sun Jan 15, 2006 3:02 am

Just posted (I thought) a response to this thread and it has dissappered into the ether (?) ........ see if this appears before trying again.
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new reply

Postby ross nolan » Sun Jan 15, 2006 3:29 am

OK this will be a brief(er) response to the report.

Is it a whitewash? Maybe, certainly it seems short on any detail of how the chairman "weighed" the evidence for and against or established the facts when contradictory versions are given.

He makes an extraordinary "conclusion" that he found 'no evidence of any sexual abuse" when his terms of reference only refer to 'discipline' -- this is highly damaging to any respondent who has told of sexual misbehaviour . The one sure way to find nothing is not to look for it.

The curious principle that he goes to great lengths to detail that the "most likely" thing to be true is the "minor" version of an event and that a "major" allegation must be supported by "major evidence" is exactly what a perpetrator relies on -- ie that a little girl whom he has abused will not be believed, besides she is 'hysterical' and not composed like he is.

Many 'minor' events go unreported until the 'last straw' which will be something major by it's nature -- the risk and distress accompanying an allegation against seniors and authority figures mean that such allegations are not likely to be "crying wolf' as the chairman alludes.

The "example" specifically given by him of a girl alleging rape whilst the accused saying 'something' happenned but it was merely a little slap is incredibly revealing of bias and prejudice.

Goebells used the same tendency to deceive the German people by saying in a ridiculing tone "now they are accusing us of exterminating women and children -- who can believe such liars who are only trying to blacken the good name of the great German people and their government"

It worked and had the effect of discredditing all other lesser accusations because 'that one clearly couldn't be true so maybe all the rest are untrue as well ' -- Goebells called it "the big lie" .

By calling everything on this forum "gossip" I would have thought the chairman would have disqualified himself on the basis of bias and prejudice (in the legal sense) .

Lots of examples of first investigations that got "snowed" and covered up the truth but with persistent analysis of the conduct of the first ,flawed. investigation got overturned -- for some reason the Air New Zealand Royal Commission into the "Mt Erebus" DC 10 crash comes to mind -- the verdict of 'pilot error' was overturned by a colleague of the wrongly accused aircrew and the second enquiry described the 'tissue of lies' and organized conspiracy to deceive and mislead that had blackened the name of the dead pilots and a good aircraft.

The Lindy Chamberlain "dingo eats baby" case had similar characteristics and outcome -- message is, don't lose heart -- look critically at the conduct of the thing and challenge it if that is what is required.

A more detailed response later. Ross.
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Postby a different guest » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:05 am

Well now I have a chance to read the report more thoroughly (it was made 'live' very late last night my time - thus my '5 mins') - I find my opinion not much changed.

In fact I am gobsmacked about how the abuse at the girls schools' is given such little regard. Oh they weren't caned. - so all was hunky dory? The psychological abuse is totally skipped over.

all we get is this (and thank you Daffy for the quotable link.)
Sometimes in the course of this type of interrogation the subject would be attacked or criticised in hurtful and distressing ways.


and this
Some girls were mistreated physically and mentally by male teachers but to nothing like the extent that the boys suffered.


Having read the accounts from girls here (oh excuse me, that is just "gossip" isn't it *scarcasm smilie please*) how any feeling and thinking person who purports to have an understanding of child abuse can so totally dismiss what happened at the girls schools' just leaves me speechless!

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Postby ET » Sun Jan 15, 2006 11:20 am

I have now managed to read the report properly after skimming through it yesterday. My first impressions are that the Chairman has done the best he can under extremely difficult circumstances. However:

I don't like the fact he described this forum as "general gossip", as that completely undermines and insults those of us who made detailed and painful submissions to this forum, something that for some was the first time we had talked to anyone about our experiences.

I agree with Ross that the "balance of probability" ruling is fundamentally flawed, but unfortunately it is how the law stands in the UK at present - something which many people have been campaigning to change for many years (not least those groups that help survivors of child sexual abuse and rape).

The apparent disregard of the emotional abuse that we in the girl's school suffered is very upsetting, but if you look at the huge disparity in the number of male complainants he interviewed and the number of female complainants he interviewed, then we can see why this might be. Also, it's very much more difficult to prove emotional abuse than physical. I also think it's worth pointing out that the consistent way in which the SES degrades women also filtered into the school, and the Chairman's statement that:

"The girls appear to have been rather more law-abiding than the boys and there is evidence to the effect that they, unlike boys, would listen to and act on verbal criticism."

I think shows not so much that the girls were happier than the boys, more that they were conforming to the SES ideal that women should be subservient and follow orders.

I also think that Debenham's punishment book would be laughable if it was not so serious, and it reminded me strongly of the end of the film "Cry Freedom", when a list of the black South African prisoners who died in prison is scrolled up the screen, along with the official reasons for their death - showing markedly that there were certain trends during certain years for the same excuse to be given for every death.
Having said that, I accept that the Chairman would be unable to prove that the book is not authentic. I also think that if you read carefully the section where he discusses it then you can see that he didn't necessarily completely trust it as an accurate record, but couldn't say so at risk of a libel accusation.

I agree with Alban that the statement "Whatever the provocation
nothing could justify this mistreatment. It was clearly unreasonable and criminal." is a strong statement, and something that I hope those boys who suffered this kind of treatment can cling to - you were mistreated and you should not have been.

A similar statement is this one:

"undoubtedly some pupils were damaged by their experiences in the Schools. I saw some damaged witnesses and heard of others. I cannot
say how or by what they were damaged and there is no medical evidence showing that it was the fault of the Schools. Nevertheless I am as sure as I can be that some of them are suffering from their experiences at school. There has to be an acknowledgment of this or talk of reconciliation is a waste of breath."

I feel this shows that the Chairman believed most of us, but was unable to prove most of the allegations due to the fact the events took place so long ago. It is also a strong message to the SES that they must acknowledge the damage that was done properly. I don't feel that the "lip-service" governor's statement does this at all, but I'm not sure I expected anything different. The statement has the feel of a press release, and as ADG said, is a PR exercise for the current school.

We must now decide whether we want to do anything else. I feel we deserve to know whether the governor's will take any action against current teachers whose names and crimes I'm sure will be mentioned in the private report that the Chairman is sending to them - oh how much I want to read that!

In conclusion, I feel that this report, although far from perfect, is at least a step in the right direction, but I'm not convinced that it is enough.

Alban
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Postby Alban » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:07 pm

I guess that we have to try to understand the aims of the enquiry. It was commissioned by the governors, for their own purposes.

It was not commissioned for us

In that respect, the meat of the report will have been put in the "private" report to the governors...which is why we all want to see it.

I agree that to disregard the postings on this board is foolish as it gives a very real understanding of the number and depth of the abuse. It is not just a case of a few ex-pupils, it is very many people's emotional outpourings. That number of people represent quite a big percentage of the small numbers that attended the schools in those days.

Speaking of which, just to harp back to a point I made earlier; apparently 21 St Vedast boys were caned in the two years that records are held. That represents about 25% of the school doesn't it?

Again, I agree that the general dismissal of the plight of the girls schools has been mishandled, and would fully agree with everything ET has said on this. The trouble is with such few respondents it was always going to be difficult to draw any strong conclusions.

The public version of the report fails to make any recommendations - these, I suspect, are reserved for the governors version. Personally I would like to see a recommendation from the chairman that this private report is made public in its entirety - that would be a good first step to promoting transparency wouldn't it.

I am also a little miffed that the chairman chose to take into consideration the orchestrated votes of confidence from current SES members who were pupils at the time. If you're looking into abuses in an organisation, the good behaviour of the defendants holds no water. If the pope were to murder a policeman in Texas, they would still execute him.

Having said all of that, I still feel that the chairman did a reasonable job...not a brilliant one by any means, but worse enquiries have been produced. I just think that this was never going to give us what we require, namely public recognition that the whole system was rotten. To blame it on individual teachers would be wrong, although the lack of restraint in certain cases was unforgivable. Personally, I don't think we will ever get that as it would require a complete transformation of the SES, but this is a start.

I sometimes get the feeling that the governors are hoping that this enquiry will solve all their problems - if that is the case then it would show the rest of the world what a myopic world they are living in. On the other hand, anyone who attended the schools would not realistically have expected that this report would highlight all the abuse (both physical and mental) and bring about a mass of apologies and a complete change in the SES and the schools. But what it has done is highlight some of the many issues that have caused people like us to take the path that we have. IMHO, this is really just the tip of the iceberg.

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Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:52 pm

My reaction:

Disappointed that the Report didn?t go further. Nauseated by the pro-schools bias of some of the Report, particularly in the sections on the girls? schools - female pupils have been treated very shoddily by the Report. Angry about Townend?s decision to attach less weight to written statements if they were unsupported by oral testimony. (Why the hell wasn?t this made clear in the Terms of Reference? I would certainly have given oral testimony if I had known this!) Irritated that so much fluff was packed into such a disappointingly short Report, and by the use of the word ?mistreatment? instead of ?abuse?. BUT BLOODY DELIGHTED BY THE SECTIONS THAT VINDICATE US AND UNEQUIVOCALLY SUPPORT OUR CLAIMS OF TEACHERS BEHAVING CRIMINALLY. FOR ME, THESE TRUMP ALL THE OTHER STUFF!

Note also that the Governors' statement (http://www.iirep.com/page5.htm) apologises to some extent and admits that criminal behaviour took place. This is quite something!

I am also personally delighted that so many of the things that Debenham denied to my face have been shown by the Report to be true. WHO'S THE LIAR NOW, MR DEBENHAM?

Tom

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Postby ET » Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:18 am

Totally agree with Tom about the oral testimony thing - I hope that since I live in a totally different country my written testimony was taken into account, but this is by no means made clear in the report.

I also second Alban when he says that any of us who went to the schools can't really have expected this to be any better than it was - it's definitely the tip of a large iceberg. I hope this won't be the end of our fight.

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Postby a different guest » Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:05 am

the meat of the report will have been put in the "private" report to the governors...which is why we all want to see it.


Yes - talk aobut the "expurgated" version. The public one is certainly the one "without the gannet!".

TEACHERS BEHAVING CRIMINALLY.


So why isn't an upholder of the law pressing criminal charges?


I hope this won't be the end of our fight.


I trust not ET - particularly as to how the girls schools claims were treated so dismissively.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Mon Jan 16, 2006 2:11 pm

It sure ain't the end of the fight for me!

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Postby ses-surviver » Tue Jan 17, 2006 12:22 am

Hmm, have wasted far too much of the working day reading this, but although there are some critical passages, overall it doesn't read as being too damning.

During my time at the SES in London, I rather blindly took in the image painted of the day-schools being happy enlightened places, however, it was only upon becoming friends with an ex-pupil of the Day Schools that I found that I'd been duped. The oft-mentioned Mr Lacey (whose eldest daughter I knew through S.E.S.) seems to have got off fairly lightly - I have the feeling that there is far more damning evidence out there than was presented as evidence in the report.
Last edited by ses-surviver on Sat Jan 21, 2006 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Stanton » Tue Jan 17, 2006 9:27 am

If Marco Goldschmied reads this post please will he send his 1990s report on the St James' schools to this website?

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Media Coverage

Postby jojo » Sat Jan 21, 2006 4:24 pm

The Richmond and Twickenham Times, one of the local papers for the borough which the boys senior school is in, runs the story about the inquiry report on its front pages with the prominent headlines "Assaults on pupils were 'harsh and criminal'".

If anyone's interested in the full article I can put it up.


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