Media Coverage

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
jojo
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:44 am

Media Coverage

Postby jojo » Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:18 pm

In response to your post Tom, here's the article as it appears in the Richmond and Twickenham times this week....

[Publication date: 10:47am Friday 20th January 2006 -- mike]

Assaults on pupils were 'harsh and criminal'
By Chris Wickham

THE governors of St James' Independent Schools have apologised unreservedly after a report stated some pupils had been assaulted by teachers in its early years.

The schools, which includes St James' School for Senior Boys in Cross Deep, Twickenham, commissioned the report following allegations about the use of discipline by teachers during the development of the schools in the 1970s and 80s.

The inquiry, the first of its kind, conducted by James Townend QC, discovered some punishments of pupils were unreasonable and criminal'. Mr Townend states: "I am in no doubt that mistreatment of pupils took place in the boys' schools, mainly during the period 1975 to 1985."

The report continues: "A small number of teachers did not have control of their tempers. As a result several boys were subject to rough handling.

"They were criminally assaulted by being punched in the face or in the stomach, cuffed violently about the head, and had blackboard rubbers thrown at them, causing injury.

"In some cases, they had cricket balls thrown at them violently when they were not looking and were struck with the end of a gym rope.

"Other students were kicked, struck from behind, slapped about the face, thrown across a classroom. Whatever the provocation, nothing could justify the mistreatment. It was unreasonable and criminal."

The report does add that there has been a real change in the ethos and conduct of the schools, which was established by witnesses who spoke of them as happy places.

Roger Pincham, chairman of governors at St James' Independent Schools, said: "The governors accept Mr Townend's findings and apologise unreservedly to those whose welfare and happiness were affected by the disciplinary regime at the time.

"Most of the incidents of harsh or over-zealous punishment identified related to the Boys' School between 1975 and 1985. It is clear that disciplinary policy was not sufficiently controlled or supervised during those early years.

"Some physical punishments that were lawful at the time were too harsh and too frequent, some acts went beyond lawful punishment and were wholly unacceptable. That this could have happened in our schools, even a long time ago, is deeply regrettable.

"The report notes that the schools have modernised and developed since those early years and all forms of physical punishment ceased more than a decade ago."

The Parents & Pupils Inquiry Action Group welcomed the publication of the report and believed the findings of excessive use of corporal punishment, physical and mental mistreatment of pupils and criminal assault' by teachers vindicated former pupils and parents who have long campaigned for the truth to be established.

They added that the failings of the governing body raise profound questions for the schools today.

A statement said: "We hope the conclusion of the inquiry will prove a turning point for the St James' Schools and that the positive process of change on which they have embarked can now be accelerated.

"Following their acceptance of the inquiry's findings, St James' Schools must now resolve to act decisively."

It is believed that the governors are examining the report, and a second confidential report, which contains full details of mistreatment and the perpetrators involved, will decide what course of action to take against individuals.

Aatif Hassan, chairman of St James' Seventh Form' Old Boys & Girls Association, said: "I welcome the publication of the report. I would like to thank Mr Townend for his efforts in establishing the facts as presented to him.

"I am pleased to note that the governors accept the findings of the report and provide a sincere public apology to all those affected. I hope much good has and will come from the inquiry and look forward to this period of reconciliation, which is essential.

"I am also pleased for all concerned that the report finds the current St James school a happy place'."

User avatar
ET
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:49 am
Location: Gloucestershire
Contact:

Postby ET » Sun Jan 22, 2006 10:32 am

I suppose it's not suprising, but there is not only no mention of the girl's school in this article at all, but yet again it seems to be weighted towards how incredibly "happy" the schools are now, with, of course, no mention of the fact that the schools were seen as "happy" during the period when the abuse was at its height.

Not to mention the fact that even if the schools are happy places now, that doesn't make those of us who were abused feel any better at all (or at least it doesn't make me feel any better).

Tom Grubb
Posts: 380
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Location: London

Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:33 pm

Here's a link to the Richmond & Twickenham Times article: http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/display.var.676026.0.assaults_on_pupils_were_harsh_and_criminal.php

If you want to write to the paper, here are the contact details:

The Richmond & Twickenham Times
14 King Street
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 1NF
Telephone: 020 8940 6030

User avatar
ET
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:49 am
Location: Gloucestershire
Contact:

Postby ET » Mon Jan 23, 2006 10:42 am

Reading the RTT privacy policy, it states that all who write letters to the editor must supply their name and address. If I ask them not to print these details, does anyone on here know whether they are then legally obligated not to print them? I am not prepared to write to them unless I can have anonymity.

Matthew
Posts: 212
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: London

TES

Postby Matthew » Mon Jan 23, 2006 4:02 pm

There's a piece about the Inquiry in this week's Times Educational Supplement on page 14.
"Inquiry reveals culture of violence"
"Police launch investigation into independent school following accusations of assault on former pupils"
www.tes.co.uk

sugarloaf
Posts: 98
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2004 11:40 am

Postby sugarloaf » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:47 pm

Reading the RTT privacy policy, it states that all who write letters to the editor must supply their name and address. If I ask them not to print these details, does anyone on here know whether they are then legally obligated not to print them? I am not prepared to write to them unless I can have anonymity.


ET, I believe its standard practice for newspapers not to print a letter writers' name and address, if specifically requested. Many letters are printed with just 'name and address supplied' at the bottom.

Bearing in mind that the content of your letter is likely to be about mistreatment of children, I think it goes without saying your request would be adhered to. It is only fair though that the letter is submitted to the editor with your real name and address, despite the published version being anonymous.

Its also worth noting that the paper could be sued if they publish something the schools/SES consider libelous, so I imaging the editor may well not print a letter that says something like, "the current schools are a recruiting ground for the SES cult"..

Finally, I wouldnt put it past the schools to ask a number of 'happy' children at the school to write emotive letters saying how great the place is today, so any letters printed from people with opposite opinions would help to give a more balanced coverage.

best, SL

User avatar
ET
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:49 am
Location: Gloucestershire
Contact:

Postby ET » Tue Jan 24, 2006 9:25 am

Thanks for your advice, sugarloaf, I'll try to keep my letter as non-libellous as possible!

The "Times Educational Supplement" piece is not on their website as far as I can see, have tried a variety of searches.

Anybody prepared to scan it and post it on here (if that's possible)?

Matthew
Posts: 212
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: London

Postby Matthew » Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:50 pm

The "Times Educational Supplement" piece is not on their website as far as I can see, have tried a variety of searches.

Anybody prepared to scan it and post it on here (if that's possible)?

Tom kindly transcribed it. Here it is:


Inquiry reveals culture of violence

Police launch investigation into independent school following accusations of assaults on former pupils. Graeme Paton reports

One of the last private schools in the UK to ban the cane has been criticised after an independent inquiry found evidence of repeated ?criminal? assaults on pupils.

Children at St James boys? school, in Twickenham, are said to have been beaten with blackboard rubbers, punched in the face and had cricket balls ?violently? thrown at them by teachers.

A file detailing the assaults which happened in the late 1970s and early 1980s has now been passed to the Metropolitan police.

A police spokesman said its officers were already investigating one allegation of abuse by a 40-year-old former pupil at St James and the inquiry report would be considered.

?There is currently a joint investigation with the police, social services, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and education welfare. Current staff at the school are cooperating fully with the enquiry,? said a spokeswoman.

St James, along with a girls school, was set up by the School of Economic Science, a little-known sect which emphasises female subservience, meditation and the teaching of eastern philosophy.

The schools, which charge ?9,135-a-year, list Emily Watson, the award-winning actress, among their former pupils.

An exams league table of the top 500 private schools last year placed the girls? school 55th and the boys 352nd.

The inquiry, carried out by James Townend, QC, was ordered by school governors following claims of abuse by teachers between 1975 and 1985. They acted after former pupils posted allegations on a website. Two more schools run by the sect, St Vedast boys? and St Vedast girls?, which merged with the St James?s schools in 1985 were also involved.

Mr Townend, who said that the inquiry did not have any bearing on the current schools, interviewed former teachers and pupils as part of the four-month investigation.

His report, released this week, said only headmasters had used the cane, normally within the law, although at St James boys? there was evidence of excessive force. However, in one incident, two classes were caned on their way to a swimming lesson as a ?collective punishment? which the-then head later acknowledged was an ?over-reaction?.

The school only stopped caning in 1996 when it was outlawed in all schools, although most of the private sector dropped corporal punishment after it was banned in state schools 10 years earlier.

Prior to 1985, teachers in all schools were allowed to mete out physical punishment such as a slap to the hands or ordering press-ups.

However, Mr Townend said, at St James and St Vedast boys? schools, punishments went much further.

?A small number of teachers had no proper control of their tempers,? he said.

?As a result I am satisfied that several boys were subjected to rough handling. They were criminally assaulted by being punched in the face or stomach, cuffed violently about the head, had blackboard rubbers thrown at them causing injuries in some cases, had cricket balls thrown at them violently when they were not looking at the thrower and were struck with the end of a gym rope.

?Other students were kicked, struck from behind, slapped about the face, thrown across a classroom. Whatever the provocation, nothing could justify this mistreatment. It was clearly unreasonable and criminal.?

Mr Townend did not name the teachers but said they would be identified in a confidential report to governors. The governors were criticised for failing to exercise proper control over the school.

Mr Townend said the cane was never used at the girls schools although pupils complained of verbal humiliation and occasionally being struck.

There was no evidence of sexual assault at any of the schools, which taught children aged four to 18.

In a statement, governors of the two St James?s schools said: ?The disciplinary policy was not sufficiently supervised during those early years.

?Some physical punishments that were lawful at the time, were too harsh and too frequent; some acts went beyond lawful punishment and were wholly unacceptable. That this could have happened at the schools, even a long time ago, is deeply regretted.?

One former pupil, now in his mid-30s, who asked not to be identified, said: ?Kicking, punching and verbal abuse were uniform, even for things that happened outside school. Once, a group of boys met some girls from the sister school at the weekend and were beaten for it on Monday.?

User avatar
Keir
Posts: 177
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:04 am
Location: London

Postby Keir » Tue Jan 24, 2006 9:15 pm

Many thanks to Tom for the transcript,

I wonder if the deep regret will manifest more than words. The SES's record was not great. Lets see how different a place it is now!

(rubbing chin vigorously)

K

User avatar
Free Thinker
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2005 4:05 am
Location: USA

Postby Free Thinker » Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:21 am

As an aside, the boys' school is only 352nd!!! That doesn't speak very well for the Academic portion of what St. James has to offer...

User avatar
ET
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:49 am
Location: Gloucestershire
Contact:

Postby ET » Wed Jan 25, 2006 8:55 am

Well that's a much more thorough report than the Richmond and Twickenham Times one. Glad to hear that things have been passed to police and social services, let's just hope they do some thorough investigation into the current schools, and don't just take the school's word for it that things are now perfectly ok there.
Particularly pleased about the clear statement of SES involvement in the schools, something that was noticeably lacking in the other article, and also the mention of verbal abuse in the girl's school, which was also not mentioned in the other report.
Also, I agree about the boy's school coming 352nd out of 500 - not that brilliant, is it?!
Thanks Tom for transcribing it and Matthew for posting it.

Alban
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:23 am
Location: London

Postby Alban » Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:11 pm

Yes, the article is far better researched - shows the difference between a local rag and a National.

I'm hoping a reasonable number of the current parents will read it too because I believe that the majority of them are still completely in the dark.

The longer the schools leave it before any action is taken, the louder people like us are going to shout.

Matthew
Posts: 212
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: London

Evening Standard article - 20/01/06

Postby Matthew » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:58 pm

Publication: Evening Standard; Date:2006 Jan 20; Section:News; Page Number: 10

Teachers ?hit and kicked pupils?

PUPILS were systematically beaten by teachers at a group of ?cult? independent schools, an inquiry has revealed. Children at one of the St James Independent Schools, then in Kensington, were targeted between 1975 and 1985 by teachers ?unable to control tempers?. A barrister has found boys were punched, kicked and ?thrown around?. Police say no investigation would be launched without individuals coming forward.
Last edited by Matthew on Fri Jan 27, 2006 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

ses-surviver
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:11 pm
Location: London

Re: Evening Standard article - 20/01/06

Postby ses-surviver » Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:43 pm

Matthew wrote:Publication: Evening Standard; Date:2006 Jan 20; Section:News; Page Number: 1

Teachers ?hit and kicked pupils?

PUPILS were systematically beaten by teachers at a group of ?cult? independent schools, an inquiry has revealed. Children at one of the St James Independent Schools, then in Kensington, were targeted between 1975 and 1985 by teachers ?unable to control tempers?. A barrister has found boys were punched, kicked and ?thrown around?. Police say no investigation would be launched without individuals coming forward.


The Evening Standard today means The Metro tomorrow morning certainly in the London area and possibly nationwide (I'm not clear on the exact editorial policy of the paper, except that 95% of its 'news' is recycled from the day before) ...

User avatar
Keir
Posts: 177
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:04 am
Location: London

Postby Keir » Fri Jan 27, 2006 1:10 am

Its not clear quite who the police think should be coming forward before they launch an investigation.

Do they want the whole process to be repeated again so that they can take their own notes, or perhaps they would like the teachers to come forward in a state of contrite apology asking to be flogged?

I am sure they could compel the governers to co-operate and let them have a peek at that private report, but maybe that is a cost-saving idea too far for todays thoroughly motivated force.

Or does the black hand of Sauron reach even to Sir Robert Peel's finest? I think we should be told!!!!


Return to “St James and St Vedast”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests