Schools' new statement on the Inquiry

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Schools' new statement on the Inquiry

Postby PP inquiry action group » Mon Jan 30, 2006 10:24 am

Schools' new statement on the Inquiry

For those who may not be aware, the Schools have posted (on their Inquiry website) an additional response to the Inquiry with details of the action they are taking.

We are encouraged by the Schools' swift response to some of the issues surrounding current teaching staff named by the Inquiry. However, in rejecting calls for resignations the Governors are failing to take responsibility for what happened. Concerns over the SES / St James relationship have been dismissed as "uninformed?.

You can view the Governors? new statement and our calls for action at ... _page.html

The Governors have also given details (for the first time) of the much heralded 'reconciliation' process they are facilitating. Details can be found at

We hope former and current pupils, parents, and the wider school community will continue to press the schools to take appropriate action.

Parents and Pupils Inquiry Action Group
Last edited by PP inquiry action group on Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby ET » Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:09 am

Well that all makes very depressing reading I have to say. It all sounds great, but the problem is that none of us feel able to trust them as far as we can throw them, and who can blame us?

It seems to me that there is very little point in continuing to attack the schools and the SES (when did they become SoES?) anonymously. Unfortunately, most of us are unable to be anything but anonymous, unless we want our families to fall apart (certainly the case for me at least). Any anonymous attacks will, quite legally, be dismissed.

And even if I was to come out and reveal my name and family relationships to the schools and SES, how can I possibly prove what happened to me all those years ago?

I have no desire to meet up with my past teachers and attempt reconciliation - there is no way I would believe any of them, and the stress of seeing them again would not be worth it.

Is there anyone on here who has actually gone through this face to face reconciliation and would be prepared to talk about it on here? It would be interesting to know what is was like.

I was considering contacting the journalists detailed in the post by Justice! today, but as I would be unable to be anything other than anonymous I'm really not sure there is any point. I would be happy to be persuaded otherwise!

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Postby sugarloaf » Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:41 pm

hi ET,

I agree its more effective not to be anonymous when making comments or statements about the school. However as you point out, there are valid reasons for many people not to want to be identifiable - damage to family relationships being a major one. If a parent of a child currently at the school wanted to talk about his/her childs experiences, its quite natural they wouldn't want the child identified through them.

I have to disagree that there's little point in applying anonymous pressure to the schools - the press and publicity to date has obviously forced the schools to make a detailed further statement, clarifying issues surrounding current teachers, and their communications with Police and child welfare authorities.

The press I've seen so far contains quotes and statements from what looks like a number of different people, all anonymous.

I have just spoken to someone who has been in touch with Channel 4, who has been assured that it is fine to remain anonymous. If anyone wished to be interviewed on camera, their visual appearance, but probably not their voice, would be disguised.

I think its very unlikely journalists will investigate anything, or sniff out the facts themselves - sadly they just don't work like that. They will simply package and present the info that's been given to them. Even if you don't want to be quoted yourself - providing background info, or talking 'off the record' could be invaluable in helping them get the whole picture.

It would be incredibly sad if the only people willing to be quoted were the schools themselves?..!

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Postby Keir » Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:55 pm

Et, whilst they (being replete with legal expertise) enjoy the smug position of obeying the letter of the law these days, that doesn't mean they are obeying the spirit of it.

What the law was never going to be able to do was turn 20/30yr old emotional hurt and social difficulty into sackings and prosecutions.

One of the most sinister aspects of the SES involvement in the schools (which the Governers describe as 'inspirational') is that it is such a subtle undercurrent that all can apparently seem normal to the chance meeting with outsiders or during inspections. But lessons learnt in childhood such as how to deal with your own emotions in a healthy way (not), and how to treat women, or even how to deal with troublesome ex-pupils, stay with an individual until they are challenged. The lives of St J pupils with SES parents, SES teachers, governers, and friends are hermetically-sealed against any kind of challenge.

My guess is that when they hit Uni it will start with them feeling confused and find it hard to make friends, but then some helpful tutor in their youth group will tell him its all right, the others are just ignorant...spend more time at group etc etc. Not illegal, but shutting down societal checks and balances and the balance that can come from a wide variety of friends. Not, I would imagine, unlike the way Al Quaeda would groom a suicide bomber. Not illegal, sure, but utterly sinister and coersive controlling behaviour. And ARROGANT beyond belief.

But that is ok. This bulletin board has made them have an enquiry, which they tried to control, the report and publication of which made them deal with further press intrusion into their tightly controlled world. I have even started hearing the potential threat of legal action to 'protect the interests' of the school. But can they stop us telling our experiences here? Do we have a right to have a different point of view. Oh yes we jolly well do. James Townend has done an excellent job within the constraints of his employ to ensure that his opinion is heard that not all is well on the happy farm as the governers and SES would have you believe.

So, keep talking about your experiences, they need to be heard. We are just getting started.


PS. If you told the press WHY you felt you had to stay anonymous, that in itself is of note. That discussion of a subject is so hazardous to a family group that it forces you to live a lie, shows how closed a society it is - not about the love of wisdom or learning that they purport it to be.

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Postby Tom Grubb » Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:26 pm

The governors' latest statement is a patronising load of bollocks.

Instead of posturing about how they won't respond to "anonymous threats or demands" and banging on about what wonderful places the schools are these days (as if that had any relevance), perhaps they should show a little humility and contrition. Most of these governors were in place while the very worst of the abuse detailed in Townend's report was occurring. They did nothing to stop it.

The governors should shut up and listen to the many victims of the abusers that they sheltered and let them decide how they would like any reconciliation to take place. They should also show some respect to those who, quite understandably, wish to remain anonymous.


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Postby Keir » Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:24 pm


But their banging on about how different the school is nowadays from those bad ol days, is puff.

The Head of the SES still picks the Heads, approved by the SES members who are the governors. Said governors go to the same 'club' as most of the teaching staff although probably in a superior stream in the organisation. Some parents of current St James pupils will more than likely have been tutored in the SES by same governors, heads, or teaching staff (depending how senior they are in the organisation). Current sixth form boys are 'invited' to join foundation groups, whilst the girls are 'introduced' to said governors, heads, teaching staff, and older foundation group singles. Said marriages will be under a fair amount of pressure to have children that will attend St James schools.

Oh sure, they have become more media savvy, but the fact remains. It is SES members that spawned the schools, and oversaw the abuse, and are still behind the philosopical cant of the school as well as the governance.

Without critical judgement, the conditions still exist to facilitate the abuse. If you really want to ensure that it can't happen again, then you have to get the SES well away from the pupils and the whole school system.

This has been suggested before in a commissioned report, and ignored. It has also been recommended that they be more transparent.

Now I dont know about you, but for me 'transparent' means publishing the enquiries 'secret' recommendations, as well as being open about any disciplinary procedure that may come from it.

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Postby Alban » Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:48 pm

Well as usual, they are not listening to us and trying to dictate to us as if from on high. It just goes to show that nothing much has really changed...sure, the law has stopped them beating merry hell out of the kids and higher profile monitoring of schooling has ensured that they conform a little more, but you still have the age-old SES coercion if you scratch at the surface.

I think the biggest delusion that they are under is the fact that the current set of governors are not to blame for a period of 10 years of their governorship. Townend makes the point that they were not really involved in running the schools (that was the job of the SES), and the response by the governors states that no complaints were received at the time (which is not actually true, but we'll skip that for the time being) and that they didn't know about the abuse....


So, now we have established that they didn't perform their duties for 10 years (at least) then I would like to know by what criteria they're able to claim that they are doing their job now. Surely the very fact that abuse of this kind happened during their time indicates that they are unfit for the job. Remember, we're not just talking about one incident here, we're talking about years and years of abuse of children...And yes, I can say that because I, like many on this board have very clear memories of what happened to us, regardless of what can be corroborated or admitted by others.

How can anyone NOT resign given those circumstances.

Anyone not adopting the myopic SES mindset will be able to see that this statement by the governors is yet another damage-limitation exercise. They know it happened, they know that Townends report is just the tip of the ice-berg, but still they bury their heads deeper in the SES sand.

I think we are being un-realistic to expect the organisation to remove their heads from that sand, but this is just another gentle reminder to them that no-one is taken in by their spin.

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Postby NYC » Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:46 am

P&P Inquiry Action Group wrote:We have been extremely busy in the week following the inquiry report. We are in the process of posting new pages to our website including the ?about us? and ?news/updates? pages.

Who's "we?"

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Postby a different guest » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:03 am

The new response from the school Governors is totally pathetic and a slap in the face to ex-students who took part - the main thrust of it seems to distance the current school from anything that happened in the past. Note the constant use of caps and itals to emphasise (where no emphasis is needed) their 'that was then this is now' stance.

And although the inquiry was to find the "truth", those truths, whilst being apparently accepted by the governors, are at the same time STILL in the realms of being merely "alleged" until proved in a court of law.

And what happened in the girls schools is being totally ignored. Maybe what was done there was not 'unlawful', but it certainly WAS child abuse.

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Postby ET » Tue Jan 31, 2006 10:16 am

Thanks Sugarloaf and Kier in particular for your words of advice. I had a panic and fit of depression yesterday after reading the new responses to the report (as ADG says, a slap in the face) and considered jacking all this in and going back to my life. I hate how they can still get into my head almost 20 years after I left the schools!

However, I agree that the press and public need to hear our side of the story, as it would indeed be tragic if only the SES gave quotes. I also agree that letting them know why it is I want to stay anonymous also sheds some light on the way the schools f*** up everything in your life.

I am, therefore, going to contact those journalists. I came to realise in the middle of the night that I have to see this through to some sort of conclusion otherwise I'll never be free of them.

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Postby Daffy » Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:00 pm

Quoting from the Governors' response:

Four teachers from the present staff of over 100 teachers were investigated by Mr
Townend for incidents alleged to have happened 25 to 30 years ago. One teacher was
found to have no case to answer at all. One teacher admitted a single complaint that on
one occasion he threw a blackboard rubber at an unruly pupil. Two other teachers are
accused of incidents falling into the category of over harsh or unlawful.

In the case of one former teacher Mr Townend has recommended that such a person is
unfit to teach or tutor again. The relevant authorities have been informed.

One former teacher named by Mr Townend remains employed in an associate school
abroad. His disciplinary approach is found to have been harsh, but not unlawful, in two
incidents over 20 years ago.

Does anyone know who these teachers are - in particular, the person "unfit to teach or tutor again"?

I have a suspicion as to who is the former teacher now "employed in an associate school abroad", but I will see what other people say.

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Postby Matthew » Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:06 pm

Daffy wrote:Does anyone know who these teachers are - in particular, the person "unfit to teach or tutor again"?

At an educated guess, I'd say it was Russell.

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Postby Planet » Fri Feb 03, 2006 9:57 pm

As a former pupil of the schools and having read the published Inquiry report it did occur to me that the schools now have a nice set of tape recorded and transcribed documents. In the case of any legal challenge they could of course select some desirable ones from the full unpublished report.

Although this was not the stated intention of the Inquiry it does provide a nice Library of positive and negative evidence that could be used in the unlikely event of any litigation I would suspect. A good reason enough for some to have avoided the Inquiry I would expect.

I do agree that some of the teachers at the time were definitely unfit to teach both in terms of teaching and in terms of looking after children. The ways of the SES at the time were strange to say the least.

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Postby Daffy » Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:24 am

Matthew wrote:At an educated guess, I'd say it was Russell.

You may be right, but it would be a pity if Russell went down in history as the only teacher in the 70s and 80s who was unfit to teach, as he was by no means the worst teacher there. In fact, if you take his teaching in isolation from his personality (a somewhat artificial distinction, admittedly), I'd say he was one of the better ones.

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Postby Matthew » Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:57 am

Talking of Mr Colin Russell:

Alex Woolf wrote:...I attended St Vedast School for four years, from the ages of 11 to 15 (1975-1979). I was in the most senior class, and among the first intake of pupils at that school. My form master was Colin Russell. He was a short, stocky man, with intense blue-grey eyes, and he radiated power. As a class we feared him. He could be jovial and amusing one minute, and very cold and brutal the next.

He liked to be impulsive, unpredictable and surprising. I remember once looking over my shoulder at another boy's work (something admittedly I shouldn't have been doing), and getting whacked incredibly hard across the face by Mr Russell's open hand. I recall the dreadful shock of this as much as the pain, and the prolonged ringing sound in my ear. One morning, Mr Russell came into the room and told us that we all stank, and ordered us down to the shower room for ice-cold showers. That was the sort of man he was.

Mr Russell's speciality was picking on one person and humiliating him in front of the class. His most frequent victim was a boy called Paul Hithersay, who had problems with maths. Mr Russell would make him stand at the blackboard and order him in the most menacing tones to do a particular calculation. I don't know if Paul would have been capable of doing the calculation in any circumstances, but of course, under so much pressure, the boy's mind simply froze. The minutes would tick by in excruciating silence. Paul might giggle in embarrassment. He would sometimes try to write something, anything, on the board; inevitably it would be completely wrong. It was torture to sit through those sessions, and it must have been ten times worse for Paul.

I developed a bad stammer when I was at St Vedast, which I attribute directly to the fear I experienced day after day in Mr Russell's classroom. The stammer made reading aloud in class a humiliating experience, and I became the object of one particular boy's mockery.

From my own point of view, Mr Russell was the worst, because he was the cleverest. He got inside our heads, and preyed on our fears. Perhaps under hypnosis I would remember more, but I really don't want to go there...

...We were often told by Mr Russell that our aim in life was to be 'a white dot on a white piece of paper'...

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