Schools' new statement on the Inquiry

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
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bella
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Postby bella » Sun Feb 26, 2006 7:14 pm

we all know that the reality is often that you don't expect to have to Google a school to get information that the interview with the head might not give you.

I Googled the shit out of this stuff before I sent my son off to (Catholic) school - yes, I would actually be surprised if people DIDN'T google their child's prospective school. In any case, the argument for transparency is one that's not going to go away.
Last edited by bella on Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

daska
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Postby daska » Sun Feb 26, 2006 7:23 pm

I googled all the schools I considered, sought local opion from past and current families and interviewed the heads on the matters that concerned me. What amazed me was the number of parents who don't bother!

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:00 am

a google of the SES's new nickname "SoES" gives me "small order executive systems" and "Schoole of Ocean and Earth Sciences".

A google of the Australian name "SOP" gives me "standard operating procedutes"

A google then of "School of Philosophy" gives me various Philosophy departments around the world.

The school is advertised here as being associated with the School of Economic Science London - a google of that gives me the London School of Economics.

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bella
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Postby bella » Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:14 am

"School of Practical Philosophy" yields better results, but Erasmus and John Colet schools' websites have links to SOP sites, which is as it should be. I don't know if you could convince them to include a link to this site. ;)

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:10 am

Bella, John Colet has always had the link to the SES, albeit (from memory) in a more esoteric area of the site.

Eramus has only very recently added the link. I've not checked it out myself, just heard about it here a week or so ago.

I must say that when I was googling originally to find info about the SOP (when I eventually discovered this site) very little came up that was relevant to the actual SOP/SES.

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:26 am

a different guest wrote:I must say that when I was googling originally to find info about the SOP (when I eventually discovered this site) very little came up that was relevant to the actual SOP/SES.


I had this experience as well. And I did that research about 3 years ago.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:18 pm

From the Independent Inquiry Report webpage http://www.iirep.com/page10.htm:
"The Governors have seen the reconciliation in several steps, and will now be writing to all those complainants and teachers who were named in the Inquiry, offering help with facilitation if the reconciliation process is felt to require it."

I know these things take time but it's now about two months since the Townend Inquiry report came out and I still haven't been contacted by the governors. Surely advancing the reconciliation process is more urgent than some of the statements the governors have recently been putting out on the internet.

Tom

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:28 pm

I received by recorded delivery this morning a letter from the governors (sent by Veale Wasbrough, the solicitors for the inquiry), dated 13 March. It says, inter alia, 'We would like to do all that we can to reconcile any differences or difficulties there might be, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how this might take place.' It's signed by John Story and Mary Pickering.

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:21 pm

So did I, but how long have they been aware of complaints.

This is really a year or two late.

I do however accept that they might have needed reassurance that there was something to respond to seeing as how their attitudes to the 'outside' were always distrusting.

Even so, this could have been done immediately Townend reported his findings to them. It is welcome but given the way they have dragged their heels so far it is unlikely that they will be able to stomach what is involved.

I hope to be proved wrong.

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:45 am

From what I know of John Story and Mary Pickering, they are people you might be able to talk to.

MP is a hoot. I recall on one occasion her gently taking the piss out of me for being stiff and serious ... Story seems very nice and I suspect without a bad bone in his body. Go for it.

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:18 am

Not sure which of these beauties I'll write to. Don't know Mary Pickering but your description, Chittani, sounds appealing. John Story - utterly straight - doesn't (or didn't) like being told what to do by a woman (when I was his i/c for a time) but he bore it manfully.
The letter goes off today.

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Ben W
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The report, and the school's response, should be questioned

Postby Ben W » Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:14 pm

[I am new to this site and I am nervous about posting this entry as it has the potential to be quite inflammatory. I do not wish to inflame the situation, but I do believe it is crucial that we focus on the real issues. My apologies if this is hard to read.]

I read the report yesterday for the first time. My initial reaction was that it was a step in the right direction. It has the semblence of independence, and makes some seemingly strong statements about the abuses which occured.

Then I re-read it and became concerned.

From the point of view of the school and the governors there is clearly a need to act. In the face of the noise coming from this site and other sources (not least the press) to bury their heads in the sand is to invite trouble.

The commissioning of the report is clearly an attempt to manage their risks.

At the same time, it did present an opportunity for independent review of and comment on the abuses that occured. To the extent that this opportunity was taken it allows the Governors to claim that they have gone some way in discharging their responsibilities.

The report iportrays itself as objective and well constructed. But there are some serious problems. The most important to my mind is the way in which James Townend treats the information from witnesses. "I accept Debenham's punishment book as a careful and accurate record. It ... is clearly more reliable that the victim's (sic) recollection back over 20 to 30 years." (Followed by a single example which, on the face of it, does appear exagerrated.) The implication of this is astonishing. It is like accepting Saddam's version of events in Iraq over all of the witnesses in that trial. One person - who "on the balance of probabilities" clearly played a central part in establishing, extending and maintaining sustained systematic physical and mental abuse - over many, many reports. It is not so much the specifics of how many strikes of the cane there were, although that is open to question, but more the way in which the witnesses are dismissed.

It is not good enough.

What we are dealing with here is a large group of people who were traumatised as children. What special skills or experiences does JT have here which allow him to be so dismissive? I am no expert on that subject - but I strongly suspect that traumatic experiences burn much stronger and enduring memories - ones which last a lifetime.

A second point here is that we are being led down the path of thinking of this as strokes of the cane. (There is something macabre about the word stroke in this context.) I personally saw my brother's bottom after one caning and it was an unbelievable mess. There was very extensive internal bleeding. The bruising covered the entire bottom. The skin was broken. The bruising took many days to subside and changed colour many times.

I would like some thought given to the force of beatings that occured. We are in danger of having our thinking shaped into the events as relating to over-exhuberence on the part of a few teachers, with no real harm done. I suspect the reality is that the beatings were excessive in force compared to "normal" canings.

Am I alone in thinking these things?

If not, then there is an urgent need for concerted action in highlighting those aspects of the report which need questioning. The school is attempting to write history here. In the absence of such concerted action, they could succeed.

I WOULD LIKE TO REPEAT that notwithstanding the above comments, I do regard the report as a positive step. But it is no more than a step.

Beyond this, I am further astonished at the response of the governors. I understand, but someone please correct me if I am wrong, that there are teachers and governors currently involved with the school who were active at the time the abuses occured.

Notwithstanding the comments of existing pupils that these people are reformed, their past behaviour cannot be ignored. If they were involved in criminal acts, which JT believes occured even without taking into account much of the most damning evidence, they should be held accountable. If this occured on the watch of governors who are still active, they should be held accountable too. This is hard - but it is necessary. It is also basic - which is why the actual response of the governors is so astonishing.

Perhaps the private report that went to the governors from JT contains relevant information here - information which supports the sanctions. If so, perhaps they should make the contents public.

Underpinning all of this of course is the influence of SES - or more likely key people within that organisation. Let us hope that at some stage this will open up.

But - leaving aside the SES - structures exist for a reason. Teachers have responsibilities and so do governors. If they had done their jobs the abuse would not have occured.
Child member of SES from around 1967 to around 1977; Strongly involved in Sunday Schools ; Five brothers and sisters went to ST V and St J in the worst years

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:40 pm

Without trudging back through the posts before the inquiry I can't say what James Townend's qualifications and experience are. But I seem to recall that they were excellent for this kind of inquiry. No doubt has ever been raised about him as chairman of the inquiry and those who contributed to the inquiry expressed satisfaction about the way they were treated. There were more contributions from former boys than girls and, in the eyes of some, this led to an under-representation of the girls' experience. But this was a matter for former pupils - if the girls chose not to come forward then Mr Townend obviously couldn't take account of them.

chrisdevere
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Postby chrisdevere » Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm

Ben yes the force of the canings was excessive (More akin to a flogging) I have no problem with caning if used in moderation and as alast resort. judging by the poor discipline in schools today it might be worth bringing it back!!! however, what was metered out at St vedast was brutal. I have compared notes with several friends who were beaten at schools considered to be "tough" and they were shocked by what I told them. (At the time i took it to be the norm). the severity of beatings was not just the cane but also the slipper etc given out far more liberally. sometimes I would receive up to 6 strokes a day for the most trivial of infractions (Smudging ink in my book, not understanding something etc.). In my oppinion, this is when corporal punishment stops being a punishment of last resort and starts being a form of sadidstic entertainment for the person delivering it.
Christopher de Vere
chrisdevere@hotmail.com

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Ben W
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Severity of punishment

Postby Ben W » Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:04 pm

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment. It confirms my suspicions re severity. This is extremely difficult to prove one way or the other, but it is important that, if nothing else, people across the range of this discussion understand that severity is an issue.

As to the liberal use of the slipper is concerned, I think that is a good point too. This point is not really drawn out in the report either.

Cheers,
Ben
Child member of SES from around 1967 to around 1977; Strongly involved in Sunday Schools ; Five brothers and sisters went to ST V and St J in the worst years


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