Letters to governors "private and confidential"

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
Planet
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Postby Planet » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:06 pm

JC wrote:We have now had it confirmed that it was our private letters that were discussed and shown to members of our family at Waterperry.
We know this to be true as we have had a personal message of apology from Mary Pickering.
JC


This sounds quite terrible. These things can cause family splits.
I thought many many times of writing a letter, but then I thought I wouldn't trust the recipients with its contents, so a good reason not to send one.

Theres still time however to write a book instead. ie. Something like the secret Diary of Adrian mole aged xxx. but based on real life.

Anyone keep a real secret diary at school. :?:

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:59 pm

I'm sorry to hear it and it seems like Mary Pickering also regrets it. But there may be a benefit taken as a whole. Please don't think I am in any way making light of the incident if I say that the more openness there is -the better. For as long as relatives and parents think their child was happy at St James (if he or she wasn't) then to that extent they can shut their eyes and minds. It is, in its way, living a lie.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:14 pm

I'm shocked but not particularly surprised by this gross breach of privacy and trust.

Maybe St James governors and members of the SES aren't the best people to play Desmond Tutu in this Truth and Reconciliation exercise. I would suggest that former pupils be allowed to choose an independent and trustworthy figure for that role. That is if the SES really are serious about Truth and Reconciliation - they've shown precious little evidence of that so far.

Planet, yes I kept a secret diary at school for a short while but unfortunately it wasn't secret enough! It was 'discovered' in a classroom during a break and earned me a beating from Debenham. Apparently, the caricatures and remarks about teachers in it constituted an offence against the school rules. Now I think about it, I'm not sure I ever got it back.

Alban
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Postby Alban » Sat Apr 08, 2006 7:01 pm

Stanton wrote:I'm sorry to hear it and it seems like Mary Pickering also regrets it. But there may be a benefit taken as a whole. Please don't think I am in any way making light of the incident if I say that the more openness there is -the better. For as long as relatives and parents think their child was happy at St James (if he or she wasn't) then to that extent they can shut their eyes and minds. It is, in its way, living a lie.


Stanton, you're missing the point!

The Letter was private and confidential.. Mary Pickering, John Story or someone within their confidence broke the trust that was afforded them. In doing so, they have blown whatever small chance they may have had to bring about reconciliation.

Can you not see what damage this has done. Can you not see that they have demonstrated the very behaviour that we have been complaining about all this time. All we hear from the same is that the place has changed - all that was in the past etc, and yet here we are, 20+ years later and NOTHING has changed in the slightest. The first chance they get to prove themselves worthy of our trust and they betray it!

It is of no consequence whether you feel that it was a good thing that the parents find out, the point is that it is not for the governors to make that decision - that is for the family to resolve themselves. But no, the SES yet again takes the arogant view that it knows best and completely ignore what is the right thing to do.

They must go, and a non SES independent should be brought in to oversee the reconciliation process, or at least what's left of it after the governors concerned have made such a pigs ear of it.

Alban

Planet
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Postby Planet » Sat Apr 08, 2006 7:21 pm

Stanton wrote: Please don't think I am in any way making light of the incident if I say that the more openness there is -the better.


Theres being open and honest which is one thing. Also theres also being open, honest and causing hurt to those you love and also those you don't. But it is in a way living a lie. I suppose the real question is are the governors qualified to deal with whatever might face them. But then they are just governors and also parents.

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:31 pm

Bandying about and exagerating comments in a private and confidental letter as just so much gossip is hardly a good example of being 'open and honest' Stanton.

Instead of your 'happily ever after' scenario have you considered the following looked at from the SES angle - we have people IN the SES (perhaps quite senior) who have non SES (and therefore asleep) people saying bad things about the SES. Where is the anger going to be directed? At the SES or at the asleep people who said these wicked "untrue" things?
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:58 am

I knew what I said wouldn't be popular in some quarters - but I'm just thinking laterally, at least I think that is what it is. When there's a impasse and a lot of indignation - look for the unexpected release?

To take my first point - is it not possible that momentum is building in the School towards significant changes? Why would we suppose that everything is fixed and set in stone? If there are to be changes - in whatever degree - then the more relatives who hear it from their children (or grandchildren) the better.

I find it's a terrible temptation to want to be in the right. There's no more boxed-in position to be in. Of course the governors should have kept private and confidential letters to themselves. But there's more than one way of looking at it.

Alban
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Postby Alban » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:11 am

Stanton wrote:...But there's more than one way of looking at it.


Actually, I think this is pretty much a black and white situation in an otherwise grey world.

There is no excuse for that behaviour!

JC, do you feel that the apology you got was whole-hearted and unqualified, or was it wrapped up in justification?

Alban

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:26 am

Of course the governors should have kept private and confidential letters to themselves.


That goes without saying


But there's more than one way of looking at it.


NO THERE ISN'T!

i knew what I said wouldn't be popular in some quarters


and perhaps you could elaborate exactly WHAT "quarters" would find the bandyingy about, and exaggerating, or letters clearly maked 'private and confidential' as 'popular"?
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

leon
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Postby leon » Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:09 am

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Last edited by leon on Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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bella
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Postby bella » Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:45 pm

A letter marked "private and confidential" being discussed with people it was not adressed to is unacceptable. That's the bottom line, and I am at a loss as to why the Governors or folks in charge of correspondence for them thought it was acceptable.

Did they think the people named in the letter deserved the right of answering the charges? Maybe, but it was not their place at that time. Did they think they needed to clarify issues raised with people who knew the complainants better than they? Maybe, but it was not their place at that time. It was not their place at that time to discuss the contents of confidential letters to the Governors with anybody else, let alone the complainant's goddamn relatives. Period.

Shocking error of judgement, and one that will hurt much deeper than could have been intended. There has been much made of the arrogance of the SES on this board, and much can be attributed to a lack of the burning urge to explain oneself...but this is out of line, as described.

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:42 pm

I, too, would very much like to hear why the governors chose to reveal private and confidential letters and perhaps ET and JC can enlighten us.

As to 'significant changes' I don't know what these may be but I think there must be some. There are all those unexamined issues dating from the time of Secret Cult.

Believe it or not, Leon, I didn't have the SES in mind when I posted.

JC
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Postby JC » Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:48 pm

Alban,
I feel that the response my sister and I have received has been respectful of our feelings and has been genuinely apologetic over the distress this breach of confidentiality has caused. The apology has not been weighted down with excuses and we are in touch with those involved in order to try and sort it all out as best we can.

Stanton,
I am not prepared to discuss exactly what happened as this is private. A message will be posted at our request on this board in the next couple of days to explain what happened to some extent.

I do not understand what you mean by there may be some benefit from this. I assume you are suggesting that there could be a positive outcome somehow within my family??

We have already begun discussing all of what happened to us and the inquiry etc.. within the family in our way in our time, we have already begun to be "open" with each other.
All this breech of confidentiality has done is cause considerable distress to all involved as it has undermined what was already underway. This has not broken down barriers or started us talking as we had already done this ourselves all it has done is cause anger, hurt, upset and fear.


As far as I am concerned our letters were "private and confidential" that meant they were not to be shown to anyone other than those they were addressed to. We know that, they know that! now we pick up the pieces.

At least for once we have received an apology for the way we have been treated!

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Sun Apr 09, 2006 6:40 pm

Thank you for your post, JC, and I'm very glad to hear that the apology was heartfelt and meaningful. I hope that you and your family can work with that and find some comfort in it.

By 'benefit' I had in mind the wider environment of School. From what has been told me personally, some people in the School are stlll head in sand to a greater or lesser degree. I can speak of what I've read here, and what I understand from it, but it doesn't have the same effect as hearing it from the horse's mouth. For instance, the son of someone I know gave his father a recording of the Channel 4 news item - but he still hasn't looked at it. Basically, he doesn't want to know.

Is his son trying to tell him something? It certainly looks like it. Would it make a difference to his attitude if his son spoke more openly? Yes, very probably.

It's a matter of a critical mass - a few people, well, it's water off a duck's back. A few more - disquiet. A few more - hold an inquiry .... and so on.
This is where former pupils can make the future by speaking to their families - as you have done.

Thank you for posting - I wish you very well.

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:14 pm

Stanton, one of the things that rankles about your positive attitude to someone else's extra work is that however laudable the idea that negative can be turned to positive, we have already been used to bring about change in St James, by being the poor unfortunates that populated the early 'experimental' school with all the wierdness and unprofessionalism and abuse.

I apreciate you may see a sea change in the SES as a good thing, but I am more interested in the attitudes of the governors now, not in 10 years time when they have all been replaced by more modern thinking human beings.

I do think that the position of the SES is relevant to discuss as the leadership is in a position to influence the governors apology and subsequent action, but how long do we have to wait to get an apology for wrongs committed? Do we just keep on hoping that they will change of their own accord (and more than likely without any apology or acknowledgemnt of the part played in their enlightenment by the long suffering ex students of St James and St Vedast)?

It is symptomatic of the organisation that in all other areas they are keen to be seen as leaders, but come time for apology or contrition you can hear a pin drop.

As far as the broken confidence, no matter how well apologised for, shows that they are uniquely unqualified to handle matters of this sensitivity. Why they have not recognised this and brought in professionals is precisely because of the arrogance and blindness to their own ignorance that has been spoken about many times on this bulletin board. There is no excuse for it and it should never have happened.

It is just not good enough. If they HAD been concerned about openess within the family they could have checked with the correspondents independently of their family and then provided a mutually acceptable venue and paid for some qualified personnel to manage the discussion. With the best will in the world, being a philosophy student doesn't make you a counsellor, particularly in the SES.


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