Just to set the record straight...

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
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Just to set the record straight...

Postby Matthew » Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:34 am

I recently met up with the ex-St Vedast pupil who told the inquiry he was beaten hundreds of times by Debenham. It turns out that this was in fact not a “lie” or a “gross exaggeration” (as Townend concluded). It took place between the years of 75-80 when for most of that period Debenham, illegally, did not keep a punishment book. He told Mr Townend that he had received well over 300 strokes of the cane (i.e. ‘hundreds’) over a 5 year period, sometimes 2/3 times per week, and between 2 and 4 strokes at a time. I know and trust him well and certainly believe he is not one to exaggerate. I also remember other former classmates who fell under a similar category.

For personal reasons he is not able to come on here and say this himself, so he has given me permission to do so on his behalf. I would have posted this a while ago, but we only met up recently. Still it’s better late than never, and I felt it was important to set the record straight.

Inquiry Report wrote:5.5.4 Use of the cane was restricted to the Headmaster alone. To begin with the use of the cane was unrecorded and unwitnessed. Later in Autumn 1979 a punishment book was instituted by Debenham and purports to record the boy's name, the offence, the date of the caning and the number of strokes. This was kept for the rest of Debenham’s time as Headmaster.

One boy said he had been beaten by Debenham on hundreds of occasions. The book gave the lie to this gross exaggeration.

5.5.5 The book does not cover the vital period prior to September 1979 when it seems that caning was probably at its height.

…And pertinent to this case, it was the period when Debenham administered these beatings on my former colleague.
Last edited by Matthew on Sun Jul 30, 2006 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Planet » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:43 pm

I'm inclined to agree with Matthew that there were certain instances as he describes. About five or six names spring to mind in St James and St Vedast.
In 1975 the average age of pupils was 6 1/2 -7 years and the oldest about 8.
As to the alleged book there definitely was one but it got lost in the numerous moves between buildings.
I also remember the school doctor Dr R pulled his son out of the school shortly after he was punished by ND but this was some years later.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Jul 30, 2006 2:27 pm

It makes sense to me, too. When I was at St Vedast (during the time of the missing punishment book) caning was a very common occurrence. I can think of at least two pupils who could well have been caned hundreds of times during their time there.

Not that I would blame Townend for reaching his conclusion. I suspect that he simply couldn't bring himself to believe that even Debenham could be that brutal. But the fact is that this former pupil has effectively been called a liar and I hope that something will come of this. Of course, one man who could clear the matter up is Nicholas Debenham, but it seems that he chooses to say nothing.

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Postby Free » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:24 pm

Last edited by Free on Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Alban » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:39 pm

Everyone who was there at the time, knew it happened.

Anyone who wasn't, just can't believe that it did and so they cast aspersions on those of us who have recounted our experiences.

We all know that canings were a weekly occurance and often the same faces would invariably be lined up outside the headmasters study, but we are told that it is impossible for one person to have received 100's of strokes throughout their time.

Nicholas Debenham tells us that it was a last resort to expulsion, yet one look at the punishment book (which represents a minority of the punishments) will show that it was far from that.

So, who are you going to believe...one discreditted sadistic headmaster or many ex-pupils' first and second hand accounts?

It's just another one of the pack of lies that they have been feeding the general public.

...and they had the nerve to preach "The Truth" to us...hypocrites!


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Postby Planet » Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:24 pm

Free wrote:Hundreds of beatings of 7 year olds?

Making a statement like that is a bit sensationalist and misleading. There were in my recollection a minority who appeared to be singled out time and time again rather than a mass majority. These few in some cases appeared either to have the sort of parents that had sold themselves blindly to the SES way of life or those that had some other family troubles. Possibly they were kids who had parents less likely to complain.

But then in ND's defence there wearn't "lots of complaints" so then it must have been alright then.

I mean lets face it 10 black marks meant a trip to the head and black marks could be for being late or any minor infraction and these black marks could be cancelled by good marks of course.
However they did not reset to zero at the end of the term. Some teachers were known to give them out five at a time to certain pupils.

In one class there was also a report book at one time basically because the then teacher couldn't control his class.

On a law of averages I think that puts it in perspective. Say an average class was 20-25 pupils. You can work it out for yourself.

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Postby Free » Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:01 am

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Postby bluelight » Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:43 am

I think the fundamental issue here is the "punishment book". We all know that some pupils were beaten on a regular basis..some were my classmates.
The "punishment book" is a fallacy... we all know that ND is a stranger to the truth and certainly not a "witness of truth". I do wonder wether he is genuinely blocking out the truth or just delusional, it doesnt really matter now any more.
Perhaps the SES will one day admit what really happened but maybe they wont, we will all still be here though.

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Postby Planet » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:50 pm

Free wrote:
Planet wrote:On a law of averages I think that puts it in perspective. Say an average class was 20-25 pupils. You can work it out for yourself.

Sorry, it's a calculus I'm unfamiliar with. Can you indicate the conclusions you draw

Quite frankly anyone who was actually there doesn't need to draw a conclusion or use a calculator. I can think of at least five specific individuals that fit into the worst offender category between St James and St Vedast.

As to the alledged non existant or missing book I believe there may actually have been some record before 79 but it may well have gone missing as things do in schools. But u never know it could turn up.

Anyway starting to think about this is making me feel quite ill to say the least.

For me this is not a personal crusade but I hate to see a whitewash over those that have had good cause for complaint.

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Postby a different guest » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:34 am

It must be soul destroying for someone who documents such a gross level of abuse by caning, to be then implied to be an exaggerator or a liar by an "indepentant" inquiry.
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

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Ben W
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Postby Ben W » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:12 am

Does Merry or any other SES person wish to comment against this thread? It seems to go right to the heart of the matter.

You have been quick to respond to the Lambie / Debenham thread - even suggesting the title of that thread be changed.

What is your reaction to this thread?

Let's face it. There was widespread criminal abuse of young children. The SES as a whole is implicitly tied up in all of this. Nicholas Debenham should be locked up.

There has to come a point when principles override allegences.
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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