The truth about the 'Reconciliation Process'

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:47 pm

Great idea. I've had a few conversations with people warning them about John Scottus School http://www.johnscottus.ie but I think that people don't really believe its that bad. I guess to some ears it sounds a bit conspiracy theory - I wouldn't have believed it i think, till i saw it in operation, up until just over a year ago - so its a recent experience. And I really regret it as my poor son had to pay the price of my naivety and their deceptivity.

I've put a link to the facebook group on an irish site which is a reference for info on different schools under the entry for John Scottus School. The fact that its former pupils who are saying this might just give a prospective parent pause for thought - i hope so.
Last edited by ConcernedMum on Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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bonsai
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Postby bonsai » Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:11 pm

Thanks Robmac for finding and posting this issue.

I know all too well from my experiences in both St James and the SES the effect that breaches of trust and broken confidences have.

No tutor in the SES is prepared for their role as a tutor. No real assessment is made of them as their ability as a tutor. Nor are they prepared for the issues that might arise that they may have to confront. There is no policy on confidentiality and no tutor knows their responsibilities in this area.

The organisation thrives on insidious gossip. Anyone within the hierarchy believes they have the right to meddle in the lives and decisions of anyone below them in the hierarchy, especially if they are a pupil at St James or a member of a foundation group.

The whole thing is undignified and shows a diabolical lack of respect for the members in the school. For those who have been caught out by this the repercussions of this are horribly degrading and extremely belittling. There are the accounts in the Secret Cult and the latest one, referred to on this site and in the post on the kaiwalya blog show a blatant disregard of people and their issues. It is entirely unforgivable that this issue has raised its head again during the reconciliation process when it matters most that things are done in a respectful and above board manner.

Many tutors find themselves entirely out of their depth when confronted with the issues raised by members of their groups. The fact is that no tutor is in a position to offer advice or guidance that may be sought of them. The most they are in a position to do is offer a listening ear and many of them are incapable of that. The thing is that because of the nature and structure of the school and the sheer reverence with which they regard the guidance of the head tutor and the words of their Indian spiritual leader it is very easy for them to think that they have the right to advise together with a so called moral basis for doing so.

ConcernedMum wrote:I've had a few conversations with people warning them about John Scottus School but I think that people don't really believe its that bad.


I entirely agree that people do not realise or believe that it is as bad as we make out. I don’t know what we can do to make it clearer other than to keep putting it out there and recounting the events when they occur. Without doubt many of the members of the SES are nice middle class people just searching for their own answers. Many of the people that you might meet in a philosophy group might make nice friends but as an organisation it will rob you of your personality and seriously interfere with your life all in the name of truth, which it seems is something they know very little about.

Bonsai

chittani
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Postby chittani » Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:21 am

Hello,

Someone has pointed out that I've been quoted on here. I was a bit concerned, but when I read what RobMac posted I have to say I am entirely happy with every word I said. It is what I've said to various people in the School before, and I will keep saying it until it gets addressed. Still, RobMac's analysis of it is, I think, pretty wide of the mark. If I represent a "rebel within", I would think the extent of my "speaking out" is a clear demonstration that there is no fear involved. I am not afraid of speaking out, but I am concerned that confidentiality is something that needs to be resolved if the School is to move forward.

Bonsai's remarks on tutorial training are very valid. A problem that the School has is that, despite its occasional attempts in the past to appear infallible, it is in fact run by busy people in their spare time. That makes it very tough to implement change - it's hard enough trying to do this in the workplace, as anyone will recognise who has tried it. In addition, the SES and St James have a very strong 'corporate' culture, which resists efforts to change.

Given those constraints, no reasonable person could deny there has in fact been a great deal of change within the SES and St James in the past 5 years or so.

- the Inquiry (£several hundred thousand)
- apology by the School leader
- reconciliation process (laudable despite the human errors - not 'unforgivable,' in Bonsai's phrase)
- changing of the guard in St James governors, including non-SES governors
- considerable liberalisation in SES, previously unimaginable

Hardly 'job done' but I would give it 7 out of 10. Others will be less generous, but no-one would reasonably look at the evidence and say that it is a case of a leopard not changing its spots. Those that want unconditional surrender, now, will not be happy, but anyone else will recognise gradual, but genuine and permanent, reformation taking place. As the person who has most persistently and publicly questioned the School from within, I am no longer in any doubt of that.

I realise that some people did have a really bad experience at their school, and it is going to take a lot longer for them to move on. Maybe some never will, but I would hope that those that are pressing for positive change can separate that from the desire for inner peace. Each of us is responsible for our own peace, which is just as well considering the bad old world we live in.

I don't know whether there is anything more that can be done from my end. I have posted quite a bit here in the past, and then on the kaiwalya blog and on the Forum referred to above, and I'm not really sure this is the way any more. St James is not my battle, but I think that if everyone could just concede that the other side has some humanity and decency about them, it would be possible to sit down around a table. If centuries of oppression and 3,000 dead didn't stop Paisley and McGuinness working together in Northern Ireland, I'm sure you will find a way if you want to.

As I have said before I wish you guys all the best, and I hope that you can resolve your issues amicably with your former school.

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:08 pm

I'd like to point out that my negative experience (and my child's) was in 2006/2007.

I tell a lot of people about it, and it is amazing the number of people who have a neighbour or friend (not the same people and not urban myths) who took their children out of John Scottus for similar reasons to me in the recent past.

I wish the problems and misleading information were in the past but unfortunately they are not - and it is still happening that children's education is being interrupted when their parents become aware of the truth of the SES definition of 'love' when it comes to children and the truth of the education in the school and move them to another school.

I can only speak for myself, i try and see decency and humanity in everyone - so no problem there. But decency and humanity can happily co-exist in all of us with lots of more negative qualities like delusion and denial. Except most of us don't set up schools to pass on our delusion and denials (along with the decency and humanity) to children (segregated schools were part of the problem in northern ireland, so the analogy holds)

When there is no longer a need for this forum, it will no longer exist.

p.s. Chittani, I think you are being a bit disingenous about the decency and humanity bit - has there been any suggestion on this topic that decency and humanity are being denied? Unfortunately the remaining 3 marks out of the 7/10 involve, from what I gather here, perpetrators who neither apologised nor ended their association with St James. That they are allowed to do so continues to be an issue. And from yours and the School's perspective, if you believe its in the past and yet its still a controversy, rather than individualising the problem to people who "can't move on" (which members of the school seem to do rather a lot of) perhaps there are lessons yet to be learned. Maybe its not the School's unfinished business yet. Denial is not just a river in egypt etc......

chittani
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Postby chittani » Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:49 pm

Concerned Mum

There is quite a lot of denial of humanity and decency actually - that is why the two sides are so wary of each other. Unfortunately there is only a certain amount that can be done by activism and 'De Nile' - people need to sit down and talk to each other, however unhappy they are about doing so.

daska
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Postby daska » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:43 pm

I'd find it easier if the changes manifested themselves in a practical way but I can't see any difference. It is still the case that people are expected to put their hand in their pocket and subsidise the SES without thought to whether they can afford it. My dad has had to buy specialist equipment to do his 'duty' which he wouldn't otherwise have had to afford, but when I suggested that the school should purchase the equipment for the job they want him to do he said he'd been told it wasn't possible!

I have a lot of time for Chittani but his position is one of choice and he has the ability to challenge the school. It is not the same for someone who is now so reliant on the SES as a crutch that they can and do automatically take advantage.

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:51 pm

I take your word that members of the school feel that their humanity hasn't been recognised and that it hasn't been. To continue the Northern Ireland peace process analogy (with apologies to those who might find the grandiosity of it a bit offensive). The 1998 Good Friday agreement was significant, but fudged many issues as it was recognised that that was as far as the parties involved could move at that time. In retrospect, it was the start, and not the end, of a process. To achieve that, the moderates were swept out of office and the extremes had to choreograph the changes. And generally any talks were mediated by honest brokers.

It seems, that the school think this is now finished business- in the past, instead of the beginning of a process of making peace with those hurt in any way. My experience was there was no point in talking about my issues as when I did answers were fudged, put on the long finger or answered by viciously going on the offensive - which I found upsetting.

It might surprise you Chittani, but I'd include the operation of children's schools by the School as part of the problem (I don't believe in bad old world / good company divisions). There doesn't seem much decency in misrepresenting what is taught and repeatedly causing children's education to be interupted. And decency was lacking in other respects too. Where's the decency in sending a five year old boy into the girl's class as punishment? This happens still in John Scottus school in 2006/2007.

So on what basis could talks take place if the party line is that the problems are in the past and it's finished business?

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:29 am

Completely agree. As long as this cult remains involved in children's education the negative publicity will NEVER go away. Its been there or thereabouts for the last 25 years so its about time they got used to it. Pretty much a no-brainer really. Founding a religious cult for adults is one thing but they crossed the line big time when they started interferring with kids. Most sane people have a major problem with that and rightly so. The message is clear and simple: Get out of children's education and you'll pretty much be left alone (other than being lumped in with all the other fruit-cake cults for the odd ridicule).

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:40 pm

Concerned Mum,

The School is not a single mind, but speaking for myself the point I was trying to make was that this is not finished business - people need to talk to each other. Who is making this 'party line'?

The problem is mistrust, which means that anything someone says is immediately interpreted by the 'other side' in a certain way. For example, I did not make a division between a bad old world and good company, you did.

I can't speak of John Scottus (your story sounds horrible), but St James is I believe well regarded educationally in the UK these days. I have my own reservations about it based on plenty of experience, but I suppose it is now a strand of the faith schools debate. If it was the same as in the 1970s now, Matthew would have a really good point, and I would probably be manning the barricades with him.

What I can say is that it is many times better than the schools I went to in Ireland, where the least of my worries was that religious types didn't like my being a 'pagan'.

This was of course long before I got mixed up in religious cults. ;-)

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:08 am

I'm not sure that a pagan would get on in John Scottus either!
I read back Chittani, and I had mistakenly thought u had said that it's a bad old world OUT there (you didn't write 'out') and I had wanted to distance myself from out there/ in there stuff so my mistake.

As you point out you did not suggest it's finished business but you did say that it's going to take a longer time for some to move on. Sincere question: do you think that's the extent of the issues to be resolved or what other issues might need looking at?

As for the party line, I have seen no acknowledgement or continuing activity around addressing issues of the past (which are broader than only the children's schools) on the SES site and forums or the Kailya forum. There was much editing of the wikipedia entry to ensure that the picture was of a few problems which existed in the past. Can you point me to where I might find such engagement or consciousness of ongoing issues? The SES forums are solely about particular philosophers - where's the general discussion, of the School's interpretation of advaita, for example?

It's hardly that these problems are unprecedened in spiritual communities. The San Francisco Zen centre had problems with their former leader, Roshi Baker, and they had a big process around it which resulted in Abbott committees and ethics committees being set up. Women would also be better represented there than at the higher echelons of the SES.

The FWBO also have had cathartic airings of difficulties involving the behaviour of their founder and the resulting dysfunctional behaviour in his followers. Their blogspot is very informative on the level of engagement that went on. They had the humility to seek outside help and did so publicly. After all, what sort of a spiritual community is it if it cannot be self-aware as a community?

The catholic church, who could hardly be commended for their handling of their child abuse scandal, have finally done things like setting up Child Protection committees and Diosescan contacts for when there are problems.

Chittani, you will note that Tom has tried to engage with people but not all the former child abusers will do so.

Also, I contacted Shane Mulhall to ask him what established and recognised child psychology theories was he using in his parenting talks or to point me to peer reviewed research of the theory he is using and he was not willing to answer in writing (he did offer to speak on the phone) but it would be simple to provide the names of such established theories if they existed

I'm glad also that you refer to the debate about the SES involvement in children's schools as being part of the faith based school debate. You'll see a link on this forum to an article in an Irish national newspaper in which the Principal of John Scottus national school claimed it was not religious education. Quite how my son came to believe that God was in his heart while attending there is a mystery, so?

I agree that it is likely that the School's involvement in children's schools will always give rise to controversy (and in my view it's quite proper that those who wish to educate children be subject to scrutiny) but it would help if the last vestiges of a thirty year habit of dissembling and deception were dropped.

I think enough questions have been asked and frankly, if talks are to continue, it's the School's move - to engage with all the victims of the past - the bullying, dissembly and how women and disabled people have been treated. Why sow the seeds of more negative karma, by continuing to ignore the murkier parts of the School's history? They'll continue to rise from the depths until this is done, in my view.n
Last edited by ConcernedMum on Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:14 am

chittani wrote:Concerned Mum

There is quite a lot of denial of humanity and decency actually - that is why the two sides are so wary of each other. Unfortunately there is only a certain amount that can be done by activism and 'De Nile' - people need to sit down and talk to each other, however unhappy they are about doing so.

Chittani, I'd love to sit down around a table with people like Debenham, Lacey, Russell and Southwell! I last wrote to Debenham in December 2007, offering to meet him without conditions. He still hasn't replied. He had previously told me and other former pupils that we "accepted" the regime at the schools and that everyone at St James had been happy. Lacey has never contacted me despite having been informed of my desire for a meeting over a year ago. Likewise Russell. Southwell finally wrote to me in February this year but has since gone into eclipse. It appears that neither the schools nor the SES are willing to put any pressure on former or current teachers to meet with former pupils. What would you suggest I do?

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bonsai
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Postby bonsai » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:31 pm

It is very much for St James and its management to come to the table and talk. At present the situation is all backwards with the complainants making all the moves.

Chittani you are right that reconciliation will not be achieved without both sides leaving aside the point scoring and posturing in order to sit round the table but were still a long way off from this because individuals at St James and the corporate culture to which you have referred stubbornly refuses to make any moves.

Tom here has been the most open and straight forward of many of the complainants and despite his reservations about the reconciliation process has shown himself a willing participant to it. Yet despite requests for meetings with certain teachers nothing happens.

What else are the complainants seeking reconciliation and the observers of this process to do other than to judge the school by its inactions and deduce that it has no interest or committment to the process.

I personally find David Lacey's lack of response to Tom's request incredibly poor. He holds the position currently of Deputy Head and yet is not prepared to reconcile. That's not a good advert for the school. It also demonstrates that the school, the corporate culture and many of the individuals in it still believe that "keeping stumm" is the best way to ride these things out.

At present, as in the past, the only thing that is making these organisations listen and change it the concerted pressure and activism from both outside and within. Yes, Chittani, you are right that there has been changes for the better but all these changes have come about by the pressure that has been brought to bear. Those who hold responsibility of leadership seem only interested in changing just sufficiently to silence the critics. Well I'm sorry but that is not good enough! It is not good enough that an organisation that offers a different (translates as better) education for children and another organisation that believes that it can help people find the meaning and purpose of their lives can be so unprincincipled in its response to legitimate criticism and its responsibilities.

It is over 2 years since the publication of the inquiry report and yet there have been no formal updates on the reconciliation process iirep website.

Yes the governors have changed but in such an underhand manner and one that totally lacks in responsibility. Pincham being allowed to retire 2 years after the damning remarks by Mr Townend is just shameful. On top of this there has been no formal acknowledgements of what the composition of the new board of governors is to be or why it has made the changes it has. Again this is lacking responsibility or acknowledging the reasons for change. Yes OK at the end of the day we all know what the reasons are but then why so secretive. That's denial!

I notice also that St James senior boys has a bright new website. All very flash I have to say. The thing is the references to the inquiry and the reconciliation process now no longer exists. I take it this is a sign that they think it's a case of job done and now it's moving on.

Well the campaign here continues and it serves two purposes: Firstly to help stimulate the required change - because this is the only thing at the moment that is making that change happen. Secondly to provide as much up front awareness for people who might choose to join or get caught up in these organisations.

The thing is St James in its education would bang on and on about "doing what is right" and having the courage to do so, so why is it that as an organisation it struggles to actually put this into practice? Hardly a role model and personally I find this hypocritcal and despicable.

Bonsai

Tom Grubb
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Re: The truth about the 'Reconciliation Process'

Postby Tom Grubb » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:37 pm

It's now almost seven years since the report was published. If the iirep website http://www.iirep.com/page10.htm is anything to go by, the status of the reconciliation process appears to be the same as it was when bonsai posted about it back in July 2008. Does anyone have any evidence that the process is still ongoing? Or would it now be fair to conclude that it has quietly been scrapped and the promised final review of the process is not going to materialise?

woodgreen
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Re: The truth about the 'Reconciliation Process'

Postby woodgreen » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:23 am

Hi Tom

I think it was David Boddy's attempt to con the parents,the media, et al, into a waiting game.

And waiting has shown the SES up to be the same, again.

Boddy still will not reconcile. Threats and payouts probably going on whilst he trys to cleans up the act for himself and the SES.

I have coined a new phrase in these days of austerity - "Charity SES Hierarchy". Been on benefit all their lives and have pretend families to support them in their claims.

regards

woodgreen
Ex-SES Member. (Member for 3 years in late nineties).

OneBadRat
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Re: The truth about the 'Reconciliation Process'

Postby OneBadRat » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:39 pm

Does anyone still have their emails from C. Betts regarding the 'Governing Body' 's private inquiry into complaints about past discipline policy and practice at St Vedast School and St James Independent Schools'?
Am I wrong in remembering that respondents were given Terms of Reference before the inquiry that were only seen to be quite different upon reading the report of Mr Townend?
Please correct me.

(I don't propose to discuss the inquiry on this thread, simply to attract notice and information)

Gratefully....


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