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Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:16 pm
Daffy wrote:Of course, the fear came more subtly - as with all cults, the fear of disapproval, of becoming an outcast, of being alone if complete obedience was not shown.
I agree that the emotion driving the deference may indeed not be fear or if it is fear it is as subtle as you suggest. Basically the situation where I met MacLaren was exactly like yours, a semi circle with Capper present also. There was no way that in that situation that if you raised any concerns about joining foundation group that the teachers present were going to support you. It was a situation where the message was "Joining the SES is a good thing". End of!
Daffy wrote:It is a shame he is not alive to answer for his sins. I would love to have seen him doorstopped by an investigative TV programme. Debenham is still alive though - I wonder what can be encouraged along these lines?
If MacLaren were still alive I do not believe we would have got this far in the acknowledgement of what St James was really like. I certainly cannot believe that he'd have supported an inquiry no matter how much he would allow himself to be advised by the likes of David Boddy.
As to Mr Debenham. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be a headmaster and to have devoted his life (as I'm sure he would claim) and to be faced with the reality that his tenure was not up to acceptable standards. I imagine most people would be in denial about it.
The biggest sadness is that what was intended to be the best has turned out in most cases just average and in too many cases the worst.
The main interest in drawing the media attention to the situation is to provide more warning and expose the types of organisations that St James and the SES really are and to allow people who come in contact with them to be able to make informed choices. Also it would be useful in hopefully attracting the attention authorities and regulatory bodies to try and they force the organisations to provide the best level of care for their members and pupils. And ultimately if they cannot be brought into a framework of best practice that they are shut down.
If the intention is to reform these organisations in the hopes that the individuals responsible for them will realise and address the errors of their ways, I do not see the more activist means providing results. To be honest, I have no idea what will, especially when you are dealing with zealous converts to what is essentially a faith system.
Posted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:53 pm
I finally received a letter from Chris Southwell last Saturday. He still hasn't apologised but he has offered to meet me. Watch this space...
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:20 am
I take my hat off to you, Tom, I'm not sure I could meet up with that sadistic arsehole even after all these years.
Good luck and I look forward to reading all about it on here.
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:20 pm
I agree with you, ET, I take my hat off to you Tom.
To have the generosity to continue to engage with your former tormentors is courageous and deeply compassionate (especially noting your full forgiveness to those who have sincerely apologised).
I'll go all 'Oirish' for a minute - may the wind be always at your back!
p.s. i am irish so i can do oirish!
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 8:33 pm
Wow Tom. As others have suggested it is truely commendable that you have it in your heart to meet with these teachers, especially when there seems little evidence to suggest that there is any remorse or regret about the actions of the past. I do sincerely hope that this is the opportunity for another more reconciliation.
My main reason for posting here is that I do wonder how much your public postings here are the main reason for the continued process in the opportunities for reconciliation. It is a damn shame that it takes so much for these teachers to even begin to reconcile. Sadly I don't think that many others stand much chance of reconciliation as it takes a huge amount of courage to do it in the open like you are Tom.
I do wonder if there are any others that have asked for reconciliation meetings and have not gotten anywhere.
Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:46 pm
Wow! ET, ConcernedMum and bonsai, thanks for your kind words! I'm very touched. I'm half-Irish myself, ConcernedMum, so I can definitely accept Oirish!
Talking of engaging with former tormentors, erstwhile Chairman of Governors (and Britain's least-photographed politician?) Roger Pincham was given quite a send-off at his retirement service a week ago. Some of those pesky "anonymous activists" stood very unanonymously outside the church and made their feelings about his governorship very plain. Hopefully, photographs and a fuller report will be coming soon.
Posted: Tue May 06, 2008 9:05 pm
Southwell still hasn't replied to the letter I sent him in March. I suspect he has no real interest in reconciliation if it means actually admitting to the abuse he perpetrated. Debenham still hasn't replied to the letter I sent him last year. He seems to be in denial about the whole thing. The reconciliation process is a sham because there is no pressure on the perpetrators of abuse to face up to their pasts. I salute the few brave former teachers who have done something to redress the damage they have done, although I'm sad that not one of them has yet had the courage to make a public apology on this forum. As for Debenham, Southwell, Lacey and their ilk, I feel little but contempt.
Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 3:52 pm
Oh dear Tom, no wonder you sound so fed up. I wish I could say I am surprised, but of course I am not. The school's response to this whole business has been both farcical and shameful, but to be honest, I never expected much better.
After all, they think they are above everyone else, and therefore above the normal moral laws of society it seems.
An apology costs nothing, and can mean so much to those who suffered. In fact, a public apology might go a long way to making up for all the bad publicity this whole business has obviously stirred up for the schools. But it seems that their pride means more to them.
Let's hope it eventually destroys them!
Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:46 am
The whole reconciliation process is a sham. It should not take over two years for this process to get underway let alone have been concluded with some long term support mechanism being put in place for any additional complainents to have their issue addressed and, God forbid, any future pupils who have grievances with the school.
Tom, have you thought about contacting Channel 4 again to see if they'll follow up the report they did and show how little progress has been made?
I realise that there has been changes in the governance of the school but it amazes me how long these changes took to filter through with Pincham being allowed to retire just recently. I would have thought that after Townends damning comments about the failure in governance that he would have done the honourable thing and would have resigned. Otherwise the other governors should have sacked him.
St James and SES. You are certainly showing your true colours now by just persisting with your own agendas and failing to recognise the needs of those in your care.
Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 6:45 am
Tom, perhaps this has been done already, but has anyone reported any incidents to the police? If it were me, I think I'd do it not out of any sense of revenge or anger, but with the sense that if the people (Southwell etc) are still involved with a children's school, there is a potential child protection issue - and of course a justice for you issue as well. Perhaps the police have no role but has anyone found out? Probably have but it just occurred to me. - ah the curse of message board members who are late-comers - just did a search and found some stuff about a police inquiry at one point. Sorry to bring it up again.
Going by the current governor on the Utube piece, denial is still the order of the day.
Turning potential parents away from the schools
Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:50 pm
Having been contacted by someone outside of this forum for advice on how to prevent a friend of theirs sending their children to St James it made me think - is there a need for a "support" organisation to help change the minds of people considering the schools for their children - or is there in fact an organisation already in existence that deals generically with cult schools.
Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:31 pm
the only one I'm aware of is FAIR http://www.fair-cult-concern.co.uk/
but their website isn't currently working
my response to the same request was, eventually, to provide links to sites about SES, including their own statement about still funding the schools. apparently this friend is that there are no on-line criticisms since 2006 - so it must all be perfect now!
there's none so blind as those that will not see...
Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:41 pm
perhaps I will start a Facebook group against SES being allowed to run schools - it seems to be what everyone else does when they want to complain/campaign nowadays
Ohh - or maybe a petition on the Downing Street website ?
Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:58 pm
Facebook is just too easy for this "Don't send your children to St James Independent Schools" http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=19622369142
There should now be some recent adverse publiclity
Spread the word
Posted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 9:25 am
I have just discovered this http://kaiwalya.blogspot.com/2006/05/confession-and-confidentiality.html
I think this perfectly illustrates that the structure and organisation of the SES results in the members regarding it as a higher authority than everything to the extent that SES members seeing things in their other roles (ie Governors and teachers at St James) will seek to protect the SES at the expense of the "inferior" organisation - perhaps this also explains why what happened was allowed to continue and was found to be proven by the inquiry.
With the SES still being run by the old school who instiled this behaviour in their members and the rebels within openly admitting that fear exists of speaking out can anyone really believe that this leopard has changed its spots ?
For clarity, references to school in the text below mean The School of Economic Science
Due to the potential for the article to be removed its content is:-
At the Crossroads: Confession and Confidentiality
A few weeks ago a regrettable incident happened in connection with the Governors' Reconciliation process. Complainants were invited to write to the Governors if they were interested in meeting with them. One letter was sent, marked "private and confidential" from two sisters, whose mother was then approached about its contents while on a weekend at Waterperry by another person. Abject apologies have been offered, with which the offended parties are I think relatively satisfied, but that is not the point. The worst thing about this affair is that few of us will be surprised that it happened. The culture of the School is one in which confidentiality is not articulated as a discipline, except for students. One young person confided in her tutor about some truly damaging and deeply personal experiences she had had. Travelling half way round the world to Waterperry, she discovered that these private matters had been referred to in a tutorial gathering. It is more fitting for readers of this blog to consider what this says about us, than for me to comment.
None of us who have enjoyed the benefits of the School would, I think, like to see its atmosphere of benign paternal (or maternal) care lost. Many times I've found that sharing my troubles with my tutor has been a tremendous help. In addition, I would have to say that on the whole the School does seem to behave responsibly with the knowledge it receives. One tutor I know of was the recipient of the most appalling confessions from a student who was, in my opinion, completely off the rails. It was one of those borderline cases that could be a test of a Catholic priest's vow of confessional silence. Not one word got out to anyone else, until it became public knowledge later.
In recent years, however, as I have become conscious of the absence of privacy, I've begun to consider what I do or do not say. On one occasion, I made the tutor promise that he would not reveal what I said to anyone else in School, and I'm sure he kept his word. At other times I spoke and was content that I did not mind it being revealed. Possibly, having to screen my thoughts in this way is a burden that I could have done without.
Confession has always been an important part of Western culture, and His Holiness speaks about its value also in the Indian tradition. Presumably there is something universal in it. I have an image of writing one's burdensome troubles and sins onto a piece of paper and then burning it at an altar ... they go up in the smoke to - I don't know what, something greater. It's a blessed relief to feel that there is a larger existence than that of the person who is suffering with the problems, an infinite sea of forgiveness and understanding into which one's petty concerns are just an unnoticeable drop, instantly dissolved and gone.
We have to have this. To paraphrase TS Eliot, human beings cannot bear too much alone. It's impossible to have a spiritual path without the opportunity of confession.
But, as a School is made up of individuals, we must also have some discipline of confidentiality. Whether it takes the form of guidance given to all tutors, or even a kind of Hippocratic Oath, a priestly oath of secrecy, there must be protection for the students from the human weakness of those in whose care they are. And, to set the minds and hearts of the students at rest, it must be clear to the students from the very first under what conditions they speak to their tutor.
Clarity of principle, in this case as in all others, will ensure the future value of the School.