What is it like at St James now?

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
cariad
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What is it like at St James now?

Postby cariad » Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:47 am

My favourite god son has just started at St James senior school and I came across this board when googling his new school. He's told me a lot about it and is really happy there, starting to make friends and even for an avowed meat eater enjoying the food.He tells me he likes most of the teachers and the 10 minutes silence at the start and end of the day is mostly boring but a chance to have a little rest after such an early start.He also says the boys are friendly and nice to each other.(He used to get bullied at his junior school)
However the posts on this message board have caused me to have a sleepless night and I am really worried.
His parents are really old friends of mine and I know they are not SES members and have always displayed a good deal of common sense and are not particularly religious or 'spiritual'. They chose the school at the last minute as he didn't get into any of the good local state schools.
So really my question is what is the school like now and should I be worried that my god son will be brain washed in shape or form.
thanks

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bonsai
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby bonsai » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:55 am

cariad wrote:My favourite god son has just started at St James senior school and I came across this board when googling his new school.


Hello Cariad and welcome to the board,

It is very difficult to tell what the schools are like today but I think many of us remain concerned about whether the schools have significantly changed.
When I was at St James boys senior school until 1994, bullying was rife. When bullies were caught they would be punished but not necessarily consistently. Also at the time corporal punishment was retained and it would not be uncommon for someone caught bullying to be caned. I have no idea what St James have in place regarding anti-bullying policies of the current school. I would hope however that they have put something robust in place and I would hope also that your friends have investigated this thoroughly if this is a concern for your godson.

The punishment regime has been changed and as I understand it they use a yellow and red card system. It sounds good but of course I have no specific experience of it. Basically any kid that is misbehaving will get a yellow card warning that should inform the kid clearly of the bahaviour that is unacceptable and that there will be consequences if they continue. If they continue they get a red card which means that they will be receiving a punishment. The punishment will be decided by a teacher other than the teacher who issued the red card, which I believe is a very good safeguard against punishments being meted out in extreme form because of a teacher's emotional reaction. This was a process that I understand was adopted around the time of the inquiry and instigated by David Boddy as the new head. How it works in practice I do not know but in theory this sounds good.

The remaining concerns are about the generally the oppressive nature of the way the philosophy of the SES is imposed and taught in St James and St James's relationship to the SES. I have no idea of how the culture and ethos of St James has changed since Boddy took over as head from Debenham, but I personally have real concerns about Boddy in this role. Firstly he is a long time member of the SES at the highest level. He was considered at the time of the Secret Cult a press spokesman for the organisation and I think it is fair to say the SES has yet to address much of the criticism levelled at it during the 70's and 80's. Boddy is not a teacher and I do not know what qualifies him to be headmaster of a secondary school. His first teaching role is that of headmaster at this school; a most unconventional career path and I'd have thought raises concern. Given his relative seniority in the SES relative to governors of St James, this raises questions,in my mind, both about his appointment and about the governors ability to provide effective oversight of the running of the school.

Boddy very much claims that the inquiry was the start of a process of reconciliation (based on the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission) however there are a few points that should be recognised. Firstly there has been very little evidence of any real reconciliation taking place. St James hasn't even made it appear that it's taking place with the inquiry website (http://www.iirep.com/page10.htm) still displaying the same status of followup actions that it did in 2006. Secondly, whilst all of us are delighted that so much was documented and uncovered by Mr Townend in the inquiry report, I think most of us feel that this only represents the tip of the iceberg rather than a full and complete account of all the attrocities that occurred during the formative years of the school. Thirdly, three teacher named in the inquiry report (names have never been disclosed publicly) still teach at St James and have merely had written warnings added to their record. This sounds to me like they've gotten away with it scot free and rather undermines any idea that this is based on the South African model. It is extremely important to recognise that during the South African reconciliation process, amnesty for attrocities committed was only granted on the basis of the fullest and frankest accounts being given by the perpetrators. Only a very small minority of those who requested amnesty were ultimately granted it. It shows a grave disrespect to those affected by their time at St James and the fact that they came forward to participate in the inquiry that there has been little saction against the teachers implicated in the report. Similarly the fact that there is little evidence of reconciliation suggests that it was never St James's intention to reconcile, rather it had to be seen to be doing something to address the criticism that was most probably concerning friends and parents of current and potential pupils.

I find it impossible to reconcile the fact that St James with the SES philosophy, which claims to be about unity and that we are all of the same human family, can fail to just do right by those who have been greatly affected by their times at the school. In this regard I will never trust them. They have to do so much more to earn that trust back not that they really care about whether I trust them or not.

Things do appear to have changed regarding meditation and pausing. There does seem to be less persausion that pupils must do this, however there is the drip drip effect of all these things being constantly repeated and practiced every day. My sister left St James three years ago and there is little to suggest that the quantity of SES philosophy incorporated into the curriculum has been reduced. I think the St James will be a different place to what I went through simply for the fact that the majority of pupils are no longer from SES families and I hope that most pupils receive a healthy dose of skepticism from their parents regarding the philosophical/spiritual/religious aspects of the curriculum. I also think that pupils in their own rebellious way do tend to take a skeptical approach and do find great ways of undermining and hijacking philosophy lessons.

Diet has improved considerably and was changing towards the end of my time there. There was cooked food for example and there is certainly plenty of it. There is a little too much cheese and milk based food than I would consider healthy or balanced but I believe things have significantly improved on this front from the early days that perhaps Clara describes in her book where you'd not even be allowed to spread honey on your bread.

From my own experiences at St James, I believe that the type of philosophy and belief system they teach has no place in a school education system. The results are not particularly spectacular compared against other independent schools or the best state schools and I would certainly never send any of my kids there.

I would suggest that you and your godson's parents endeavour to find out as much as you can about the philosophy as you can and just ask yourselves whether this is what you want your godson to be influenced by. Check out the SES website, http://www.schooleconomicscience.org. Check out the audio recordings which will give you and idea of the philosophy that is taught and the sorts of arguments used to back it up.
Also I would read the 1996 report by Marco Goldschmied, then governor and member of the SES, and his letter to Mr Townend's inquiry that is incredibly revealing about the way St James and the SES interact and how they can never be truely separate organisations. You can find these documents here, http://reference.ses-forums.org/?p=201.

I hope this all helps
Bonsai

stiltrubld
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby stiltrubld » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:13 am

Dear Cariad,

My son was at St James until xmas 2007 when we moved out of London. He was about 13 when he left so had a couple of years at the senior school. He had a lovely form master – a young man who was also in my level in the SES for a while.

I also have a daughter and they both flourished in the junior school, they grew in confidence and could concentrate so then did well in tests etc and they are still doing well at their new school which they fitted into easily. I put this down to the secure and loving atmosphere in the junior schools under Paul Moss as Headmaster, who was already in teaching and was Headmaster of the highly regarded St Thomas school before he became Headmaster at St James junior schools. I believe he has now left as Headmaster and is doing something else with St James schools, not sure what, but you could find out, if he will be involved in the senior boys school I would think that would be a good thing.

My son did fine at the senior school but the premises did not have much grounds at Twickenham so the new building and land will be great for the boys. I don’t think he thought much of the red and yellow card system. He only remembers getting a red card once when he and a few friends skipped music class by hiding in the lockers in the classroom (year 7, so they fitted in)! Someone was sent to find them so they got rumbled and he had to write a 300 word essay - I think he did deserve it!

David Boddy used to be ‘in charge of the ladies’ in the SES (in fact I recently found out that may still be the case) and I always found that strange anyway that there was a man in charge of the ladies in the SES. I think ladies could go to him to talk to him about things if they needed to, but I never understood why they would want to see anyone, but it may be interesting if your godson’s parents ask him about that role and if he is still doing it. I know some members of the SES once they get heavily involved in it (I never made it to the senior level although about 20 years in SES) seem to think that they need advice about who to marry, stuff like that – which frankly always makes me want to run for the hills! I don’t see the relevance to my studies in philosophy.

I don’t know what the situation is regarding ‘inviting’ the boys to become involved in the SES ‘Foundation’ groups (for philosophy). I don’t know if there is still any pressure on them to join in.

Also I am not sure about the academic standard and what subjects are on offer for GCSE and A Level, but that you can find out easily. My son was doing quite a few classics at St J, Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. When we moved he could only keep up Latin at GCSE level, which he did, but he is now doing food technology and drama which I am not sure if he would have been able to do there, so amongst a lot of academic subjects he also has some more practical things which help with learning skills that academic subjects don’t necessarily, like getting organised in cooking – which is good for him.

stiltrubld
Last edited by stiltrubld on Thu May 24, 2012 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

stiltrubld
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby stiltrubld » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:10 am

I just thought I would add that I have now also asked my son about the philosophy he was taught at the senior school and he says he doesn't remember it - he didn't think it was important so he didn't bother to listen!

When I first went through 'measure' in the SES philosophy studies they told the 'ladies' (we were never just 'women' we had to be 'ladies' for a start!) that they should 'surrender' to their husbands and that the man 'surrenders' to the 'Absolute' (ie God). That seemed to change to something a bit more subtle, like men are more connected to reason and women to emotion and therefore (a huge assumption coming - wait for it!) men make better leaders than women! Hmmm! Well all I can say is that if there is anything in this gender specific analogy the SES has proved beyond any doubt that qualites which may be considered as 'feminine' such as empathy, caring and nurture need to be balanced with masculine quailities for as the link here shows the tragic treatment of kids in the past is more than likely related to the treatment of the women.
Last edited by stiltrubld on Thu May 24, 2012 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

Gerasene Demon
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby Gerasene Demon » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:00 pm

x
Last edited by Gerasene Demon on Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stiltrubld
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Postby stiltrubld » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:10 pm

deleted
Last edited by stiltrubld on Thu May 24, 2012 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

Ahamty2
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby Ahamty2 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:16 am

Very difficult not to be sarcastic when one reads that the SES plans big celebrations for the 100th birthday of LM. Are they going to celebrate all the broken lives, families and the human spirit he was responsible for destroying over the years he was Leader of the SES and its branches around the world?

I remember LM telling the senior level of the Sydney School many years ago that "we don't celebrate birthdays in the School" and when asked why, his reply was:" Because you haven't been born yet, so how can you celebrate a birthday when you haven't been born!".

It also shows that the SES doesn't believe its own teaching of Advaita and doesn't put it into pactice themselves. Isn't this world supposed to be Maya, an illusion? LM has been dead for nearly 16 years now, he was 84. Isn't he suject to the Laws of Karma, Sanskara and Reincarnation like the rest of us? That is the SES teaching of Advaita. Shouldn't LM be reborn by now? Well I suppose he could be having parlour talks with Shiva and Vishnu served by his Gopis in another realm, since he was so elevated above us. Perhaps, even Brahman may drop on some afternoons and share a bottle of the good red and a few Gauloises. 'On yaa, Mr Wapinski! Put another shrimp on the barbie!'

The SES and its world organisations are nothing more than an enterprise that sponges off the gullible and the vulnerable. Ask yourselves, what good has this organisation done for the community that it has flourished in? All it has achieved is to accumulate great wealth for itself and the people who enjoy the power and an egotistical sense of importance that it gives them. It is a parasite on the community that feeds it!
Last edited by Ahamty2 on Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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bonsai
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby bonsai » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:26 am

Ahamty2 wrote:The SES and its world organisations are nothing more than an enterprise that sponges off the gullible and the vulnerable. Ask yourselves, what good has this organisation done for the community that it has flourished in? All it has achieved is to accumulate great wealth for itself and the people who enjoy the power and an egotistical sense of importance that it gives them. It is a parasite on the community that feeds it!


Hear hear!

And it's granted chritable status for the privilege of accumulating its own wealth.

Bonsai

Tootsie
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby Tootsie » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:58 am

I remember MacLaren being asked why he started School? His reply was that he would have somewhere to come back too, after he died. Hope he comes back as a lady!
Last edited by Tootsie on Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

stiltrubld
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Postby stiltrubld » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:36 pm

I have heard that too Tootsie, from others in the SES.
Last edited by stiltrubld on Thu May 24, 2012 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

Tootsie
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby Tootsie » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:13 pm

If SES plans big celebrations for the 100th birthday of LM, I think they should change their name to the Dead Parrot Society.

Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Tootsie
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby Tootsie » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:19 pm

According to Dorine Tolley his ashes were scattered in the Thames.

stiltrubld
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SES - time for dissolution?

Postby stiltrubld » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:35 pm

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Last edited by stiltrubld on Thu May 24, 2012 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

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morrigan
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby morrigan » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:00 pm

I am sure if there is such a thing as a 'divine plan' Leon Maclaren will definitely be a woman!


Or more likely a female sheep, eaten by real people...

cariad
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Re: What is it like at St James now?

Postby cariad » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:27 am

Thank you all for your comments, although I didn't understand the references to yougurt or the founder.
Having shown my friends this posting they don't seem too alarmed as my god son has already told them he thinks Mr Boddy is 'wierd'.And also as totally non catholic they sent their daughters to a staunchly catholic girls school with no ill effect.
On a more serious point they've asked him to discuss with them or his sister (who happens to be doing a Philosophy degree) anything that he doesn't feel suits their family way of viewing the world or that he doesn't feel comfortable with.
He still likes the school and is enjoying all the main stream subjects ,and moans about the homework so I guess that's it for now.


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