Stanton wrote:I received by recorded delivery this morning a letter from the governors (sent by Veale Wasbrough, the solicitors for the inquiry), dated 13 March. It says, inter alia, 'We would like to do all that we can to reconcile any differences or difficulties there might be, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how this might take place.' It's signed by John Story and Mary Pickering.
I received mine in email form via Christine Betts. Her covering letter reads:
St Vedast & St James Inquiry
As part of the reconciliation process following the Inquiry, the Governors of St James Independent Schools wish to make contact with contributors to the Inquiry. Please be assured that your name and address has not been disclosed to the Governors. This is why the Governors have sent me the enclosed letter and asked me to forward it to you.
Clerk to the St Vedast and St James Inquiry
The attached and undated letter reads:
St James and St Vedast schools ? Independent Inquiry
We are writing to you on behalf of the Governors of the Independent Educational association Ltd, which has the responsibility for St James Schools and, formerly, for St Vedast School.
We note that you contributed to the recent inquiry conducted by Mr James Townend QC and although we are not privy to what you said, he listed your name as one of the complainants.
The Governors and all connected with St James and St Vedast schools are concerned that any former pupils found their time at the schools to be a source of unhappiness or distress.
We would like to do all that we can to reconcile any differences or difficulties there might be, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how this might take place.
If you would like to do this, please contact either of us at the address given (below). Please mark any correspondence as private and confidential and address it to either (or both) of us.
Mr John Story
Governor (St James)
Mrs Mary Pickering
Governor (St James)
I am happy to share my reply with this board:
"Dear Mr Story and Mrs Pickering,
Thank you for your letter sent by Christine Betts via email on 13th March.
Taking what you write at face value I accept that it has been written with the best intentions for all concerned. However, I have to say that I do not recognise either of you as being in suitable positions to facilitate such a process. It would really need to be handled by a neutral and independent party i.e. one with no connection whatsoever to St James and/or SES.
Also, I do not think it is time to speak of reconciliation yet. When the teachers and Governors as identified in the Inquiry report have shown accountability for their actions, and resigned, thereby showing that the School is taking the findings of the report seriously, I may then be ready to consider reconciliation.
Essentially what I wish to communicate with the Governors is contained in the open letter. This has been widely publicised on the Internet message board, so you are no doubt aware of it by now. This will be sent to the Chair of Governors shortly. In my opinion, any talk of reconciliation is ?a waste of breath? until you and your fellow Governors have acted on what is being called for in the letter. So far all they have offered is rhetoric, and ten weeks on from the publication of the report, still no action
has been taken. In a nutshell, talk is cheap.
To elaborate, it is my belief that St James and SES need to first reconcile themselves
(from within) before they can think about reconciliation with former pupils. They need to take a long hard look at themselves and the nature of their interface with the outside world. When the Governors describe their reconciliation process on their IIRP website they have omitted a crucial step in the process. They say first we must establish the truth, then they talk of reconciliation. But what they fail to include is what action will now be taken inbetween these steps in response to the Inquiry?s findings i.e. demonstrating accountability and taking responsibility.
Even in the ?common life? any Board of Directors, Trustees, or Board of Governors who were found by an Independent Inquiry, as a matter fact, to have presided over a regime (even if in ignorance) of brutalising innocent children, would in the very first instance demonstrate accountability by insuring that all present Governors who were Governors at the relevant time, resign forthwith. Without this basic acknowledgment of where responsibility actually lay for these terrible deeds, talk of regret and contrition cannot, in all conscience, be taken seriously. The SES after all, is badged as a house of truth. Please come into the real world.
I shall end with a couple of quotes. Firstly from a friend and former St Vedast pupil:
?The Governors, SES teachers etc. are suffering from a classic case of cognitive dissonance - similar to the Catholic church and other faith based or absolute loyalty style organisations (communist party, mafia etc.).
They need to be woken-up, re-introduced to the real world (with all its beautiful faults and human frailties) and take accountability for what happened.?
And from my father:
?I am well aware of the beneficial influence on my own life of many aspects of the teaching which I imbibed as a member of the SES. The injunction that stands out most prominently is that taking personal responsibility for one's actions is the imperative of any citizen.?
So where I ask is the taking of responsibility here? Surely your organisation does not wish to go down in history being forever tarnished by accusations of hypocrisy, as well as unaccountability?
I hope to get the open letter sent off to the Board of Governors by the start of next week, and will look forward to the response.