EXPERIENCES AT ST. VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE S.E.S

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
dan
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:39 pm

To David Hipshon & Barry Barber

Postby dan » Sat Oct 23, 2004 9:10 pm

Thank you both for taking the trouble to respond with apologies for your previous behaviour as teachers. Your words are very welcome and do make a difference to me even now - in a life that you very literally touched.

I was at St Vedast 1975-80 and received many blows from both of you during those years. These included punishments with plimsoles, ropes, canes and facial slaps as well as frequent angry verbal barrage.

I remember strongly the humiliation of your punishments as they were usually done in corridors and classrooms in full view of 25 or more other boys.

I was utterly miserable for much of my time at St Vedast because of the continual threat of violence from staff and my own lack of control of over events. My parents were dutiful SES members and I existed in a claustrophic bubble of SES abnormality.

I find it fascinating that you both offer explanations for your violence towards children by describing your own childhood corporal punishment or 'tough' times. It makes me wonder that there has probably been a cycle of violence against children going back to eternity where adults continue 'to do as was done to them'. However I do think that you two (DH and BB) should perhaps examine your own actions a little further.

DH, you say that hitting children 'stinks' and you abandoned it 20 years ago - but you continued to work under a man (Nicholas Debenham) who carried on caning boys until the late 90s, isnt there a contradiction there?

BB, my main memory of you is actually holding a cane in your hand. ....However my memories of you are not all bad. I did enjoy the cadet force because we could smoke, swear and shoot and I now appreciate the long evenings & w/ends you must have spent taking us to various military establishments, thank you for that.

I would be very interested to know to what extent did Nicholas Debenham encourage you to use 'corporal' punishment in the 70s and 80s. Also to what extent do you think that the hierarchical SES structure encouraged you not to act as humane individuals but as victorian disciplinarians.

I know that this all happened 25+ years ago, but it was 5 years of my life and I will remember it till I get Alzheimers. My sense of outrage is still strong and I suppose I am trying make sense of what I recall as being a 'mad' time of my life. It would help me forgive you and understand the past if you could do a little more 'remembering' yourselves. What influences were going on in your lives at the time to make you behave like that?

I will send this to both your emails

best wishes
Dan Salaman
Dan

St James pupil

Questions ? Am I wrong ?

Postby St James pupil » Sat Oct 23, 2004 10:11 pm

I remember before St James there was the Sunday school at one time a Sarum Chase. Then St James was born and later St Vedast. I seem to remember a Mr F was round then as head of the SES Sunday school.

Over my many years at St James I remember much use of CP, plimsols, set squares, and the metal edged ruler Mr D used to weald with such delight. (Mr T said it wouldn't hurt a fly on many an occasion and much preferred his set square)
Mr R and Mr L had frequent uncontrollable rages. Fortunately I was never on the direct receiving end of these fits of rage.
There was also some obsession about not wearing underwear under gym shorts as it was seen as unhygienic. (It was bloody freezing if you ask me).

Not having being used to anything else prior to this introduction to education is it any wonder some of the ex-pupils think that this sort of behavior might have been acceptable or normal and maybe still do ?

However not all the teachers can be portrayed in this light and some were much loved by their pupils.

B.Barber

Postby B.Barber » Sun Oct 24, 2004 10:04 am

Dear Matthew W., I would like to meet you and give my apologies to you, face to face a.s.a.p. if this suits you. Could you e-mail me with your telephone number and we could then arrange a meeting. regards BB.

Dear Dan Gregory and other St.James pupils-
Thank you to all who were kind enough to say good things. I appreciate it, although it doesn't lessen my contrition. bless you BB.

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Oct 24, 2004 8:24 pm

I wonder if it's worth contacting the Richmond and Twickenham Times about the Inquiry? Potential parents of St. James would probably be glad to be made aware of the school's barbaric past, particularly as some abusers are still employed by the school.

Annonymous

Postby Annonymous » Sun Oct 24, 2004 9:06 pm

Dear Guest who just posted. This web site is supposed to help people and what you want to do will not help anyone least of all those that have proposed a way forward good or otherwise. Why don't you make an appointment to see the school tommorow for yourself and not condemn it on things from 25 years ago.

Antises

Postby Antises » Sun Oct 24, 2004 9:23 pm

Dear Guest,

This is where you cross the line from seeking reconciliation and closure to yearning for the destruction of anyone who ever harmed you together with any organisation with which they are associated. I hope the Inquiry serves the former purpose. Although you may deny it, your desire for publicizing the Inquiry is a personal motive brought upon by hatred which is better placated by reconciliation. Most of those who have contributed on these boards as victims have the right idea, but some seem to have placed more emphasis on damaging the current school's reputation rather than reaching closure. The schools now, as I am sure you know, have changed radically. If and when the Inquiry concludes that there was indeed widespread abuse in St James and St Vedast, then there is no reason for the current schools' image to be tainted by these findings. The results of the Inquiry should by all means be made publicly available, but not publicized.

Antises.

gadflysdreams
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri May 28, 2004 6:30 pm

Thankyou BB and DH

Postby gadflysdreams » Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:52 am

These appologies are courageous and do have a releasing effect. But I hope that these men are not going to take the flack for the entire regime. one of the ideas which brought the whole abuse into play was the rock hard belief that ses alone understood how to educate the young. Maclaren had a loathing of experts and preferred to follow his own interpretation of philosophic principles in the running of St. Vedast and St. James. He was never the Chair of Governors but had the final say. BB and DH do well to appologize, but somehow the greatest fault was in setting up schools without the necessary training having been given to a large number of the teachers, and possibly, even weak heads who allowed themselves and their school to be governed by an unauthorized body.

Katharine Watson

Re: Thankyou BB and DH

Postby Katharine Watson » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:00 am

gadflysdreams wrote:These appologies are courageous and do have a releasing effect. But I hope that these men are not going to take the flack for the entire regime.


As I understand it, that's the whole point of the inquiry - to let everything be brought out. :)

This inquiry just the first step. Truth first; then (hopefully) reconciliation. I'm encouraged so far by people's generous reponses both to DH and BB and to the announcement of the inquiry.

Katharine Watson

Postby Katharine Watson » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:36 am

Annonymous wrote:Dear Guest who just posted. This web site is supposed to help people and what you want to do will not help anyone least of all those that have proposed a way forward good or otherwise. Why don't you make an appointment to see the school tommorow for yourself and not condemn it on things from 25 years ago.


Dear Guest,

I am a teacher at St James boys' school. I hope you will take up this suggestion ? though it will have to wait a week because we?re on half term right now. We would be very happy to receive you at Pope?s Villa. Just call and tell the person in reception I invited you.

What you won?t see, however, is the hidden work that goes on all the time. You will not see, for instance, the tears of relief from young men who have at last found in their teacher someone to confide in: boys whose parents are fighting; boys who have to care for a sick and difficult parent alone; boys who have suffered terrible bullying at a former school and are now able to make friends and rebuild their belief in life; boys who for one reason or another can no longer trust their parents and have no-one but their teacher to turn to; boys who have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances and need time and space and a lot of love to heal them. All of these situations and many more like them I and others encounter daily. Somehow, in the midst of our crowded timetables, I and my colleagues find time for them. Most often the young person concerned has felt unable to tell anyone of the trouble, sometimes for years, usually out of an odd sense of shame and a belief that everybody else is doing fine and only they have these dark secrets. Every day we offer love and support and, in spite of what can seem an impossibly busy programme, time to listen with undivided attention to any boy who comes to us.

The job of a teacher these days has become enormous ? and the world?s troubles seem to multiply and grow more painful by the day. I realise that many of you who post here will be thinking that it certainly wasn?t as I have described when you were pupils. But it is now. Teachers everywhere work against huge odds, and we at St James are no different. Every one of the staff truly does his or her best for our pupils, and I?m often amazed at the level of personal sacrifice involved. We need support, not attack.

We all hope that the injuries inflicted and suffered in the past can be healed. I for one rejoice to see that the process has begun.

YouDon'tFoolUs

Postby YouDon'tFoolUs » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:39 am

Guest wrote:I wonder if it's worth contacting the Richmond and Twickenham Times about the Inquiry? Potential parents of St. James would probably be glad to be made aware of the school's barbaric past, particularly as some abusers are still employed by the school.


Great idea, I am in the journalism profession and know some of the journos there. I will get in touch with them today. We need to make as much noise as possible and not allow this inquiry - which is clearly a complete sham - to let them get away with it.

Until the current regime publicly distances itself from the abuse of the old days and dismisses the abusers of the old days that are still entrusted with innocent children at St James, we will continue to spread the truth to as many people as possible.

With his political background, Boddy is no doubt an expert at schmoozing people and dealing smoothly with embarrassing problems. And how appropriate that every politicians' favourite ploy - the inquiry - has been chosen by him. And we all know how bogus most inquires are.

No, we're not all fooled. Until all the abusers of the old days apologise and until the current St James regime publicly distance themselves from the abuse of the old days and remove from the school the teachers from the old regime who made so many little children suffer, we will continue.

We have contacts throughout the media and in politics. We would urge all the above people to act now to prevent us escalating this campaign.

Daffy

Postby Daffy » Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:12 am

YouDon'tFoolUs wrote:We need to make as much noise as possible and not allow this inquiry - which is clearly a complete sham - to let them get away with it.


YouDon'tFoolUs (or is it Chaz?),

Personally I give this inquiry a one in three chance of not being a whitewash. I've watched 'Yes, Prime Minister' on how to influence the outcome of an 'independent' inquiry.

However, I have waited nearly 20 years and I'm prepared to wait a little longer in the earnest hope that I'm wrong. I suggest you do too.

So far, the contributions of current and former teachers on this forum have not given me any reason to believe this process is going to be a sham.

Another guest

Postby Another guest » Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:16 pm

YouDon'tFoolUs wrote:
We need to make as much noise as possible and not allow this inquiry - which is clearly a complete sham - to let them get away with it.



Clearly a sham? Really? How can you know? It hasn't even started yet. Why don't you wait to see what the arrangements are going to be before you judge.

Tom Grubb
Posts: 380
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Location: London

Reply to Mr Barber's apology

Postby Tom Grubb » Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:42 pm

Mr Barber,

I welcome your apology, in which the sincerity of your contrition comes across strongly. I salute your courage in posting it on this forum.

As I wrote in reply to Dr Hipshon?s equally welcome post, I accept your apology as far as it goes but see this as only a first step towards full reconciliation. A full, sincere verbal and written apology is all that I seek. To my mind, you have already shown sincerity. I would like to see you be more specific about some of the acts of violence you remember carrying out and to acknowledge that they were totally unacceptable whatever the pressures on you at the time may have been. Then I would like a verbal apology. Then I would consider the matter well and truly closed.

I stress that my recollections of you are certainly not all negative. Like some other former pupils, I have some fond memories of you, too. You once lent me a warm pair of socks at one of those awful military training camps we were forced to attend! You also offered me some words of praise and encouragement during art and sports lessons. Despite your lack of teacher training ? was anyone at St Vedast a fully qualified teacher? ? you were one of the very few teachers to realise the value of positive reinforcement. If only more of the carrot and less of the stick had been employed back then!

Best wishes,

Tom Grubb

lowpas

Postby lowpas » Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:37 pm

I would like to chime in and thank Mr Barber for his post, even though I am not really seeking an apology from past staff, it actually meant something to me, what exactly I am not sure yet! Even if I was frequently on the end of your gymshoe- stick- ruler-whatever was to hand- I never felt you were 'out to get me' or picked on me in any way, and did not leave any lasting scars on me as far as I can tell! There did not seem to be much 'other' about your behaviour, unlike ND who let forth some personal demons and as I realsie now had some kind of disturbed emotional makeup.

You also never instilled fear dread and loathing like ND or a few others did. I enjoyed boxing it allowed me to work of rage against ND and it is true you spent great care matching us up.

I could relate your rather harsh discipline methods to how I imagined the army would be so it made some kind of sense, unlike the totally irrational and sadistic treatment I got from Debenham.

I enjoyed the trips out and the lets face it really violent game with the medicine ball! I used to look forward to that all week.

Thank you for taking the trouble to post here.

lowpass. (please excuse my anonymity).

Mike.
did not mean to belittle your web site regarding numbers reading it! It's has been great.

Katherine Watson

Not signing off, i just have got enough off my chest for now,I will keep lurking thanks for the words of support, post St james has not easy, although i got to conservatoire somehow.

I to am sceptical of inquiry, but willing to hold my judgement for now.

lowpass

l o w p a s s

Postby l o w p a s s » Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:02 pm

I would also like to add my sympathy for the person who was preyed on sexually and physically by the SES member.The school must be held culpable for not protecting its students.

It does highlite the extremely mad and often cavlier approach to childrens saftey and well being the largely untrained staff St James had.

I remember one trip to the countryside a friend and I devised a game while the class was at the beach. Lets swim out to sea,and the person who turns back first was the chicken. We swam out for ages! totally lost sight of land, were subsequently swept a mile or so down the beach as we batlled back to shore, and ended up wandering around the countryside terrified in swiming trunks. Found our way back eventually, but the amazing thing, didn't occur to me at the time,aside from our friends no one noticed we were gone!

it is so important to realise, that we were all part of an SES Mclaren experiment, this is why the analogies to other strict victorian schools are redundant. St James was unique.

lowpass


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