Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
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Postby chrisdevere » Mon Feb 23, 2004 12:20 pm


Funnily enough Mr Howell left shortly after the transfer of everyone to St James. I went to his house once during the holidays as he tried to help me catch up with my Maths. I think his wife was quite in to the SES and so he had gone along by default. You are right, it never seemed to sit easily with him. I think he had a very good understanding of and dislike for unnecesary brutality as he had an elderly relative (Mothe/Mother in law?) he looked after there who had been in changi during the war.

Apparently he went to Emanuelle in Clapham. Where apparently he was well liked also! I wish him well wherever he is, and thank him for the beers he used to give us when we were unwinding after a hard day on cadet weekends.

I do vaguley remember the lady who took biology but dont remember her name. My younger brother also went to St James wher he suffered under Mr Lacey for several years. Somone eventually tippd my mother off to the fact that he singled my brother out for extra brutal attention and he was withdrawn from the school!
Christopher de Vere

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aims and objectives

Postby Matthew » Tue Feb 24, 2004 1:11 am

I would like it to be known that I am currently in a dialogue with the head of St. James, in an attempt to arrive at some form of "truth and reconciliation", and to express any aims and objectives we may have. The response I have been met with so far has been conciliatory and receptive.

The suggestion I have put forward is:-

Whether in a face to face forum (ideal) or in a published form:-
An honest and truthful acknowledgment that the conduct in question, irrespective of whether it was "following orders" (grown men have to take responsibility and be accountable for their words and actions, even if they were/are brainwashed), was totally brutal, reprehensible, and inexcusable, and caused lasting damage to large numbers of children, whose care and development was entrusted to their hands. All of this accompanied by a sincere, unreserved and humble apology, as well as a written assurance that none of this type of practice still continues (I have heard conflicting stories as to whether or not this is the case).

I would also support Daniel's suggestion of a multiple-letter, and would be happy to contribute my opening posting here towards this.

Any ex-pupils wishing to add anything to or amend any of this, please feel free to post your comments on here or by emailing me (in confidence), and I shall be happy to forward these on.

In my letter I also added:-
I believe it to be very important not to underestimate the lasting and damaging effects of child-abuse. I should know as I (and others) are the living proof of that. How ironic that the original aims of why St Vedast and St James were set up in the first place, i.e. to produce well-adjusted young men and women, delivered, in many examples, exactly the opposite result. I have even heard cases of ex-pupils dying as a result of drug overdoses, and you will see from reading the postings, the common thread of problems with figures of authority in later life. Others I know suffer with anxiety, depression, social-phobia, low confidence/self-esteem and motivational problems, and this is just in my circle.

As far my own father now says, "St. James may be a very different school now to what it was, but that is of little comfort to the victims of the previous order - still less to the perpetrators. Reformed they may be, but not absolved.

That can only happen through really facing up to, and fully acknowledging, the destructive and utterly demonic nature of their conduct, and confessing as much to those who suffered such terrible damage at their hands. If there is one principle of life in the world that any school worthy of the name should strive to pass on to it's pupils, is that of personal responsibility and accountability for one's own actions."

Also, good to hear from you Chris, thanks for your illuminating contribution.and welcome to this ever-expanding forum. I remember well those Spartan comparisons you referred to. Unfortunately again I don't remember you, having left St.V relatively early on.
Re: yours and Tom's references to Mr Howell, unfortunately it seems even he became corrupted, as was borne out on the time he took me into a small room and basically beat me up for not owning up to mixing the brown sugar with the white sugar during morning-break. He thought it was me, but it definitely was not, and even if it was, those actions were inexcusable and I'm sure, illegal. This incident was described more fully in my opening piece. It seems there was a dark force about that place that did something to trigger off the dormant demonic and brutal side of these people.

Chris de Vere wrote:I wonder if any Old Boys have become serial killers as a result! I know a few got in to hard drugs and died as a result!

I have it on good authority also that an ex-St.V girl was being tormented so badly that she committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a passing tube train on her way home one day. Another girl was unfortunate enough to develop some kind of degenerative eye-disease, and was told by the school that this had happened to her because she was "evil". I'd be interested to hear from anyone with any further information on either of these cases. Someone else I knew had a complete nervous breakdown from which I understand he has never fully recovered, and has been in and out of psychiatric institutions ever since. Then of course there were all the stories of McLaren's vestal virgins and his pre-arranged marriages. Men basically abandoned their wives and got married to these hand-picked young ladies often half their age. The list goes on.....

I remember my mother telling me something that McLaren's aide told her when accompanying him on one of his annual visits to India for the "teachings". His Shr? Shankar?c?rya guru told him that these teachings are proposed for ADULTS. If however, children voluntarily express an interest in them, then they must be taught in a highly sensitive and delicate manner. Hmmm.....well he certainly followed his advice on that score didn't he - NOT! I guess it all goes to prove that when any organisation is rotten and touched by evil from the top, it is inevitable that a charismatic yet brainwashing and dark influence will filter it's way down through the ranks.

McLaren RIP - I don't think so.

Last edited by Matthew on Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Matthew » Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:08 pm

BTW Alban and Tom, I noticed your links to this forum from the friends reunited site are incomplete, so you may wish to amend them.

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Anger Vs Sadism

Postby Alban » Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:41 pm

I can concur that Mr H was no angel. I and others were subjected to heavy beating around the head - more often in the early years. By the time we were all re-located to Hampstead, he had calmed down a great deal and was much more sane.

This has led me to question the two types of reaction to un-sanctioned behaviour. The first was pure anger as regularly demonstrated by Mr H, Mr L, Mr H and Mr R (and occasionally Mr S). The second is pre-determined and very deliberate action designed to cause pain and humiliation as employed by Mr F and Mr D (amongst others).

The first is characterised by un-measured and totally unacceptable blows around the head, or repeated blows with such things as rulers (and fists) accompanied by shouting and complete loss of control. The second method was obviously characterised by caning, ridiculous circuit training exercises and even pulling out hair (you know who you are Mr F).

The second whilst possibly less dangerous, shows a very sick mind. Both show a complete lack of control and the inability to teach.

Unfortunately, the St V teachers did not invent this thuggish behaviour - it has been going on for centuries. Talk to your granddad's generation and you'll find it was the norm - read accounts of schooling 100 years ago and it is littered with such stuff.

However, society has moved on, and had moved on while all this was taking place, unfortunately - they didn't "agree". What really pisses me off is the total hypocrisy of their actions juxtapositioned with what they taught. What about the "inner strength" - where was that when we were being beaten around the head. Did you ever see Mr R "pause" before he laid into some poor unfortunate 9 year old.

I distinctly remember some sort of parable that I heard a number of times throughout my time in these institutions. It was about a saint who came to a village where the villagers were complaining about a snake that was terrorising them (remember it yet). This saint went and had a word with the snake and told him that he really must stop biting the villagers. One year later, the saint returned to find the villagers happy, but the snake at death's door, having been beaten up. The saint was puzzled and asked the snake what had happened, and the snake told him that once the villagers learnt that he wasn't biting people any more, they took advantage of the fact and pretty much killed him. The saint's reply was along the lines of "I told you not to bite, I didn't tell you not to hiss".

So what about it......Well, I don't remember much hissing, do you? There are some great teachers out there, who can instil the fear of god into a child without touching them. Just a shame none of them made it into St V.


Postby Guest » Sat Feb 28, 2004 12:22 am

I write in on this thread in fear that I my identitiy might be found out. I rather not show my identiy only because I do not want any attention from people I know who might be reading this.
Your stories have had such an awfull effect on me. At the moment I feel as though I have been turned inside out, rinsed and scrubbed, almost like the feeling one gets after coming off a roller coaster.

Such a strong feeling has only made me want to defend the school which I hold so close to my heart. I am at St james Senior school for Girls at the present moment. Although your posts are absolutley terrifying, a lot has changed since then.

Almost all the teachers have had teacher training now. Some arent even within the SES. Corporal punishment has been banned finally at the boys' school. Most importantly I belive St james for me has educated its girls into fine human beings. With which that I FULLY respect my head teacher, who is very understanding caring and, someone who I find I can go to anyday, to ask for help.

As far as punishment goes for both boys and girls, -detentions are the basic punishment for misbehaving, or being rude, breaking the rules etc etc...

I also feel that we are always encouraged to question everything and anything. Homosexuality had been a very hot topic in the past. As well as abortions, drugs, marriage, love and sex. Some even question religion, in which the headteacher/teacher is very happy to add her own opinion to it.

I feel absolutely privilaged to be brought up with such dicipline, care and love, and at the time enabling me to earn the respect from the teachers who help me. As well as that we do have hot meals for lunch. Ofcourse the healthy vegetarian diet is still in practise, aswell as meditation(which is something everyone takes for granted now, but will probably value it more after they leave school).

I would also like to mention that Mr Debenham is retiring, and from this year sept. 2004 there will be a new headmaster (somehow I have a feeling you all know this).

This is my account of the St James today. Not quite like any other school, even now (thankfully).


St James

Postby Guest » Sat Feb 28, 2004 5:26 pm

I also choose to write anonymously as a current pupil of St James Senior Boys School. Reading the messages on this forum describe the experiences of past pupils and the malpractices at St Vedast. Due to changes in the law (and also, it is hoped, due to the teachers at St James realizing that the system at St Vedast was inhumane), the teachers have not been able to persecute their students unjustly. I am actually supportive of the idea of corporal punishment, but having read posts on this board it seems certain teachers had misused their power. And of course, each man should be responsible for his actions.

Although I admit a lot has changed since the days of St Vedast, there are STILL problems with St James, and some of these lie in its connection with the School of Economic Science. The two (in my humble opinion) best teachers at St James - both incidentally were classics teachers - left in successive years, and it was no surprise that they were the only two who did not conform with the SES. I have now realized that I have been subjected to unfounded philosophical teachings which have been made to appear as logical conclusions. We were told that the teachings were "correct" because they had been tried and tested by a certain Mr McLaren who had gone round the world seeking for the Truth. The main point raised in favour of the SES is that it allows you to practise the philosophy, reflect on the findings, and then decide whether the philosophy is worth following. Such statements are frequently used to evade questions about the underlying principles of the SES. It is impossible to argue with members of the SES. For example, how would you try to persuade an Sesoholic (coining a term for brevity) that there is no reason for believing that you made 3 promises whilst in the womb (the basis of the SES initiation ceremony) as part of a philosophy? What the Sesoholic does not realize is that they are not following a philosophy but a belief. This is a distinction which must be made clear from the very beginning.

Neither is the way in which St James Senior Boys School is run today to my liking. Since corporal punishment is now illegal, one would expect other suitable punishments to take their place. Now there are no longer formal detention sessions as teachers consider it unfair to look after those put in detention by other teachers. Drugs are rife and, although one boy was expelled due to the zero tolerance policy, it is ironic that those who perform in the anti-drug plays become addicted themselves. Truancy can easily be effected, even for such occasions as Speech Day, Sports Day and RSA lectures, especially by the older boys, by means of sick notes. Sport is an activity only for those who bother to turn up. Many leavers now join the SES not for the philosophical benefits, but to give them the opportunity to teach in an SES school abroad. Prefects have no power whatsoever, but in any case they use their label more eagerly for their UCAS forms than for looking after the younger pupils. It is now considered absurd for those in the lower part of the school to serve teachers and the 6th Form during lunch. The traditional importance of classics has been neglected - it is now possible to go through the whole of the secondary school without having studied Latin, Greek or Sanskrit. Although the standard of exam results varies greatly from year to year (even as exams become markedly easier), there is a clear downhill curve, exemplified by generally lower league table rankings and fewer Oxbridge entrants. The introduction of the wireless network/internet has been abused by just about everyone, and has proven to be a waste of time and money for teachers and pupils alike. There is still no effective careers service, and few people intend to go to university straight after they have left. The standard of teaching is generally good, apart from some glaring exceptions. The current headmaster is not seen as a friend by the older students, though his actions are just and there is considerable respect for him. The school has been expelled from the local church, undoubtedly because of its association with a cult.

In conclusion, St James is very different to what St Vedast (it appears) used to be, and this is not entirely a good thing. The current St James education, in the boys school at least, does not educate pupils into "fine human beings" as suggested by the previous post. This is my account of St James today. All the traditional values which it claims to have are more or less nonexistent.


Postby Guest » Sat Feb 28, 2004 8:40 pm

It seems to me (from what you ^ post) that the Boy's School is pretty lax with self-dicipline, and does not seem to have control over the boys. Perhaps that is why you are for corporal punishment? It seems to me that you think corporal punishment is the only way to dicipline the boys?

However I am sure that the same dicipline put forward to the girls, if put forward to the boys would work. This means if a rule is brocken a detention should be given. This also requires support from the teachers as a whole.

I suppose you have to be firm. Why do u see the girls sitting in FRONT at an RSA lecture? Because they never sleep, the majority hold their eyes fixed speaker even when their attention may not be on what he is speaking. This only because the girls know they would seriously be told of by the head if she is seen sleeping/not paying attention, and it is a good dicipline to show your interest to who's speaking even when not interested.

Latness more than once in a week(without a good excuse) is a detention. If someone may be "Bunking" school, it is immediately investigated into. And our school moto: "speak the truth" is heavily set upon us.

The only people who have a right to use force when trying to dicipline children should be the parents.

Mr Debenham is a very respectable head, however I have a feeling that the new head may bring in other issues to light which may raise the standard of the Boys school.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Sat Feb 28, 2004 9:00 pm

I was very interested to read the anonymous contributions from the two current St James pupils. Here are my responses:

To the pupil at the girls' school:

Many thanks for your contribution! I'm very glad (and rather amazed!) to read that so much has apparently changed at the school. If you are indeed "encouraged to question everything and anything" then that is a remarkable and very healthy development!

However, I'm interested that you choose to write anonymously, although I fully respect your decision to do so. If the school is such an open and tolerant place now, I wonder why you should be so fearful of somebody discovering your identity.

If you haven't already done so, perhaps you and your fellow pupils might consider questioning your teachers about some of the disgusting abuses detailed in this thread. I'd be very interested to read their responses!

By the way, I'm delighted that Mr Debenham is retiring! Hopefully, this means that he'll no longer be in a position where he can abuse children with impunity.

To the pupil at the boys' school:

Many thanks for contributing! I notice that you tell a rather different story from the pupil at the girls' school, although the changes you detail are equally amazing. I'm astonished, for example, that sport is now "an activity only for those who bother to turn up" - how I wish I'd had the option of not turning up for circuit training, running, rugby and boxing! By the way, do pupils still do boxing there? At St Vedast we were expected to punch each other about the (unprotected) head and body on a regular basis.

I agree that the SES promotes totally unfounded beliefs, such as their three-promises-in-the-womb nonsense, as being the 'Truth'. Are you, I wonder, encouraged to question any of these beliefs at St James?

If you can, please let your colleagues know about this forum and encourage those as brave as you to contribute their opinions.

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A correction

Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:16 am

A correction:

In the interests of truth (well, I'm interested in it even if the SES isn't!) I would like to correct something I wrote in a previous post.

In my first post on this thread I mistakenly wrote that the former headmaster of St Vedast boys' school (Nicholas Debenham) "is still beating children at a school in Twickenham". I have now learnt that corporal punishment is in fact no longer in use at St James senior boys' school and I rejoice at this news.

I suspect, though, that this change of policy is for legal rather than 'philosophical' reasons! Mr Debenham's views on corporal punishment were reported in two newspaper articles in October 1996 (Click here and then scroll down: http://www.corpun.com/uksc9610.htm). Notice, by the way, how this "caring" man dares to suggest that there is something "loving" about assaulting children with a piece of wood. "You've got to have love on one hand and discipline on the other - an awful lot of love and a little bit of discipline," he is quoted as saying. That's not quite the balance I remember at St Vedast! "People should be able to tell the difference between a vicious assault and properly measured discipline." Hmm...

Also, the BBC reported as recently as March 1998 that Mr Debenham "makes no apologies for his belief in the effectiveness of caning a persistently indisciplined child." (Click here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/68965.stm).

I wish Mr Debenham well with his forthcoming retirement....


Postby Guest » Sun Feb 29, 2004 2:41 pm

In St James Senior Boys School, boxing was banned, I think, after an independent report of the school. For a few years at Twickenham there was boxing with appropriate head-protection and gloves, and most people enjoyed it! We are not explicitly encouraged to question the Truth, but it happens anyway in the philosophy lessons. However, in every philosophy session the teacher invariably makes it his purpose to persuade the students that the Truth is logical and correct - of course, this depends partly on who you have as Form Master. Needless to say, most boys do not follow the beliefs of the SES, even those who join, or intend to join, the SES. As I said before, the primary interest of someone in joining the SES is to have the opportunity to teach abroad. You will surely agree, following my description of the current St James, that St James is not a school that makes "fine human beings" even if it had no connection with the SES whatsoever.

Nevertheless, I am still supportive of corporal punishment. Perhaps it is because I have never experienced the injustices of those who were at St Vedast. On that point I must agree with Mr Debenham - in a Daily Telegraph article, he says,
St James has an associated girls' school but Mr Debenham said caning was inappropriate for girls. They would respond to a rebuke whereas boys would shrug off a telling off.

This agrees with my limited experience. The cane must, of course, only be used responsibly and appropriately, not for personal satisfaction. If it cannot be used responsibly, then it would be better that it is not used at all.


Postby Guest » Sun Feb 29, 2004 3:03 pm

From my observations, St James School for GIRLS, certainly does educated the pupils into 'fine human beings' the majority of them anyway, largely those who go into 6th form, for I belive that one has not lived the true experience of St James (girls) untill they have been in the 6th form.

How on earth do you measure the force of how much a disobediant child should be punished by corporal punishment? I belive that the teachers who used corporal punishment belived that was the only way to dicipline boys, and so now without it they seemed to have lost control!

Mr Debenham also says that 'love comes before dicipline', how much love does he actually show? Does he actually try to solve any bullying that happens within the walls of the St James school? I know someone who left the boys school because of the bullying, and even when his parents tried to complain the head did not seem to be very interested. From where I stand I do not seem to see much love, then again I do not know him, nor have I spoken to him, so for my part I cannot say who he truely is.

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Postby mgormez » Sun Feb 29, 2004 3:27 pm

Here's a suggestion: can the Guest posters who want to remain anon use a fake name in their signature or end of a posting? It becomes a bit tedious to refer to either one of you with 'anon' or guest, when there's a couple of you.
Mike Gormez

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Feb 29, 2004 5:03 pm

In reply to the latest Guest posting - by the way, I think Mike's suggestion of using a fake name if you want to remain anonymous is a good one - I would say that any teacher who believes corporal punishment is the only way to discipline boys should not be teaching boys! Anyway, why is physical assault (which is what corporal punishment is) seen as acceptable for boys but not for girls? I'd call that sexual discrimination.

Anyway, whatever one's views on corporal punishment of children (and I am personally very strongly opposed to it for many reasons) I think few people who witnessed or experienced some of the 'punishments' that took place at St Vedast boys' school in the seventies would consider them, to use Mr Debenham's phrase, "properly measured discipline". They were excessive, sadistic and specifically designed to humiliate.

Also, I find the concept that there is something 'loving' about causing deliberate pain and humiliation to children quite sickening. Believe me, there are many words I could use to describe what I felt and experienced at St vedast but 'love' certainly isn't one of them!


Postby Guest » Sun Feb 29, 2004 7:30 pm

Tom Grubb wrote: Anyway, why is physical assault (which is what corporal punishment is) seen as acceptable for boys but not for girls? I'd call that sexual discrimination.

hmmm sexual discrimination? I'm not too sure on that one. The reason why they belive corporal punishment is necessary is because they belive simply telling the boys off would not work, somehow girls seem to be more deeply affected by getting told off. The School of Economic Science strongly does belive that the two types of sexes are NOT the same. In the way they are different forms, with different needs, different aspects of strength, and different attitudes.

The philosophy at the girls school is always taken by the headmistress. That way the headmistress does see each pupil from the school atleast once a week. Coming to the upper part of the senior school, in one of the first lessons of the "Love, marriage and sex" course, was that a female and a man have different desires and different attitudes. A man's to feel the need to protect and a woman need to be loved.. oh i quite so not remeber exaclty that was said it has been a couple of years.

ANON -from the girls school.

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Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Feb 29, 2004 10:03 pm

Hi ANON - from the girls' school!

Well, of course it's sexual discrimination! As is their stupid generalisation about a man feeling the need to protect and a woman needing to be loved. I feel a strong need to protect AND to be protected and loved. Does this make me a man and a woman at the same time?! When I was a boy I also felt a strong need to protect AND to be protected and loved. At St vedast I was not shown love and I was not protected from the cruelty and violence of several staff members.

But what do YOU think? If your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend were being threatened, wouldn't you feel a desire to do what you could to protect him/her? And don't you think husbands or boyfriends quite like feeling loved? Or are you happy to accept the SES's sexual stereotyping?

All the best!


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