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

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Oct 19, 2004 12:44 am

Katharine Watson wrote:

I know it must seem extraordinary, but people really did not know. My daughter were both very happy at school - one at St Vedast and one at St James. We dealt with the wilder of the batty notions they reported to us at home by laughing at them. And they got a terrific education and have since in their very different ways gone on to be happy and successful women.


Of course there must have been people who did know - parents, presumably, for a start.

Katharine


Hi Katherine.

You are right, my mistake was not telling anyone. But as I was caned at four, both parents were in the cult, my ideas of normality were set early on. Some people got through without ever being caned or hit when they were pre secondary school etc, they tended to fit in to theSES St James idea, or had their head down. A few pupils however were really picked on, the smallness of the classes and school made this possible. I did not, I loved most of the things SES and St james stood against. Rock music, computer games, films, TV, football, comics. I was constantly being told I was a bad influence and brought dense energy (tamas??) in the building.


Katharine Watson wrote:

And obviously the perpetrators themselves, but to some extent even they may not have registered how out of order they had become. And it's hardly the sort of thing you go telling people.

I also believe there is good evidence that Mr Debenham did not himself know what his staff were getting up to.


Katharine


I am sorry you are completely wrong, and even if the rather bizzare notion that Debenham had no idea children in his school were being beaten and abused by his staff he would have been an incredibly incompetent headteacher. But this is not in fact the case.

Debenham knew exactly what went on at St James in the mid 70s onwards. Queens gate was a small building for a school and Debenham was nearly always on site prowling around or teaching 'scripture'. Chepstow villas was even smaller.

Yes i was repeatedly whacked on the backside in front of the class by Torpys (sic)
set square, Barrington Barbers gymshoes, Russels screaming fits of abuse and head whacking, backside kicking, so hard it often propelled one along the ground. (not funny). But the one person who was worse than the lot of them was Debenham. He turned corporal punishment into a kind of ritualised art of inflicting pain. It was hell. It became so bad at one point when I was caned so often the mere sight of him actually caused me to throw up. He would cane for any reason. He once pulled me into his study and caned me for something I reportedly said to someone at 'Art in Action' three weeks after the event during the summer holidays,I never knew what i was supposed to have done. I was sent out of the church opposite queensgate one time and ordered to stand in the street, (quite a thing in itself to stand in the busy street unattended for over an hour considering I was 7, they were mad). Debenham bowled up, why was I there, Talking? right into my study, whack etc etc. Caned for playing pac man after school, for being late, for drawing comics, for playing pop music on piano,Caned for reading Starwars magazines after school, for being sent out of music lessons, caned for playing 'it' in the gardens of Sarum Chase during another lunatic cult ses session I was forced to endure. By the way I must have been one of the youngest ever initiated into SES, I was the only child at those meetings and events. He once caned in the evening just before a group session was to start, I had to hang around the bloody school till 10.30, i remember the stunned look on a what i guess was an SEs group members face as I ran from his study tears streaming. the noise of the cane could be heard all the way up the building. It was humiliating to boot.
He even caned me on my ever first week of school aged four in my first ever assembly for tying my friends shoelaces. If you want to chop logic the caning was given for lying.(I denied it, although I saw he saw me do it) What kind of a person canes 4 year old children on their first week of school for such a small thing? He possibly new my parents were SES fanatics and he could get away with whatever he wanted. As I also had a lot of friends outside school (outside SES friends were forbidden) and I loved modern things, pop music, video games football etc no doubt I was considered a rotten apple.

To sum up. Debenham has no escape from any of this. He was as equally violent as the others, but in his own quiet way.

As his staff were guilty of abusing children, then he as the head of the school must take the blame and be held accountable for employing them and not checking or being aware of their behavior, and not being sensitive to the children under his care.(however his care was not 'care' at all, I remember one child who obviously struggled while being caned, Debenham must have missed his backside, because the sensitive inner area behind both his knees were deeply cut and bleeding. It must have been agony as we wore shorts, the child cried for the whole afternoon. he was just put to stand alone in the changing rooms, age 7/8).
But I need to repeat, In Such tiny schools, in such small buildings, there is no question
debenham did not know. I would go further and put it that he actually encouraged staff to be generous in their administration of corporal punishment. Also Russell really used to scream, you could hear him across the street!


A good headmaster sets the tone and nature of a school, And Debenham did this.David Hipshon writes of the feeling of oppression felt in 1982, well magnify that as you go back to the beginning. The role of St james was to spread SES doctrine into education, and like SES's fumbling attempts to merge Christianity, Indian mysticism, Platonism into what ended up as a confused verbage, the school was also a weird unique mix of undefined incompatible ideas, and at root, equally confused.

It is conceivable that the Debenham you know is a changed man, the person I knew was a monster. And not all my teachers were thus if you think I am biased and full of hyperbole, Clem Salaman was actually a kindly individual with a warm heart and infectious laugh who encouraged me to learn. Just telling you as it was.



One thing I want to leave you with. The experience of sitting on hard wooden chairs with shooting terrible pains going through ones body after 6 beatings of the cain age 8 in a philosophy class while some one sits on a chair with a beautific look on their face exorting me to realise i am not the body,please sit still and stop squirming, the absolute is constant etc is one that goes in deep, and is pretty unquantifiable.

This is the last of my posts here on my childhood experiences.
It's not worth dragging the millions of other run ins I had with Debenham and his goons. Some seem to have decided that
he is innocent of any abuse and was blissfully unaware (or in a haze of what was it, satva???? )of his staffs behavior. Amazing.


best
lowpass

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:16 am

...and its no matter to me if few people read this forum. It has been therapeutic posting,as there has been no one to discuss this with for 20 years.

Like tossing a message bottle onto an electronic sea........

best

lowpass

Matthew
Posts: 212
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: London

Postby Matthew » Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:39 pm

See amended post below.
Last edited by Matthew on Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

Guest 1932

Postby Guest 1932 » Tue Oct 19, 2004 3:21 pm

I ask the question again, and will continue to do so until the current head of St James Independent School For Boys responds.

Why does he continue to employ teachers such as David Lacey, and entrust children into this man's care?

StVsurvivor

Postby StVsurvivor » Tue Oct 19, 2004 4:11 pm

You can add Chris Southwell to this list, he still works there too. There may even be others....

User avatar
adrasteia
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Postby adrasteia » Wed Oct 20, 2004 12:18 am

StVsurvivor wrote:You can add Chris Southwell to this list, he still works there too. There may even be others....


I think he works entirely at the girls school now. So the question should be directed to Mrs. Hyde also.
The heads are certainly aware of this site, but I doubt there will be a response either from them or those who speak for them.

mgormez
Posts: 501
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:33 pm
Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Postby mgormez » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:00 am

Anonymous wrote:...and its no matter to me if few people read this forum. It has been therapeutic posting,as there has been no one to discuss this with for 20 years.

Like tossing a message bottle onto an electronic sea........


What few people? :-)

This part of the SES board alone got over 4500 visitis, and I have disabled the counter to add up when a writer reads his own post again while browsing to see if there's something new. Otherwise it would be much higher.

This whole site (about one gigabyte) had in September on average 4007 downloaded pages a day and the messageboard was at the top.
Mike Gormez

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

Postby Tom Grubb » Wed Oct 20, 2004 8:39 pm

mgormez wrote:
Anonymous wrote:...and its no matter to me if few people read this forum. It has been therapeutic posting,as there has been no one to discuss this with for 20 years.

Like tossing a message bottle onto an electronic sea........


What few people? :-)

This part of the SES board alone got over 4500 visitis, and I have disabled the counter to add up when a writer reads his own post again while browsing to see if there's something new. Otherwise it would be much higher.

This whole site (about one gigabyte) had in September on average 4007 downloaded pages a day and the messageboard was at the top.


Mike, your excellent forum has literally changed my life and, I'm sure, the lives of very many other victims of the SES's bizarre and sick approach to education. Without it, I don't think we would ever have had the chance of the justice which we know we deserve. I will be grateful to you until the day I die.

Katharine, I think it's time to stop beating about the bush! You write: " I knew also of a couple of teachers - one in particular who has now left - who had a reputation among the boys for going over the top. (I am not going to accuse him; I am hopeful he will come forward in due course himself.) But I understood that he had been held to account and told that his behaviour must cease. I assumed he had complied, but he was not teaching at the boys' school by the time I got there."

Going over the top?! Unless lowpass, Matt, Dan, Alban, etc. are making all this stuff up, physical and mental abuse was the norm at St Vedast and the old St James. (Perhaps you think we're lying? Do you?) If someone was "going over the top" they must have been REALLY nasty! I'm tired of waiting for people to "come forward in due course". If you know something about criminal acts of child abuse, I think you have a duty to reveal it. Who was this man and what exactly did he do?

Tom

Katharine Watson

Postby Katharine Watson » Wed Oct 20, 2004 10:05 pm

Tom Grubb wrote:
Katharine, I think it's time to stop beating about the bush!
If you know something about criminal acts of child abuse, I think you have a duty to reveal it. Who was this man and what exactly did he do?

Tom



Tom, I do not KNOW what he did. I have never had access to details, and I am speaking only of hearsay. I am not in a position to accuse him, as I am not, repeat not in possession of the facts. I am not going to give his name. As you very well know, Tom, because I have already told you this, it is one of those already mentioned here. Therefore I have no doubt that once the inquiry announced by David Boddy tonight gets going it will all come out, and I will welcome that, possibly as much as you. I urge everyone concerned to start preparing as acccurate and detailed accounts as they can. It's over to you guys now.

Katharine Watson

David Boddy's message

Postby Katharine Watson » Wed Oct 20, 2004 10:13 pm

Just in case people haven't noticed it, I'm copying David Boddy's post on this thread too.

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 1:15 am?? ?
"My name is David Boddy, the new headmaster at St James in Twickenham. I have been following the postings on this notice board for some time, and have been in private conversations with some of you about the contents.

The Governors of St James have also been made aware of the views expressed on the message board, and have formed the view that interactions via the internet are unlikely of themselves to resolve the concerns about events alleged to have occurred 20 to 30 years ago.

They have therefore decided to establish an independent Internal Inquiry to be conducted by a Chairman who is independent of St Vedast, St James, or any other body, such as the School of Economic Science, likely to have any connection with the schools. He is a prominent Queen?s Counsel with considerable experience in the conduct of inquiries and mediation.

The aim of the Inquiry is to discover the facts, to make recommendations, and to supervise implementation of any recommendations.

Wherever there are disputes or differences, the aim must be to resolve them. The steps must be truth first, and then reconciliation. Both steps are necessary, and the aim of this Inquiry and whatever follows is to do both.

As soon as practical arrangements for the Inquiry have been established I will post on the message board details of an address to which complaints and written evidence can be sent for onward transmission to the Independent Chairman.

We want this process to have dignity and integrity. We recognise that the matters complained of allegedly took place a very long time ago. However, we hope the atmosphere of the independent Inquiry will allow all those who wish to say something to do so, and we want to give those who do so the confidence that views, complaints and comments will be clearly heard.

I shall keep the message board up to date with material developments as details of the Inquiry unfold. I will not, however, contribute at this stage to the debate on the message board.

Anyone who would wish to contact me privately, however, may do so through St James at Pope?s Villa, 19 Cross Deep, Twickenham, TW1 4QG.

I shall do my best to reply as soon as possible."

Matthew
Posts: 212
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: London

Postby Matthew » Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:49 am

I wish to amend my above posting as follows:-

I would fully endorse every word of the last post by Lowpass. From the age of eight I witnessed and was subjected to identical levels of 'punishment'. My brother and I were at St Vedast from day 1, September 1975. One of the unfortunate 50 or so guinea pigs who through some perverse twist of fate just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This thread has come along way since I wrote it's first posting back in February this year. I had managed to escape by the time David Hipshon came along but I welcome his apology. However if I was one of those that had suffered at his 'over-zealous' hands, I would need to look him directly in the eye and hear him actually say the same words to my face before I could fully believe it.

However since David Hipshon arrived after I left, by the same token he was not there when the brutalities of the early years were committed. On this basis, since I left in 1978, he is not qualified to make any comment about what happened in the 1975 to 1978 period, and you need look no further than the latest 'Lowpass' posting to get the full flavour of that abomination.

His defence of Debenham just proves how much he and others are still trapped by the iron stricture of SES thinking that can transform something which is so blatantly obvious to a clear sighted person, and thus the entrenched view is maintained. I am prepared to take Mr Hipshon's comments at their face value and accept that he actually believes, to this day, that his defence of Nicholas Debenham is realistic, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary as any net reader will know. I hope that in this context he will take Lowpass's response seriously, and for once, not choose to ignore what is now common ground amongst so many former pupils of St James and St Vedast in the early years.

What is truly astonishing and revealing is that Mr Hipshon fails to penetrate the mind-set to which he continues to be subject. This manifests in an abject refusal to admit that Debenham stood at the point of intersection between the pupils in his charge and the misguided and, in certain respects, reprehensible regimen emanating ultimately from Leon MacLaren via the SES. If Mr Hipshon wishes to demonstrate that he is no longer a clone, his first step is to open his mind and face the facts - or at least to admit the possibility of those facts being true, a possibility that cries out for exhaustive investigation.

At the same time I applaud his courage to be the first of all the teachers who have been mentioned in these posts to make an honest admission of his guilt, but this is only a first step and we sincerely hope that he will willingly do this face to face. More examination needs to take place of what the processes were about. It wasn't that he was just a young and naive teacher putting into action an education that he had experienced as a young child, but that he was part of an abusive regime based on ignorance of the highest order. Once again the point must be repeated of the clear distinction between the corporal punishment that he and his generation went through and the blatant child abuse that went on at St James and St Vedast. Two very different things.

Katherine Watson's concerns appear to be for truth, I hope not the defence of an ossified structure. For these schools to go forward, fearless thinking that demonstrates a release from stale and brainwashed attitudes of the past is needed. May more of the present day teachers have the guts to speak out. It is a difficult process for anyone who has followed a philosophy for most of one's life to acknowledge that the most powerful philosophy in the hands of the zealot can become demonic. This is what happened in the day schools of the 70's and 80's.

Matthew Woolf

Daniel Gregory

Postby Daniel Gregory » Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:47 pm

I was a pupil at St Vedast school for boys from 1978 to 1984.
For my first two years we were at Queensgate before moving to Hampstead. While at Queensgate Nicholas Debenham was my headmaster and thankfully I avoided being caned by him by keeping my head down. I was absolutely terrified of the man and his reputation for caning. He seemed to me a quiet, calm man but too calm, like a volcano about to erupt. I never heard him shout at anyone which unnerved me all the more as he seemed aloof and difficult to predict. Would he blow up in my face one day? He seemed like a compressor but did he have a safety valve?
Nicholas Debenham seemed to express himself ok when he caned boys. Maybe this was for him a physical outlet because he caned hard. Even though I was never caned by him myself, I have the vivid memory of a boy coming out of his study having been caned by him. The boy was in great pain and very very distressed. He would instinctively hold his backside only to shock his hands away as touching his injury would increase the pain. His distress caused him to lose the strength in his legs so he next went to sit down but stood back up before touching the seat as he wouldn't be able to sit down again with any comfort for hours if not days. He just didn't know what to do with himself, reduced to an emotional wreck as he was. He was crying, not quietly, not with any dignity, but uncontrollably.
The boy was a couple of years older than me, maybe twelve or thirteen.
At school in Hampstead my headmaster was Julian Capper, another quiet man but thankfully he used to shout at us now and again. What a relief. We new what sort of man he was as he expressed himself and showed emotion. I have never been convinced that Julian Capper was happy caning us boys, but did so as it was school policy. My count-up came to twentyone strokes by the time I left St Vedast, usually two strokes at a time and once three.
Other punishments at school were the slipper- or rather a plimsole from the changing room and the ruler across the hand. Items thrown at pupils were the blackboard rubber, chalk and on one occasion the teachers half eaten apple. One teacher was kind enough to allow us to choose between the 'hedgehog' or the 'bicycle'. The 'hedgehog' would see the teacher take the hair at the base of your hairline between his thumb and index finger. Then in one swift movement he pulled his hand up along with a small tuft of your hair. The 'bicycle' saw a similar grip between thumb and index finger, pull the hair outward a bit and rotate, this time it was the hair found just above the ear.
I would sincerely like to thank my form tutor of four years, David Hipshon for his contribution to this site. David was another who scared me. I left school afraid of almost any man in there twenties and this continued for ten years or so. Silly really isn't it? But David was in his twenties and had a profound effect on me.
To read his words posted recently showed me that he too is a man capable of emotion and compassion. I can even empathise with him as he has revealed what I have always suspected, that he was abused as a child too.
I personally do not need to pursue my old teachers for apologies as I have left St Vedast and all it's bad experiences behind me now.
Having said that, David Hipshon's need to apologise in general and the fact that he now teaches in an 'enjoyable learning enviroment...encouraging pupils to express themselves' is music to my ears. Children need to be encouraged and motivated and this is where the skill in teaching is, not just the content of the subject.
David Hipshon, for me, is no longer the teacher in the video of Pink Floyd's, The Wall. And to a certain degree, I am not afraid anymore.
Danny

Katharine Watson

For lowpass

Postby Katharine Watson » Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:24 pm

Anonymous wrote:...and its no matter to me if few people read this forum. It has been therapeutic posting,as there has been no one to discuss this with for 20 years.

Like tossing a message bottle onto an electronic sea........

best

lowpass


Thank for your honesty and courage. Your story is terrible, heart-rending and shocking. I hope perhaps you will feel able to participate in the forthcoming independent inquiry. But if not (it sounded from your post as though you were signing off), I most sincerely hope that telling the truth of what happened to you on this forum has brought enough relief to allow you to move on happily and in freedom with your life. I truly wish you every blessing.

Katharine

Katharine Watson

For lowpass

Postby Katharine Watson » Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:25 pm

Anonymous wrote:...and its no matter to me if few people read this forum. It has been therapeutic posting,as there has been no one to discuss this with for 20 years.

Like tossing a message bottle onto an electronic sea........

best

lowpass


Thank for your honesty and courage. Your story is terrible, heart-rending and shocking. I hope perhaps you will feel able to participate in the forthcoming independent inquiry. But if not (it sounded from your post as though you were signing off), I most sincerely hope that telling the truth of what happened to you on this forum has brought enough relief to allow you to move on happily and in freedom with your life. I truly wish you every blessing.

Katharine

David Hipshon

Postby David Hipshon » Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:04 pm

Thanks, Danny. I remember you as a quiet boy with an uncanny ability to get lost on cross-country runs! I was deeply moved by your post and would like to wish you all the best.
I'm away for a week now so won't be able to respond to further posts during that time. I welcome the Inquiry and hope that some resolution may emerge.


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