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

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:07 pm

Snowman,
Thank you for these wise and encouraging words. It is greatly appreciated.
Matthew

Daffy
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Postby Daffy » Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:43 pm

Snowman, thank you for a useful and eloquent reminder of what this forum is about for the majority of its users.

It is easy to forget that contributions here are part of a campaign to make the schools acknowledge and apologise for their disastrous experiment in child welfare, and to ensure that it never happens again.

This site has also helped many ex-students start to deal with destructive emotions that linger two or three decades after the events in question.

I hope that contributors to this forum do not lose sight of these achievements, and consider carefully whether allowing themselves to be sucked into cat fights with other users gets in the way of these ends.

Matthew
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More lies and deceit

Postby Matthew » Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:41 pm

When I, Tom and Dan, met Mr Debenham last summer he tried to make out that all these problems only occurred in St Vedast boys school. He described many of us as being 'difficult', and in good need of some firm discipline. He said the St James pupils had always been very happy and there had never been any complaints of this nature.

Now, after a whole year of internet postings, our worst suspicions have been confirmed. Its become quite clear that these abuses were taking place not only in St James boys, but in both the St V & J girls schools too. And this is before we even start on the SES, which spawned these schools.

More lies, more deceit, more cover-ups. These people are morally bankrupt and I shall never again trust them to speak the REAL truth...just their own perverted form of it.

Anita
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Postby Anita » Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:28 pm

I have not contributed for some time, although as Matthew Woolf's mother I wrote a few pieces from a parent's point of view earlier on. Matthew sends me everything and I read it all, and am deeply moved by your brave intelligent, and truthful testimonies. The "Truth" the SES has always espoused and got so wrong is now truly reflected in the sons and daughters of the maimed generation of which I was a part.

A series of revelations opened my eyes and I finally saw what was happening, as a result of which I left the SES. I saw the effect on my two sons and their friends. The St Vedast bunch - "The damaged goods" who needed beating into shape. Up until then it seemed almost possible that adults could work through integrity to overcome some of the deluded thinking that was filtering through from the upper echelons. A change came about in the SES when some of the more bizarre aspects of "measured" living were introduced. The Laura Ashley dress code did not seem so out of place in the late 1960s and early '70s. I fell in with the sleep deprivation, 5 hours maximum - 3 or 4 was more noble. Eat only English seasonal foods, and only 4 items per meal. This went on until large men started keeling over with heart attacks after consuming a huge chunk of Cheddar, half a jar of honey, half a loaf of home-made bread and butter, and a large pot of full-cream yoghurt dutifully made on a daily basis by law-abiding wives, who were up at 5 o'clock in the morning to haul sleepy children out of bed for the early morning chanting, bible study, and times-table study, before packing them off to school for their early morning circuit training before lessons.

Before all this happened, in the early days our friends were quite off-beat and intellectual, and a lot of them left (dropped by the wayside). The parable of the sower was a great justification. Maclaren actually said early on that no one should earn their living from the school. This notion changed as the newer generation came in and the day schools were set up.

For a while I believed that by simply not succumbing and speaking my mind I could affect change, but witnessing the day schools and incidents of crass hypocrisy and cruelty as evidenced by Coralie's and Clara's testimonies, whose parents I knew, I realised I was beaten and had to get out. I was referred to by Maclaren as a dangerous woman. It took my husband about 10 years to follow and it has only been as a result of the testimonies that have come out over the past year that we have both realised the full extent of the brainwashing of decent well-meaning and spiritually dedicated men and women, and the level of abuse of their children.

The one area of concern I have for the successful outcome of all this is that I believe the initial shock to the organisation has now settled. The way Maclaren dealt with outside criticism was to say "Ignore it, and it will go away". That was a very successful tactic. Now I am convinced that the word within the school is to ban the reading of this forum and dismiss it as the work of a few mischief-makers. SES members I still know never refer to it, or say it is too upsetting and turn away and pretend all is as it should be. This "Truth" they have been living most of their lives - must and will be protected. That is their thinking. I have certainly, because of my stance, less contact with old friends from the SES. This is just my intuition.

The message that has come through a lot of your posts, and from many who have been most affected and damaged, is your extraordinary loyalty to your parents, and not wishing to hurt them by confronting them with the level of their blindness. Where were they when you were small and vulnerable? There must be a way of communicating, however gently or forcibly as is required, the error of continuing in this La La Land. Surely they cannot deny that terrible wrongs were comitted. What duty is more sacred than the care of ones children? I have had to face the fact that I failed in this duty. Anyone who has abused a child in their care will have to pay dearly for this, and even if I didn't believe in karma, which I do, I would feel the same way. The only chance one has to redeem oneself is in this life, and therefore you are doing your parents no good service by not confronting them - for their sakes. I am thankful we are a close and loving family now, only because of this confrontation. My husband has asked his children's forgiveness, and I know others who have. The most entrenched minds can become free.

The SES is going to have to come off it's spiritual high-horse and realise that they got a lot of things very badly wrong. I have never ceased believing in the spiritual dimension, but when a powerful teaching is used to suppress the human spirit, gain control over it, and impose a particular and highly personal distorted version, it is a cult. I am convinced that with love and compassion, this can be communicated.

I know that there are those of you who are working tirelessly for an inquiry that truly addresses all these issues. All those of us who wish for closure and to make peace wish for nothing more than that. But for this to be possible, the Governors and the powers within the SES would have to each see and fully understand the level of their own delusion - not with spiritual truth - but with their version of it. Let the day-schools just concentrate on being good day schools. Teach religion as all good schools do, showing equal respect to all great traditions. What a relief that would be. How enlightened! It is a lot easier than trying to live in an air-tight bubble within your own culture. No one has the right to judge how adults live and choose to worship God, but the area of child education was a disaster. The sooner that is acknowledged the better. Then they can make amends.

Anita Woolf

JAMBREKES
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NON SES PARENTS

Postby JAMBREKES » Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:52 pm

ADG The experiences refered to are recent (academic year 2004-2005). I quote from a person whose life had been lived according to the SES way. Now she has distanced herself from it. Her reflections on her experiences and that of her children are poignant. Anita wrote " A series of revelations opened my eyes and I finally saw what was happening, as a result of which I left the SES. I saw the effect on my two sons and their friends".

She describes something that we were on the road to experiencing. It felt wrong. We got out.

ANITA wrote "Where were they (parents) when you were small and vulnerable? There must be a way of communicating, however gently or forcibly as is required, the error of continuing in this La La Land. Surely they cannot deny that terrible wrongs were comitted. What duty is more sacred than the care of ones children? "................

And with refernce to my earlier posting about children not being able to thrive as their counterparts in a free environment

Anita wrote "...............but when a powerful teaching is used to suppress the human spirit, gain control over it, and impose a particular and highly personal distorted version, it is a cult."


I repeat, many parents are still unaware of the SES involvement with St James. Others do not know what the SES is. That aside, from our personal experience it is what goes on at the junior boys school which is questionable and the children seem to be unable to communicate this. We deduce it is because they are frightened. That is very disturbing. Anita's account puts the whole situation into perspective in our opinion. Thank you Anita.

emmalu9
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Postby emmalu9 » Tue Mar 29, 2005 3:20 pm

Thanks Anita for your comprehensive and lucid posting. You sum up so much of my feeling, although I see it from the child's perspective. My parents would have been at the school with you during the introduction of the measure 'system'/rules. The trouble with coming from an SES family as well as attending St James was that the dogma was relentless. We used to dread Mum coming back from a week; pumped up to be unbearably holy, and I resented the way she would always believe the teachers over me. The school prevented us from developing the necessary skills to communciate and build functional parent-child relationships.

Anita wrote:
''There must be a way of communicating, however gently or forcibly as is required, the error of continuing in this La La Land... The only chance one has to redeem oneself is in this life, and therefore you are doing your parents no good service by not confronting them - for their sakes. I am thankful we are a close and loving family now, only because of this confrontation''

Having begun to work firstly on my own boundaries and communication skills and secondly on actually bringing bitter memories up with my parents, I second Anita's assertion that these confrontations, however daunting, do start the healing process.

T.S
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Postby T.S » Mon Apr 04, 2005 6:50 pm

Dear Grobchock,

I felt I had to reply to some points you made in your posting on page 29 of this thread. I am only now catching up on old postings.

edited....

I do believe that there is the potential for philosophy to play a positive role in our society, and that it would be a shame if there was nothing we could do that would bring closure to this miserable chapter in the history of the School of Economic Science

Yes I believe that philosophy is incredibly important. Infact it is every bodys' duty to have an active and inquiring mind, lazy minded ignorance is responsible for despotic tyrants being in power and for fascist regimes being able to flourish and for institutes which harbour and hide child abuse being able to continue. Plato, one of the forefathers of Philosophy, who we even read at St James, believed in dialogue as the basis to dicover philosophy. The SES is a brand it is not philosphy- philosophy being the love of knowledge, the love of questions, curiosity, discovery.
The first thing I did when I left St James was to do a degree in Philosphy. Being able to question, analyse and debate was a euphoric experience where my mind started to grow rather than simply witness my psyche being crushed.
I think that many of the people that had such bad experiences are probably natural philosophers, who couldn't accept injustice; whereas those with thicker skins and more pragmatic natures were able to get through relatively unscathed. But I am speculating.

A child is naturally curious and this should be cherished and nurtured in a child. I had an awful experience because I had a very strong inquiring mind and like many of the other ex students on this site- that was recognised and tried to be beaten out of me. Children who subscribed- whether out of fear or because their parents were involved or simply were natural followers had less beatings/emotional abuse- simple as that. It wasnt about having pragmatism or a thicker skin as a child, I am a natural philospher but I also believe that this is the natural state of a happy child as it is through questions and dialogue that children learn.
Last edited by T.S on Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

daska
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Postby daska » Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:47 pm

T.S.

While I fully agree with what you say I wonder if possibly you have been a little unfair on grobchock in your first point. I do not sense impatience here but an anticipation of future events that might make this desirable outcome possible and an acknowlegement that the schools' current shenanigans are placing a barrier in the way of their victim's recovery.

grobchock also said: '...I do feel that apology is in order. I also feel that there should be some acceptance that if the apology is full and sincere then forgiveness and reconciliation should be the outcome. There comes a point when those that have suffered need to take a step away from victimhood - not to 'deny' what happened, but because it is psychologically unhealthy to continue thinking of oneself as subject to the actions of others. I accept, however, that while there continues to be denial of the truth by the perpetrators, this is not possible for everyone.'

Surely you are both right. Eventually there has to be a step away from victimhood, but there is no way this can be done until the first step has been taken, which is recognising the impact of what happened.

For me the most important thing to bear in mind is that just because these events took place so long ago doesn't mean anyone can or should be able to deal with them more easily or faster, but neither does it mean it has to be a long slow process. This isn't necessarily a matter of personal choice, it is dependent on many factors including health, support networks, lifestyle, temperament etc.

I think I commented earlier on my sister and I having very different experiences. Well, after a bit of a heart to heart last week it turns out they weren't so different after all - well, except for the attempts to exchange that vile green cloak for a wooden overcoat, the admission of which I think made her question her reasons for not wanting to revisit her past. (Bizarre, we actually laughed about it as well, I hadn't thought I had much further to go but it was very moving.) I'm still not in a position to challenge my parents but I'm a step closer to doing that if that's what I choose to do later on.

Sometimes just having some travelling companions can make it easier, so thank you everyone who's been in touch for the thought provoking posts and the personal encouragement :-)

T.S
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Postby T.S » Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:32 pm

Yes Daska you are right..sorry Grobchock, I did over react and misinterpret some things, I see this on a second reading- mainly about the first point I raised.
Though I hold onto the other points, more as a dialogue than an attack.

Daffy
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Foundation Group: Attack of the Clones

Postby Daffy » Wed May 11, 2005 12:22 pm

I thought I'd recall a day that sticks in my mind because it showed what we all suspected at St James: the influence of McLaren on Debenham and his tyrannical school ran deep.

When I was at St James in the mid-eighties, we were all summoned to Sarum Chase (I think) for what we were told was an exceptionally important meeting. We were led into a large, impressive room where chairs were laid out in a semi-circle. They faced three chairs in the centre. We all sat down and waited. Enter Debenham, Julian Capper and Leonardo da Vinci himself.

The purpose of the meeting, we gradually learnt after a tortuously roundabout preamble, was to persuade us to join something called the Foundation Group - what might best be called the 'Hitler Youth' of the SES. As McLaren rambled on about the benefits of this group he would sometimes pause for no apparent reason and chuckle to himself. We recognised this bizarre behaviour immediately; Debenham often did the same. Now we understood why. Every time McLaren made any facial gesture the two clones on either side would copy him. The sense of reverence from the headmaster and deputy headmaster towards their mentor was palpable.

McLaren's overtures were in fact completely wasted on us. Many of the students in the oldest class had been enlisted into the Foundation Group - I'm not sure under what false pretences - and all the younger classes had been forewarned not to touch it with a bargepole. Not even the most compliant, obedient pupils considered it for a moment.

I wonder if the Foundation Group still exists? If so, are St James pupils still approached to join it?

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Postby Shout » Wed May 11, 2005 4:14 pm

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adrasteia
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Re: Foundation Group: Attack of the Clones

Postby adrasteia » Sun May 15, 2005 11:52 am

Daffy wrote:When I was at St James in the mid-eighties, we were all summoned to Sarum Chase (I think) for what we were told was an exceptionally important meeting. We were led into a large, impressive room where chairs were laid out in a semi-circle. They faced three chairs in the centre. We all sat down and waited. Enter Debenham, Julian Capper and Leonardo da Vinci himself...

I wonder if the Foundation Group still exists? If so, are St James pupils still approached to join it?


Yes it does, (I think I've written posts on this before somewhere?) as does the introductory meeting you mentioned, although in a slightly different form: it's Mr. Lambie at the head now, and there is an opportunity for questions afterwards. Still, it's all fascinating stuff!
There seems to be a more softly-softly approach now, perhaps because the numbers of 'applicants' are falling: girls philosophy lessons now take place in the comforting atmosphere of the common room with mugs of coffee, tea and chocolate, and the boys might be having a series of introductory meetings rather than just the one. To help them get used to the idea perhaps? There's also the ground floor of David Boddy's new house situated next to the Boy's school, which I believe is to be used to host events for pupils of both schools.

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Mon Jun 06, 2005 1:02 pm

For anyone interested in learning more about what originally inspired Leon MacLaren to set up the SES, I would recommend the book "In Search of P.D. Ouspensky" by Gary Lachman (2004).

Other books which also cover the SES are: "Call No Man Master" by Joyce Collin-Smith (2004) and "Spying in Guruland" by William Shaw (1995)

Goblinboy
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Other books on the SES

Postby Goblinboy » Mon Jun 06, 2005 11:10 pm

Another very readable book which has a section devoted to the SES is Madame Blavatsky's Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America by Peter Washington (Schocken Books, New York, NY, 1995)

The book provides a lot of context for the emergence of the SES from its theosophical and Gurdjieff / Ouspensky origins.

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Sun Jun 19, 2005 8:48 am

Shout. I AM SHOCKED, SHOCKED AT YOUR POST. YOU MEAN THE SES HAS DONE FOR THE HARRINGTON?

SHAME UPON SHAME!

I knew the SES was anti fun but closing pubs is a step too far...

'BOY...bring me my scribe, I wish to write.'

:eggface:


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