Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
SES Schools Action
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Postby SES Schools Action » Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:39 am

SES Schools Action:

We are former pupils of St James and St Vedast Boys and Girls Schools who are working together to achieve the following objective:

A full and public acknowledgement and apology from both the St James Schools and the individuals who were involved in alleged physical and emotional abuse that occurred at St James and St Vedast Independent Schools for Boys and Girls.

The St Vedast and St James Inquiry:

Last autumn a number of us were contacted by David Boddy, the current Headteacher of St James Boys Senior School, concerning the intention of the Schools? Governors to establish an inquiry into the alleged abuse. The Inquiry is neither our instigation nor was it our idea. Whilst we remain ambivalent about whether an Inquiry is likely to achieve our objective, we have been happy to comment on the Governors? proposals and their draft Terms of Reference for the Inquiry.

We are very concerned, however, about aspects of what is proposed and so far these concerns have not been satisfactorily addressed. We have sought legal opinion on what is proposed. Our concerns include the name of the Inquiry, lack of confidence in the choice of Inquiry chairman, the role and appointment of advisors to the Inquiry, the limited scope of the Inquiry and the proposed timescale. Unless there is movement with regard to these areas it is highly unlikely that we will feel able to participate in the Inquiry.

It is not for us to advise or recommend whether others should participate in the Inquiry, however:

1. The 16th February deadline for former pupils to notify their complaints by e-mail to Mrs Christine Betts, Clerk to the Inquiry, plainly gives insufficient time for possible complainants to be notified of the Inquiry and to prepare their complaints.

2. To our knowledge the School has not attempted to publicise the Inquiry to former pupils beyond posting on this website. There are no doubt many former pupils who will be completely unaware of the Inquiry?s existence.

3. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are still in draft form. We believe it would be unwise for anyone to submit a complaint until the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry have been finalised.

4. We believe anyone who is considering submitting a complaint should first have the opportunity to examine, in detail, the terms of the Inquiry. It is clearly necessary to know what the Inquiry is and is not in order to decide whether to participate in it.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this posting or would like further information about SES Schools Action, please email us at

SES Schools Action 20/1/2005

Peter Sanders Reynolds
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Postby Peter Sanders Reynolds » Thu Jan 20, 2005 9:13 pm

Hi there,
My name is Peter and I've been watching this internet column for quite some time. I will not reveal my relationship to the school or any of the pupils here at this current stage. Some of you might remember me some of you might not.That is beside the point and I'll reveal myself more fully after the inquiry. Until then I would appreciate a lack of probing questions into me or my identity. Surfice it to say I am comfortably detached from the whole precedings holed up in the Scottish Highlands. I'm married with two kids and a cat. We might get another cat. And even a dog. I work from home and have made a relative financial success of my life.Any more information as to whose class etc...I'd love to give (some of you will remember me I hope) but I wish to remain anonymous to others who might use any connection apart from on this site to dilute the objectivety of my mental space with regards to this whole inquiry. Please do not pester me or probe me for anything other than my views.
your's sincerely

______________________________________________________________________First comment_______

Adriesta's dissection is very good. I'd like to as it were dissect the more emotional and to some extent invisible matrixes that lie beneath this apparent fact finding enquiry. There is something basically wrong with the inquiry already. The St James governors are setting the perametres of a) how the information regarding abuse is collated b) what the time span is regarding the abuse c) they are as it were putting the 'victims' on the defensive by immediately demanding dates terms and specifics.

Surely the way to do this is to hand the whole case over to an independent body completely, Then those (independent) people who aren't interested in the school's wellbeing or dissolution can interview the 'victims' and set out a list of intellectual perametres around the stories of the victims after these stories have been aired. At the moment we are being asked as a small band of individuals to face an institution. This is unacceptable. The initial stages need to give the 'victims' space and need them to feel comfortable not uncomfortable. The tone of the C.Betts peice is distrustful in it's need for such absolute and specific information. Are they subtly calling us liars or exagerators? That's what it seems. Being treated like small children all over again. What they don't realise is we are more adult and well informed than most of the new members of the St James staff. They keep forgetting that a lot of us are either approaching or just nearing the age of forty. Age is in many ways meaningless. But one does learn to fight one's corner better the more one realises we are all in the same boat. Adult, children, teacher, pupil. It must be the case that a panel limits the possibility of 'truth finding' by setting up a stringent set of rules for the 'victim' to navigate through before he or she has even started to say their peice. We may be old but the period we are asked to go back to is a difficult and sensitive period. The victims need to be interviewed by an independent body and this body needs to decide the terms and conditions of the inquiry after the evidence, pseudo evidence and just plain informal and stream of consciousness memory collation is out on the table. This is how psycologists work. C.Betts is not a psycologist, nor is she or the governors impartial. They are a 'threat' to the abused. Not only are they not the best choice for their proposed roles, they are the worst choice. This independent body needs to be completely independent and the interviewing needs to take place with the staff/ex staff and the ex pupils never actually meeting or of being in danger of ever meeting. Already this attempt at an inquiry is putting the abused on the back foot. St James is not the psychologically best place for those who were abused to tell their stories to. C.Betts or the school governors should NOT be conducting either the initial stages or any of the stages of this inquiry. That is if they don't want it to be a whitewash and do want it to be 'independent'.

Peter Sanders-Reynolds

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Postby lowpass » Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:18 pm

This independent body needs to be completely independent and the interviewing needs to take place with the staff/ex staff and the ex pupils never actually meeting or of being in danger of ever meeting. Already this attempt at an inquiry is putting the abused on the back foot.
Peter Sanders-Reynolds[/quote]

Hi Peter.

This is to me a very valid point. I would assume that professionals with experience of child protection such as the NSPCC would play an active roll. Is this the case? Or is it to be handled by a few SES governors? Only a very naive person would assume that SES governors are free from any bias!
It is also naive to assume that someone who has suffered greatly at an institution (or cult as in this case) will trust the same after a certain time period has elapsed.

Why is the inquiry private and not public?

I have heard the inquiry in its current form excludes the girls schools from investigation. If this is true,Why? Is it simply because there are less woman on this board than men? Is it considered that the female posters here are not as important as the male?

How is the 1985 closing point arrived at? How can the drafters of the inquiry have any clue as to the date of ex pupils allegations before they are submitted? Are they psychic? Can see into the future?This setting of this arbitrary limitation logically implies that establishing a 'safe' period buffer between any allegations and the current school is more important than uncovering any facts.

Why St Vedast inquiry? why is St James excluded? I think Adastria has that one covered.

The details of this inquiry need to be clearly spelled out. Who is running it, what child care professionnals are involved and the reasons for it's boundaries. The tone and nature of the C Betts posting are also very brusque. This is not a homework assignment.

Southwell picked me up by my hair lifted me 2 feet off the floor and carried me with one arm by only my hair round a classroom room age 6/7. Why should trust the SES governors that still employ him to be free from personal bias and truly objective? He may be a changed man, but i do not know this. Not that this hypothesised character transformation in the past 30 years from an uncontrolled violent incompetent to great teacher has any bearing on his handling of young children in the past.

I now believe this is an SES whitewash, perhaps even with the ultimate aim of having material from this board removed from public sight.

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Postby Witness » Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:58 am


Five letters you mention in passing could be a stroke of genius: NSPCC.

They are the perfect institution for this, and would be able to balance the strongly related though different cases of child abuse in SES schools and SES homes.

Have you or has anyone on this board contacted the NSPCC?


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Postby a different guest » Fri Jan 21, 2005 9:18 am

I've said it before and will say it again - see a solicitor, see the cops, see the NSPCCC!

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Postby adrasteia » Fri Jan 21, 2005 9:43 am

lowpass wrote:I have heard the inquiry in its current form excludes the girls schools from investigation.

Where did you hear this? That is extreemly worrying.

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Postby Daffy » Fri Jan 21, 2005 11:07 am

The content of Boddy's post and both of C Betts' posts shows that the inquiry isn't restricted to the boys' schools and/or St Vedast.

However, Mrs Betts' multiple references only to the 'St Vedast Inquiry', including the inquiry email address she has supplied, show that she is somewhat confused as to which schools the inquiry will be investigating. Initially I thought maybe she had just not done her homework properly. Then I started wondering whether Boddy had deliberately briefed her this way.

Of course, referring only to St Vedast would make it look like merely an inquiry into a defunct school rather than one that is very much alive and kicking, with abusers like Lacey still teaching there. Referring only to St Vedast would avoid tarnishing the name 'St James'.

Mrs Betts, please note: the inquiry is into TWO schools: St James and St Vedast. St James was the original school, the larger of the two schools and the surviving school after St Vedast was shut down in the early eighties. Repeatedly referring only to St Vedast calls into question your understanding of simple background information, and therefore your capacity to serve the inquiry and its participants properly.

CBetts wrote:St Vedast Inquiry
Governors' announcement
The Governors of St James Independent Schools wish to confirm they are in the process of establishing an independently-chaired, fact finding, internal inquiry into discipline and sanctions policy and pastoral care at St Vedast and St James between 1975 and 1985.
Former pupils who consider they have grounds for complaint against either School are invited to notify their complaints by e-mail to -
Mrs Christine Betts
Clerk to the St Vedast Inquiry
e-mail address:
Complaints can only be considered if they are specified with sufficient detail. Each complaint should state:
? what was said or done (or not, as the case may be),
? by whom and against whom,
? in whose presence and with what effect, and
? when and where the incident occurred.
? If a complaint about the incident was made straight afterwards then details of that complaint should also be given.
Any incident complained of which falls outside the time period specified by the Inquiry (75-85) will be considered by the Chairman and the complaint will be admitted only if it is thought relevant to wider fact finding aims of the Inquiry.
Documentary evidence in the form of letters, contemporaneous notes or any other evidence that a complainant wishes to bring to the attention of the Inquiry should be identified in the e-mail to the Clerk. The documents themselves need not be sent to the Clerk at that stage.
The Inquiry will consider complaints made by individuals about their own circumstances but will not consider material submitted by or on behalf of campaign groups.
Complaints received by 16 February 2005 will be collated. The nature and volume of complaints will enable the Governors to set a formal timetable for the Inquiry to proceed.

C Betts
Clerk to the St Vedast Inquiry

Peter Sanders Reynolds
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Postby Peter Sanders Reynolds » Fri Jan 21, 2005 5:08 pm

Just a quick one to Adriesta.
You have a private message from me in your inbox. Don't worry. I just want to tell you something formally but in private concerning one of your posts. My apologies to everyone else but this is to some extent a family matter. It is not important at all regarding the procedings of this inquiry. I shouldn't really post this message but I fear Adriesta doesn't look at the private inbox.

Once again my apologies
Please forgive me.

Last edited by Peter Sanders Reynolds on Wed Jan 26, 2005 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby adrasteia » Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:17 pm

I'm not sure what's happening?!
-I got a 'pm' from you, and sent an email saying 'hello' to the address you gave me, did you not recieve it?

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Postby lowpass » Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:44 pm


According to ex students privy to details of the inquiry the girls schools are excluded from any investigation.

Peter Sanders Reynolds
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Postby Peter Sanders Reynolds » Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:39 pm

Adrasteia and Low pass.

The fact that the girls school has been excluded confirms that the abuse claims are only being treated in isolation and not as the result of hidden ideological pressures. Nor are the mental warping allegations being treated as any thing apart from superficial complaining when in fact they are very very valid indeed. I would say the S.E.S and all it's social trappings are the real issues of any inquiry because they do not have the protection granted by the religious freedom act. If they do have protection from this then it could easily be overruled with the testimonies of just 20 ex members. They are a recent institution and as such do not hold real weight as a religious organization. It would be quite easy for the authorities to be alerted and spun a convincing angle that is quite contradictory to their own protestations. The facts of the matter would be that such an action would not be 'spin' at all. Material, secret/hidden material that is readily available right up until the Shankaracharya's last messages in 1994...could EASILY be obtained and plastered all over the net and given with an ex members commentary to the various Cult dealing agencies. The cult agencies/the public could then compare this secret material to the material in parts 1,2 and 3 and also to the Underground poster. The S.E.S is one giant spin machine on every level. It's time this institution was closed in it's present form. It is offering no good to society. Enough is enough. Let them all meet in private.


PS Adrastea message in inbox. Sorry to alarm you.

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Postby StVSurvivor » Sun Jan 23, 2005 2:44 pm

Agree with the above.

Peter Sanders Reynolds wrote:I would say the S.E.S and all it's social trappings are the real issues of any inquiry because they do not have the protection granted by the religious freedom act. If they do have protection from this then it could easily be overruled with the testimonies of just 20 ex members.
I've counted at least 60 testimonies just from the various web-forums.

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Postby grimep » Sun Jan 23, 2005 9:15 pm

PSR, I think you've hit the nail on the head there... boys' public / private / posh / boarding schools had a bit of a reputation for harsh climates, corporal punishment, etc- tales of physical suffering and damaged psyches resulting from such regimes could no doubt be explained in this way. The creeping indoctrination with "The Truth" in all it's dreamed-up-by-Maclaren wonder at St James/St Vedast is perhaps a little harder to explain away, but I think we all know the score so I won't tread over well-worn ground.

However, you're post has prompted me to stick my oar in a bit- not to detract from the huge suffering that many ex-boys have been through, I've long suspected that the girls may have had a much rougher time psychologically than us, and for that reason many of them may be far more reticent than ex-boys in coming forward with memories. I may be wrong.

However, I can certainly see why St James wouldn't want the light of publicity shone onto the indoctrination of the girls into subservient roles- if the full truth was known, either in OFSTED or the press, there would quite probably be a public outcry.

From what I can see, the current enquiry as proposed by St James' management is there to serve St James and not those who've suffered. And if it's true that the girls' schools are excluded from their "enquiry", then I think we can all draw the obvious conclusions.

I feel sorry for the kids currently at St James, especially in the light of this sort of unwanted publicity... I remember Mr Capper addressing the school when the Evening Standard enquiry was underway, (BBC radio had also interviewed him) - and asking us not to speak to any reporters if we were approached, as they wanted to "harm" us and the school. I agreed with this, and was worried that negative publicity for the school would tarnish me and my education by association, and I had my feelings confirmed when some friends of mine outside the school started ignoring me after they'd read the expose in The Standard. Kids are under enormous pressure at that time of life, to do well in exams on top of all the usual teenage problems, and this was one more pressure we didn't need. I also believe that SES parents should have the freedom to send their kids to a school run by and for them- we all want the best for our children, and finding a decent school out there can be a minefield. But I strongly STRONGLY believe that it should be a good school - and nothing more. All aspects of SES teaching should be removed from the school curriculum. I've got nothing against pausing before and after lessons if it helps calm kids down and concentrate their minds on the lesson ahead. But receiving "The Teaching" should be totally optional, and something that an adult should consciously choose for themselves. It should not be something gradually drip-fed to kids from age 5. If SES parents are so confident of their lifestyles, beliefs, etc, then they should leave it to their children to decide whether they want to join, AFTER they have left school.

Boddy and the rest of you- I can't see this being conveniently swept under the carpet, so perhaps you should think a little harder about investigating "The Truth" -- something you've always felt you have some divine right to claim as your own, yet in reality your "Truth" is simply your own particular take on life. We all believe what we want- I've had futile arguments with Creationists (here, in England!! Not mad Ameicans on the internet!) who believe the world is 4,000 years old. To every point you make against Creationism, they have an answer.. it's their "Truth". Much the same as yours. The real truth is that in this day and age you can't get away with trying to brainwash girls into believing their lives are to be spent in subservient roles. I have nothing to do with the school, so if I'm wrong about this then great, I'd be overjoyed to hear that things have changed. And if you have a clean conscience then you have nothing to hide. Your purpose should be to turn out well-balanced, happy, integrated young adults with every chance of succeding in a difficult world. If your schools are as they were in the 80s, only minus the corporal punishment, then I fear that this won't be the case.

regards to all

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Postby adrasteia » Sun Jan 23, 2005 11:32 pm

lowpass wrote:adrasteia

According to ex students privy to details of the inquiry the girls schools are excluded from any investigation.

That is disgraceful. There is not even a hint of this serious limitation of the inquiry in C Betts' post.

Harriet Somerville
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Postby Harriet Somerville » Mon Jan 24, 2005 12:28 am

The girls school shoule be under investigation, there was not so much physical abuse as the boys obviously received but we were all led to believe we were prostitutes, there for mens pleasure, not our own and to serve and obey them. Our free thought was taken from us and we were discouraged to have any ambition. The likes of Emily Watson are obvious rebels but it probably took a while before she felt normal after being taught by the witch spinster herself, Miss Sheila Caldwell. More of us girls need to come forward with our true feelings about the school, its insestousness, all the families affected by love affiairs amongst SES members that were invisible, and the teaching staff who had no idea how to teach girls, give advice on the birds and the bees and who quashed any talent that peered out of our very souls.

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