ALLEGATIONS of widespread and systematic
bullying at a Perthshire boarding school for the sons of servicemen
are rejected in a report by HM Schools Inspectorate, published yesterday.
The HMI report says that the allegations made public
in December by former housemaster Glenn Harrison, exaggerated the
situation at the 283 pupil Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, but
confirms that "persistent problems caused by a small minority
of boys" do exist. [Ed
~ Judge for yourself LINK.]
When all other options are exhausted, the school
may have to expel regular or serious misbehavers, the report adds.
Mr Harrison LINK,
who resigned last summer, wrote to parents claiming that younger
boys had been kicked between the legs, punched in the stomach while
their mouths were held closed, forced to eat shower gel and hit
so hard that their noses were broken. In one case, said Mr
Harrison, a boy was kicked so hard he blacked out. LINK
The report by inspectors, brought in at the instigation
of the school's commissioners, calls for the school to carry out
a thorough review of "pastoral care".
In what appears to be a partial vindication of
Mr Harrison, who said the school's management seemed to be "a
law unto themselves," the report stresses, "For real progress
to be made there will have to be changes in management style and
in the attitudes of some members of staff."
The report refers to "divisions and tensions"
between teachers, and teachers and management, and says a significant
number of staff regretted the abolition of corporal punishment,
and looked for some other kind of sharp and summary deterrent.
But with many parents living at a distance, the
option of suspension as a punishment was constrained, while among
the boys themselves there was a feeling that punishments such as
detention and "gating" were ineffective.
The inspectors refer to "an unrealistic expectation"
among some staff that swift and summary sanctions would work with
The inspectors add that senior school prefects
and monitors had too much of a supervisory and disciplinary role
with regard to younger boys, and contrast the case which a pupil
could be disciplined for a very basic misdemeanour with the lack
of any co-ordinated reactions to patterns of offending.
Headmaster, Julian Hankinson acknowledged the reports
findings that the number of adults involved in "pastoral care"
at particular times might have to be increased.
"The school is a very old building, largely
built as a barracks, and geographically it is difficult for staff
to supervise unless the numbers are increased," he said, "but
by no means whatsoever has discipline broken down.
"What the report does indicate is that there
are some boys who do have social and behavioural problems."
Mr Hankinson said that teachers all over the country
had found it difficult to find alternative sanctions following the
abolition of corporal punishment, and the problem was awkward in
a boarding school for service children where pupils could not be
easily expelled or suspended.
"This is a problem that we have been wrestling
with for the last two years, and hope with the aid of this report
to be able to solve," he added.
[Ed ~ Had the Inspectorate
considered the housemaster's complaints in all conscience, the Dunblane
massacre would have been prevented.]
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