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The Courier and Advertiser, Thursday, May 7, 1992
Bullying allegations are rejected by inspectorate

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.LINK

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 HarrisonLINK, 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 problem pupils.

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."LINK

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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