The Glasgow Herald reported today that a leading Scottish Teacher’s Union official has, said: “Private schools pay no domestic rates, which saves millions every year which would have gone to local authorities.
In the light of the emerging evidence of the psychological problems of boarding and revelations of the widespread culture of abuse, boarding schools should be made to demonstrate in what ways attachment-deficit institutionalisation is good for children, and thereby charitable. No known theories of child development support it, apart from the 18th century German Poisonous Pedagogy discredited by Alice Miller in the 1980s, the beliefs of the 15th century Jesuit Ignatius Loyola or the 5th century BC Spartans. Given the evident contradictions to all modern child developmental principles, the burden of proof should not be put on those who oppose a several billion pound industry backed by a substantial and aggressive lobby, but upon those who propose it.
John Dennis from the union’s Dumfries and Galloway local association”We need to campaign to end charitable status and stop giving them these financial advantages. In reality they are operating as businesses to give a private education to the minority that can afford it.”
This does have to be acted on. The government and the legal and health professions will have to get together in order to establish exactly what is covered by the traditional responsibility of care enshrined in the words ‘in loco parentis.’
All fee-paying boarding schools in Britain do currently come under Ofsted inspection provision but are, in my view, inadequately regulated. One of the obstacles here is that Britain is only just beginning to acknowledge the more evident problems of abuse, let alone the more difficult to quantify problems of neglect. Simon Partridge is one of the writers who recognises this cutting-edge issue:
‘There is a growing consensus, backed by neuroscience and among traumatologists that neglect is even more damaging to the developing child and its brain than acute abuse. As Camila Batmanghelidjh [founder of the Kids Company] put it to me when I asked her once: “Because abuse, however awful, has a beginning, a middle, and an end; for a child, neglect goes on forever.” ‘
If the evidence of psychological harm from boarding and parental neglect is put alongside the many cases of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, which were historically put aside and normalised under the banner of ‘character building’, a bigger picture is revealed. As with nuclear power, expensive decommissioning costs would need to be taken into account, for many parents would feel justified in demanding their investment be returned to them and many ex-boarders could be entitled to financial compensation through the courts. Such a process has already been successful in the Canadian courts and led to their government commissioning an extensive C$60 million report on residential schooling.
Presumably they thought it would be fairer – and – in case anyone from the British political scene is listening – cheaper in the long run.
Maybe if we factored in the cost to our society of producing Wounding Leaders in all areas of our national life we would definitely think it was cheaper in the long run.