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The truth about boarding

After 25 years of hammering away on this subject it looks like finally the truth about boarding is coming out. Boarding children have to do without parents and healthy touch; unsurprisingly, they end up loosing their ability to feel, to speak out about injustice, and develop a healthy sense of self.

Abuse is so common it becomes normalised. Lord David Steel pointed to this recently in a throwaway remark about the late rampant PD Cyril Smith MP – to the effect that what Smith was accused of was ‘no different’ from what went on in public schools all over the country. Sending children away is normalised neglect and long term neglect counts as abuse.

Yesterday, a brilliantly written piece in the Observer describes some of the complexities about abuse in boarding schools – don’t miss Alex Renton’s article. Renton tells about how he dealt with his own sexual abuse at Ashdown but also knows that this form of easily recognisable abuse is not the only problem.

He is able also to put his finger on the Wounded Leaders problem: clutch of male ruling politicians embodies the grand Victorian public school virtues – or failings – more than most: suppression of emotion, devotion to the team, distrust of women and minimal empathy for the weak and ordinary. And so it is interesting that so many senior politicians in government went to boarding schools, places that, by definition, practise on young children the techniques of “attachment fracture” – a psychiatrist’s phrase – that are key to removing early emotional ties and building esprit de corps.

What we who having been banging away about all tis for 25 years are faced with is trying to shift just a bit more than a paradigm – the attitudes among the comfortable British elite. But things are changing, and in some bizarre way Jimmy Saville has helped, by forcing the public open it eyes about sexual abuse. We now have a very specific target: to get people to understand that neglect is often as bad as abuse, and that neglect of the children of the elite harms them too and then they harm us because the Entitlement Illusion is a compensation for lack of safe belong. As the Jungian analyst Grotstein said: “When innocence has been deprived of its entitlement, it becomes a diabolical spirit.”

There are some people who also know the truth about neglect, and these are people who understand children. The Kids Company’s Camila Batmanghelidjh says: “Because abuse however awful has a beginning, a middle, and an end; for a child, neglect goes on forever”.

38 comments

  1. This chimes very much with what I have thought. The leaders of the Empire nearly all went through this type of education and came out as damaged people. Wounded leaders probably understates what they were like.

    II was at Yarlet Hall Prep School in Stafford and then Shrewsbury Public School. At Yarlet Hall there was pure unrelenting sadism of the Headmaster who terrified everyone every day, particularly in his Maths lessons. If someone was not ‘knuckled’ viciously and repeatedly over the head in a lesson then it was a good ‘Boss lesson’, and then there were the regular beatings as well, of course, and not just by the Headmaster. Every child was terrified of the next Boss lesson meaning that children as young as seven were terrified all the time at school, for five years. I think that this abuse was even worse than sexual abuse and must have damaged many, and even destroyed some boys. However sadistic physical abuse seems to be more acceptable than sexual abuse, and certainly sex is more emotive in the newspapers, so I do not suppose that Yarlet Hall will get the notoriety from those days that it deserves. I would gladly dance on Mr Tarling’s grave (the Headmaster) if I knew where it was, plus spit on it or do anything else that made me feel better, such as drive a wooden stake through his dead rotten chest.

    Shrewsbury Public School was relatively liberal for a Public School and perhaps was good therapy as it allowed me to react and to dissent. When we did see sexual abuse we reported it and it was acted upon. Of course it was hushed up so no-one else, especially the papers or our parents, would hear about it. The offender I knew suddenly left the school the next day, never to be seen by me again. He probably went to another school, reputation intact. I do not recall his real name but we called him ‘Piggy’ and he was a Divinity teacher. I wonder what would have happened if he had progressed to a more senior role in the school, or even become Headmaster of a small school. In those days the papers seemed to be more interested in drug scandals, which also hit Shrewsbury School. For once they could not suppress that story as the police were involved.

    I wrote a book about my childhood experiences in “Abuse and Privilege” recently which I have published on Amazon Kindle, but I have not pushed as it was more something I felt I needed to write rather than necessarily be read. ‘Stone Hall’ is in fact Yarlet Hall, the name changed as I did not want to spark a court case as many of the things were very shocking and I trust that Yarlet Hall today has a totally different ethos. It would not get away with it nowadays if it was the same as it was then.

    I was being groomed to be a ‘wounded leader’ in the embers of Empire and spent most of my childhood holidays abroad. However what I saw of wealth right next to dire poverty coupled with the side effects of the Vietnam War made me much more empathetic than maybe expected from my schooling.

    Comment by JohnSpottiswoode on 11/05/2014 at 8:34 am
  2. John Spottiswoode’s memories of life at Yarlet Hall closely reflect my own. I was there front 1957-61 (from age 9-13) and it was pure unrelenting terror under Tarling, the headmaster. Not only were the boys viciously knuckled about the head, but fiercely slapped as well. He also tugged violently on ones hair in quick left and right movements, and I recall once a Scottish boy called Douglas Glass having great tufts of hair ripped out that his scalp bled.
    In my day we referred to them as “KET” lessons – after his initials (Keith Edward Tarling) and if one survived a maths lesson without receiving a thorough thrashing it was a miracle.
    Like John Spottiswoode, l also have been surprised that this literal torture of children as young as nine years old has never been aired before. Tarling should have been made accountable for his crimes, as it was widely known but people just kept quiet.

    Comment by Keith Riding on 22/06/2014 at 10:46 pm
  3. I am glad somebody else feels as I do about boss lessons

    Comment by gavin Mckerrell on 06/07/2014 at 8:58 pm
  4. I read this with some relief that this was out in the open. I was at Yarlet Hall from 1950 to 1955 and my experience of Tarling is just as is described above. I recall the perpetual state of terror. The matron too was a bully. It was sheer child abuse and psychologically damaging. However,fairness compels me to say that I have happy memories of Latin, English and History lessons and some gifted teaching there.

    Comment by Daniel Lamont on 17/11/2014 at 10:24 am
  5. How evocative of the horror to read these comments over 55 years on and recognise some of your names and recall the unrelenting fear and violence of Ket. Do you remember how he had one or two favourites who were never hit and how he used to read to us by the fire at the bottom of those great stairs on Sundays?

    Comment by David Irwin on 16/12/2014 at 10:49 pm
  6. Thanks for writing this, which I have just found. I have exactly the same memories and feelings of terror about KET’s lessons, I was there from ’64 till ’69. Maths was also my best subject, I’ve always wondered why I gave it up as soon as I could (in ’70 or ’71), now I think I know why.
    I didn’t like Mr Carr as much as Spottiswoode did (I should say John), but I liked Mr Ellis and Mr Keeley, they actually tried to teach in impossible circumstances. I was going to say that Pinner was OK till I recalled him hurling a textbook at me for malingering and pretending that my wrist was broken. Of course it was broken, as Stafford hospital’s x-ray showed. But he was relatively OK compared to Tarling.
    The pleasant headmaster at the more progressive public school I went on to once confided in me that he thought Yarlet Hall was a hellhole, and that Tarling should not have been allowed to be a teacher. Which raises all sorts of questions about why nobody did anything about it if this was commonly known.

    Comment by Nicholas Costello on 10/11/2015 at 4:43 pm
  7. As a fellow victim of Yarlet, I quite agree about the vicious nature of the “gentleman” Keith Ellis (not Edward, it seems) Tarling, who put me off hierarchies for life. Attracted by the idea of paying my “respects” one day, I searched the web and found this:

    http://places.wishful-thinking.org.uk/STS/Stone/MIs.html

    B13. HARRIS Vault
    Elizabeth Ann, w/o Thomas HARRIS, née, WAUGH, 1847 – 1904
    Esther M. HARRIS 1877- 1913, sister of John Thomas HARRIS
    John Thomas HARRIS, 1846 – 1904
    Ethel Marjorie Joy, w/o Keith Ellis TARLING, née, HARRIS, 1905 – 1967
    Keith Ellis, 1900 – 1993 Headmaster of Yarlet 1937 – 1970
    John Waugh HARRIS, 1873 -1920
    Ethel Marion Mountford, w/o John Waugh HARRIS, 1875 – 1962
    Maureen Christine, w/o John Eldine HARRIS, 1916 – 1941
    John Eldine, 1903 – 1965 Eldest s/o John Waugh HARRIS

    It would be a pity to disturb the rest of poor Ethel Marjorie Joy, I feel, who always seemed a vaguely benevolent presence, rather lost in her husband’s domain.

    Comment by Chris Costello on 11/11/2015 at 8:56 am
  8. Actually, this is not a commment. Just a request for you to add something to my previous comment if you approve it. Perhaps you could change “victim of Yarlet” to “victim of Yarlet (1959-65)”. Thanks.

    Comment by Chris Costello on 11/11/2015 at 9:01 am
  9. One event that I remember clearly after over half a century, was when Mr. Tarling drew the layout of a tennis court on the board, and asked us some questions related to geometry. His questions assumed knowledge of the rules of tennis, knowledge I, a skinny boy of 11 +/-2, did not have. As a result, I did not understand the question and was dragged up to the board by my hair to have my face banged repeatedly against it, and received a sharp punch in the ribs when the required knowledge did not magically appear in my brain. One of my ribs hurt for a long time after that, and I wondered whether it had been cracked. At least I now have an excuse for growing up to be an unpleasant character!

    Comment by Chris Costello on 12/11/2015 at 7:24 am
  10. I have to say that this is a tragic comment, Chris.

    When you say such a thing “At least I now have an excuse for growing up to be an unpleasant character!” it means that the British Attitude to Children and the Entitlement Illusion wins.

    These pages are dedicated to reversing those kind of victories and allowing us to embrace our humanity and vulnerability. They are not about prolonging the agony.

    May I suggest that you immediately find yourself the best therapeutic support you can and start to reclaim your beautiful original self – which I am sure you deserve – before it is too late!

    Comment by Nick Duffell on 12/11/2015 at 2:12 pm
  11. How nice to see some well remembered names from my time at Yarlet 1964-68. I have recently left the army after 36 years and one of the interesting benefits “the Boss’s” appalling abuse has been a lifetimes abhorrence of bullying, which I believe has made me a much more capable commander. On the plus side I have very happy memories of friendships forged in shared adversity and of some very capable and caring teachers such as Norman Ellis and Keeling

    Comment by Nick Sim on 06/12/2015 at 11:14 am
  12. “At least I now have an excuse for growing up to be an unpleasant character!”
    Is this why my favourite song is …..I’m a creep,I’m a weirdo.
    A lot of people have called me a weirdo, it would not surprise me if my time at yarlet was to blame, I suspect I was happy before I went there and have never been happy since.
    My life has been ruined and maybe yarlet was to blame,and by extension anybody,and I mean anybody, who knew about the abuse.

    Comment by gavin Mckerrell on 13/12/2015 at 9:26 am
  13. I remember you well Gavin and was sorry to read you remarks above. You were a good friend and we had a lot of fun. I remember going to Alton Towers with your father; a rare moment of Liberty from Stalag Yarlet.

    Comment by Nick Sim on 15/12/2015 at 3:32 pm
  14. If the Mr Ellis, who Nicholas Costello mentions in his November post, was Norman Ellis who taught Latin, he was one of my favourite masters. I agree that he was a good teacher whio implanted a love of Latin and I remember him with affection. I recall him reading the EV Rieux Penguin Classic translation of the Odyssey on Friday afternoons. I recall Mrs Tarling as being especially benevolent I am 73 but Yarlet still haunts me.

    Daniel Lamont (1950 t0 1955)

    Comment by Daniel Lamont on 17/12/2015 at 11:07 pm
  15. This is just a general follow-up since my comment 18 months ago with a mind to the subsequent comments that have appeared regarding Yarlet Hall school.

    At least fragments of the truth are emerging and in a small way are now on record. If we were in America there would likely be a class action (pun not intended) against this school.

    Chris Costello’s experience sent on 12/11/15 is absolutely typical. Chris – I do remember you, and as you mention you were indeed extremely skinny! I think your father was a university professor? I also recall a red haired Scottish lad called Douglas Glass (the alliteration of the name always stuck in my mind) who had great tufts of hair yanked out by Tarling during one maths lesson that his scalp virtually bled.

    John Spottiswoode mentioning that he would do anything on Tarling’s grave that would “make him feel better” brings to mind a coincidence regarding the one and only time I’ve ever set eyes on the place since leaving nearly 55 years ago. One afternoon in the 90’s I was driving with my family up the M6 and having time to spare took a small diversion onto the A34. A chap who happened to be cutting the hedge at the front of the school told me that at that very moment there was a service taking place in the chapel in memory of Tarling who had only recently died. He said that he’d latterly been suffering from dementia – so little had apparently changed it seemed, as he was clearly demented when taking his lessons.

    In 1974 I was a guest at a wedding near Limerick, and came into conversation with another, hitherto unknown, elderly guest. His face recoiled in shock when I replied to his question on where I attended school, so even at the far end of the Irish Republic there was familiarity with the horrors of Tarling at Yarlet.

    I don’t think John Spottiswoode need concern himself about “sparking a court case”. If this was widely publicised there would likely be an avalanche of ex-pupils emerging with similar experiences to tell.

    On the plus side, I like others who have commented also remember Normal Ellis the latin teacher very fondly. He also did a lot of refereeing of the football games. If anyone is interested he is actually still going strong and lives in Stone, literally a stone’s throw from Yarlet. Mr Pinney the French teacher died a long time back, though the matron Margaret Nutt only passed on about 10 years ago. Old Miss Williamson lived to be nearly 100.

    Comment by Keith Riding on 03/01/2016 at 5:43 pm
  16. I taught at Yarlet Hall School in the 70s while KET was Bursar. He used to boast about his common entrance successes and that no boy had failed their maths exams. I had heard tales that, when Head, he ruled the school with an iron rod but did not realise the extent of it until I read the comments on here from former pupils who witnessed this in the 50s/60s. I cannot believe these things went on and were not reported back to parents and the authorities.
    He stepped down as Head in 1970 and became the School Bursar bursar at the age of 70. However he made errors with payments of staff salaries, incorrect tax and national insurance deductions. I made several complaints to the Head about this. Subsequently in later years they had accountants in to do the payroll. He died in 1993.
    I still keep in touch with Norman Ellis the former Latin Master. He was very well liked and respected by boys and staff alike and guided me in my early days at Yarlet. I owe him much gratitude. He is almost 90, mentally sharp but physically rather frail so I am told by other former staff. Simon Keeley was also a very respected master who taught Science and was a champion of the underdog. A number of the boys were not sports inclined and hated cricket; he taught them carpentry and other useful skills. Sadly he died in 1978 whilst only in his early 40s.
    I worked with some very good, caring and talented teachers during my time at Yarlet Hall School.

    Comment by EX YARLET HALL SCHOOL MASTER on 12/01/2016 at 12:22 pm
  17. I went to Yarlet at age ten in 1964, arriving there for the first time with my Mother (we lived in Portugal).Following that it was Universal Aunts and myself on a train from Euston station to Stone.
    Tarling had a gold signet ring which he used like a mini knuckle duster…he would walk
    along the rows of desks scrutinizing pupil´s algebraic formulae or geometry exercizes and as the lesser endowed pupils sensed his approach they would automatically protect their heads with both hands as they had been given some previous resounding cracks…to cut a long story short returning to Yarlet each term was a veritable nightmare and I cried miserably with homesickness and despair. To this date I sense my mathematical capabilities have been impaired by the trauma. Allegedly he behaved in this fashion because his wife was dying of breast cancer-so some said. On the brighter side David Carr who delivered a solid cover drive with a gym shoe was much fairer and a keen cricketer and competent history teacher. There was also Norman Ellis who was a good man and Mr. Pinney who would break wind at every other step as he returned from the football field. Coupled to all this there was a neighbouring pig farm that stank atrociously, conker contests and sleek streak aero tournaments. Ultimately my parents noticed the arrival in Lisbon of a broken down wreck of a young boy and as my late Mother worked at the British Embassy in Lisbon , she had Ronnie Burroughs the Commercial Attaché file a complaint on Tarling via the Home Secretary and D.N.Carr was instructed by the board of governors to put some check on KET but that was short lived and only made things worse. A pity so many , such as myself had to be traumatized by this monster with his expletives “Stars above I´ll go stark staring mad !” (which I believe he was) , followed by a resounding crack on the head-if its any consolation someone once perforated his hand by raising a pair of dividers in defence-can´t remeber but perhaps it was me!

    Comment by DAVID JOHN BENSUSAN on 22/05/2016 at 1:34 am
  18. shitttttttttttt i have never had a day without this on my mind…

    Comment by adam parkes on 16/11/2016 at 4:39 pm
  19. NEVER SEND YOUR KIDS AWAY TO THESE UNLOVED PLACES …HOME IS ALWAYS BEST….

    Comment by adam parkes on 16/11/2016 at 4:52 pm
  20. I HAVE NEVER HAD A DAY WITHOUT THE BAD MEMORY OF BEING KNUCKLED AND MY HAIR BEING TORN OUT BY “THE BOSS” SINCE MATHS LESSONS AT YARLET HALL.

    WE LEARNED THE ONLY WAY TO SWAY THE LESSONS WAS TO TALK ABOUT THE SEASONS AND THE TREES – SOMETHING HE DID LOVE, WHICH TOTALLY DISTRACTED HIM AWAY FROM THE VIOLENCE HE WAS INFLICTING IN THE CLASSROOM.

    Comment by adam parkes on 16/11/2016 at 9:19 pm
  21. I heard the sad news recently that Mr. Norman Ellis who taught Latin, amongst a host of other activities at Yarlet Hall School, died on 27th August 2016 at the age of 90. He taught at Yarlet Hall from 1951 till 1991.
    I was privileged to have worked with him during my time at the school in the 70s. He was greatly respected by the boys and his colleagues.
    I shall never forget his kindness and support to me when I started teaching at Yarlet.
    I am sure that former pupils of Yarlet Hall will also remember him fondly.

    Comment by EX YARLET HALL SCHOOL MASTER on 25/11/2016 at 11:15 pm
  22. Did he ever marry? I remember him well, as one of the few approachable and truely dedicated teachers at Yarlet during the 1960s

    Comment by Nick Sim on 26/11/2016 at 4:55 pm
  23. Yes he did marry when in his fifties. I went to his wedding. Sadly his wife died some years ago; they were very happy together. Nick you are right about him being approachable and truly dedicated but not just during the 60s but throughout his time at Yarlet Hall.
    I would be interested in hearing more about your time there.

    Comment by EX YARLET HALL SCHOOL MASTER on 28/11/2016 at 10:54 pm
  24. Thank you for the information. I can of course provide you with some details regarding my time at Yarlet but would prefer that this communication takes place away from this forum and would also like to be addressing a named individual. Best wishes, Nick

    Comment by Nick Sim on 02/12/2016 at 3:20 pm
  25. My father and I David Sims-Hilditch now 79, stumbled across this site yesterday talking about his family tree as his health is not so good. He was quite taken back at seeing this site remembering the name “Tarling” quite vividly and recalling the abuse he suffered at the hands of this dreadful horrible man. He was cruel, relentless with his punishment and showed no mercy to these scared vunverable young boys. I feel sorry for all of you who were seen and not heard at your parents request. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Dad’s friend who went to school with him – David Foden

    Comment by gaye conway on 28/03/2017 at 2:19 am
  26. Everything above confirms my memory of the absolute b*****d that was Keith Tarling. He was pure evil and nothing was ever done because he owned the school.

    Comment by Colin Graham on 18/04/2017 at 9:28 pm
  27. Very touched to read accounts which mirror aspects of my own experience at Yarlet Hall in the 1960s and to see the names of some of my contemporaries there – a warm hello to you guys if you’re still reading this forum!

    The terror of Tarling’s ‘knuckling’ has already been accurately described. He was a savage bully with a terrible temper and totally incapable as a teacher. I was a quick learner, also at mental arithmetic, no thanks to his cruelty, but I remember the pain of that gold ring and the unfortunate fate of other boys who were slapped or beaten around the head almost daily. Other things I remember were the way he personally censored all letters home and made us rewrite if we said anything negative about life at Yarlet – including even on one occasion mentioning that we had played football against another school and has lost 2-1!- and having to learn the ‘collect’ every Sunday and recite it to him before we were allowed out to play, which meant never for some boys.

    Where I suffered more was on the sports field; for a puny individual with little ball sense there was no pleasure or mercy and it instilled a horror of organised games which has never left me as well as an inability to suffer being cold and wet; and in the dining room, where I was left after every meal when everyone else had finished, snivelling over my plate and physically incapable of forcing the gristle down my throat as required.

    Beyond all the physical abuse and hardships, the cold baths and greaseproof toilet paper – often being cold or sick (the mad matron’s remedy for any complaint, whether “I’ve lost my slippers” or “I’ve got diarrhoea”, was a dose of the laxative syrup of figs, so we soon learned not to admit to illness), not having clean clothes or even a handkerchief when needed, the arbitrary punishments and iron discipline, what was worse for me was the psychological cruelty, the mockery, humiliation and taunting of anyone who attempted to retain a sense of individuality and self-respect. This was effectively part of the ethos of the school and several masters contributed, Pinney for example was well able to be cruel in that way, but the man who set the tone in my experience was David Carr. Others who perhaps won his approval by excelling at sports saw a different man, but to me he was twisted and sick. Crippled with an arm injury and a terrible inferiority complex (his brother was a more successful cricketer), his lectures and interrogations, never mind his beatings, had a psychologically invasive edge which made him far more scary to me than Tarling. I was never aware that he was explictly sexually abusive (though what is making children bare their bottoms and bend over to be beaten with a gym shoe, I wonder, if not sexualised violence?) but there was something I experienced as sadistic and insidious about the way he used his undoubted intelligence to control and terrify. Does anyone else remember how he came round the dorms in the middle of the night, with his huge headlamp of a torch, woke the current victims or suspects, and took them back to his study one at a time for interrogations or beatings? It might be a lecture about the evils of masturbation (I guess he had no idea that this was universal anyway, but I also think he got some kind of excitement out of the idea) or an attempt to get you to ‘own up’ or snitch on someone else when a ‘crime’ had been committed. Befuddled by sleep and terrified of being caught out in a lie, wanting to say the right thing to get you out of there but not knowing what that was, it was all the same really – and when there was a beating I had no idea what it was for either. Yes we learnt the hard way about power over those smaller than you, and I for one developed a lifelong abhorrence of authority and religion.

    I could write pages about the awful things that happened at Yarlet, and have started a book several times, and God knows what I have spent on therapy and counselling over the years in an attempt to heal the trauma of those years, but I also remember a companionship in misfortune (I don’t remember any of us ‘sneaking’ on other boys even under interrogation, though maybe my memory is rose-tinted in this area?) which I guess is what it must be like for soldiers on some foolish doomed mission. In many ways we identified with POWs and no wonder those kind of wartime books and films were so popular. And just as in those stories, there were many small incidents of incredible bravery and rebellion. I remember swigging the brandy (or whisky? I wouldn’t have known the difference!)from a ceramic decanter in the shape of a duck, in Tarling’s study while waiting for him to come and start our Greek lesson – cannot believe I took such a risk – or sneaking into the kitchen at night in a hopeless attempt to improve the next day’s cake by adding ingredients to the mix already in the machine. (Sadly I was so ignorant that I had no idea that the reason it tasted like dry bricks was lack of eggs, fat and sugar!). We had illegal penknives, torches and even radios in the dorms (listening to Radio Luxembourg under the bedcovers half the night). Strictly against ‘the rules’, we rode in the very child-friendly fire escape chute which landed us with a whoosh on a pile of sheets in the laundry room, and crawled back up to share food from the staff left-overs, luckily when we were caught in the act it was by Norman Ellis who was indeed one of the kinder masters, Simon Keeley being the other one I’d describe as human, though badly damaged by his war experiences in Korea. Others were much braver than me, refusing to kow-tow even after repeated beatings, and some even escaped at night – never getting far and being returned for more punishment, admittedly.

    Yes we were damaged by Yarlet, and we probably will be struggling with the consequences for the rest of our lives. But for me the biggest challenge to come to terms with is not about Tarling and Carr and what made them the sick people they were, but with my parents who left me in that hell-hole. They didn’t know the half of what went on, but they knew enough to know that it was not a suitable place for a child to grow up, and they failed to protect me.

    Better stop now before I never end!!

    Comment by Graham Timmins on 14/06/2017 at 6:24 pm
  28. THANKS SO MUCH GRAHAM FOR ARTICULATING IN WORDS THAT I HAVE ALWAYS SAID HAPPEND THERE.KIND REGARDS FOR THE HONESTY.MY WIFE HAS HELPED ME THROUGH. I LEFT IN 1973 AND ALSO HAD BOSS AND CAR……

    Comment by ADAM PARKES on 14/07/2017 at 4:19 pm
  29. Hello everyone. I never ever thought I would be writing this and having it read by people who understand what went on in that hell-hole.
    I can’t remember the exact year that I was sent to yarlet (I refuse to use capital letters when relating to people and events for whom/which I have no respect ) but was indoctrinated into the ways of its savagery when in form 1, miss williamsons’I believe, I was hit across the hand with a ruler sharp side down for something I did not do, by a so called prefect who no doubt was going to turn into a savill of the 60s and 70s.
    Fortunately I was quite sporty and was ‘coached’ by tarling on the pitch by the ditch into which the sewers ran. Heaven help you if you were not good. Norman Ellis by contrast was a gent, he would give time and encouragment. I made the 1st XI which got me away from ket.
    ket lessons were what caused me to seek some help in the 80s when I began to feel worthless, among other things, and that helped me to realise that I was not a useless waste of a life. I have to say that I never found David Carr anything but helpful but then I shone at cricket so maybe that helped. ket was an unspeakable bully who affected the lives of a great many people. I did hear from a former pupil and friend that when he died, the vicar who served in the church where the funeral was going to take place refused to conduct the service because of his brutality and the funeral was moved elsewhere.
    His son nick was also a bully in a very sly way, nasty man and if I ever come across him will gladly tell him.
    As far as our parents are concerned I think we all grew up in a post-war atmosphere and I feel that the ‘it was ok for me and you will put up with it’ attitude was what pervaded society. If they REALLY knew what was happening I feel sure that my mother would have had me out of there pdq.
    I left yarlet in 1961 having suffered a serious back injury that needed surgery. I went back once to meet up with a friend and former pupil. He escaped nearly all bosses’ brutality because he was very clever. David Carr tried to persuade me to send my son there but no way !!
    Does anyone remember gerald mortimer? He was as queer as they make em and I recall having the slipper after lights out more than once.
    Enough! I shall never forget my time at that place. My best wishes to anyone who may still be suffering. You are not alone and have the support of this forum.

    Comment by David Haighton on 24/10/2017 at 5:56 pm
  30. Having just discovered this website (I was searching the name Norman Ellis, my Latin teacher of old), I felt that I should add reinforcement to the various comments above. I was at Yarlet from 1959 to 1963, and the names of the teachers there are still in my mind. Yes, I distinctly remember Keith Tarling and being beaten around the head, together with considerable hair-pulling during his lessons. We used to try to get out of his lessons by pretending to be sick….the matron, Miss Margaret Nutt used to say we had a dose of ”KET”ilitis, and I believe she knew how awful and physically abusive he was. He would have been arrested and sent down if he had been reported today. I also remember Mr Mortimer with some caution…… There was a Mr Hodgeson, my piano teacher, who I recall occasionally touched me high up my inner legs (we all wore short trousers in those days) during piano lessons. Despite all this, I do have a few happy memories of time at Yarlet, but would never send any of my children (if I had any) away to boarding school, especially preparatory schools.

    Comment by Michael steventon on 13/11/2017 at 10:03 pm
  31. I too suffered under KET (1965-1970) and it still comes to mind more often than I would like. I echo many of the comments – i recall still having nightnares at University thia t I was back there getting knuckled. I had him for Latin and primarily Maths. I remember the abject terror when i had him after break during which time i was trying not to imagine what was coming next.

    I just recently recounted the time i had my head smashed againt the blackboard because i could explain Subtended Angles in a circle. “McGugan, you are dim as dishwater – now go sit down” after the head bashing.

    I didnt find Ellis as kind as others and looking back i think he just didn’t like me – which is fine i guess.

    Mr Keeley was a lovely man and was so kind to those of us who weren’t sportsmen.

    I recall my public school complaining the KET focused on the CE at the expense of other education priorites which as a result, caused pupils to test well but then struggled at public school.

    What has always confused me, given this exerience, was Maths was my best A -level subject. Maybe it was beaten into me.

    Comment by Andrew McGugan on 25/06/2018 at 5:07 am
  32. Thanks Andrew for your comments and of how so much damage was done there…take care

    Comment by adam parkes on 06/07/2018 at 2:34 pm
  33. You break in horses with Kindness not the wip………..Love

    Comment by adam parkes on 09/07/2018 at 3:04 pm
  34. My time at Yarlet(late 50’s,early 60’s) scarred me for life.I am 69 now but and on a late-night-can’t-sleep session,entered Yarlet as a Search item on the computer.Reading these memories of Yarlet from others moved me to tears.The only person in my life that I have ever really,really hated was KET.He changed a happy,confident child into a fearful,nervous one.My experiences were exactly the same as those other writers.I never forgave my parents either for sending me and later my brother Hamish,to that hellhole.My Mother later said that she didn’t believe us!Bitter,bitter memories.It affects one’s whole life thereafter,one’s self-confidence,one’s happiness.Maybe I should have sought therapy in these later years…but I didn’t.Now I am nearing 70,living in Canada,now too late.On a lighter note,myself and Hamish used to dream about kidnapping KET,confronting him and “teaching” him,using his methods,some thing about,say,Nuclear Physics,which would have resulted in him getting a beating.In later years,of course,the idea of beating-up a sad old old man hardly seemed a satisfying revenge.Maybe pissing on his grave would have been more satisfying!Presumably he rotted in his own self-made Hell.How many of us from those years are there out there?Do we actually want to reminisce about those years?

    Comment by Colin Godwin on 12/07/2018 at 5:37 am
  35. Although this blog was meant to be a critique of the British habit of sending their children away to elite boarding schools rather than an exposure of individual schools or teachers, I have not edited or commented on any of this stream of disclosures. My reason was that it seemed to fulfill some function for those writing and perhaps help raise awareness and emotional courage.

    However, this time I feel compelled to step in. How can it be that a mature man still traumatised by what happened to him as a child reasons after years of not getting therapeutic help that it is now “too late”? Really? Just because he is 69 years old and has finally found the courage to begin to speak about it?

    This is exactly the time act on these feelings and find some support and recover before it is too late!

    Boarding School Syndrome is now finally becoming recognised by therapists everywhere and the promptings of one’s psyche especially late at night and especially late in life should not be ignored. If we do we commit further “crimes”.

    When we ignore the inner voice that points us towards the trauma and listen to the voice that says “too late, mate” we send the child that is still alive inside of us back to school, rather than make the choice and effort to go and get him and take him home with us.

    Comment by Nick Duffell on 12/07/2018 at 7:20 am
  36. Thanks Nick for doing what you do ………you the man……..

    Comment by adam parkes on 14/07/2018 at 10:45 pm
  37. A bit like the eagles song….you can come but never leave… no hotel…just hell

    Comment by adam parkes on 14/08/2018 at 9:52 pm
  38. Why on earth doesn’t anyone bring all this information to the attention of the relevant authorities?
    The school is still in existence with direct descendants (son of KET and daughter of DC) amongst the governors running the show.
    My experiences with both were just a horror show and something needs to be done.

    Comment by Martin Sands on 25/08/2018 at 5:42 pm




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