Five months after the Townend inquiry exposed how pupils had been mistreated and “criminally assaulted” in the 1970s and 1980’s, the secret internal report details how teachers were also exploited. It reveals a catalogue of irregular practices and attempts to recruit pupils into the School of Economic Science (SES). The author, himself a governor at the time, describes St James as “an SES controlled special school” and “closer to a sect than to the open and fully independent school that its name and prospectus imply’.
The Parents & Pupils Inquiry Action Group have responded to the leaked report by repeating our calls for resignations and a complete separation of St James from the SES.
The 1996 internal report, which was submitted to the Townend Inquiry but which until now has not been made public, reveals:
- ‘Secret manipulation’ of the schools’ management and governors by the SES
- Teachers appointed directly by the SES over the heads of governors - who acknowledged the process of appointing the current girl’s school Head teacher was ‘improper’
- Teachers who should have been sacked remained in post ‘solely because of extraneous SES considerations’
- Pupils were pressured to take part in an SES initiation ‘ceremony’, children who refused were “considered as lesser people”
- Parents’ fears that children would be “taken away” by the SES
- SES involvement in disciplining pupils – the report described one incident as “Utterly unprofessional. Potentially explosive publicity.”
- ‘Exploitation’ of teachers leading to severe stress and the [mental] ‘breakdown’ of at least two teachers
The leaked report supports the Townend inquiry’s finding that the schools’ management and governors were failing to the extent that they “were not in any real sense in charge of the Schools”.
With many of those who held key positions in both the SES and the St James at the time of the 1996 report also still in place today, the Parents & Pupils Inquiry Action Group believe the failure of either organisation to take significant action even after the Townend Inquiry is unacceptable. In response to the leaked report we repeat our demand for the resignation of governors including Roger Pincham CBE, (the Chair since 1975).
We support the recommendation in the 1996 report that a Managing Director should be appointed – in order to oversee genuine reform of the schools’ governance and management. The revelations of years of ‘Secret manipulation’ of the schools’ management by the SES means there must now be a transparent process involving meaningful consultation with parents.
The leaked report’s revelations of the full extent of covert and unregulated SES control over St James raises serious questions about their accountability for past abuse and their influence on the schools today. We call for the complete separation of the St James Schools from the SES.