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Including boarding schools in the care conversation

  • Dale Meller
  • 05 September 2018
  • Reports

Including boarding schools in the care conversation

Posted by: Dale Meller | 05 September 2018| Categories: Reports

At the National Confidential Forum, we listen to the experiences of anyone who was in institutional care in Scotland, whether they were there for a day or a decade. What some people don’t realise, however, is that institutional care doesn’t just refer to children’s homes or hospitals. It also refers to other settings, including boarding schools.

While many people have had positive experiences in boarding school, we know that the reality of boarding school life and the impact it had on some people has been damaging. Last year, for example, Alex Renton published his book Stiff Upper Lip, which details the abuse that he experienced in boarding school.

As we continue to gather information about the history and, indeed, the current state of care in Scotland, we need to listen to and act upon the experiences of people from all types of care, not just the more obvious settings like children’s homes. There are some barriers that make this task challenging for us.

Some of the Scottish boarding school population may believe that they are lucky to have had access to a high quality, private education. This might make some people less likely to share their negative experiences, even in a confidential setting, for fear of being seen as ungrateful.

We at the Forum are interested in hearing about any and all experiences from people who went to boarding school. It is important to develop an accurate knowledge base that reflects the realities of boarding school life, both negative and positive. Most importantly, we want to offer people a chance to be heard. We don’t judge, and we keep the identities of anyone who speaks to us anonymous. This allows people to keep their privacy but have their say in this important national conversation.

We should include the experiences of all people, including those who attended private schools. Not to do so would be a disservice not only to those people but also to the mission of learning about and improving the care system in Scotland. If we as a nation truly wish to shine a light on care, we must ensure that all care experiences are captured.

The National Confidential Forum was established by the Scottish Government to listen to and understand the childhood experiences of those who were in care in Scotland. These voices will contribute to a permanent national record in Scotland’s care history, raising awareness and informing future changes to care. We will be at the Boarding Schools Association bi-annual meeting at Gordonstoun School on 1 November 2018 to share information with Scottish schools. 

You can get in touch online or phone the Forum on 0800 121 4773 to learn more.

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