Caning check at private school

By Christopher Rowlands, Education Correspondent

 

SEVEN Government inspectors are moving into a 375-pupil private school today to investigate allegations of excessive beatings on pupils and poor educational standards.

Press cuttingThe week-long check was ordered by Education Secretary Sir Keith Joseph after public disquiet over allegations made two months ago in the BBC’s Checkpoint programme.

The investigation has been welcomed by Mr Derek Slade, headmaster of St. George’s School, near Stowmarket, Suffolk, who has denied charges of inflicting excessive punishment and imposing ‘reigns of terror’.

A team of inspectors reported last year on the need for the school’s academic curriculum to be broadened.

It also saw the school’s punishment book, which records more than 600 corporal punishments for offences ranging from smoking and spitting to insolence and theft.

Anger

But there was nothing, apparently, to alert their fears that these involved ‘excessive beatings’ by 34-year-old bachelor Mr Slade as reported by nine former members of staff on the BBC programme.

Mr Slade has also publicly expressed anger at discovering that one of his housemasters had indulged in homosexual behaviour. He said the master had left and was believed to be abroad.

Since the publicity last September, Mr Slade had also banned bare-fist fighting between pupils to settle differences.

Warn

Most of the boarders aged between six and 17 at the school founded four years ago are the sons of overseas Servicemen. Their £2,400-a-year fees are funded by the Ministry of Defence.

On the basis of the inspectors’ findings, Sir Keith will have to decide whether to clear the school, warn it about the need for change — or to revoke its licence.

Whatever the findings, the school will be the first ever to have a report on it made public, under Sir Keith’s promise this week to end ‘confidentiality’.