Royal Family

I’ve spent years trying to unravel boarding school damage – Charles Spencer and Nicky Campbell are not alone

It is well known that British boarding schools are favoured by the aristocracy and deemed to confer social advantage on their alumni. It is also widely acknowledged that some have historically fostered a tradition of brutality and emotional deprivation among their pupils, with long-lasting effects.

One only needs to look at the beatings, humiliation and loss of self-worth suffered by the victims of Edinburgh Academy teacher John Brownlee that emerged this week to see how harrowing and life-changing an experience it can be.

With the recent publication of Charles Spencer’s courageous memoir A Very Private School, came renewed debate around the neglect and privations that have haunted generations of children who were abandoned at the age of seven or eight to a childhood of institutional care. A conversation that is likely to intensify following this week’s court ruling that an ex-teacher Brownlee inflicted “cruel and unnatural acts” on pupils at Edinburgh Academy. A decision welcomed by former pupil, BBC presenter Nicky Campbell, who has spent years campaigning for accountability about abuse at the private school.

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