Returning to themes explored by others, I still feel shame
for not standing up, and colluding with the herd mentality that
passively and actively bullied boys in our class and made their
lives hell for 5 years. One was made fun of and excluded because
he his family were 'poor', another because his 'posh' name
clearly marked him out to be a 'poof'; another who was ostracised
for having neat copperplate handwriting. None of these have
accessed the website (to my knowledge), and I cannot see that
they would have anything to celebrate in the school 'living on'
in this website. I doubt very much if they want to be Reunited
with Friends, but even so, I have had shame about going along
with these actions for five years, and I cannot believe the boy
that I was.
I remember, like many other contributors, instances of
bullying at SA. I remember boys who, for a variety of reasons
were deemed to be pariahs. I like to think that for the most
part, I found it abhorrent. However, there were probably numerous
occasions where I stood by and didn't defend a vulnerable fellow.
I do wonder, however, about the extent to which the culture of SA
promoted an acceptance of this kind of behaviour. SA was built on
division, despite, no doubt, its "official ethos",
which presumably was one of "social levelling" (I
almost believe this was Spike's personal philosophy, though I
could never extend it to the majority of staff).
I came to SA as working class kid and found the whole system alien, class-ridden and brutal. For the most part, I felt like I never really belonged, and when I left, I felt liberated.
I wonder about times when boys were bullied, picked out for their difference; their personalities, their class, their intelligence, their inability in sport, their race, their personal appearance, whatever it happened to be, and I can't quite bring myself to condemn those who engaged in this behaviour.
There were times, we all know, when teachers led the charge, and the majority went along, times when boys were ridiculed by a group of other boys, and others followed, driven, I would argue, by a desire to 'fit in'. Fitting in was the hidden ethos of SA, where divisions always prevailed.
I suspect that there are old boys out there who are not prepared to get involved in this 'virtual community' for these reasons. What I would say is that they should try, if possible, to look to a wider context and see all of us as victims of a pathetic quasi-public school ethos that promoted values of division, elitism and authoritarianism.
I'm not really convinced that I saw instances of "bullying". There were occasional fights and skirmishes but I thing we would have got into scraps at any school, sometimes being picked on possibly. I think it's fair to say that there were no bad feelings or bullies in the class of '73.
I sometimes wonder if this was the school I went to. Bullying? Don't think so, & trust me I couldn't have stopped it then. I came to the place as a working class kid', and was, and still am proud of my roots.
In 7 years their, I never at all, saw any teacher 'lead the charge' to promote any elitism.
If anyone was to ask me if I would send my two boys to a school like SA and expect them to come out happier for it, I can honestly say I would not.
Quite a few sadists, bullies, perverts ( as now proven- APJ) and thats just some of the teachers.
Thank god for OFSTED!
PS: There were also plenty of genuinely good and well meaning staff and pupils.
Wish I'd gone to SA a few years earlier and had been privileged to have gone to such a harmonious meritocratic joyous institution.
My experience straddles SA & SJP but I would say that the victimisation came from the SA intake.
I remember that awful feeling that even if there was a teacher present there was no likelihood that they would intervene when someone was getting the shit kicked out of them. I suspect that by that point all the teachers were just hiding in the staff room.
I read your comments.
No way was St Augs a joyous institution, but I write as I remember. I left in 76, and stand by what I said. No institutionalised nasties going on while I was present.
Had little time for Spike myself, but maybe we had him while he was sober & he stopped this nonsense happening?