Letter: Bryn Estyn school in the 1960s

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The Independent Online
Sir: Former staff at Bryn Estyn CHE wish to protest most strongly against the impression conveyed by Roger Dobson's article entitled "25- year cover-up of victims in care" (20 June). Those who were present at the time and gave evidence to the board of governors know that this headline and the rest of the article is a travesty of the truth.

Staff became concerned about the emotional stability of a new headmaster. In an HM-approved school which contained over 100 convicted juvenile delinquents from Wales and the north-west of England, a level-headed approach and firm hand was needed at the helm, which the headmaster, by virtue of a serious medical condition, was unable to provide.

The headmaster started to fall asleep on duty, and when he began to lose his temper and physically attack boys, the staff met to discuss a form of action, following which an official complaint was made to the board of governors.

Staff recall that events moved very quickly and within a short time they were called into the board room to give evidence to the board of governors. Staff acknowledged the good work the headmaster had done previously, and recognised that a medical condition was affecting his behaviour.

Members of the board knew the staff and the boys well and quickly came to a decision. The headmaster resigned and a new principal was appointed in due course. Everyone concerned with the event at the time regarded the incident as being correctly and fairly dealt with and closed.

The Independent's treatment of this uncomplicated yet regrettable incident, which deserves praise for the integrity and courage of the staff, has been turned upside down.

The article states that "boys were regularly kicked, punched, thrown, kneed and viciously beaten by named staff members", "physical abuse was widespread in the 1960s", and "when one alleged perpetrator was quizzed".

This most misleading account has distorted events in such a manner that readers are deceived into believing that more than one member of staff was involved, and that abuse was widespread. Readers are not informed that it was the decision of the staff to report the headmaster. The fact is that one sick man began behaving badly, and was stopped by the prompt and correct action of staff.

Readers of the article are being misled by inaccurate phrases such as, "children's school", and "residential school", when they deserve to be informed that Bryn Estyn was an approved school managed by the Home Office, to which convicted young offenders were sent by the courts.



Bryn Estyn Staff Group