London, Jan. 20: Teachers at 130 independent schools have been implicated in sex crimes against hundreds of children, an analysis has revealed. Experts warn of a looming scandal over the abuse of boys in boarding schools during the past half century.
The list features dozens of Britain’s leading public schools as well as 20 elite prep schools that regularly send children to Eton College.
Included are 64 mainstream private-sector establishments, most of them boarding schools, where at least one male teacher has been convicted of sexually abusing boys, and a further 30 at which a member of staff was sentenced for possessing child abuse images.
Analysis of past crimes, scandals and police investigations at 130 schools reveals a significant surge in criminal prosecutions since 2012, often for offences that happened many years ago.
Should the pattern continue, it is likely to damage schools’ reputations and finances. With annual boarding fees averaging £27,000, many are increasingly reliant on income from the 25,400 foreign pupils who occupy more than a third of boarding school beds.
Across the UK, about 6.5 per cent of schoolchildren are educated in the independent sector.
One specialist linked the significant growth in complaints to an increasing national awareness of the lasting damage caused by such crimes.
Britain’s middle classes had belatedly decided that it is “socially respectable” to discuss childhood abuse, it was claimed while the head of a victims’ campaign group suggested that traditional male “stiff upper lip” attempts to shrug aside sexual trauma were increasingly viewed as outdated.
In the past 20 years, one or more men who taught at 62 independent schools, including Haberdashers’ Aske’s, Ampleforth, Wellington College, King Edward’s School Birmingham and The Oratory School, Reading, have been convicted of sex crimes — from indecent assault to gross indecency and buggery — against 277 male pupils.
Prosecutions involving 18 of those 62 schools came to court in the past two years. Former teachers from a further four independent schools have been charged and are awaiting trial.
Eton, Marlborough, Millfield, Oundle and Tonbridge are among 30 other schools where a male teacher has been convicted of possessing child abuse images.
Downside School, Somerset, features in both categories.
Another 36 private-sector schools have been linked to child abuse. They include as-yet unresolved prosecutions, civil actions for damages following an alleged abuser’s death and police investigations that led to arrests but no charges.
In this category are Harrow, Sedbergh and Durham schools, all raided in the late 1990s during a nationwide investigation into an alleged paedophile network of teachers at six leading public schools.
A teacher at each school was questioned and material including photographs, videos, letters and computer equipment was seized.
No one was prosecuted because of the lack of evidence.
Court orders prohibit naming some schools. They include two leading London public schools.