December 9, 2021

Uk News today – Up to date News, NHS, Health, Sport, Science

For the very latest UK news, with sport, health, science, covid

Colchester Royal grammar pupil’s says it has ‘toxic rape culture’

Colchester Royal grammar pupil’s says it has ‘toxic rape culture’
One of the country's leading grammar schools has said it is 'shocked' and 'saddened' after an ex-student claimed it was gripped by a 'toxic' male 'rape culture' with girls allegedly pressured into performing sex acts on boys.A former pupil at Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex has claimed she and friends were left 'traumatised' by…

One of the country’s leading grammar schools has said it is ‘shocked’ and ‘saddened’ after an ex-student claimed it was gripped by a ‘toxic’ male ‘rape culture’ with girls allegedly pressured into performing sex acts on boys.

A former pupil at Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex has claimed she and friends were left ‘traumatised’ by some of their experiences at the exclusive selective establishment.

Scarlett Mansfield, 26, alleged one male pupil locked himself in two girls’ cars, refusing to get out until he received a sex act from them. She also claims that boys threw wet tissue down girls’ tops and filmed their bottoms.

The 26-year-old claims there was widespread misogyny and abuse at the institution which was recently named ‘secondary school of the decade’ for East Anglia.

Colchester Royal Grammar has been in The Sunday Times top 10 seven times in the past ten years and is regularly the highest ranked school in Essex. Last year 39 of its pupils were offered places at Oxbridge colleges.

The school’s headteacher John Russell said he was ‘shocked and saddened’ to read of ‘wholly unacceptable behaviours’ some female students experienced. 

Scarlett Mansfield, 26, alleged one male pupil locked himself in two girls’ cars, refusing to get out until he received a sex act from them

Colchester Royal Grammar School, regularly one of the UK’s top state schools, has been rocked by claims it had a ‘toxic’ male ‘rape culture’

The school’s headteacher John Russell said he was ‘shocked and saddened’ to read of ‘wholly unacceptable behaviours’ some female students experienced.

Top grammar schools get dragged into outcry over abuse as state pupils tell of harassment and assault 

Top grammar schools have been dragged into the pupil sex abuse row after allegations of rape, assault and harassment.

One in ten of the country’s grammars have been named on the website Everyone’s Invited, which has collated more than 12,000 testimonies about schools’ ‘rape culture’.

One girl said she had been raped by a pupil from Dr Challoner’s Grammar School for boys in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, at an 18th birthday party.

She said: ‘It happened at the back of the garden and another boy saw it happening yet did nothing to help and just laughed. This was over three years ago and it’s still something I think about.’

In another example, a 14-year-old girl said she had been raped by an 18-year-old pupil at Cranbrook School, Kent, during a party when she was ‘blacked out’ from drinking too much.

She said: ‘I woke up unconscious in a corridor of the party having lost my shoes, my pants and my bra, having a hazy recollection of what had happened. When I went into school the next day I was labelled a slut.’ 

Scarlett was among 30 girls to be admitted to the school’s sixth form in 2011.

In her bombshell claims Scarlett revealed how she and many other females ‘received far more than we ever bargained for’, leaving them ‘genuinely traumatised by the memory’ of their time at the school.

She detailed a string of shocking allegations including how a ‘rape society’ had been set up by the male students.

‘In my year, one boy locked himself in two different girls’ cars and refused to leave until he received oral sex.

‘From trying to throw wet tissue down girls’ shirts and filming their bottoms as we walked to class to starting what they called a ‘rape society’ to discuss whether ‘babies can be raped’ to genuine and actual physical sexual assault and rape at parties.’

Scarlett made her claims in a blog post which has now been read more than 20,000 times.

‘Another [male student] told everyone he’d slept with a girl and, when she denied it saying if he did it wasn’t consensual then changed his story. Ultimately though, an undeniable toxic and ubiquitous rape culture was prevalent throughout,’ she added.

Scarlett, who has a masters degree from Oxford, revealed how during discussions for a class year book a category was suggested for ‘most likely to beat their wife/children’.

Speaking to women about their memories of the school reveals ‘far wider misogyny and abuse’, she wrote in the 3,000-word blog post.

She said the culture of the school helped breed the sense of entitlement amongst the male pupils.

‘Teachers continuously reminded boys of the school’s educational achievements fostering the belief that they were superior to the rest of the population, thus leading to an unparalleled sense of superiority and entitlement.’

The freelance writer, researcher and digital marketing specialist said she felt empowered to speak out after reading articles about Everyone’s Invited, the movement to tackle a culture of sexual abuse and misogyny.

Ms Mansfield (pictured) also claims that boys at her school threw wet tissue down girls’ tops and filmed their bottoms 

Scarlett, who has a masters degree from Oxford (pictured), is one of a number of women to speak out about their treatment at school in the wake of the Everyone’s Invited movement

Soma Sara, 22, the founder of Everyone’s Invited, where people can share their stories of sexual assault. Since its foundation last year it has rocked Britain’s top schools and universities

The school’s headteacher John Russell said he was ‘shocked and saddened’ to read the reports of ‘wholly unacceptable behaviours’ some female students experienced.

He added: ‘Misogyny, harassment, abuse and discrimination in any form is not tolerated at CRGS.

‘All reported incidents are dealt with in line with the highest levels of our code of conduct and we keep thorough records of such incidents.

‘We recognise the value of a united approach to raising awareness of discrimination, harassment and abuse in every form it takes.

‘We are clear that inaction by any bystander is to be complicit and is therefore equally unacceptable.’

Mr Russell, who became headteacher in 2015, said the students’ voice is increasingly at the heart of the school’s equality and diversity work, but admitted there is ‘clearly’ more to be done.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey (pictured), the national police spokesman on child protection, appeared to give credence to the claim’s truth last month when he predicted that a ‘rape culture’ in schools would become the ‘next big child sexual abuse scandal to hit the country’

‘The CRGS senior leadership team, our safeguarding leads, the school counsellor and the pastoral team are always available for any current students who need to report an incident or who need help, support and advice,’he added.

Mr Russell also urged students who have been victims of a criminal act to contact the police if they have not already done so.

‘We have made our school liaison officer aware of the allegations of criminal acts and will work closely with the police to ensure such reports are dealt with sensitively and effectively,’ he added.   

Scarlett also claimed the school’s Old Colcestrian Society was sexist towards her in 2019.

A statement from the society said: ‘We are aware of comments suggesting the OCS could be perceived as unwelcoming towards our female alumnae.

‘We very much regret anyone should feel this way.

‘The society encourages all current and former students and staff to become members of the society.’

It claims it has ‘progressed from what has been a predominantly male alumni group’, and is proud membership has been strong among female leavers in the past five years.

It added: ‘We are extremely keen to continue this progression as we strive to provide CRGC with the best alumni society possible.’ 

The claims came after a former Director of Public Prosecutions warned Britain could ‘live to regret’ a rush to criminalise schoolboys after an explosion of school sex abuse claims.

Lord Macdonald urged police and prosecutors not to confuse ‘obnoxious and unpleasant’ behaviour with crimes.

He spoke out after the national police lead on child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, heralded it as the ‘next big child sexual abuse scandal to hit the country’.

Mr Bailey predicted that ‘rape culture’ claims would engulf the entire education sector, leading to referrals to every police force in the country.

So far, more than 100 schools have been named in over 8,000 harrowing anonymous testimonies on the Everyone’s Invited website, which was set up to expose misogyny, harassment and assault in schools.

Soma Sara, founder of the Everyone’s Invited website said yesterday there had been a 33 per cent increase in testimonies from the state sector and a 44 per cent increase in accounts from universities since March 9.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who is also an ex-Director of Public Prosecutions, called for an independent inquiry.

He said: ‘There’s got to be an inquiry and it has got to get going very fast, this is serious. There is of course a criminal investigation and I would encourage anybody who can to come forward and give evidence in that investigation.’

But his predecessor Lord Macdonald cautioned against making snap judgements, saying: ‘We may live to regret a headlong rush into criminalisation.’ 

The top lawyer, who led the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) from 2003 to 2008, said serious offences such as rape and sexual assault must be pursued.

But he warned prosecutors not to jump on the bandwagon and be ‘wary of social media campaigns that may draw in all sorts of behaviour that is obnoxious and unpleasant but not criminal’.

Soma Sara, 22, founded the website along with Meadow Walker (pictured), also 22, the daughter of the late Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker

A sign reading ‘Educate Your Sons’ is attached to a gate outside James Allen’s School. The school was protesting rape culture at nearby Dulwich College Boys School 

He told the Daily Mail: ‘Police and prosecutors will face real challenges where complaints are made anonymously and people will need to come forward if cases are to be built.

‘Victims of crime should be reassured that in doing so they will be treated with respect, care and consideration.

‘But prosecutors will need to distinguish between cases where real crimes have been committed and cases where boys are just being obnoxious and going unchallenged.

‘And we need to be honest that cases from the past where it is one person’s word against another will be very difficult to prove.

‘Imagine a girl saying, ‘he assaulted me at a party four years ago’, and he’s arrested and says, ‘No, we just had a snog’.

‘That’s a tricky case to prosecute, to put it mildly. We need to understand that what we are talking about here is bringing young people into a court system with judges and juries and the prospect of prison.

‘This is very serious stuff. It is not an easy environment for victims, witnesses or defendants.’

He added: ‘Prosecutors should also be wary of social media campaigns that may draw in all sorts of behaviour that is obnoxious and unpleasant but not criminal.

Lord Macdonald (pictured) urged police and prosecutors not to confuse ‘obnoxious and unpleasant’ behaviour with crimes

‘The criminal law is a very blunt instrument. Much of this behaviour needs challenging in different ways. By education and communication. By parents as well as by schools.

‘By peer groups. And by moving resolutely away from the complicit notion that ‘boys will be boys’.

‘Pornography, social media, the sexualisation of everything- all these play a part.

‘Girls do need protecting. But do not expect the criminal justice system to do this work on its own.’

Another former top prosecutor suggested the CPS would ‘fall over’ if it were to be inundated with criminal allegations about schoolchildren.

Nazir Afzal, the ex-chief prosecutor for the North-West who brought down a Rochdale child abuse gang, said: ‘We can barely cope with what the police are already referring in relation to adults.

‘Trials are taking place maybe two to three years after a rape allegation has made and if we are proposing to take a large proportion of these cases through the justice system it will just fall over.

‘It could not cope. It would let everyone down. There needs to be some real expectation management here.’

He went on: ‘I am very much in favour of bringing the most serious offenders to justice, but at the same time we can’t have a situation where we are criminalising a whole generation, particularly when it is our failings that have made it happen. An independent inquiry is needed.’

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents over 1,300 private schools, backed an inquiry.

He said: ‘Personally I’d be perfectly happy for there to be an independent inquiry because this is clearly a serious issue which needs to be dealt with across society.’

He added: ‘I would have thought it would be helpful if it went beyond schools.

‘Clearly they are going to look at schools and there’ll be some things which schools can do or should do which other agents can’t do or won’t do.

‘But if it’s going to be an independent inquiry, you’re going to want to look across the whole spectrum of institutions, and also incidentally of time, because we know that this is not a new problem.’

Read More