St Benedict's School, Ealing
St Benedict's School, usually referred to as St Benedict's, is a British co-educational independent Roman Catholic day school situated in Ealing, West London. A Benedictine Roman Catholic school it accepts and educates pupils of all faiths.
|St Benedict's School|
|Type||Independent day school|
|Motto||Latin: A Minimis Incipe |
From The Smallest Beginnings
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic|
|Established||1902 (Renamed 1948)|
|Founder||Fr. Sebastian Cave, OSB|
|Patron||The Lord Patten of Barnes|
|Headmasters||Mr Andrew Johnson (Senior School)|
Mr Robert Simmons (Junior School)
|Age||3 to 18|
|Enrolment||~1,040 (Senior School)|
~283 (Junior School)
|Houses||Barlow, Gervase, Pickering, Roberts|
|Colour(s)||Green, Yellow and Black|
|Former pupils||Old Priorians|
St Benedict’s School, Ealing was established following the arrival of Benedictine monks from Downside Abbey into Ealing in 1897 to found the first Benedictine Abbey in London since the Reformation. Under the leadership of Dom Sebastian Cave, Ealing Priory School, as the School was known, (becoming St Benedict's School in 1948) opened on 2 October 1902, with three boys enrolled. The School was founded upon a £5 donation, which was later published in the first issue of the School's Priorian magazine.
The school has occupied various premises at various times in its history, firstly in Blakesley Avenue, then taking rooms in the priory in 1904 before moving across to Orchard Dene (which currently houses the Junior School) in Montpelier Avenue. In 1906 15 acres (61,000 m2), about a mile from the main school grounds, in Perivale were purchased to provide a sports ground. By the 1920s Orchard Dene was used for boarders and the school was located in two houses on Eaton Rise. A purpose built school building linking these houses was in use by 1936. During the Second World War pupils were evacuated into the now Junior School – boarding ceased – and the Abbey church was badly damaged by a bomb on 7 October 1940.
The Junior SchoolEdit
The Junior School was 'spun off' as a separate entity with its own headmaster, in 1946. The Junior School's first lay headmaster, Dennis McSweeny, was appointed in 2000. The present headmaster, appointed in 2005, is Robert Simmons, himself a former pupil of St Benedict's School. Visits to many places of interest in London, and further afield, extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them. In Year 5, pupils visit Normandy and in year 6 they visit the Lake District on a PGL style activity. The school has links with the local and wider community through supporting local and international charities. Concern for the environment is demonstrated, for example by the purchase of a piece of land in Central America which has been planted with trees. Each year on the official feast of St Benedict, a whole school (Junior and Senior) charity day takes place at the end of March to support a charity of the pupils' choosing.
A co-educational Nursery was founded in 2002, in the building on Montpelier Avenue which formerly housed the Middle School. The Governors have approved plans for a three-storey development to replace the existing ‘Ark’ in the Junior School. Work on this is scheduled to start in summer 2016 and, when complete, this new building will house the Pre-Preps and also the Nursery, which will be re-located to the main site.
Move to co-educationEdit
Although St Benedict's was founded as a boys' school, girls have been admitted to the Sixth Form of the Senior School since the 1970s and to the nursery since it was founded in 2002. In June 2006 the Monastic Chapter voted to extend co-education across the whole school and since the Michaelmas term of 2007 the Junior School has been fully co-educational. The Senior School became fully co-educational in Michaelmas 2008. As of 2014 girls formed 34% of pupils in the School.
Sex abuse scandalEdit
In October 2009, Dom David Pearce, a monk of Ealing Abbey and former headmaster of the Junior School, was jailed for eight years, subsequently reduced to five years, for sexual abuse offences at the school in the period from 1972–1992 and for one further offence in 2007 after he had ceased to work in the school. In March 2011, Dom Laurence Soper, the Abbot of Ealing Abbey during the 1990s, was arrested on child abuse charges relating to the period when he was a teacher at, and the bursar of, St Benedict's School; it was reported in October 2011 that he had failed to answer bail and was being sought by the police. In 2016, he was arrested in Kosovo and extradited to the UK to face trial. In early December 2017, following a 10-week trial at the Old Bailey in central London, Andrew Soper (as he is now known) was found guilty on 19 counts of child sexual abuse including buggery, indecency with a child and indecent assault. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. It was claimed there was a culture of violence at the school with for example daily queues of boys outside the headmaster's study waiting to be caned. A stated that aged 11 he got into trouble in class. The teacher made him kneel in front of the class and continued the whole of the lesson standing on the boy's hands. Jurors at the trial were told about Soper's victims getting sadistic beatings. One survivor said in court, “I have tried countless times to take my own life as I just cannot cope any more.”
Following these incidents, and other alleged offences, the Abbot commissioned a report to be prepared by Lord Carlile of Berriew with a view to making recommendations on the School's governance. As a result of the changes made the Independent Schools Inspectorate said in its 2013 inspection report that the pastoral care at St Benedict's was excellent.
In 2016, Peter Allott, deputy head, and former local Conservative Party councillor who had worked at the school since 2004 was jailed for 33 months for possession of child abuse images, as well as possession of a Class A substance. However, it was made clear by the CPS that there was no evidence that Allott had abused his position of trust within the school, and no offensive material was found there.
In 2018-2019, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) commissioned by the UK Government was investigating any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, and the handling of complaints about Catholic schools and specifically relating to investigations at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s school. The pope’s representative in Britain, Archbishop Edward Adams, refused to co-operate with the enquiry.
Since its foundation members of the monastic community at Ealing Abbey have taught at, and provided pastoral, spiritual and educational leadership, within the School. Until the Senior School's first lay headmaster, Dr A.J. Dachs, was appointed in 1987, all headmasters were monks of the Abbey. Since 1951 the Senior School headmaster has been a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.
Following the recommendations of the Carlile report (see above) the School, which had been under the trusteeship of the monks of Ealing since its foundation in 1902, became an independent charity in the form of a company limited by guarantee, independent of the Abbey Trust. New governance arrangements, with a lay chairman, came into effect from September 2012.
Student Representation and the Student CouncilEdit
Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) recommended the School consider enhancing internal student representation prompting the formation by the School of a School Council with its formal powers outlined in its Constitution.
Students may run in elections throughout the School, from the Third Form to the Upper Fifth with two representatives elected from each year. Sixth form students can run for the offices of Student President and Chair of the Sixth-Form Common-Room.
The structure of the School Council consists of the Student President and the Student President's Chapter. Members are appointed to the Chapter by the newly elected Student President to represent students in matters regarding: Food and Health, Estates and Buildings, Pastoral and Equality, Finance and Investment, Sixth-Form, Upper and Middle Schools and the Vice President's office. The first codified School Council Constitution was signed in January 2016 by the Student Heads of School, Student President, School Chaplain, Headmaster, Chair of the Sixth-Form Common-Room, Leader of the Upper and Middle School Council and the Chair of the School Governing Body.
On entry to the Senior School each pupil is assigned to a House: Barlow (partnered with More House in the Junior School); Gervase (partnered with Gregory); Pickering (partnered with Bede) or Roberts (partnered with Fisher). These houses are named after the Benedictine martyrs St Ambrose Barlow, Blessed George Gervase, Blessed Thomas Pickering and St John Roberts.
From the Upper Fourth onwards House Captains are appointed in each division, while in the Third Form and Lower Fourth there are House representatives. In addition House Colours are awarded from the Upper Fourth for outstanding contribution to the life of the School.
Members of the Upper Sixth may apply to be a prefect, known as "Decans" or "Senior Decans". Their roles include helping at parents' evenings and other School events such as concerts, plays and dinners. The Heads of the Decans and Senior Decans are the Student Heads of the School.
The School uses this name system for each academic year from age 5 to age 18 (with the equivalent shown in brackets):
The School promotes Catholic Benedictine values through its mission of "Teaching a way of living", based on The Rule of St Benedict. Registration sessions are accompanied by prayer, in which pupils participate and sometimes lead. Mass is celebrated weekly in the School chapel or in the Ealing Abbey, for those staff and pupils who wish to attend. Retreats organized for each year group give time for reflection and for spiritual growth. Trips are organized, for instance to Rome on a study pilgrimage and to Lourdes, where pupils develop their understanding or are able to express their commitment to service.
The Independent Schools Inspectorate noted in its 2013 report that, at all ages, pupils' personal development is excellent. In line with the Benedictine mission, pupils show respect for themselves, for others and for the world around them, in 'learning how to live'. They enjoy relationships with peers and adults alike and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding.
The main sports for boys are rugby and cricket and for girls are netball and hockey. The school is notably good at fencing, producing national and international fencers. Fencing is a main sport for both boys and girls. The School also offers other sports including dance, tennis, swimming, basketball, athletics and boys' hockey.
In rugby the School was runner-up in the NatWest Schools Cup at Under 18 level in 2008; at Under 15 level it was winner in 2005 and runner-up in 1993. The School XV was undefeated in 2008 in 21 of 22 league matches, finishing top of the Canterbury Rankings,and was selected by the Rugby Football Union to represent England in the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament, losing only to the eventual winner. The Under 13 side won the 2012 Junior Champions of the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, the world's largest rugby tournament.
In the Senior School there are over 70 clubs and societies. Pupils run a debating society, staff a Combined Cadet Force and participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, as well as producing art, music and drama. The Junior School runs a daily programme of after-class hobbies including Mandarin, ballet, chess, cross stitch, fencing, computing and swimming. Both Senior and Junior School pupils contribute to the Priorian, the School magazine.
Alumni of the school are known as Old Priorians, derived from its original name of Ealing Priory School. OPs include:
- Peter Ackroyd, CBE FRSL, English biographer, novelist and critic, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and two Whitbread Awards
- Patrick Baty, FRSA, historian of architectural paint and colour, consultant in the decoration of historic buildings
- David Beaumont, CB, diplomat for the CRO, and the Foreign Office who later served as High Commissioner to Botswana
- David Bermingham, member of the NatWest Three, a group of three British businessmen involved in a high-profile court battle against charges of fraud
- Paul Bradley, British-born Irish actor, played Nigel Bates on Eastenders
- Christopher Caudwell, Marxist writer, thinker and poet
- Alan Dennis Clark, physicist
- Julian Clary, comedian and novelist
- Vinny Codrington, former Secretary and Chief Executive of Middlesex County Cricket Club
- Brian Cotter, Baron Cotter, politician, former Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare
- Declan Donnellan, OBE, celebrated stage director, author and film director, founder of Cheek by Jowl international theatre company, multiple Olivier Awards winner, Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
- Robin Devenish, retired physicist at the University of Oxford, former dean of Hertford College, Oxford
- Ned Eckersley, cricketer
- Arthur Ellis, rugby union player
- Hugo Ellis, rugby union player
- Laurence Freeman, OSB, priest, and director of the World Community for Christian Meditation
- Howard French, newspaper editor who co-ordinated the merger of the Sketch with the Daily Mail, and the launch of the Mail on Sunday'
- Reginald C. Fuller, prominent Catholic priest who was appointed Canon of Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor in 2001
- John Gapper, associate editor and chief business commentator of the Financial Times
- Jonathan Glancey, FRIBA, architectural critic and writer who was the architecture and design editor at The Guardian, and previously, at The Independent.
- Sebastian Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States, Donald Trump
- Peter Hennessy, Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield, FBA, historian, journalist, and academic specialising in the history of government, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary University of London, created a life peer sitting as a crossbencher in the House of Lords
- John Hooper, journalist, author and broadcaster, currently Italy correspondent of The Economist and a contributing editor of The Guardian
- Damian Hopley, former rugby union player, Melrose Cup winner and Founder and Chief Executive of the not-for-profit registered trade union Rugby Players' Association (RPA)
- Dominic Inglot, professional tennis player, current British No. 2 in doubles
- David Luckham, emeritus professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University
- Colin MacCabe, academic, writer and film producer
- Angela McHale, actress and comedian, known for her variety of British television roles including roles in Not Going Out, The Catherine Tate Show and Grange Hill.
- Duncan McNair KHS, commercial and corporate litigation lawyer and author, son of Squadron Leader Robin McNair, a prominent Royal Air Force fighter pilot
- Tony McWalter, politician, former MP for Hemel Hempstead
- Denis MacShane, politician jailed in the UK Parliamentary expenses scandal, Minister of State for Europe in the Labour Government from 2002 until 2005; Member of Parliament for Rotherham from 1994–2012
- Oriane Messina, comedy writer and performer
- Douglas Murray, journalist, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, associate editor of The Spectator, who appears regularly in the British broadcast media
- Nic Nolan, Australian broadcast journalist and communications consultant
- Denis O'Regan, rock photographer whose imagery is particularly associated with the punk movement, Queen, David Bowie, and Duran Duran
- Bernard Orchard OSB, prominent Catholic Benedictine monk, and biblical scholar who would later return as headmaster of the school
- Chris Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes CH PC, former Cabinet minister, Chairman of the Conservative Party, European Commissioner, British Governor of Hong Kong, Chairman of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, and Governor of the BBC Trust, current Chancellor of the University of Oxford
- Gary Prado Salmón, Bolivian military officer, government minister, diplomat and ambassador, who was head of the special forces unit which captured Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967
- Ben Ryan CF, rugby union coach who coached the Fiji sevens to two Sevens World Series titles, and a gold medal in sevens rugby at the 2016 Rio Olympics
- John Sauven, economist, and executive director of Greenpeace UK since 2008
- Andy Serkis, film actor known for his roles in prominent films such The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Planet of the Apes trilogy 2011, 2014 and 2017
- Labi Siffre, singer, songwriter, musician and poet
- Joe Simpson, rugby union player
- Iain Softley, film director, producer and screenwriter, whose best-known films include Hackers and K-PAX.
- Keith Tomlins, cricketer and ECB coach
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- 'Devil in a dog collar' priest faces jail for sex abuse Archived 9 December 2012 at Archive.today London Evening Standard – 12 August 2009
- Jailed child pervert priest ruined my life Ealing Gazette, 9 October 2009 Archived October 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Father Laurence Soper of Ealing wanted over sex abuse BBC News 14 October 2011
- "Kosovo sends accused ex-priest Lawrence Soper back to UK". BBC News. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- Bowcott, Owen (6 December 2017). "London priest who fled to Kosovo found guilty of abusing schoolboys". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- Sherwood, Harriet (21 December 2017). "Priest who sexually abused boys at London school jailed for 18 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- London Catholic school abuse survivor speaks of 'constant violence'
- Carlile Report
- St Benedict's School 2013 Inspection Report
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- Roy Greenslade (5 December 2008). "Obituary: Howard French | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- "Moral hypocrisy, St. Benedict's and Che Guevara". Marxist.com. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- "Gary Prado Cubadebate". Cubadebate (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 February 2017.
- "Bolivian General Who Captured Che Put Under House Arrest". www.laht.com. Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
- Salmon, Gary (1990). The Defeat of Che Guevara: Military Response to Guerrilla Challenge in Bolivia. Praeger. ISBN 978-0275932114.
- "John Sauven: 'I want to claim the arctic region for all of mankind'". The Independent. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.