Private school suspends two pupils for violent ‘initiation ritual’

£40,000-a-year private Millfield School suspends two pupils ‘who beat younger boys with a cricket bat and a belt in initiation ritual’, The Daily Mail reports

A concerned mother has spoken out about a reported ‘initiation ritual’ at her son’s boarding school which involved boys being given ‘lashes’ with a belt or cricket bat, The Daily Mail reports.

Two pupils at Millfield School in Somerset have been suspended while an investigation is completed.

Erica Charles removed her son Tok as soon as he told her about the worrying activities taking place in the boy’s boarding house; the teenager had only started at £40,000 a year Millfield school a week earlier.

Two pupils at Millfield school in Somerset have been suspended after allegations of an ‘initiation’ ritual involving younger boys being hit with a ‘cricket bat’ or ‘belt’ were made

Mrs Charles told The Sunday Times that two older teenagers ‘started hitting year 10s with a belt, mainly on naked backsides’.

She claimed that one of the pupil’s ‘hit a year 10 with a cricket bat, also on their naked backside’ and that the younger teenagers were given the choice of ‘two lashes on the shorts’ or ‘one on the backside’.

She said that other boy’s from older years crowded into a room to watch around nine younger students being ‘whipped’ – however her son was not one of them.

She said: “It seems to have been some sort of ‘initiation’ ceremony into the boarding house.

“One of the victims said he couldn’t sleep until 2am and another woke up with blood on his sheets.”

Voice recordings of the incident were given to The Sunday Times and cheering from the other boys at the beatings are said to be heard on the recordings.

The mother-of-three boys decided to speak about what happened at the boarding school because she wants these ‘practices’ to change at boarding schools.

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The school – where fees can total as much as £40,000 a year – said as soon as it was made aware of the allegations ‘an investigation was conducted’ and student wellbeing is a ‘top priority’.

Gavin Horgan, who became Millfield’s headmaster earlier in September, said:

“Bullying of any sort is wrong and there is absolutely no place for it anywhere in our school.

“As soon as I was made aware of this allegation an investigation was conducted and the two pupils concerned were suspended.

“As a headmaster new to the school this term, my first step was to write to all our families and encourage them to make contact with me on anything relating to school life. My door remains open.

“I believe passionately in pupils having a voice and their wellbeing continues to be our top priority. Our rigorous safeguarding procedures mean any concerns that arise at school are dealt with quickly, transparently and fairly.”

The Charles family, who are from Berkshire, want more controls on fee-paying schools and for it to be a requirement to report bullying.

Alex Holmes, deputy chief executive of the anti-bullying charity The Diana Award, said:

“Currently, only state schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying.”

Millfield school’s website says they have 930 boarders at the senior school, ranging in age from 13 to 18. These pupil’s make up 75% of the school.

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