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13 October 2021

Pupils were ‘feral’ at Gordonstoun with racism and sexism common, inquiry told

13 October 2021

Pupils at Gordonstoun boarding school were “feral” and regularly showed racist and sexist behaviour, an inquiry has been told.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry heard from a woman who attended the Moray school and its preparatory school Aberlour House in 1979 and the early 1980s.

The woman was referred to only as Jane to protect her anonymity.

She told Lady Smith’s inquiry that teachers at both schools showed a lack of boundaries which left her feeling unsafe, while pupils were often self-governing through the system of accommodation “houses”.

Jane said much of the accommodation at the Gordonstoun estate, which contains a grand 17th Century country house, was decrepit.

The outside is a lie

She said: “Like a lot of these establishments, the outside is a lie. The interior is squalid, particularly for the boys.”

Jane said pupils from Aberlour were always admitted to Gordonstoun despite failing the common entrance exam.

Children at Gordonstoun were “feral”, she said, recalling one incident where a boy was shot six times with an air rifle.

However, she said the only offence which would result in expulsion was having sex with another pupil, with children encouraged not to speak up.

She said: “That was the cardinal sin, to speak. There was absolutely no way anyone would.”

Andrew Brown QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked her if misogyny was prevalent at the school.

Jane agreed, saying: “A lot of girls went out with considerably older boys to have protection.”

Describing “cruel” behaviour from boys at the school, she said she remembered them going on a “Jew hunt”.

The current phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry under Lady Smith is looking at boarding schools (Nick Mailer/PA) (PA Media)

Two girls from Africa who stayed in her house were left “very, very isolated”, she said.

She told the inquiry: “I feel very sad that I didn’t do anything about that.

“They would definitely say the racism was unliveable with.”

Jane said she tried to get herself expelled from the school but was unsuccessful.

Asked how she felt when she eventually left the school, she said: “I felt ruined”.

The latest phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is examining alleged abuse carried out in boarding schools.

The inquiry continues.

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