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Gordonstoun head apologizes to abuse victims, says hearing their stories was ‘extremely painful’

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Gordonstoun head apologizes to abuse victims and says it is ‘extremely painful’ to hear their stories, while telling the child abuse investigation was ‘difficult but crucial’ in confronting the prestigious boarding school’s past see

  • The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has heard evidence of people being abused by staff and other pupils at the £13,000-per-term school in Moray, Scotland
  • Current principal Lisa Kerr says the school has appointed ‘welfare monitors’ among the students and incrementally promoted a storytelling culture to ensure student safety
  • Gordonstoun is one of seven boarding schools currently under investigation










Lisa Kerr, the new Gordonstoun school principal who arrived pictured at The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in March this year

Hearing the victims’ stories of abuse at Gordonstoun boarding school at Gordonstoun boarding school was “extremely painful,” current director Lisa Kerr told an investigation.

Ms Kerr said she apologized unconditionally to those Gordonstoun’s failures, saying it had been “difficult but crucial” coming to terms with the school’s past.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has heard evidence of people who have experienced abuse by staff and other pupils at its prestigious boarding school in Moray, Scotland.

Mrs Kerr on Friday provided evidence for the second time for Lady Smith’s investigation.

Andrew Brown, QC, counsel for the investigation, noted that Ms Kerr was in the public gallery during the final week of evidence sessions, where former Gordonstoun students described the abuse and impact it had on them.

The director said: ‘It has been very painful, not only in the last six days, but also in the last six months of being involved in the investigation.

“From the first report of non-recent abuse all the way to school, it’s devastating for people who spend their time working to keep people safe and happy to face the past behavior and abuse that is so strange.” belongs to that culture. ‘

Mrs Kerr is the first ever female headmistress of Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, attended by several members of the Royal Family

Mrs Kerr is the first ever female headmistress of Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, attended by several members of the Royal Family

She said she acknowledged Gordonstoun hadn’t always responded well to reports of abuse, adding: “It was difficult but crucial to face that history.”

“Every school should do what we do,” she continued.

“Really feeling what Gordonstoun students have been through in the past strengthens our resolve to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The inquiry heard from several former students who described cases of rape and sexual abuse that took place in the 1980s and earlier decades.

Ms Kerr, who became principal in 2017, discussed the latest steps the school had taken to ensure student safety.

Gordonstoun is one of seven boarding schools currently under investigation by The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI)

Gordonstoun is one of seven boarding schools currently under investigation by The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI)

In addition to training child protection staff, she said the school had appointed “welfare monitors” among the students and promoted a “storytelling culture”.

She said the school had been in contact with Strathclyde University’s Celcis organization to shape its approach to those who had reported abuse in the past.

Mr Brown QC asked her about a request from a victim, John Findlay, for Gordonstoun to set up a trust fund to help those affected by abuse with treatment access to the school.

Mr Findlay, who testified earlier this week, said the school has a “moral duty” to help.

Ms Kerr said she would meet with Mr Findlay next month to discuss the matter, adding: ‘There are a number of complexities that mean the idea may not be as simple as it seems.

“Since hearing John’s testimony, we’ve reopened dialogue with our insurers about what could be.”

Pictured in 2017, Lady Smith, the Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

Pictured in 2017, Lady Smith, the Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

In her closing remarks to the investigation, Ms Kerr said: ‘It is devastating to see the impact the abuse in Gordonstoun has had on them.

“I am deeply sorry and offer my unreserved apologies for the abandonment of Gordonstoun and those in charge of their care.

“I feel a great sense of regret and sadness that I am the principal of a school where those things happened.

“But I also feel a great sense of pride that I have a team that works so hard for children.”

“Gordontoun is known for its links with the Royal Family, which has been attended by both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.”

The SCAI has now finished hearing evidence about Gordonstoun and will investigate Queen Victoria boarding school in Dunblane starting next week.

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