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School CP - March 2001

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BBC News, 18 March 2001


Teacher wants accusers disciplined

Marjorie EvansMarjorie Evans, the Monmouthshire headteacher wrongly accused of mistreating pupils, wants to turn the tables on her accusers.

Mrs Evans's union has confirmed that the 56-year-old teacher wants those who falsely accused her of hitting and shouting at children to face disciplinary panels -- just like she did.

As she prepares to return to work at St Mary's School in Caldicot this week, it has been revealed that she expects something to be done after emerging from her 18-month ordeal with an unblemished character.

St Mary's School"She has expressed that wish and other people at the school have as well," said a spokesman for the National Union of Teachers.

"The disciplinary hearing said it would be looking at the actions of all staff, and that is a matter for the disciplinary body to decide.

"Mrs Evans cannot press for this, but she has feelings about it."


Mrs Evans said she thought "professional jealousy" had sparked the allegation.

She told a Sunday newspaper: "There's been a lot of collusion between my accusers and once they'd started the bandwagon they couldn't jump off.

"I think one person made the ammunition and the others fired the bullets but they didn't see what they were getting into."

Mrs Evans is also considering seeking compensation for her ordeal.

The NUT said there had been no reason for keeping Mrs Evans away from school after she was cleared on appeal of slapping a 10-year-old pupil in September last year.

The second set of allegations which led to the disciplinary hearing included two accusations of slapping other pupils, one of kicking a schoolboy and others of inappropriate shouting and berating.

But none of these claims were supported by evidence from pupils, parents, nor fellow teachers.

The case is estimated to have cost £1m and Mrs Evans is expected to be entitled to substantial compensation for the trauma she has suffered.

After the disciplinary hearing ended last Friday, Mrs Evans could not contain her relief.

"I'm euphoric. I'm lost for words," she said.

"I'm absolutely delighted that the 18 months of stress and pain that I've endured are now over.

"The whole period has been extraordinarily distressing. I've missed being at school, seeing my staff and seeing my children."

Corpun file 7360 at


The Daily Telegraph, London, 28 March 2001

Rebel pupil Blair was given six of the best

By Tara Womersley

WITH hair past his shoulders, a cavalier attitude to rules on smoking and drinking, and constantly at odds with authority, this is how Tony Blair is best remembered during his school days.

But while Bob Roberts, the man who caned the boy who grew up to be Prime Minister, described him as "the most difficult boy I ever had to deal with", many also recall the charm and guile that helped keep him out of even deeper strife.

The portrait of the rebellious young Blair emerges in a new biography by John Rentoul to be published next month. As a boarder at Fettes College, Edinburgh, he argued repeatedly with staff about school procedures.

But, according to the author, he mostly "stopped short at the stage where his defiance would inflict serious damage either to his person or his academic career". One episode recalls how the father of a girlfriend intervened to save Mr Blair from expulsion shortly before he finished school.

Amanda Mackenzie-Stuart, the daughter of Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, a judge and school governor, was one of the first girls at Fettes. Among 440 boys she attracted much attention, but was drawn to Mr Blair, whom she described as "so bright, so engaging and very funny".

The book claims Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, who died last year, persuaded Ian McIntosh, then headmaster, to abandon plans to expel Mr Blair after he had completed his A-levels but before the end of term. They reached a compromise allowing Mr Blair to live at the Mackenzie-Stuarts' home for the remaining weeks of the school year.

"Thus did Blair end his school days in privileged exile," writes Rentoul. Lady Mackenzie-Stuart said yesterday: "I do not believe that he was the easiest of pupils. But further than that, I cannot go."

Although Lady Mackenzie-Stuart said she was not aware that her husband had intervened, she recalled Mr Blair as "a bright and intelligent schoolboy who just wanted to get on with it -- but I knew him in our home, not as a teacher". Not everyone fell for Mr Blair's charm. Mr Roberts, his housemaster, found him "infuriating".

Rentoul writes: "Roberts beat Blair, the only master to do so, giving him 'six of the best' at the age of 17 for persistently flouting rules." On another occasion, a prefect at Fettes beat Mr Blair for smoking. Years later, Mr Blair noticed with some smugness that at a lawyers' dinner in Edinburgh the only person in the room with a cigarette was the same prefect.

Mr Blair, who had previously attended the Chorister School, Durham, as a day boy, made a more positive impression on Eric Anderson, now provost at Eton College and Mr Roberts's predecessor as housemaster. He said: "I got used to that knock at my study door, followed by the grinning Blair face and a 15-minute argument about ways of doing things which the school ought to, he thought, change at once.

"Tony was full of life, maddening at times, full of himself and very argumentative. He was an expert at testing the rules to the limit, and I wouldn't swear that he stuck rigidly to the school rules on not drinking, smoking or breaking bounds. But he was a live wire and fun to have around."

Nick Ryden, 48, who is the godfather to Mr Blair's son Leo, said yesterday that although Mr Blair may be depicted as a rebel he was fighting against a much more oppressive regime than exists in schools today. He said: "I suppose you could describe us as partners in crime but that would not be very politically correct. Tony was just one of the lads.

"Being a rebel would mean going down town without permission or questioning why you had to play sport on a Wednesday afternoon. I did go out to clubs a couple of times with Tony, where we would have to get through fences under the cover of darkness."

Because Mr Blair wore his hair long, he greased it down with butter to keep it inside the back of the collar. After leaving school Mr Blair spent a year in London, where he fell in with "weekend hippies", before going on to St John's College, Oxford.

During this year, armed with a blue guitar he called Clarence, he became the manager of a band dominated by public school boys. At Oxford, he helped to form another group called Ugly Rumours. Alan Collenette recalls in the book being greeted by a grinning Mr Blair, who arrived on his doorstep after a friend of a friend had told him he was a rock promoter.

Mr Collenette, now the managing director of a commercial real estate company in San Francisco, said he and Mr Blair, who stayed at his parents' house, set up business over the kitchen table. Their plan was to promote the next Led Zeppelin. But Mr Blair did stand apart from other "weekend hippies" -- he kept a Bible at his bedside and refused to be drawn into the drugs culture.

The biography also describes an encounter with another contemporary "even more rebellious than he". In 1970, he met Anji Hunter -- who was appointed after Mr Blair's election victory as his "special assistant". Rentoul quotes Mr Blair as saying: "I met Anji when I was about 17, at a party where we both stayed overnight. It was my first defeat."

Tony Blair: Prime Minister by John Rentoul. Published by Little, Brown on April 5, £20.

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