Today I received a comment from a concerned parent, Marsha Jones. I thought it and my answer were too important to leave in an addendum to a posting I wrote nearly two months ago entitled St. Bede’s: Situation Desperate, The Natives Are Fighting Back, which has garnered 50 odd comments and which subjected myself to a torrent of uneducated abuse from pupils which I considered was probably orchestrated by somebody in the school. I was not of course distracted by this torrent, if you stand up these days and go against the grain, you have to expect it. However Marsha Says:-
Paul, we do follow your blog, we have two children at St Bede’s and whilst we are not happy with certain aspects of the College, cards on the table, where are you coming from, why are you so insistent on running the College down? A number of parents are leaving the College and going elsewhere but is it not the case we should be unified and address the failings and shortcomings of the College and as parents move it forward?
Marsha, you seem like the voice of reason and possibly the voice of strength. You say you are not happy with certain aspects of the College. If I knew what they were I could probably address your problem better but it is only by people like you willing to engage in discussion will St Bede’s survive.
I will therefore put my cards on the table. I went to Bede’s 1957-1963 but was unceremoniously dumped out at the end of my first year in 6th Form by the infamous Duggan. I did reasonably well in this world and sent four of my children there, the first in 1986, with the last leaving in 2006 when we came to Ireland. They all had a good education, going on to Oxford, London, Liverpool and Dublin universities but in all that time I was a little unhappy about the emphases Byrne placed on certain aspects of a Bedian education, it was too narrow, too confined, not enough of the personal, not enough of the pastoral care often spouted but rarely given. But it worked for him, he got the results that the school can only dream about these days by having decent ambitious staff who offered him hard work and longevity of service. I kept my mouth shut, I did not react to certain rumours but I certainly would do now. My present educated self is certainly a lot different to the hard working parent with both feet on the treadmill that I was 20 years ago.
In 2009 given the time only people of my age have got, I started writing naively about the sexual, physical and mental abuse we Bedians of the 1950s and 60s suffered under the aegis of Monsignor Thomas Duggan. I thought my friend Michael, who was later, in his 50s, found dead in a crack house in Gorton, was the only person who had been sexually abused by Duggan at Bede’s. Before I knew it I had a full blown campaign on my hands with ex-pupils writing in from all corners of the world explaining in a lot of cases their heartrending experiences at the school and it was not only Duggan, there were a good number of clerical staff complained about, too many to be ignored and not just in Duggan’s time but eventually I had complaints stretching from 1950 through to the present century and only one man ever brought to book, William Green, who had spent nearly 20 years at the College with rumours abounding. He would have got away with it as well if it was not for a chance occurrence in Glasgow which eventually led to conviction because Scottish Police had become involved.
This abuse campaign has been rolling along now for four years and some of it will eventually come to court but certainly not because of the good offices of the Salford Diocese who are wriggling and squirming to every initiative put forward, using all the delaying tactics they and their lawyers can possibly think of but knowing full well that their priests or some of them were as guilty as hell of making men, Old Bedians in this case, live a lifetime of horror. Even then I was not happy with the way the present school had handled this abuse issue, it had not been confronted but it had a new head in Michael Barber who I thought was a decent man and given time with some years under his belt I judged him the type of man able to address the problem and clear out the stables of this Augean accumulation.
However when I saw the damage the ousting of Michael Barber would do to this process, I reacted but not realising at that time in June 2011 how bad that decision was likely to be. So I started writing about the new situation Bede’s found itself in, just like in the abuse scenario, people started writing in complaining about the new regime. The blog is a useful and powerful tool in that regard but it is not my work that is making parents leave the school or not go near it in the first place, it is the erratic thought and deeds of the senior management, Quinlan, Kearney and Pike. All elected on a wink and a nod and not with due diligence and correct procedure.
This crassness of management has led eventually to the Board of Governors being reduced to a coven of clerics with no idea at all of how to run a multi-million pound business and this has now led to where we are now. In two years and because of total ineptitude the College is reduced to its present state.
I have been suggesting for weeks that to save the College, the parents and the disaffected staff which is probably 90% of them, need to rise up, bite the bullet and try to save this lamentable situation. Unfortunately there does not seem to be any parent group to my knowledge strong enough and I think the teachers are incapable of becoming rebels, they are just leaving or at least those of them that can. Perhaps you , Marsha, might have it in you to take up the cudgel with some friends and fight for what is right. You are paying the fees. A concerted effort by parents could certainly make a difference. Start off by paying your fees into a new account which the school can access if the Diocese remove the present management and with proper process employ creditable people. Unless somebody acts quickly the school will reach a point of no return, which will mean the end of the school in its present state.
With my involvement in the abuse process at Bede’s, I have studied the situation in America with some thoroughness. Schools in America were going through this problem 20 years ago. Faced with a failing Church and thus failing institutions all the American episcopacy did was close down their structures. They had no emotion about it, Boston is a good example. The Church is there to make money so that the hierarchy can live in total luxury. Failing businesses do not achieve this so let them go.
St. Bede’s College although a charitable status company in its own right is totally owned by the Salford Diocese and in particular by the Bishop of Salford. He and the Trustees of the Diocese have no care for the college’s marvellous academic past, they can only see the slur that it has had and is making on the Diocese’s present good name and coupled with the fact that the school footprint on Alexander Road and its playing fields on Brantingham Road must be the finest piece of real estate in Manchester, makes the decision easy for them. This lack of emotion from the Diocese and its Trustees tells me that it would be in their interests for them to take the money and run.
So to answer your question Marsha, I am not insistent on running the College down, in a lot of respects I hold the College dear. what I am insistent on his changing the management before it’s too late. Quinlan, Kearney and Pike must go and possibly that Judas Andy Dandy whose head was turned by a bag of coins.