A personal site of professional interest

Comments & Discussion

DiscussionIt is always a pleasure to hear from people who have thoughts or enquiries about the material included on the site – or the wider questions that much of it raises.

Please do get in touch if you feel you would like to add to the discussions here.

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Recently Received Comments

Recieved from Jill Brew Cutler and added to the site on 19th April 2017.

As bizarre as this may seem, last night I had a dream about a boy I used to “care” for in the Cotswold Community , which was an out of the blue thing. I decided that i should use the power of Google seeing this as serendipity. Anyway, not having much success I Googled the Cotswold Community and stumbled across your website. Needless to say it brought back fond memories. I really enjoyed your website and I like the articles and links to other relevant sites.

I am unsure if you remember Colin and I? As an CC occupational hazard we met there and continue to plod on in life here in Cairns Australia. Colin when in the UK went on to work as an Art Psychotherapist but that was way too specialised for Australia so he did the practical thing for our children and re-qualified as a teacher to get support the family in the school holidays!! He never taught as a teacher but they utilised his behaviour management expertise and has been instrumental in supporting schools in this region develop their behaviour support strategies etc. I have been involved in family therapy work and for the last 10 years have been working in remote aboriginal communities in Far north Queensland which has been a huge learning curve.

Our two children are grown and Ewan, born while at the community, has a film business and Ailsa has traveled and now settled into nursing.

I always thought one of the things that bound Colin and I together was and is our shared values and those that were reflected in our work together at the community. We have fond memories of the friends we made and still have and the work went onto to influence all that I do.

Recieved from Nicola Kelso and added to the site on 15th April 2017.

Having just looked up the Cotswold Community and read your articles on the closing, I thought I’d write to let you know of the way in which the community has influenced me.

I was a volunteer there in the early nineties for a relatively short period of time. At that age (19), I was , in hindsight acutely ill-prepared for the needs of the boys and, having arrived at the time of Vanessa’s tragic accident and death, it was clearly and very obviously understandably a difficult time for the staff and boys too. However the ethos and work of the community stayed with me and, although I have varied my career somewhat, taking the SEN teaching route, many of the skills first learnt at the community apply still, particularly in those pupils with attachment disorders and complex needs.

Team teach techniques also always remind me of the community and I now realise the benefits of positive holds where absolutely necessary. In other words, to wrap up, I absolutely love my vocation with a passion and feel that, at the foundation of it all, I, like many others, have the Community to thank for that.

Added to the site on 24th May 2016.

My time at the school was between September 1948 and December 1950.
It took me a time to settle down.

I was in St Andrews House and the master was a Mr Goldsworthy. He was a nice man who I remember as a very understanding man.

The school was run in a regimental way. On entry you were given a number, mine was 547. The staff you came in contact with NEVER called you by your number. There was a certain amount of bullying but you will get that at any school.

I made some very good friends and one of them, we kept in touch 60 plus years, going to each other’s wedding. Unfortunately he died about 5 years ago and I went to his funeral in Surrey.

At the school we worked in the shoe repair dept run by Mr Soloman, who we kept in touch with after we left the school and visited him in Stroud where he had a shoe repair shop.

Going back to the school, it did reform me and I have no regrets in life. I became a Rolls Royce Chauffeur and I have a RR certificate for over 500 thousand miles.

If there are any old boys of the school who would like to get in touch I would be happy be in contact. If I can help you with anymore information I would be glad to hear from you.

Received from Nick Maslen and added to the site on 31st January 2016.

I came across your website today. I worked at the Cotswold Community for just 6 months January to June 1979. At that time you were acting principal as Richard Balbernie was on long term sick leave.

It wasn’t a great time in my life, having come out of a long term relationship I decided that I needed to make other changes to address the loss. As it turned out my change of job was probably not my wisest decision. It did however propel me on to a BSc Behavioural Science degree course at Huddersfield Polytechnic and to a subsequent career within the voluntary sector.

I still remember my time at the Cotswold Community vividly and I am now very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with such a committed group of people who had a very clear understanding of the task in hand and clarity about how it was best tackled. I have taken this insight with me throughout my career in the Voluntary Sector – Citizens Advice Bureau – Housing Association and for the past 21 years Age UK.

I am sorry to read that the Community is now closed but the impact on the boys you supported and the staff that you employed is still alive today. Thank you.

Received from Anthony Cottington and added to the site on 21st July 2015.

I was at the Cotswold Community from 1979 to 1986.
[…] the Cotswold Community helped me a great deal when I was there, but it was not easy thinking about.
I became a Fleet Street photographer and became very successful working on national newspapers and them I moved on to become an advertising photographer shooting ads. I remember delivering your newspaper to you when I was in Larkrise on my bike.
The Cotswold Community is closed now, but it’s work is a testament to people like me.

Received from Isobel Terry and added to the site on 14th April 2015.

I was a volunteer at the Cotswold community in the late 70’s. I was about 19/20 years old. I worked at Larkrise.
I have some fond and vivid memories of my time there and I can remember the faces of some of the boys.
The experience amongst others helped launch me into a long career in youth /community work and it is only in latter years that I have come to therapeutic work.
I am interested looking back that I started out this way. I was taught to weave there and made a loom at the school/Poly with…forgotten his name. This I continued.
I am interested reading your work, the work of the community and the theory behind it. I see it closed in 2011 after you spent a long and dedicated time there.

Received from John Ray and added to the site on 14th April 2015.

Have only just read your paper on The Cotswold School.
I was there between 1958 or 1959 to the early 60’s.My name is John Ray and my number was 1301.
I started in the school rooms and then went on to the painting and decorating dept.I absconded twice and on the second occasion got picked up in North London.Made it there by stealing bicycles and managing to get a train.I was in the isolation block as a result for a couple of weeks under the eye of Jock Anderson.
Although the regime was highly regimented, I don’t recall it being overly harsh and brutal. For instance I didn’t suffer the alleged brutal initiation (don’t recall them at all) and wasn’t bullied. I do remember that 3 months before discharge you were given considerable freedoms in the school and allowed out on your own.
I am now 70 and retired but did achieve a senior management position in the public sector so it must have done me some good.

Received from Kevin Tate and added to the site on 10th September 2013.

Dear John Whitwell

I am writing to say hello and to let you know that I was a boy at the Cotswold Community from 1988 to 1993 I spent 5 years at the Cotswold Community and lived in Long Barn.

I am writing to tell you that after reading your papers on your website and really understanding what the Community was all about I believe that the Cotswold Community actually helped me to find a meaning in life and would like to thankyou for all your hard work.

I am now 37 Years old and I remember my time at the Community as though it was yesterday,
Yours Sincerely,
Kevin Tate

Received from Rich Sammons and added to the site on 5th March 2013.

Glad to see that John’s wonderful work remains influential.
In 1972, while returning to Illinois some 1,000 + children that the state had placed throughout the country in a variety of less than relevant residential facilities, we merged Browndale with a community/family oriented Illinois program called Kaleidoscope, and developed a continuum of care for the more difficult kids coming home. That continuum consisted of family outreach into the natural, or extended, family homes, placement in small 3-4 bed homes similar to what Browndale had developed throughout Canada, and supervised independent living for the older adolescents. My wife and I then developed similar programs in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, and DC in an attempt to demonstrate that if we spent as much on a natural family bed as we spent on a residential treatment center bed we would

  • 1) get better long term results for entire family units
  • 2) be able to serve a much wider range of kids/families needing support and services.

Like Browndale, the philosophy was founded on principles of normalization, and the programs had a no reject/no eject intake-discharge policy, and made an unconditional commitment to work with kids and families no matter how difficult they were. Since the residential programs had relatively restrictive intake policies and/or discharged the more difficult kids, we had no problem getting referrals.

Also like Browndale, we believed in small heterogeneous groupings in the alternative homes, rather than larger homogeneous milieus that dominated residential and institutional settings. A 4 bed home might consist of an autistic child, a developmentally disabled youngster, a behavior problem kid etc., and would include both sexes. We felt this was less threatening for the kids than a large homogeneous mileau where there was significant contamination, and thus a dependence on artificial group control devices. Our clinicians had no authoritarian positions, but were utilized in a consultive role, similar to the way a family utilized a family physician. Will be happy to forward some additional info if you like. Anyway, I know John also did some work in England and, I believe, the Netherlands, and would like to know if you know of any of his work in those areas, since I’m hoping to arrange a visit within the next year.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, Rich Sammons.

Received from Stephanie Rampton and added to the site on 11th December 2011.

I just read your ‘critique’ of Greenacres. I need to read it again at leisure in order to fully digest, it but it resonated.
I was 21 with no experience in therapeutic care when I arrived at Springfield in 1980. Stuart was quite a character, inspirational and slightly eccentric! My first task on the wintery night I arrived was to pick brussel sprouts for dinner. I think it was a perfect initiation.
Greenacres is burned into my mind and I think of it often. Happy memories and quite a few traumatic memories. It wasn’t a perfect place but I hope at least some of the kids remember it as a good place where they were loved. I still remember the kids and all their names.… I wish I knew where they are now.

Thanks for sharing your view of Greenacres… good to know the place is not forgotten.
Best wishes, Stephanie

Received from Brian Gannon and added to the site on 11th December 2011.

Morning, John,
Was pleased to discover your web site while browsing for material on some of the “heroes” of my early years in the field of child and youth care.

Recently Craig Fees (of the PETT Archive) contacted me with a view to giving more coverage to “therapeutic community” aspects of working in group care contexts and I readily agreed to join him in such an endeavour with support from our website.

I have been in the field for fifty years and in those years most of our professional and academic reading (here in faraway South Africa) tended to be English rather than that of any other country, so I have naturally been drawn to Wills, Lyward, Beedell, Balbernie & Co, who were at the time working in similar practice territory to mine!
It has been a hard job for many of us to penetrate the strongly behavioural and control focuses encountered in America, but it is good to see some enduring change, perhaps more in Canada where there is a growing awareness of “relational” practice and an understanding of Redl’s “life-space” more in community and “everyday events” terms.

To cut a long story short, as part of CYC-Net (where we regularly get 3500 to 4000 visitors a day and run a discussion list of 3000+ members) we publish a monthly online “journal” called CYC-Online and are committed to making freely available on the web as much helpful and instructive reading as possible. Your article on “Circles, Vicious and Virtuous” on your work at the Cotswold Community, and Dockar-Drysdale’s piece on Management of Violence are just two articles which I think would be most interesting and informative for our readers and I wonder whether you would give us permission to use them?

My co-editor on CYC-Net is Dr Thom Garfat of Montreal, another veteran in the field, who recently visited and spoke at Peper Harrow. The chairman of our Board of Governors is Prof Leon Fulcher who does some work with Kibble in Scotland and also with Foster Care Associates.
In my career I worked in three care agencies, as principal of the last two. I founded South Africa’s National Association of Child Care Workers in the 60s, developed their wide ranging training up to the 90s and through them did some teaching at various colleges around SA and also at the University of South Africa. Started CYC-Net in the mid-1990s.

Received from Symon Bain and added to the site on 9th August 2012.

I am a former resident of this school. I remember, vividly,digging a well during the summer of ’76, and finding a rat in it the following morning. Although, you could say, I wasn’t a success, and the funniest, indeed fondest, memories are the “running outs” we used to do, with the staff spending half the night chasing us. I am sad that this home is no longer to be used to care & nurture for the type of boy that I used to be. I would hope that many of the boys that I spent time with there grew up to be well rounded individuals, that have nothing but fond memories of the cotswolds.

Received from Bill Preston and added to the site on 9th August 2012.

I was boy at the Cotswold School between 1960 – 1963.
I have just read “The Beginnings of the Cotswold Community” where an account is given of life in the school prior to it’s conversion to a therapeutic community. I have to say I do not recognise a lot of what was described. The bullying was not a real problem, and no worse than in any type of school. There was sexual activities but this was to be expected amongst young boys facing puberty and exploring their sexuality. Worse was the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of a member of staff and being severely caned when I reported it. The market garden so derided was an excellent resource for the school and many lads learned a lot working there, as I did working on the farm and in the dairy. I later went to work in the kitchen, where I formed a good relationship with the Chef who taught me a lot. I was doing that work when I was discharged in 1963. I cannot say I was a happy child, or that I enjoyed my stay at the Cotswold School, but it was nowhere near as bad as painted in the article and I did have lots of good times. I can only assume it must have changed a lot between March 1963 when I left and when it was converted to a therepeutic community. I would like to see the record put straight but don’t suppose after all these anyone is really interested.