Here you’ll find a listing of books, videos, articles and other information resources on boarding school syndrome and the history of boarding.


8 Oct 2019

‘Reflections of a Survivor’ by Thurstine Basset

11 Sep 2019

 This article is a personal reflection on being able to tell a story through writing a book about surviving boarding school. It pays tribute to ‘Self and Society’ in its role of publishing innovative work. The author makes a plea for ‘home sickness’ to be renamed as ‘school sickness’ and for boarding issues to be incorporated into the training of therapists and counsellors. 

Download PDF of article here

Nick Duffell and Thurstine Basset (2016) ‘Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege: A guide to therapeutic work with Boarding School Survivors’. Routledge

29 Aug 2019

Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege discusses how ex-boarders can be amongst the most challenging clients for therapists. It looks at the effect on adults of being sent away to board in childhood and the problems associated with boarding.

It is divided into three parts: Recognition, Acceptance and Change. It aims to help readers understand the emotional processes of boarding and the psychological aspects of survival. The book also explores how ex-boarders frequently struggle with intimate relationships and offers interventions and strategies for those working with ex-boarder clients.

Nick Duffell interviewed on radio in New Zealand

27 Aug 2019

Britain’s elite-school problem in de Spiegel

27 Aug 2019

Joy Schaverien in Tatler, ‘The Modern Toff’s Guide to Parenting’

30 Jul 2019


Was Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe Story?

30 May 2019

“Cutting Edge – series 8 episode one: ‘Leaving home at Eight” Channel 4

2 Apr 2019

‘Following four eight-year-old girls as they adjust to a new life away from their parents and their homes; the parents have decided their children will be better off boarding in a private school, in this instance Highfield, one of the best in the UK.’

“The whole thing – watching these sweet little people as they are gradually institutionalised – was so peculiar, so old fashioned, that it made for quite fascinating viewing.” The Telegraph

Jane Barclay

5 Mar 2019

Jane Barclay is a former director of Boarding Concern.

  • (2011) The Trauma of Boarding at School, published in Self & Society, Vol 38, No 3. PDF download (110KB, 6 pages).
  • (2007) I Can’t Get No-o…Satisfaction, published in Self & Society, Vol 34, no 5.
  • (2003) To Smack or Not To Smack, published in Self & Society, Vol 30, no 6.
  • (2002) Class, Prejudice and Privilege, published in Self & Society, Vol 30, no 4.

Exposure: Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame (ITV 2018)

5 Mar 2019

Focussing on child sexual abuse, this programme followed journalist Alex Renton, who was himself abused as an eight-year-old by his teacher, as he investigated how much schools knew about what was going on behind their closed doors.

“It was impossible not to feel outrage and anger on the victims’ behalf. Most of these grotesque acts and systematic failures were “historic” but there was no room for complacency, as Renton wondered if boarders are safe today. The answer wasn’t entirely reassuring. Safeguarding standards vary wildly between schools and reporting of abuse allegations is still not legally mandatory. But the documentary was a thoroughly researched and righteously angry film about a deeply worrying issue.” (The Telegraph)

“Wounded Leaders: the Psychohistory of British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion” by Nick Duffell, Lone Arrow Press.

5 Mar 2019

In this controversial essay – brimming with politics, history, psychopathology, neuroscience, anecdotes, passion and humour – Nick Duffell, psychotherapist, psychohistorian and author of the acclaimed The Making of Them, argues that the British national obsession with sending the children of the well-heeled away to school has a major impact on our society, our institutions and our attitudes. Tracing the development of what he calls the Rational Man Project through the colonial period, he proposes that a cherished national character ideal, eschewing vulnerability and practising a normalised covert hostility based on bullying in the dorm adversely affects even those who did not have the privilege of such an education. It leaves Britain in the social and emotional dark ages, led by “the boys in the men that run things.”

The UK Council for Psychotherapy

5 Mar 2019

The UK Council for Psychotherapy advises how to find psychotherapists and counsellors

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

5 Mar 2019

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy maintains lists of qualified therapists by area.

“Stiff Upper Lip : Secrets, Crimes and the Schooling of a Ruling Class” Alex Renton (2017) Weidenfeld & Nicolson

5 Mar 2019

“No other society sends its young boys and girls away to school to prepare them for a role in the ruling class.

Beating, bullying, fagging, cold baths, vile food and paedophile teachers are just some of the features of this elite education, and, while some children loved boarding school, others now admit to suffering life-altering psychological damage. Stiff Upper Lip exposes the hypocrisy, cronyism and conspiracy that are key to understanding the scandals over abuse and neglect in institutions all over the world.

Award-winning investigative journalist Alex Renton went to three traditional boarding schools. Drawing on those experiences, and the vivid testimony of hundreds of former pupils, he has put together a compelling history, important to anyone wondering what shaped the people who run Britain in the twenty-first century.” [The Telegraph]

Boarding Recovery

5 Mar 2019 is an organisation peopled by a group of accredited psychotherapists and trained counsellors who specialise in working with ‘boarding school survivors’. Boarding Recovery offers a support service for adult ex-boarders whose emotional damage often lies hidden until at some point in their adult lives it re-surfaces in the form of depression, burn out, marital problems or alcohol/drug abuse.

A Very English Education. BBC

5 Mar 2019

A 2013 BBC documentary following up on a 1979 program that explored life inside Radley College boarding school.

“It’s a brilliant film: an objective portrait of a very peculiar institution. Some will come away thinking, like Rupert, that places such as Radley are fantastic, for the competitiveness they instil. Others that they are ghastly places that are not only unfair, but inhuman, cruel, and with no place in the modern world.” (The Guardian).

Boarding School Survivors Weekend workshops

5 Mar 2019, founded by Nick Duffell, provide therapeutic help for adult ex- boarders. a programme of therapeutic workshops for adults who have recognised that they may have paid a price for their education and are looking for ways to understand and heal their wounds. These popular courses, which have been running uninterrupted since 1990, receive referrals from GPs, community organisations and counsellors, and have benefited many people, by allowing them to leave aspects of their past behind and develop their true potential. Boarding School Survivors also offers private psychotherapy for individuals and couples counselling through an increasing network of specialist practitioners.

Nick Duffell The Making of Them: The British Attitude to Children and the Boarding School System, London: Lone Arrow Press, Amazon

5 Mar 2019

Nick Duffell’s book, written in 2000, should be required reading for those in the field of psychotherapy and allied practice and for former boarders making sense of their experience.

“At the dawn of the 21st century British society is still shaped by a private education system devised to gentrify the Victorian middle classes and produce gentlemen to run the Empire. Yet it is not on the political agenda. It is rarely the subject of public debate, and we remain blind to its psychological implications.

“A remarkable book which will be essential reading to anyone interested in the nature and culture of English, their education system, their attitude to children, and the psychological and social effects of sending their privileged sons and daughters away to boarding schools.”

“If the Church of England is the Tory Party at prayer, the Public School system may be called the Tory Party in the nursery. Here are set out the traumas, deformations and truncations of character that explain the British Establishment from the appalling Doctor Arnold to the Thatcher Matronocracy. The British are known to be mad. But in the maiming of their privileged young, they are criminally insane.” – John le Carré, best selling author, and former MI6 member.

‘The Making of Them’ A BBC 40 Minutes production, directed by Colin Luke

5 Mar 2019

A TV documentary filmed in September 1993 about young boys starting boarding prep school. It is the earliest example of a TV documentary about “modern” boarding and was for many of us the first impetus to recognise and seek help to overcome the legacies of the boarding experience.

Professor Joy Schaverien Boarding School Syndrome: The Psychological Trauma of the ‘Privileged’ Child, Routledge

5 Mar 2019

Joy writes and lectures extensively on a varied group of topics including psychoanalysis, the erotic transference and gender in psychotherapy, art and psychoanalysis and the psychological effects of boarding school.

Boarding School Syndrome describes common symptoms suffered by those affected by early boarding. Originator of the term, her very readable book was published by Routledge in June 2015. Based on extensive research with ex-boarders, in psychotherapy and in semi-structured interviews, it depicts the enduring psychological effects of this trauma. This is one of the leading books identifying ongoing issues to help identify the negative effects of boarding.