By Dave Sewell
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2518

School’s too soft when you can’t even drug your pupils

This article is over 5 years, 11 months old
Issue 2518
Chilling files at the National Archive
Chilling files at the National Archive

Nostalgic Tories want to take us back to the “selective” schooling system of their youth.

But new revelations from the National Archive show how horrific this could be.

A school in North Yorkshire ran experimental drugs trials on its pupils in 1968. It didn’t seek their parents’ consent and there’s no record of the pupils’ consent being sought.

“Disturbed” boys at Richmond Hill Approved School were given anti-convulsive drug Beclamide for six months to see if it altered their behaviour.

The Home Office gave the go-ahead to the trial.

It also agreed to a similartest of powerful sedative Haloperidol on girls at Springhead Park Approved School near Leeds. This was only stopped by school bosses worried about what parents would think.

Approved Schools were boarding schools where children who committed offences or were simply deemed “out of control” were sent by juvenile courts.

They were run by charities with Home Office funding.


The tests underline the authorities’ contempt for children they couldn’t get to do what they were told.

Richmond Hill quack JR Hawkings asked if he could test drugs on “impulsive, explosive, irritable, restless and aggressive” boys.

Bob Hammal, who taught at the school during the trial, said that if teachers had known about it they would have spoken out to stop it.

“What really did shock me more than anything was that parental consent was not sought and was not thought to be necessary,” he said.

The government saw itdifferently. Home Office headshrinker Pamela Mason said “this sort of research is to be welcomed” and “I would recommend maximum support”.

Springhead psychiatrist Joyce Galbraith hoped that “by allaying the anxiety of the girls chemically, we might perhaps settle the school a little bit more”. Mason thought it “sounds a valuable treatment approach”.

Today’s Tories are of the same mind. They want to roll back the clock to an education system that writes children off and holds them down.

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