Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame – Exposure review: a raw and emotional exploration of systematic failure of abuse victims

An estimated one million people in Britain today went to boarding school. Increasingly, the extent of sexual abuse in these institutions is coming to light. Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame – Exposure (ITV) 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.

Since going public four years ago about his own experience, Renton has built a unique database, created from the plentiful personal correspondence he has received from other victims. Here they spoke openly about the abuse they suffered, many for the first time, and how it contaminated their lives – “like having a toxin inside you”, as one powerfully put it.  

The pattern was disturbing, with paedophiles grooming and habitually assaulting boarding students. If pupils reported abuse, it was hushed up to avoid scandal and protect the school’s precious reputation, meaning prolific abusers got away with it for decades. If they were “moved on”, according to the programme, they left with glowing references and continued teaching elsewhere, preying on more children.

If you, or a loved one, have been affected by sexual abuse whilst resident at a boarding school, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced lawyers who will be happy to speak to you about whether it may be possible to bring an abuse claim.

Below is a selection of organisations/instutions/bodies we are frequently instructed to pursue.


  • Private schools, boarding schools, local authority schools, closed schools, hospital schools.


  • The Scouts Association, St Johns Ambulance, MIND, the Children’s Society, Barnados.

Private companies

  • Football trainers, judo teachers, dance instructors, swimming instructors, holiday activity centres, nurseries, youth clubs.

Local Authorities/Ministry of Defence

  • County Councils, Borough Councils, City Councils, ILEA, cadets, navy/ army (forces).

National Health Service Trusts/Commissioning Boards/GPs

  • Hospitals, Disability care centres, children’s care providers.


  • Convicted perpetrators, acquitted perpetrators.

Children’s Homes

  • Respite care, full time children’s home, part-time children’s homes.

Religious Institutions

  • Roman Catholic Church, United Synagogue, Sisters of Nazareth, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Brothers Order.

Foster Carers

  • Permanent carers, temporary carers

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