AN alumna of a prestigious grammar school is campaigning to stamp out a “toxic culture” she alleges existed while she was a student there.

Scarlett Mansfield, 26, attended Colchester Royal Grammar School as a sixth former.

The school is renowned for being one of the highest ranking school in the country for its A level results and has been in the Sunday Times top 10 seven times in the past ten years.

Dozens of its students go on to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities every year.

But after reading articles about Everyone’s Invited - a movement committed to tackling a culture of sex abuse at predominantly male schools - Scarlett decided she had to speak out.


History - students at the school more than 100 years ago

In her blog, she details a series of alleged incidents involving male students at the school which she said left her and some of her friends traumatised.

The blog, which has been read by more than 20,000 people, says: “Many of the girls received far more than we ever bargained for – leaving us genuinely traumatised by the memory of our time at the school.”

Scarlett claimed one ex-pupil even locked himself in two girls’ cars and refused to leave until he received oral sex.

“Another told everyone he’d slept with a girl and when she denied it, saying if he did it wasn’t consensual, then changed his story,” she said.

Scarlett added: “Speaking to women about their memories of the school reveals far wider misogyny and abuse.”

The selective grammar offers boys-only education for years 7 to 11 but it allows about 60 girls in total to attend its sixth form.


Elite - the school's grounds 

The Oxford University graduate also highlighted contention surrounding the school’s Old Colcestrian Society and told the society’s president she did not feel welcome as a woman.

Read more: 

“The problem is feeling excluded from this society has led to a reduced number of networking opportunities for women from the school,” she added.

Scarlett is now running a women’s network with more than 130 members to discuss their concerns on the issue.

She added: “This is so much bigger than us – it’s part and parcel of a wider issue in a society where privileged boys are made to feel girls around them owe them something.”

Scarlett added: “While entry requirements have since changed at the school, from what I’ve heard speaking to more recent leavers, the culture has not changed with it.”

She hopes her campaigning will help other girls and is in the process of raising awareness about the matter.

Scarlett added: “Actions speak louder than words. Now is not the time for apologies, it’s the time for action.”


Headteacher - John Russell, the school's headteacher

Colchester Royal Grammar School's response: 

In response, Colchester Royal Grammar School’s headteacher John Russell said he was “shocked and saddened” to read the reports of “wholly unacceptable behaviours” some female students experienced. 

He added: “Misogyny, harassment, abuse and discrimination in any form is not tolerated at CRGS. 

“All reported incidents are dealt with in line with the highest levels of our code of conduct and we keep thorough records of such incidents. 

“We recognise the value of a united approach to raising awareness of discrimination, harassment and abuse in every form it takes. 
“We are clear that inaction by any bystander is to be complicit and is therefore equally unacceptable.”

He said the students’ voice is increasingly at the heart of the school’s equality and diversity work, but admitted there is “clearly” more to be done.

“The CRGS senior leadership team, our safeguarding leads, the school counsellor and the pastoral team are always available for any current students who need to report an incident or who need help, support and advice,”he added.

Mr Russell also urged students who have been victims of a criminal act to contact the police if they have not already done so. 

He added: “We have made our school liaison officer aware of the allegations of criminal acts and will work closely with the police to ensure such reports are dealt with sensitively and effectively.”