CLASS warfare has erupted in some of the most expensive classrooms in Scotland.
Glenalmond College offered a full scholarship to a gifted state school pupil and invited a documentary crew to follow his progress. But the PR exercise backfired when the cameras recorded the boy being bullied to the brink of leaving.
In the BBC documentary, 13-year-old Tom Files is subjected to taunts and harassment about his background from fellow pupils at the 24,000-a-year school, which counts Harry Potter star Robbie Coltrane among its old boys.
It is another embarrassment for the Perthshire institution, which was embroiled in controversy last year when pupils were shown on YouTube staging a mock "chav hunt" on school grounds.
Last night, Glenalmond admitted pupils had been disciplined for bullying but denied the incident was class-related.
The documentary, which will be shown on BBC2 on Tuesday, contains other material likely to leave the school red-faced, including apparently underage pupils drinking beer in their rooms, mooning at the camera, and claiming Scottish accents are sometimes ridiculed.
Files, from Oban, became the first pupil in Glenalmond's 161-year history to receive a 100% scholarship. He was selected after an interview in which it emerged that his parents care for his brother, who is profoundly autistic.
Headteacher Gordon Woods, known at Glenalmond as the Warden, described Files as a "deserving case" and said: "We felt this was a child who could thrive in this environment."
But Files encountered difficulties not long after he was sent to board at the college's historic Skrines House.
As the documentary cameras roll, the clearly anxious youngster is shown telling his mother Lucy that other pupils were badgering him about his father's occupation. He tells his mother: "They keep asking what dad does for a living and how he can afford to pay the fees."
She tries to reassure him by saying: "Just tell them that he is a full-time carer. They won't know how much he earns."
But the youngster continues to be singled out and is even shown being dragged from a common room sofa and thrown to the ground.
Another scene shows the teenager finally snapping and shouting back after being taunted and isolated in turn by a group of his peers.
The bullying forces his distraught mother to the point where she is set to remove him from the school. Nearing the end of her tether she shouts: "He can't take it any more."
It is understood she decided to allow Tom to return to the school after the summer following reassurance that he would be moved to another house and that his tormentors had been dealt with.
Another former state school pupil, Scott McAllister, says in the documentary he had faced taunts over his background at Glenalmond. He says: "When I first came here I was called a chav because I had a strong Scottish accent. I wore different clothes, wore my hair differently and acted differently."
Peter Barber-Fleming of Saltire Films and Television, which made the series for the BBC, predicted viewers would empathise with Tom.
"His is an interesting story not just because he was on a scholarship and comes from a different social background, but because he had such a very tough year.
"There is no doubt that what went on was bullying and the school dealt with it as such. How Tom and his family cope with it, as things become more and more difficult, is admirable."
Barber-Fleming, a former Glenalmond pupil, praised the school for not attempting to censor the output. "People have asked me if it was a recruitment tool for the school and a positive spin job. In reality, staff at the school all went 'ouch' when they were shown the film, but they never tried to interfere."
A spokeswoman for the school insisted that Tom's bullying was not related to his background.
She said: "No one knew at the time the film was made that he was on such a high level of support. His difficulties were to do with early teenage interactions and not home background."
The school's head said the youngster was now thriving. Woods said: "We do not tolerate bullying in any form. We offered guidance and counselling to ensure the individuals concerned understood the effects of their actions and we took disciplinary action when required.
"As a result Tom has entered his second year as a much happier boy and has settled in well."
The school issued a statement from the youngster's mother which states: "Tom has moved to a new house, has made new friends and has returned this year with a new confidence and enthusiasm."