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Walsall Observer, 6 June 1975, p.1
Tawse incident sparks inquiry
An incident at one of Walsall's biggest comprehensive schools has led to an official inquiry into corporal punishment.
Police are investigating an allegation of assault by a teacher at Joseph Leckie school after the tawse was administered.
The complaint, from a parent alleges that a teacher gave the tawse -- a three-thronged [sic] leather strap (picture right) -- to a boy with undue severity.
The teacher discovered three boys had been playing truant. He punished them by giving them three strokes of the tawse on the buttocks.
One of the boys was the subject of the complaint. The punishment was correctly recorded in the punishment book, but the boy's mother complained, saying the punishment had left several red weals on her son's body, though she accepted some punishment was justified.
She reported the matter to the police and it is now in their hands.
Chairman of the governors at Leckie, Councillor Brian Powell has written to education director Mr. R. Nixon asking for a full report on the administration of corporal punishment at the school.
This is being prepared, and several education officers are understood to be working on it.
Now parents are getting together a petition demanding more discriminate use of corporal punishment. They say they are disturbed that harsh punishment lacks the principal [sic] of "corrective reform."
The tawse has always been a bone of contention in Walsall. Two years ago education vice chairman Councillor Eric Alison asked teachers to suggest alternative punishments.
Walsall is one of the few education authorities to still use the tawse.
A spokesman for the education department confirmed the investigation was being carried out.
He added, "The education committee reviewed the question of the tawse three years ago and they decided to continue its use.
"The investigations have come to no conclusion as yet. They will be presented to the committee when complete."
Walsall Observer, 6 June 1975
Teachers and the tawse
Nowadays, we appear to have forgotten the old adage which proclaimed: "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Perhaps, some years ago, the advice it offered was taken too literally, but, interpreted with moderation, there is no doubt that it helped to maintain discipline, not only in the home, but also in the schools.
It is very necessary that teachers are allowed discretion in the manner in which they apply discipline. No parent would wish to believe that children were allowed to break school rules, or deceive either school staff or themselves, during the periods they were supposed to be at school, and go unpunished.
It is understandable that when the tawse is employed to punish students in breach of school rules that some parents might feel sympathy for the offspring returning home still smarting from the application of leather.
What would be the reaction of most parents who learned that school staff ignored indiscipline, or allowed young students to do as they please? We feel sure that there would be a great outburst of criticism against the headmaster and his staff.
The new, soft approach to enforcing discipline does not work. Let parents cast their minds back to the time they were at school. Surely they remember that a few strokes of a cane, or tawse, made them reflect on the wisdom of an act that constituted a breach of discipline.
No one is suggesting that every misdemeanour should quality the culprit for a thrashing, but, surely, teachers must have at their disposal a means which helps them maintain school discipline. In their own interests, parents should endorse this.
Sunday Mirror, London, 8 June 1975
Strap probe at a school
Sunday Mirror Reporter
POLICE are probing the use of a three-thonged leather strap for punishment at a comprehensive school.
The investigation follows a complaint by a mother who claims that her thirteen-year-old son was given three strokes of the strap -- known as the tawse -- for playing truant. Governors at the 1,500-pupil Joseph Leckie school in Walsall, Staffs, have also called for an inquiry into corporal punishment there following a "disturbing number of canings." [sic]
The tawse is commonly used for punishment in Scottish schools. Walsall is believed to be the only local authority in England to use it. [Nonsense - C.F.]
Mr. Gilbert Wall, head of the middle school, confirmed yesterday that he had punished the boy and two others who had played truant.
A police spokesman said: "The head of the middle school used the tawse on the boys over their trousers.
"All three boys have been interviewed and a report has gone to the West Midlands Chief Constable."
Mr Brian Powell, chairman of the school governors, said: "I cannot say anything about this specific punishment because the police are investigating.
"But I have asked for a full report into corporal punishment at the school."
Walsall Observer, 13 June 1975
Question on use of the tawse
The case of Joseph Wright, the 13 years-old Walsall schoolboy who is said to have been tawse too severely, is being considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The story of the Joseph Leckie schoolboy was exclusively revealed in the "Observer" last week.
Now following in the wake of this incident, Walsall education chiefs will soon be starting an investigation into another tawse incident at Lodge Farm Comprehensive School, Willenhall.
Mrs. Beryl Williams, of 38, Gough Street, Willenhall, complained that her 13 year-old son Jeremy had marks across his buttocks that remained for nine days.
She said she was considering taking legal action against the teacher involved.
Mr. Gilbert Wall, the teacher who gave the punishment in the Joseph Leckie incident, this week spoke to the "Observer."
He said, "I was surprised at the complaint. As far as I was concerned, I was merely doing my job. I had caught these boys truanting, and I administered the tawse -- the authorised punishment."
He said the boys -- there were two other boys involved -- confessed to playing truant on other occasions.
They were all kept at home this week.
As a result of the "Observer" story, Walsall South M.P. Bruce George has asked education minister Mr. Fred Mulley how many other education authorities allow the tawse to be used.
Walsall Observer, 20 June 1975, p.1
Tawse: no action by police
Walsall Education department are investigating a third tawsing incident in the borough this time at Mossley Infants School.
But this week there was news that police are taking no action against Mr. Gilbert Wall, head of the middle school at Joseph Leckie school who tawsed a boy who played truant.
The latest incident concerns 10 year old Philip Wright of 5, Fountains Road, Mossley, Bloxwich. His father said Philip was tawsed for throwing stones in the playground.
But Mr. Wright later got a letter from the school headmistress, apologising, saying she had tawsed the wrong boy.
Mr. Wright has contacted education chairman Councillor Bill Withnall who said he was looking into the matter.
The education department are also investigating.
Mrs. Marsh did not want to comment.
Walsall Observer, 27 June 1975, p.1
Discipline suffering at schools
Discipline in Walsall's secondary schools has suffered because of publicity about the use of the tawse.
The borough's deputy director of education, Mr. R.S. Vardon, has criticised what he calls the hysterical reaction to the issue, and he commented: "teachers are inhibited from exercising proper control because they fear that it might result in publicity."
Mr. Vardon continued: "Society must make up its own mind about the subject. Parliament has never forbidden corporal punishment and our own Education Committee went into the issue very thoroughly three years ago. They decided to keep the tawse and its use is kept under strict control."
In his opinion much of the disciplinary problem in city schools was a result of teacher being cowed into not using corporal punishment.
Mr. Vardon's viewed were echoed by the headmaster of the latest school to be in the limelight because of the tawse.
Mr. A.W. Mills is the headmaster of Shire Oak Comprehensive School, where recently a 15-year-old boy, Paul Birch, of Holly Lane Walsall Wood, was tawsed.
His father, Mr. Reg Birch, complained to the school about the incident and he later told the "Observer": "I'm not against corporal punishment -- in fact I've taken the stick to Paul myself -- but I think that tawsing is brutal."
Mr. Birch says that when Paul came home from school after being tawsed he seriously considered taking him to the doctor.
The tawsing caused six weals on Paul's buttocks and his mother went up to the school to complain. There she was told that Paul had broken the rules four times and had been warned that he might be tawsed.
The head, Mr. Mills, said: "The allegation that the tawsing was brutal is absolute nonsense. When a child in the school breaks a rule we consider what punishment is appropriate and in this case we decided on the tawse."
Mr. Mills added: "I certainly agree that discipline does suffer from the publicity and I think this is especially true of schools in the old Aldridge-Brownhills area where the tawse is a comparatively recent innovation."
A story in last week's "Observer" about the tawsing of a 10 year-old referred to Mossley Infants School. This should have been Mossley Junior School. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.
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