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School CP - July 2014

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The Australian (web only), Sydney, 15 July 2014


Government expert Kevin Donnelly backs corporal punishment in schools

By Justine Ferrari

Kevin Donnelly
One of the experts reviewing education, Kevin Donnelly, has spoken out in support of corporal punishment. Source: Supplied

ONE of the federal government's education experts reviewing school curriculum Kevin Donnelly supports schools using corporal punishment to discipline students.

Asked in a radio interview today if he saw merit in corporal punishment, Dr Donnelly said he had "no problem with its use" if the school community was in favour of it and "it was done properly".

"There are one or two schools around Australia I know of where it is approved of and they do do it. I'm sure they only do it very rarely," he said on Sydney Radio station 2UE.


Dr Donnelly, who is also a research fellow at the Australian Catholic University, recalled the most effective punishment at his school in Broadmeadows in Melbourne's northern suburbs was meted out by a Scottish physical education teacher who invited boys "to throw the first punch".

"If there were any discipline problems he would take the boy behind the shed and say we can have a talk about this or you can throw the first punch," he said.

"That teacher would probably lose his job now but it was very effective. He only had to do it once and the kids were pretty well behaved for the rest of the year."

While Dr Donnelly then said the days of corporal punishment had gone, when asked if there was still merit in the practice, he replied there was if the school community supported its use.

Dr Donnelly, who was interviewed as part of a discussion about rising suspensions in schools, said it was a question of getting the balance right between punishments that were effective and those that students saw as a holiday from school.

"I taught for many years and for a while there we had a time-out room, where kids who misbehaved would simply go and sit in the time-out room. They loved it because they could get out of class work, they could just relax and meditate for a while," he said.

"That obviously didn't work so we've just got to get the balance right."


Two-and-a-half-minute news segment in which Today on Nine Network TV (c. 15 July 2014) gives its own version of the above news story. Some viewers' comments are read out. The male co-presenter then recalls receiving the strap at school and says it was good for him.


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IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.

Corpun file 25460 at

Herald Sun, Melbourne, 16 July 2014

Pyne passes caning question to states

By Katina Curtis
From AAP

David Leyonhjelm
Senator David Leyonhjelm is open to the idea of allowing schools to bring back corporal punishment.
Source: AAP

KEVIN Donnelly has been a very naughty boy but Education Minister Christopher Pyne isn't reaching for the cane.

DR Donnelly, one-half of Mr Pyne's curriculum review panel, has reopened a furious debate after saying measures such as caning are very effective.

He says it should be up to schools to decide how best to mete out punishments.

The Greens and the NSW Teachers Federation have called for Dr Donnelly's resignation, while state governments have lined up to condemn his views.

Stephen Breen, president of the WA Primary Principals' Association, said it was now hard to see Dr Donnelly as a credible adviser.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten called on the government to clarify its position on corporal punishment.

However, Mr Pyne says Dr Donnelly's views are a matter for him.

"Dr Donnelly, along with Professor Ken Wiltshire, are undertaking a review of the national curriculum which has nothing to do with managing student behaviour," his spokesman told AAP.


The minister personally doesn't support any form of corporal punishment.

But his spokesman said questions about classroom and student management should be directed to state governments, who directly run schools.

Corporal punishment in schools was phased out by most states from the 1980s.

WA Education Minister Peter Collier acknowledged it was still used in two private schools in that state.

"I believe we have moved on from corporal punishment," he said.

"However, in a free society, parents need to be able to make informed decisions about what they believe to be the best interests of their children."

NSW Premier Mike Baird said the cane might have been effective but he didn't want to see it reintroduced.

He received something similar to the cane when he was in school and has remembered it "for a long time".

Victoria, Queensland and South Australia also said corporal punishment wouldn't be returning to their state schools.

News Ltd 2014 Copyright

Corpun file 25463 at

The West Australian, Perth, 17 July 2014

Glare on cane-using schools

By Bethany Hiatt
Education Editor


Two private schools in Perth that still use corporal punishment to discipline students have fallen under the national spotlight after an education adviser to the Federal Government reignited debate about the merits of the cane.

The head of the Abbott Government's national curriculum review panel Kevin Donnelly said on Tuesday that he had "no problem" with the use of corporal punishment in schools if it had the support of parents. The Department of Education Services, which registers private schools in WA, yesterday confirmed that Bible Baptist Christian Academy in Mt Helena and Nollamara Christian Academy had corporal punishment in their discipline policies.

It said the schools, which have fewer than 35 students each, would review the policies before the end of the year.

The Bible Baptist Christian Academy says in its parents' handbook that corporal correction should be carried out by a parent in the presence of a staff member.

"A reasonable number of firm strokes, not to exceed six, would be administered by a parent using a simple bamboo stick," it said.

Associate pastor Andrew Hurst, from the Mt Helena Bible Baptist church, said parents fully supported the policy, which was used rarely.

He said schools had been forced to take over the role of parents in instilling character in students, as well as educating them.

"There's not the same respect, there is a breakdown in the homes and it's showing up in schools because this issue keeps getting raised," Pastor Hurst said.

"During the 1950s and 60s it was misused and now as a society we've swung away from that and said we'll completely ban it -- but I think there is a middle ground."

Physical punishment stopped in government and Catholic schools in 1986. It was banned in public schools under the School Education Act of 1999. Education Minister Peter Collier said he would consider taking steps to ban the cane from private schools if the community called for it.

"I believe we have moved on from corporal punishment," he said.

"However, in a free society parents need to be able to make informed decisions about what they believe to be in the best interests of their children."

Corpun file 25472 at


The Daily Telegraph, Sydney (web only), 22 July 2014

Central Coast news

Retired school principal John Smyth says cane was effective punishment and should be brought back

By Terry Collins


Should corporal punishment be reintroduced into our schools? Retired teacher John Smyth of Ourimbah says yes.

"I am a retired public school secondary teacher, who has experienced teaching before and after the cane was banned," Mr Smyth said.

"I was promoted to a position of subject master in my fifth year of teaching, when I was authorised to use the cane, as was the case over the ensuing 25 years as a head teacher.

"The teachers on my staff were able to send disruptive students to me.

"I used the threat of the cane as a last resort. I rarely had to use it, as this was a very effective deterrent but the system worked extremely well."

Mr Smyth said teachers were able to spend the bulk of their time actually teaching but after the ban, teachers became bogged down with endless paper work, counselling sessions which cut into their lesson preparation time, and became more frustrated at the ineffectiveness of the alternatives offered.

"The students were far better off (when corporal punishment was allowed)," he said. "Those who came to class to learn were allowed to, because the troublemaker was quickly dealt with, causing minimum disruption.

"Nowadays, the rest of the class has to suffer, while the stressed-out teacher tries to resolve the matter, before he/she is able to return to the lesson."

Mr Smyth said the trouble maker also benefited, with the problem dealt with promptly enabling a return to class to catch up on the work.

He said students were rarely sent to him a second time and no ill feelings were harboured, in either direction.

There has been extensive public debate about use of caning in schools.

How the debate started

Controversial education expert Kevin Donnelly, who is running the federal government's review of the national curriculum, caused a stir last week when he suggested he was not opposed to corporal punishment where it was supported by the school community and was "done properly". The government has ruled out the return of corporal punishment in Australian schools.

News Ltd 2014 Copyright

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