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ruler   :  Archive   :  2002   :  UK Schools Dec 2002


School CP - December 2002

Corpun file 10597 at


Daily Record, Glasgow, 11 December 2002

Let teachers use the belt in schools

Never mind excluding pupils, bring back the belt and the cane. It's the only effective punishment as throwing them out is basically a holiday to them - Gran.

Fine the parents for their children's behaviour, and yes, throw them out. I blame the parents - JM, Glasgow.

At my school, disruptive kids are rewarded with special days out and "normal" kids' efforts are ignored. They should be treated like everyone else - C.A., Fife.

Bring back the belt, then there would be NO disruptions - CJ, Fife.

I was at school in the 70s when the belt was in force, it never did me any harm and it taught me to respect my elders - KC, Stirling.

Disruptive kids are constantly blamed for their behaviour. Parents should be forced to take action to resolve the problems which have created the behaviour.

Disruptive kids should not get off as lightly as they do today. They should be put somewhere that would instil discipline and respect - E., Airdrie.

Disruptive kids aren't necessarily bad, they're acting out of frustration. Schools should put more effort into finding out what's worrying them rather than give up on them.

Yes, disruptive kids should be put out of school as it stops kids willing to learn from learning. The worst thing was banning the belt. At least teachers had some control when it was still in use - PS, Lanarkshire.

I was a disruptive kid and never went to school. I realised how important education was once I left to work in a factory, so the kids should be left in school - Ann.

I think that the disruptive element should get help but make sure they understand they can't act like thugs in school - A 6th-year pupil.

Parents and teachers should work together to find out why the kids are being disruptive and not take the easy option of throwing them out. There is always a reason why a child does unexplainable things - TS, Inverness.

Yes, of course they should be kicked out. Teachers have a hard enough job without putting up with them. Bring the belt back.

Disruptive kids are a minority. I left school two years ago and I can tell you that they get let off too easy. They should be thrown out - CI, Sauchie.

They should bring back the belt, that would give the teachers more authority over kids - A, Paisley.

Kids should be kicked out for being disruptive. I have a 13-year-old daughter who is quite intelligent and there are some kids who distract her from lessons along with other kids - PMc, Glasgow.

Corpun file 10236 at


BBC News On Line, 12 December 2002

Schools lose legal fight over smacking

studentsA group of independent private Christian schools have lost their latest legal bid for staff to be allowed to smack pupils with parental consent.

The action, led by Liverpool's Christian Fellowship School, said the law against corporal punishment breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

But the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that the law did not interfere with parents' freedom to practise their religious beliefs.

They said the law allowed parents to administer physical punishment if their children misbehaved at school.

The school, which has the backing of parents, had sought a judicial review of the government's ban on corporal punishment.

Its lawyers quoted sections of the Bible supporting their case.

These included Proverbs, chapter 23:13-14: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death."

They also quoted chapter 13:24: "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."

House of Lords

Smacking was banned in UK state schools in 1986 and the ban was extended to include fee-paying schools in 1996 [sic - a rare mistake by the BBC - in fact the ban in private schools was enacted in 1998 and took effect in 1999 - C.F.].

The school said it would now take its case to the House of Lords.

Headteacher Phil Williamson said: "We don't believe we're given a really fair hearing, but we're going to do all that we can to go to the Lords and see this through to the end.

"We believe that parents have rights and we believe that there are religious rights that the courts have not recognised.

"So it's a very poor day for democracy, for parental rights and for religious rights."

blob RELATED VIDEO CLIP (1 minute 40 seconds) from BBC TV North West Tonight, 12 December 2002. (Picture quality is poor.)

Report by Dave Guest. The Court of Appeal in London rejects a claim by Liverpool's Christian Fellowship School to be allowed to use corporal punishment.

Background scenes of students at the school. Reporter explains the school's case, based on biblical texts. Reaction to the judgment by the headmaster, Phil Williamson.


IMPORTANT: This video material is BBC copyright. 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 10234 at


The Times, London, 14 December 2002

Well beaten Britain finally bends to the inevitable

By Ben Macintyre

The strange, ancient British practice of caning suffered a critical blow this week, when a group of 40 independent Christian schools in the UK lost a battle in the courts to have hitting a child with rod, birch or slipper upheld as a human right. These schools have been fighting a rearguard action, so to speak, ever since caning was outlawed in Britain three years ago, arguing that corporal punishment is part of Christian heritage.

With this court ruling, the school cane will finally join the cat o' nine tails as a museum piece, an archaic tool of ritual punishment, and not a moment too soon.

Of all the traditions cherished by Britons, caning was perhaps the most atavistic. Long after most of the rest of the civilised world gave up the punishment, our schools continued to echo to the whack and yell of ritual flogging. The subject still brings a misty twinge of nostalgia to many a public school-educated Tory, for whom caning is convenient political shorthand for a halcyon age when discipline could be restored by six of best, in a world of manly certainty where everyone knew their place (although sitting down was, presumably, rather painful). In the past Iain "the moderniser" Duncan Smith has supported calls for the reintroduction of caning.

Most weirdly of all, the caning tradition was cherished by people who never went near the sort of schools where this was practised. Billy Bunter and Whacko! (the 1950s television comedy with Jimmy Edwards leering over his cane) were pop culture at its most popular, an idealisation of upper-class, boarding school life for the masses. (Hogwarts, in a much more benign way, achieves the same effect today.)

For the record: I was caned, only once, on the hand, for smoking: it hurt like Hades; the cane-wielder thoroughly enjoyed it; it did not make a man of me and I continued smoking for the next 25 years. (In the 17th century smoking was compulsory at some English schools because it was considered a defence against the plague. One schoolboy complained that he was "never so much whipped in his life" as he was one morning for not smoking. Which goes to show how arbitrary such punishment can be.)

Caning in schools was not banned here until 1999 - 100 years after Poland outlawed it - and the habit remains bizarrely embedded, even celebrated, in our culture. It is (or was) part of how others see us. Flagellation is "le vice Anglais", according to the French, and one of our least appealing national stereotypes is the belief that the British are unnecessarily cruel to their children, with our brutal nannies and enforced cod liver oil. Vladimir Nabokov once wrote that his earliest mental image of Britain was of a ferocious, red-haired schoolmaster beating a boy.

As with foot-binding in China, parents often encouraged this painful tradition for no better reason than the perverse one that it had been done to them. There have always been voices of protest, to be sure, starting with Socrates. Sounding oddly like a shadow education spokesman, he bemoaned the lack of school discipline in Athens of the 5th century BC. "They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food and tyrannise their teachers." But Socrates also argued that whacking these Athenian urchins was not the answer: "Bring not up your children by Compulsion and Fear, but by Playing and Pleasure."

In Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens depicted the beatings administered by the psychopath Wackford Squeers with intent to shock, and the moment when Nickleby thrashes Squeers is one of the great comeuppances of literature. And yet Mr Quelch in Billy Bunter and cane-wielding Teacher in The Bash Street Kids are more jokes than demons.

So far from instilling moral fibre, the effect of caning clearly had a rather odd effect on some public schoolboys. On his first trip to Ethiopia in 1936, Evelyn Waugh paid a courtesy call on the British Ambassador. His diary entry for the occasion reads: "Arrived Addis 4 pm. Dinner with British mission. Asked me to beat him."

George Orwell was deeply ambivalent about caning. In his essay Such, such were the Joys, he wrote about his wretched schooldays, the snobbery and the cruelty, and the beatings he suffered for bed-wetting. He loathed the brutality. Yet he stopped wetting his bed and wrote that it was "a mistake to think such methods do not work". As a teacher, he mercilessly caned schoolboys himself. The rod might, conceivably, have terrified Eric Blair into nocturnal continence, but there were and are many gentler and more effective ways of doing that.

The most unlikely people thought the birch was educational. Samuel Johnson himself observed: "There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly - but then less is learnt there; so that what the boys get at one end, they lose at the other." The master had a God-given right to flog, and the schoolboy a right to be flogged.

The Appeal Court disagreed this week, and rejected the religious schools' claim that the caning ban was in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights. Unless the case goes to the Lords, this painful episode is over. I wonder what the Afghans would have made of this case, having just been delivered from a regime which routinely abused their human rights in the belief that pain could instil moral religious behaviour.

So now Quelch, Squeers, Thwackum and all the other beaters have gone, save for a small, smarting rump. The cane inflicted far more harm than good, creating a most peculiar corner of the national culture, based on fear, violence and class division and giving the French an opportunity for cheap jokes at our expense. Whatever the floggers might claim, it always hurt us, as a nation, far more than it hurt them.

Corpun file 10587 at


The Independent, London, 19 December 2002

Thursday Law Report

Abolition of corporal punishment in schools

By Kate O'Hanlon

SECTION 548 of the Education Act 1996, which abolished corporal punishment in schools, did not infringe articles 8, 9(1) or 10 of, or article 2 of the First Protocol to, the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the claimants' appeal against the dismissal of their application for judicial review.

The claimants were teachers at, and parents who sent their children to, a number of independent private schools established specifically to provide Christian education based on biblical observance. It was their case that the use of corporal punishment was based upon Christian principles.

They claimed, inter alia, that section 548(1) of the Education Act 1996 as amended by section 131 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to apply to wholly private schools, infringed their rights under articles 8, 9(1) and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and article 2 of the First Protocol thereto. Section 548(1) provided:

Corporal punishment given by, or on the authority of a member of staff to a child for whom education is provided at any school . . . cannot be justified in any proceedings on the ground that it was given in pursuance of a right exercisable by a member of staff by virtue of his position as such.

The claimants' application for judicial review was dismissed, and they appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Paul Diamond and Bruno Quintavalle (Windsor & Co) for the claimants; Hugo Keith (Treasury Solicitor) for the Secretary of State.

Lady Justice Arden said (Lord Justice Buxton dissenting) that, on the evidence, it was an integral and necessary part of the religious beliefs of the claimants that, where appropriate, they should discipline children in their care by what the judge had called "smacking". In the view of some of the claimants such chastisement for conduct at school could be carried out at school or at home by the child's parents.

On the basis of the evidence and arguments in the case, when they imposed such chastisement, the claimants "manifested" their religious beliefs for the purposes of article 9.

However, the beliefs of the parents did not require that they send their children to a school or that chastisement should be carried out by teachers. Therefore section 548, by prohibiting the imposition by teachers of corporal punishment, did not interfere with the parents' freedom to manifest their religion. There was no violation of the teachers' rights under article 9 because they could not have any better rights than the parents.

Lord Justice Buxton said that children did not go to school simply because of a decision taken by their parents, but in pursuit of an obligation imposed on the parents by the state to cause their children to be educated, an obligation that could not possibly be said to be inconsistent with article 8. That participation in state-required education took the child outside the private and family sphere.

It was completely artificial to regard the teachers when they inflicted corporal punishment, or the schools when with the consent of the parents they included corporal punishment within the school regime, or the parents when they sent their children to such schools, as expressing opinions or imparting information.

Moreover, what section 548 prevented was the teachers acting on their beliefs. It did nothing to prevent them and the parents from holding those beliefs or from conveying those beliefs to others by any means that they thought fit. Accordingly there was no infringement of article 10.

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