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rainbow ruler   :  Archive   :  2004   :  UK Schools Nov 2004


School CP - November 2004

Corpun file 14646


Liverpool Daily Post, 26 November 2004

Christian school asks Lords for right to smack pupils

A MERSEYSIDE school will go to the House of Lords next week in a battle over its right to administer corporal punishment to its pupils.

Liverpool's Christian Fellowship School in Edge Hill will argue that the Bible sanctions the return of corporal punishment to British schools. The long-running legal test case over the rights of teachers to smack children will go to the Lords on Wednesday.

A group of teachers and parents representing independent schools will challenge an Appeal Court decision last December [actually December 2002 -- Ed.] which dismissed their bid to resurrect corporal punishment.

The teachers and parents claim it is the philosophy of the Bible to sanction the smacking of children who misbehave.

But the Appeal Court judges said there was "a significant degree of unclarity as to the basis upon which corporal punishment is inflicted and disagreement as to its implementation in practice."

The fight in favour of corporal punishment has been spearheaded by Phil Williamson, headteacher of the Liverpool school.

His case centres on the provisions of the 1996 Education Act, which prohibits teachers from administering corporal punishment in schools.

He says these infringe the human rights of teachers and parents in independent schools to practise corporal punishment in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Mr Williamson and the other advocates of corporal punishment claim that corporal punishment is backed by the Bible.

Their counsel, Paul Diamond, argued at earlier hearings that: "In biblical doctrine children are a gift from God, but parents have responsibility for care, instruction, nurturing and disciplining.

"It is a central tenet of the Christian religion that mankind is born with a heart inclined to all kinds of evil. Disciplining in the educational context is therefore vital. It is not an optional extra, but corporal punishment is expressly sanctioned, approved and maybe necessary."

And he relied on Biblical verses such as the book of Proverbs chapter 23, verses 13 and 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".

The Law Lords will hear the case over two days, and will give a ruling in the New Year.

Corpun file 14655

Cambridge Evening News, 26 November 2004


Get tough with bullies

From Gavin Staples

IT IS good to know that this week is 'Bullying Awareness Week' in which the anti-social practice is being brought to attention.

What I find so depressing is that bullying is far worse than it used to be.

It is not new -- I had my fair share of it at school and several people I knew had it even worse than me.

In those days there were far stricter punishments. By and large they worked.

One incident that stands out was an epileptic boy at my school who had been bullied.

This lad was in the same schoolhouse as myself. It was a boarding school so we were there 24-hours-a-day which unfortunately increased the time in which bullying could take place.

However, my housemaster got to know of the bullying and took drastic action to deal with it. The measures worked.

There were other bullying incidents at the same time, albeit less severe, which had been taking place over a period of about three weeks.

One Monday morning in house assembly at the end of prayers and hymns, the housemaster made an announcement. I will never forget it.

The bullies had their names read out in front of 60 of us who were present and were then ordered onto the stage, whereby all of us could see them.

He announced what had been going on and said bullying was not to be tolerated under any circumstances.

The housemaster then left the room and returned with a cane.

The sight brought an instant sigh of amazement from all of us and a silence spread rapidly throughout the room. I don't think I have experienced such quiet in a room of 60 people before or since.

Each of the four bullies was given six strokes of the cane in front of us. This sent out probably the most dramatic message of the whole of my school career.

All bullying stopped at once after this. It also sent out a message to all potential bullies.

Needless to say none of us went on to bully. I felt an enormous sense of relief that this drastic measure had taken place and all of us remember feeling a sense of reassurance afterwards.

I also remember that the atmosphere of the whole school calmed down a lot as other houses were informed about what had happened. It was made common knowledge. This took place in 1976.

The message is quite simple, that bullies are innate cowards and will continue with their behaviour until such time as a firm stand is made against them.

These days we seem to have lost sight of what needs to be done. Bullying will flourish in an absence of discipline such as we have today.

It is not just restricted to school - it happens in the workplace too. The best that can be done in this instance is instant dismissal to those who take part in this odious practice.

A custodial sentence for workplace bullies would send the same message as the cane did in a school close on 30 years ago.

It is a shame that corporal punishment was abolished, but then I am a great believer in what goes round comes around.

West Wickham Road

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