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School CP - November 1952

Corpun file 23742

News Chronicle, London, 24 November 1952

Public school votes -- 'Stop the cane'

Boys demand reform: 'Restrict prefects'

News Chronicle Reporter: Shrewsbury, Sunday

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TWO old boys went back to the public school of Shrewsbury (fees 276 a year) last night and persuaded the boys in the debating society to pass a resolution which said: "This house deplores the present public school system."

In doing that, the boys condemned -- by 115 votes to 105 -- caning by prefects and their 14 attendances at chapel ordered every week.

Tonight the headmaster, Mr. J.M. Peterson, said: "The debate seems to have been a splendid party. I wish I could have been there.

"Do I agree with the motion? Of course not."

Two old boys from Cambridge were to have led the opposition to reform. But they could not attend and two masters took their place -- Mr. Chenevix-Trench, who went to Shrewsbury as a boy, and Mr. Tom Hoburn.

The two old boys who urged reform -- 21-year-old Julian Critchley, whose home is at Hampstead, and 20-year-old Michael Heseltine, who lives in Swansea -- are now at Oxford. Both are planning a political career.

Right to cane

They said that reforms must be made by public schools before a future Socialist Government does it for them.

Neither wanted to tear down the whole system. But both attacked five customs.

The customs, and the case against them, were given tonight by Mr. Critchley:

Corporal punishment. -- At Shrewsbury, praepostors (school prefects) and house monitors (house prefects) all had the right to cane other boys.

It means, roughly, that boys of 17 and 18 have the power to beat boys of 16 and under.

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Exclusiveness. -- There are 500 places at Shrewsbury.

Fifteen of these are reserved for State scholarships. Only about five are taken up.

Overbearing accent on games: This leads to favouritism and power for the muscular moron at the expense of the cultural mind.

The caste system; prefects and fagging: At Shrewsbury fagging is done by every boy in his first two years.

He is placed at the beck and call of house monitors at any hour of the day with the threat of corporal punishment behind him.

Compulsory religious observance: Shrewsbury boys must attend chapel once every week-day and twice on Sundays.

They also attend every week-day evening in their house dining-rooms -- a total of 14 times a week.

A note on the school in the Public Schools Year Book says:

Day boys are required to attend the same chapel services, both on week-days and Sundays, as the boarders, though some few may be granted special leave-off on Sunday evenings by reason of distance during the winter months."

Mr. Critchley added: "I never thought we had a hope of getting this motion through.

"We fear that if the public schools do not put things right many of the fine things for which they have stood during the centuries may be destroyed."

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