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School CP - February 1967

Corpun file 22741

Walsall Observer, 10 February 1967

'Parents will act if tawse is used'

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COUNCILLOR C.J. ANDREW, who this week finally lost his fight against the tawse, has said that parents have told him they will not hesitate to take action if the tawse is used on their children.

Moreover, he refuted the accusation made by Alderman C.L. Tomkinson (see report on page 11) that his raising of the question of the tawse was calculated to obtain the maximum publicity for himself.

"I only raised it at the request of some head teachers and managing bodies in Willenhall by whom the tawse is regarded as barbarous and horrific, compared with more civilised methods used when these schools were administered by Staffordshire County Council," said Councillor Andrew.

"With the teaching and medical professions strongly represented on the Education Committee, what other decision could be expected?" asked Councillor Andrew, who has missed recent committee meetings because of illness.

The questionnaire sent to head teachers and staffs was described by Councillor Andrew as ridiculous -- especially, he said, in view of the fact that teachers at infants schools where corporal punishment was forbidden, were also asked to answer it.

"Walsall educationalists would do well to study the recommendations of the Plowden Report and act upon them voluntarily before they are faced with compulsion," he said, adding that in the meantime, it could only be hoped that tawses in schools would be conveniently lost or hidden away.

Corpun file 22742

Walsall Observer, 10 February 1967

Teachers are trusted to use tawse 'in the right way'

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WALSALL Education Committee on Tuesday endorsed a sub-committee decision to retain the triple-thonged leather tawse as the standard instrument of corporal punishment in the town's primary and secondary schools.

Only one of those present -- Councillor Mrs. D.L. Purcell -- spoke against use of the tawse. Councillor C.J. Andrew, who initiated the controversy, was not present.

The minute recording the sub-committee's decision to adhere to existing regulations on corporal punishment noted that 58 of the 73 primary and secondary school heads who had replied to a circular were in favour of the tawse.

In 59 of the schools the majority of the staff were in favour of retention, 675 teachers voting for the tawse and 228 against. Corporal punishment is, of course, not permitted in infants' schools. It was pointed out that corporal punishment was at the discretion of the head teacher, and that it was in fact rarely used in primary schools.

The sub-committee had discussed the tawse with the Medical Officer of Health, and reference was made to the Plowden Report which called for the abolition of corporal punishment in primary schools. It was decided, however, that in this instance the sub-committee were concerned only to recommend whether the tawse or some alternative form of corporal punishment, such as the cane, should be authorised for use in Walsall.

Councillor Mrs. Purcell said she wished to reaffirm her previous remarks that she was appalled to see such a thing as the tawse and to know it was in use in schools.

Alderman C.L. Tomkinson, vice-chairman, said the way in which the issue had been raised was calculated to arouse interest and to obtain the maximum publicity for Councillor Andrew.

Not indiscriminately

He said members had been assured that the tawse was not used indiscriminately but was kept locked away in a cupboard most of the time. He was surprised, however, that the sub-committee had not recommended the abolition of corporal punishment in primary schools in accordance with the findings of the Plowden Report.

"In the long run an ultimate deterrent has to be used," said Alderman Tomkinson. "I would like to think there was some other method, but the tawse is not used in a sadistic or brutal fashion. It is used in the minimum way in which it can be brought home to a child that he has done wrong."

Councillor R. Spooner said it was when people asked what was the alternative to corporal punishment that one really had to think. He suggested that the answer lay in the provision of a full complement of psychologists and psychiatrists in the town.

Mr. E. Alison said the sub-committee had not been asked to consider whether or not corporal punishment should be abolished but merely to decide between the tawse and the cane. The tawse might look bad, but it was not nearly so harmful or vicious as the cane with which they had been asked to replace it.

Dr. M.H. Dale supported the Medical Officer of Health in the view that the tawse was less harmful than the cane, and said he thought it almost impossible for the tawse to deform someone's fingers, as was alleged by a London man in last week's "Observer."

The headmaster of Willenhall Comprehensive School (Dr. N.C.P. Tyack) said that in the last analysis the committee was bound to depend on the integrity of its teachers, some of whom quite genuinely felt the need for a deterrent. The fact that turbulent spirits knew the deterrent existed had the right sort of influence upon them.

Councillor J. Davis said the hullabaloo about the tawse had been "knocked on the head" by the opinions of the people who administered it. "I have sufficient confidence in the integrity of the teaching staff to be sure they will use this deterrent in the right way," he said.

Summing up, Councillor P.H. Musgrove, chairman, pointed out that a headmaster need not use the tawse at all if he did not want to.

"Councillor Andrew had said he believed in corporal punishment and that it was the tawse he objected to. I can only assume that he wanted it replaced by the cane. It is obvious that the tawse properly administered does not do any harm, and the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health substantiates this," added Councillor Musgrove.

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