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School CP - August 1977

Corpun file 10763
Birmingham Post, 9 August 1977

Protest over gym shoe punishment

The case of a Coventry secondary school scripture teacher who is said to have hit 13-year-old girls on the bottom with a gym shoe was highlighted yesterday in a national call for the end of corporal punishment. The National Union of School Students has asked the Education Secretary, Mrs Shirley Williams to introduce legislation 'as soon as possible' to abolish the practice which it described as degrading and harmful to teacher-pupil relationships.

Singling out the example of the male scripture teacher, the union asked Mrs. Williams: "These punishments are carried out when he is meant to be imparting religious knowledge. What sort of moral standards is he passing on?"

Last night the chairman of Coventry Education Committee, Coun. Charles Maxwell, said the only teachers authorised to use corporal punishment were heads of schools.

The practice was only followed in extreme circumstances, he added.

"I regard this as a serious thing, if there is fundamental truth in it," he said. "I would be interested to know the school. I will try to find out who it is."

The Post was unable last night to contact NUSS officials for further information on the school.

According to the 15,000-strong pupil union the number of teachers whose use of the cane is "notorious" increases as one goes further north.

The union said Mrs. Williams should listen to its views because it represented the people who actually got hit -- "the consumers of corporal punishment."

There were some schools, said the pupils, where use of the "slipper" was the disciplinary response to any infringement of school rules, from the most trivial upwards.


Dealing with what it said were illegal punishments, the union said that in many schools irregular instruments were used, such as table tennis bats, board rubbers, books and steel rules, and especially the "slipper" -- more often a gym shoe.

The union said it knew one Inner London school where the woodwork teacher read out the class of 12-year-olds the Inner London Education Authority regulations and then explained in detail how he was going to break the spirit of the regulations but not the letter.

The union also raised the point highlighted by the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment recently that it had long been recognised that use of corporal punishment could damage the sexual development of those who received it and those who gave it.

Mrs. Williams should pay special attention to this matter, it urged. "There is certainly no lack of pornographic magazines specialising in flagellation."

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