|www.corpun.com : Archive : 1998 : AU Schools Nov 1998|
School CP - November 1998
Herald-Sun, Melbourne, 28 November 1998
Strap Is A Last Resort
VETERAN teacher Frank Dando deals out classroom discipline with a garden hose.
Parents sending boys to his small independent school sign a consent form allowing single whacks across the buttocks for extreme misbehavior.
"But I'm very fair," Mr Dando told the Herald-Sun yesterday.
"People think I'm running around belting kids left, right and centre, but it's not the case.
"Detention comes first if any of the boys play up. It takes a fair bit for me to get the hose out."
Mr Dando's strict disciplinary style has prompted plenty of opposition in the education community.
Corporal punishment has been banned in state schools for more than 15 years. Private schools have gradually followed suit.
But the issue erupted again this week when a high school teacher landed in Ballarat Magistrates' Court, accused of backhanding 11-year-old student Amy Gowers.
Mt Clear Secondary College teacher Robert Christopher Ward pleaded not guilty to an assault charge and escaped conviction.
But magistrate Ian Von Einem found the charge proven, describing the assault as minor.
Mr Von Einem also said the case should never have gone to court.
Mr Ward - who told the court he accidentally brushed the girl's face - has lodged an appeal against the finding.
Student complaints against teachers are usually handled at a school level, or arbitrated by Education Department officials.
For the students at Mr Dando's "Sports Academy" in suburban Ashwood, rules on corporal punishment are clear.
Mr Dando, a 68-year-old judo champion and teacher of 50 years, gives unruly boys a whack across the buttocks with a 70cm length of 13mm garden hose. He uses the hose about once a fortnight. Only about twenty boys attend his school each year. They must have above-average intelligence, but fail in conventional classrooms.
Mr Dando focuses on sport to boost self-esteem, backed by intensive literacy and numeracy classes.
"Corporal punishment is a grey area, but I've worked it all out with my solicitors," he said. "So long as I'm fair, it's OK."
But most educators rejected corporal punishment years ago.
Secondary Principals Association president Ted Brierley said there were always better ways to deal with problems.
"Quite apart from being brutish and violent, corporal punishment just doesn't work," he said. "In fact, it just makes the situation worse."
Federation of State School Parents Clubs president Beth Sheffield said most parents opposed corporal punishment. Parents' clubs in private schools agree.
"What's the point of hitting a child?." Victorian Parents Council president Jenny Walker said. "There are other ways of dealing with students."
Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett said teachers also opposed corporal punishment.
But she said teachers were pushed to the limit by increased workloads and large class sizes.
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