Corpun file 16283
Daily Express, London, 9 August 2005
Bring back the cane to tackle yobs
By Mark Reynolds
OLD SCHOOL CRIES: Discipline as administered in bygone days
CANING should immediately be reinstated in schools to stamp out spiralling yob culture.
This is the overwhelming conclusion of most parents and education pressure groups, according to new research.
Two-thirds of parents who were questioned said they would favour a return to caning, with only a third believing it was now outdated.
Only last month figures revealed that the number of teachers suffering major injuries in assaults by pupils has doubled as the menace of Yob Britain spreads to the classroom.
In a wide-ranging survey conducted by ParentMail -- a web-based school-to-home communications service -- parents made it clear that the abolition of corporal punishment had been a real mistake.
Caning was banned from the country's state schools in 1986 and from private schools seven years ago.
But the survey, to which nearly 1,700 parents responded, found that 20.8 per cent wanted corporal punishment back in schools, 44.4 per cent thought it should be an option, and 34.7 per cent said "No" to caning.
Paul Hughes, managing director of ParentMail, said: "I think the Government and the education system are a bit out of step with the average man in the street."
He added: "I wouldn't go as far as to say that hitting kids is a good idea but the discipline issue has been allowed to slide and has become almost demonised."
Others backing the call included the Campaign for Real Education which argued that corporal punishment would give hard-working youngsters a better chance of learning without interference from disruptive pupils.
Chairman Nick Seaton said: "We have always supported it as an option for headteachers and governors and it should never have been banned in the first place.
"What it hopefully can achieve is to teach some of these violent and very disruptive youngsters that they have got to behave themselves and let the rest of the class get on with learning."
'Pupils have got the upper hand'
But teachers held mixed views over the proposal.
Retired teacher David Temple, 60, said: "On the whole I am in favour of corporal punishment as the ultimate sanction. Successive governments have undermined the authority of the teaching profession to the point where pupils have the upper hand.
"Corporal punishment could serve as a deterrent to the outlandish youths who have got worse and worse over the years. I am, quite frankly, glad to be out of the teaching profession."
Headteacher Cliff Knight said he was not surprised at the call but held reservations. "Parents want corporal punishment used for other people's children," he said. "But if it was used on their children I think they would be very angry."
Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "We can understand where parents are coming from in wanting to bring back corporal punishment as the problem these days is that children have no fear.
"But we would have to say 'No' to this proposal because people can go too far and in 2005 there must be another way."
The call was also rejected by teaching unions who argued that it would not help
to restore discipline in schools.
A spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers, which has 260,000 members,
said: "We have long argued against corporal punishment and we don't want to see it brought back.
"Teachers don't want to assault their pupils in schools."
The union also felt it would not help in reducing assaults on teachers by pupils.
The National Association of Head Teachers agreed. A spokesman said: "How can you ask a child to learn if you are physically threatening them?
"Caning is simply bullying in the extreme and would be counter-productive."
Note by C.F.: There is currently a regrettable fashion in the media (which increasingly are run by people too young to know anything about anything) for using in the guise of "historical illustrations", without citing any source, images from picture libraries that are only vaguely relevant to the matter in hand and which often, as in this case, are completely fictional illustrations. This picture appears to be a posed publicity still for a film evidently set in an elite English school and made in a period (1930s/1940s) when "schoolboys" tended to be played by actors who looked as though they could easily be aged 30. It's wildly unrealistic, and even if it were more realistic it would still be ridiculously untypical, and I include it here only because the Daily Express saw fit to illustrate the above piece with it.