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-- THE ARCHIVE --


UNITED KINGDOM

School CP - November 1901



Corpun file 10914

masthead

The Times, London, 8 November 1901

London School Board.

Press cuttingThe weekly meeting of the members of the School Board for London was held yesterday at the Board-room, Victoria-embankment, Mr. LYULPH STANLEY, the vice-chairman, presiding.
[...]

Corporal Punishment.

Miss HONNOR MORTEN moved: -- "That corporal punishment be abolished in infants' schools." She said there was a great deal of irregular punishment in the schools which would be got rid of if the Board abolished regular punishment. She had always found both go hand in hand. She gave cases in which it was alleged that children had been severely dealt with. Not only were children flogged, but they were also starved. Boys were kept in from 12 to 2 o'clock without their dinner and they could not be expected after such punishment to do brain work. Girls were also punished irregularly by being made to hold their hands up over their heads and to stand for a long time in that position so that for a whole morning they received no education. She believed that corporal punishment was increasing in the schools. The teachers' papers seemed to state that the cleverest thing the teacher could do was to beat a child to excess and then get off when he was brought before the magistrates; and where one case of that kind was made public there were many behind that were not heard of. She pointed out that his Majesty's inspectors were now going round the schools asking to see the punishment books, and it had become a matter for the ratepayers' pocket, because the higher grant was not to be given where corporal punishment was not given in accordance with the rules which had to be administered.

Miss EVE seconded the resolution.

Dr. MACNAMARA, M.P., said it was quite true that there had been an alteration in the Government rules with reference to corporal punishment; but Miss Morten had overlooked the fact that it was laid down that the application of the principle involved was left in the hands of the managers. He described Miss Morten's statements upon this subject as wild and extravagant; she was so blinded with passion or emotion that her judgment had become a little impaired. He protested against the application of such terms as flogging and starving to the action of the teachers in the schools. The charge of starvation seemed to have been founded upon a case in which a boy was kept without his dinner. The Board's own regulations were the antithesis of all the extravagant statements made by Miss Morten; and the Revised Instructions of 1901 for his Majesty's inspectors were as follows: --

"No punishment which excites the emotion of terror in a child should ever be employed. In an infants' school no punishment should be permitted which causes bodily pain. In schools for older children corporal punished should be discouraged as an ordinary expedient in boys' schools, and altogether in girls' schools. The Punishment Register, which is required in all schools, may serve some good purpose if it induces teachers to reflect occasionally on their methods and to consider whether these really tend to the formation of the habit of good conduct."

As to the way in which punishments were carried out, the Rev. T.W. Sharpe, the late senior Inspector of Schools, said that the amount of punishment was diminishing year by year, and that the Board's rules were thoroughly sensible and well calculated to diminish excessive and unnecessary punishment. The inspector also said that England owed a debt of gratitude to the teachers who treated the drunken woman and her child with patient courtesy and endeavoured to win the children by firmness and gentleness. The Board's inspectors also stated that the rules worked satisfactorily. He believed that the vast body of teachers were as kindhearted and sympathetic as Miss Morten, but they had more experience; they did not resort to corporal punishment except as the last expedient, and the existence of that power in reserve was the thing which obviated resort to such punishment. He moved the previous question.

Mr. BARNES seconded the amendment.

After some remarks by Mr. BRIDGEMAN, Mr. BRUCE, who thought that both Miss Morten and Dr. Macnamara had been guilty of exaggeration, and Mrs. ADAMS and Mr. SHARP, in opposition to the views of Miss Morten, the previous question was agreed to by 36 votes to seven.

A further resolution, moved by Miss MORTEN, "That the power to inflict corporal punishment be withdrawn from all assistants in girls' schools," was also negatived.

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