Corpun file 23742
News Chronicle, London, 24 November 1952
Public school votes -- 'Stop the cane'
Boys demand reform: 'Restrict prefects'
News Chronicle Reporter: Shrewsbury, Sunday
Click to enlarge
TWO old boys went back to the public school of Shrewsbury
(fees £276 a year) last night and persuaded the boys in the
debating society to pass a resolution which said: "This
house deplores the present public school system."
In doing that, the boys condemned -- by 115 votes to 105 --
caning by prefects and their 14 attendances at chapel ordered
Tonight the headmaster, Mr. J.M. Peterson, said: "The debate
seems to have been a splendid party. I wish I could have been
"Do I agree with the motion? Of course not."
Two old boys from Cambridge were to have led the opposition to
reform. But they could not attend and two masters took their
place -- Mr. Chenevix-Trench, who went to Shrewsbury as a boy,
and Mr. Tom Hoburn.
The two old boys who urged reform -- 21-year-old Julian
Critchley, whose home is at Hampstead, and 20-year-old Michael
Heseltine, who lives in Swansea -- are now at Oxford. Both are
planning a political career.
Right to cane
They said that reforms must be made by public schools before a
future Socialist Government does it for them.
Neither wanted to tear down the whole system. But both attacked
The customs, and the case against them, were given tonight by Mr.
Corporal punishment. -- At Shrewsbury, praepostors
(school prefects) and house monitors (house prefects) all had the
right to cane other boys.
It means, roughly, that boys of 17 and 18 have the power to beat
boys of 16 and under.
Click to enlarge
Exclusiveness. -- There are 500 places at Shrewsbury.
Fifteen of these are reserved for State scholarships. Only about
five are taken up.
Overbearing accent on games: This leads to favouritism
and power for the muscular moron at the expense of the cultural
The caste system; prefects and fagging: At Shrewsbury
fagging is done by every boy in his first two years.
He is placed at the beck and call of house monitors at any hour
of the day with the threat of corporal punishment behind him.
Compulsory religious observance: Shrewsbury boys must
attend chapel once every week-day and twice on Sundays.
They also attend every week-day evening in their house
dining-rooms -- a total of 14 times a week.
A note on the school in the Public Schools Year Book says:
Day boys are required to attend the same chapel services,
both on week-days and Sundays, as the boarders, though some few
may be granted special leave-off on Sunday evenings by reason of
distance during the winter months."
Mr. Critchley added: "I never thought we had a hope of
getting this motion through.
"We fear that if the public schools do not put things right
many of the fine things for which they have stood during the
centuries may be destroyed."
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