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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  1976 to 1995   :  UK Schools Nov 1976

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UNITED KINGDOM

School CP - November 1976



Corpun file 18609

masthead
Daily Mail, London, 13 November 1976

The classroom terror

Head cleared as caned girl sobs in court

By James Golden

THE reign of Lynne Simmonds as a classroom terror ended when she was caned by the headmistress, a court heard yesterday.

Lynne Simmonds
LYNNE SIMMONDS

Miss Janet Dines
MISS JANET DINES

Lynne, who had a history of bad behaviour, was sent to Miss Janet Dines for eating crisps during a maths lesson.

But the three whacks given to 14-year-old Lynne on her bottom landed Miss Dines, head of Northwich Girls' Grammar School, Cheshire, in court.

Lynne's parents brought a private assault and beating charge. They claimed that Lynne was punished unreasonably.

But after Lynne broke down weeping as she told of her classroom antics, the case was withdrawn and Northwich magistrates dismissed the charge against the middle-aged headmistress.

Lynne, who passed her 11 plus to go to the school, admitted a catalogue of misbehaviour when cross-examined by Mr. John Hoggett, counsel for Miss Dines.

She said she told rude jokes in the scripture lessons while discussing moral and ethical questions.

She made remarks about teachers behind their backs and blew raspberries at them.

She told lies about having lost homework which she had not done and took a classmate's book without permission.

She stole a teacher's pen off her desk and offered it to a friend for a pound, and she disrupted the class.

Lynne was suspended for half a day by Miss Dines for the pen incident and her father gave her the strap.

She also admitted handing in a school project done by another girl, claiming it was hers.

But the girl -- in hospital and temporarily blind -- returned and Lynne was found out.

Then she was caught eating in a lesson and was sent to Miss Dines. The headmistress entered the punishment in the official book and told her she would be writing to her parents.

Lynne said that after the caning her bottom was sore for several weeks and she had been unable to sleep properly.

Mr Peter Hughes, prosecuting, said that a memo from Cheshire Education Committee laid down "If corporal punishment is used, it should only be a last resort and must only be used where it fits the offence."

He claimed Miss Dines acted unreasonably in view of the red weals the caning left.

When Lynne broke down there was an adjournment and Mr Hughes asked for the case to be withdrawn.

Mr Hoggett said: "This case has been hanging over my client, a responsible headmistress of this town, for a long time.

"There has been adverse publicity. It has been a time of great tension and distress. She is entitled to regard this as a complete vindication."

A spokesman for the Parent Governors said they would be discussing the case.

As he left with his still weeping daughter, who now goes to another school, Harry Simmonds, a dairy supervisor, of Sidney Street, Greenbank, Northwich, said: "No more comments. She has had enough."



Corpun file 18610

masthead
Daily Express, London, 13 November 1976

Teacher rules OK!

Head is cleared after caning

By Neil Moran

(extract)

Schoolgirl LynneA CANING brought tears to the eyes of school girl Lynne Simmons.

And there was a fresh flood of them yesterday when she broke down in a court witness box.

But it was a time to smile for the head mistress who administered "three of the best".

Miss Janet Dines left the court "completely vindicated" after being accused of assaulting and beating 14-year-old Lynne.

Joke

A private summons brought against Miss Dines by Lynne's parents was dismissed.

In cross-examination Lynne admitted cheating and lying during her time at Northwich Girls' Grammar School, Cheshire.

She also admitted:--

  • Telling a teacher she was pregnant for a joke.
  • Telling blue jokes during scripture lessons.
  • Making up fanciful tales about her sexual prowess in order to disrupt the class.
  • Blowing raspberries behind teachers' backs.
  • Telling lies to cover up her failure to do homework.
  • Taking a teacher's pen and offering it for sale at 1.

Miss DinesAfter this incident, her parents were called to the school and she was punished at home by her father.

Later she was found eating crisps during a lesson.

She was sent to see the head teacher and told she was going to be caned.

Lynne was told to lift her skirt, bend over a bookcase, and she had three firm strokes on the backside.

She arrived home an hour late having to push her bicycle most of the three miles because she was in pain.

The prosecution had claimed that the caning which left wealmarks across her backside was a punishment that failed to fit the crime.

[...]



Corpun file 18608

Northwich Guardian, Cheshire, 18 November 1976

Head who caned girl pupil is cleared

'Her actions vindicated' -- Counsel

(extracts)

HEADMISTRESS Miss Janet Dines has been cleared of assaulting and beating a 14-year-old Northwich Girls' Grammar School pupil last summer.

A Northwich Magistrates' Court case came to a [sic] abrupt end on Friday after Lynne Marie Simmonds burst into tears while giving evidence. After a 10-minute adjournment to give her time to recover, prosecuting barrister Mr Peter Hughes said he would offer no further evidence against Miss Dines and asked for the case to be dismissed.

Miss Dines, of 3, Beggarman's Lane, Knutsford, pleaded "not guilty" to assaulting Lynne, daughter of Mr and Mrs Harry Simmonds of 8a, Sydney Street, Greenbank, after she was caught eating crisps during a Maths lesson.

Members of the staff afterwards crowded round Miss Dines in court to congratulate her, but neither she nor Lynne's parents would talk to the Press, and Lynne hid her face against her mother's shoulder as they left the court surrounded by national newspaper photographers.

Mr Hughes said Maths teacher Miss Hobbs had caught Lynne with the crisps and sent her to Miss Dines. She was told to go back after lessons, but it was 4.30pm before the head could see her. It was not usual to keep girls behind unless their parents knew in advance.

"Miss Dines told her she would have to cane her, told her to pull her dress up, bend over and lean against the bookcase, and gave her three strokes on her backside," said Mr Hughes.

Police had taken photographs next day, and he handed copies to the bench. Woman Police Sergeant Valerie Lowry was due to give evidence that she could still see the marks 10 days later.

A letter from Dr Kiaran O'Sullivan, of Barnton, said Lynne had three red weals across her buttocks, two of them stretching round the hip region 14 inches long, and two marks on her knuckles.

Lynne, now a pupil of Hartford County Secondary School, said she got the marks on her knuckles while holding her dress up, as Miss Dines had told her to. She had been wearing a blue summer uniform dress, navy knickers and tights.

She had her bicycle with her, but was too sore to ride all three miles and her parents were worrying about her when she got home. She and the office staff had tried in vain to get a message to them.

"It was a very hot day and Miss Dines said her dogs had been shut in the car for over an hour and were suffocating because of me," Lynne told the court. "After she had caned me she entered it in the punishment book, and it was about the end of the second page or the beginning of the third. She told me she had hardly had to cane anybody in all the 10 years she had been there as head."

Lynne said Miss Dines told her her parents would receive a letter in the post the next morning. "I did not want them to know, but she said it was the regulation."

She denied to Mr John Hoggett (for Miss Dines) that she was so angry because of this that she threatened to "get" her.

Mr Hoggett reminded Lynne her father had strapped her across the legs after Miss Dines told him about her taking a fountain pen on an earlier occasion from French mistress Mrs McMullen, but she still denied she wanted to get Miss Dines into trouble for reporting her to her parents again.

Mr Hughes said when the police interviewed Miss Dines the day afterwards, she produced an ordinary three foot cane, which she said was an "official" cane she had brought from her previous school. Asked if Lynne had been in trouble with her before, Miss Dines had said she had spoken to the parents and they had agreed if she had trouble with Lynne she should punish her.

"This arose when Lynne took a pen in class," said Mr Hughes. "One would think that was a more serious incident than eating in class, but on that occasion Miss Dines asked the parents if they would punish her or if she should do it. They said they would do it and her father strapped her."

Mr Hughes maintained views on punishment had changed considerably from Victorian times and since he and the magistrates were at school. The Cheshire Education Authority did not forbid the use of corporal punishment but deprecated its use on girls.

"In my submission Miss Dines went beyond the reasonable, and the punishment did not fit the crime," Mr Hughes claimed.

[...]

It was while her own counsel, Mr Hughes, was questioning Lynne about Press interviews that she burst into tears and the court was adjourned.

After the adjournment, Mr Hughes said he wanted to offer no further evidence and asked for the case against Miss Dines to be dismissed.

Addressing the magistrates, chaired by Mr Wilfred Price, Mr Hoggett said the case had been hanging over a respected headmistress for some time. It had been a time of tension and distress, and what had just happened was a complete vindication of her and she was entitled to ask for costs. However, Miss Dines recognised other people had also been distressed, in particular Lynne and her parents, so he was instructed not to ask for costs.

The magistrates agreed the case should be dismissed.

[...]



Corpun file 12237

Northwich Guardian, Cheshire, 18 November 1976

Editorial

Responsibility of headship

WHATEVER the distress caused to all parties by the hearing at Northwich Magistrates' Court on Friday, the publicity which has followed should at last clear the air of rumours and counter-rumours which have flooded Northwich since a girl was caned at Northwich Grammar School for Girls by the headmistress.

We have already quoted at length in this column on the controversy which always surrounds corporal punishment in this present age. There are those in favour of it and those against. Neither will ever be convinced by the other side and any discussion on the subject ends in violent argument that solves nothing.

Unfortunately, these cases have a habit of ending in a court of law, and many people, as a result, are subject to probing, publicity and public questioning that goes much farther than the simple use of a cane by a teacher on a naughty pupil.

There are organisations, too, ready to leap on this bandwagon to further their own aims.

But one thing is sure. We have not yet reached the stage in the practical day to day running of our schools where the responsibilities of a head teacher have been taken over by a committee or a "people's court" of any sort. A headmaster or headmistress is chosen by the County Council to run a school, with a broad set of rules for guidance but a free hand as to their interpretation. That is as it must be.

If head teachers are so worried that their actions may lead to court appearances and public argument then they just cannot do their work properly. And when that situation arises it is bad for the whole community.

Education is very much in the public eye at the moment. Even the Prime Minister has given his thoughts on the subject. By all means let us have the closest possible interest in education by all sections of the community -- but let that interest deal with the broad principles and not the detail, which is delegated to a person who is answerable to the proper authority for it.




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