|www.corpun.com : Regulations : UK private schools 1960s|
[The research was carried out in 1964 for the Headmasters' Conference (HMC), an association of Britain's 166 so-called "top", i.e. most elite and exclusive, independent (private, fee-paying) boys-only secondary schools, confusingly known as "public schools". About 100 of these were mainly or entirely boarding schools at the time of the survey. Canings at these schools were traditionally known as "beatings". "Slipper" is a euphemism for a large heavy gym shoe, invariably administered to the seat of the trousers. "Fagging" was the system by which junior boys performed menial domestic tasks for senior boys. -- C.F.]
..... Another aspect of the authority given to senior boys is that, in many of the schools, certain boys are allowed to administer corporal punishment. In the survey, information was obtained not only about whether any boy is empowered to administer corporal punishment but also whether any of the masters can do so.
In all the schools except four independent boarding or mainly boarding schools the headmaster can administer corporal punishment; in three of these four schools, two of which are Quaker schools, no one can do so, while in the fourth the headmaster does not allow himself to administer corporal punishment but delegates the task to other members of his staff.
The results for masters other than headmasters and deputy headmasters, and for boys are given in the table, which shows that fewer of the day and mainly day schools allow boys to give corporal punishment and fewer of the day schools permit assistant masters to do so. In 124 of the 134 schools with boarders the housemasters can use corporal punishment, and in addition in 44 of these schools other masters are so empowered. The power to administer corporal punishment is given to some boys in three-fifths of the schools and, moreover, it is seldom confined to the head boy, being so restricted in only 16 of the 95 schools for which the information is available.
All the 11 day schools for which information is available restrict the number empowered to administer corporal punishment to less than twenty boys, and five of them restrict the right to the head boy. In 40 of the 84 schools with boarders the right is given to between six and ten boys.
Of the remainder, 11 give the right to one boy only, and 12 to between two and five boys, leaving 21 schools where more than ten boys are entitled to administer corporal punishment. In fact in six of these schools more than fifty boys can do so. In nearly every case corporal punishment cannot be administered without the approval of the headmaster or a housemaster; in other cases, where this approval is not formally required, the boy always has the right of appeal to the headmaster.
In three schools it is stipulated that only a slipper or gym shoe may be used, and in four more schools only a few boys can use a cane, the majority being allowed to use only a slipper.
An attempt was also made to discover how frequently the right to administer corporal punishment is used. A number of schools failed to provide figures and, as those provided are often rough estimates, the data are suitable only for a simple analysis. For this purpose the schools have been divided into two groups, day schools and schools with boarders, since the two groups exhibit different patterns. On both indices selected, the frequency of use by masters (all masters taken together) and the frequency of use by boys, the day schools show a lesser use of corporal punishment than the schools with boarders, but within each group of schools there is still enormous variation.
Of the 26 day schools providing the information, corporal punishment was administered in 16 by the masters on less than twenty occasions in the year, while in one school -- an average-sized school -- it was administered on 260 occasions. Of the 109 schools with boarders for which the information was provided (excluding the three schools where no one could administer corporal punishment), in 38 schools it was used by the masters on less than twenty occasions, but in 12 schools it was used on more than 100 occasions, and in four of these the frequency exceeded 350. Such variation is too great to be explained by differences in the sizes of the schools and, anyway, analysis by size shows that five of the 12 schools where corporal punishment was used on more than 100 occasions have less than 400 boys.
It thus appears that the function of corporal punishment is seen differently by different schools: on the one hand there are the schools where the masters reserve its use for the few serious offenders; on the other hand there are some schools where the masters use it much more frequently and presumably for much lesser offences.
A similar picture emerges when the frequency of the use of corporal punishment by the boys is considered. Here, however, some of the high frequencies occur in schools where the use of slippers or gym shoes is also included as corporal punishment: it seems possible that many of the other schools have not recorded the use of a slipper as this type of corporal punishment is likely to be carried out with little formality and no records.
Of the twelve day schools where boys can administer corporal punishment and for which information is available, in ten it was used by boys on less than twenty occasions in the year, but in one it was used on an estimated 175 occasions, though the latter figure includes the use of a slipper. Of 79 schools with boarders, it was used on less than twenty occasions in 33 schools, but on 100 or more occasions in nine schools (three of which include the use of a slipper), and in two of these (only one of which included the use of a slipper) the estimated frequency was 200 or more.
Taking corporal punishment administered by masters together with that administered by boys, in one school the average annual number of beatings per boy was over two, in one school it was between one and two, and in seven schools (two of which include the use of a slipper) the average was between a half and one. The averages are obtained by dividing the number of beatings by the total number of boys; if allowance is made for the fact that many of the senior boys are probably not 'at risk', it can be seen that in these schools the junior boys must be very familiar with this form of discipline.
It is also interesting to record that in 15 out of the 20 schools with boarders where boys administered corporal punishment on more than fifty occasions during the year, a fagging system is also in operation. In summary, the findings show that many of the survey schools give some of their boys authority to beat, but that in the day schools the authority is not widely distributed among the boys, and it is rarely used by either masters or boys. In the schools with boarders it is somewhat more widely used, and there are a few schools where a considerable amount of corporal punishment is administered.
Copyright © Colin Farrell