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School CP - August 1997

Corpun file 7386

Nelson Mail, 4 August 1997

School punishing illegally: ERO

By Hayley Brock

A Motueka school using corporal punishment to discipline its students is breaking the law, according to its latest Education Review Office report.

The report says management at Shiloh Christian Academy admitted the school uses corporal punishment as a means of behaviour reform.

Shiloh Christian Academy is a fully registered private school operated by the Motueka New Life Centre for primary and secondary students.

The philosophy of the school centres on providing a Bible-based curriculum through which students are trained in the highest principles of Christian living.

Since the report was released, the school has failed to give the ERO an assurance it has ceased its illegal practice, says senior review officer Lennane Kent.

"It's very unusual. Most schools come back and are keen to tell us about the changes they have made," she said.

She said the report had now been forwarded to the Ministry of Education for further action.

The ministry's operations manager for Christchurch, John Mather, said when the report arrived -- and if there had been no sign that corporal punishment had ceased -- the ministry would have to remind the school' s board of its legal obligations.

In a worst case scenario, the ministry could strip the school of its registration, effectively disabling it, Mr Mather said.

"You can't operate without registration," he said.

The founder of the school, Pastor William Stephen, was reluctant to talk about the matter today, saying it was an "in-house issue" that was being worked through.

He said corporal punishment was used as a last resort, but he would not say whether it was currently being used.

"We'd rather not make it public or discuss it. I don't think it's the public's concern." he said.

Principal Trevor Taylor declined to be interviewed on the matter.

The Nelson Mail understands that parents sign a form when enrolling their child at Shiloh which gives permission for corporal punishment to be used.

However this could not be confirmed by Shiloh staff or the ERO.

Commissioner for Children guidelines say teachers cannot hit students, even if they have permission from parents.

"Even with the parent's permission, the use of force by a school employee against a student at school remains an offence under section 139A of the Education Act," the guidelines say.

Corpun file 6804

Nelson Mail, 5 August 1997

School replies to ERO

The principal of a Motueka school which uses corporal punishment to discipline its students has replied to an Education Review Office report -- but says it is probably not the reply the office wants to hear.

A recent ERO report on Shiloh Christian Academy said management admitted the school used corporal punishment as a means of behaviour reform.

The report said the practice was illegal. Since then senior review officer Lennane Kent said Shiloh had failed to give an assurance it had stopped using corporal punishment.

Shiloh principal Trevor Taylor said today the school had replied to some ERO recommendations, but its response to corporal punishment might not have been what the office wanted to hear.

"We've got back to them on the action. It's not the reply they wish to hear," Mr Taylor said.

He declined to comment further.

A principal at another Christian school in the area, Paul Milson of Tasman Bay Christian School, said corporal punishment was not used at his school.

"It is not part of our discipline policy," he said, but added that some parents who had children at Tasman Bay used corporal punishment at home.

"It's part of the Biblical and Christian principles. It's supposed to be done in love rather than anger," he said.

Nelson Christian Academy principal Gordon Milmine said corporal punishment was not used in his school.

Corpun file 6808

Nelson Mail, 5 August 1997


Stop hitting children

The foot-dragging response by Motueka's Shiloh Christian Academy to a complaint from the Education Review Office about its illegal use of corporal punishment can only damage the school's reputation. Those responsible have frankly acknowledged the academy's illegal use of corporal punishment. A minister representing the school, Pastor Bill Stephen, justified it on the grounds that it is "only used in the last resort". That is no defence.

Of course, there remains a minority of teachers and parents who condone hitting children in the mistaken belief that it can somehow assist the educative process. They are wrong and need to be put right. The law banning corporal punishment in schools was passed a decade ago after overwhelming evidence from relevant authorities about its harmful effects.

Mr Stephen said yesterday that corporal punishment at Shiloh was a private, not a public, concern -- which is also wrong. Observance of the law by our schools is definitely a public concern, as is the hitting of children. If the academy is not going to abide by the Education Act, then the authorities will need to deregister the school and close it.

The Education Review Office has had many critics and it is currently itself under government scrutiny for possible reform, because many schools don't like its criticisms. Yet here is precisely the sort of case that shows why its work is essential. The community would not have known anything about Shiloh Academy's unacceptable practices if it had not been for the ERO's scrutiny.

It is also worth remembering that, while corporal punishment has been outlawed in schools, New Zealand law in the form of the Crimes Act still allows parents to assault their children with "reasonable force". That provision has well passed its used-by date and should be deleted. Sadly, as a country, we have been as laggardly in following the lead of most other civilised countries in totally banning corporal punishment, as the Shiloh Academy has been in obeying the law for schools.

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