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ruler   :  Archive   :  2005   :  UK Schools Feb 2005



School CP - February 2005

Corpun file 15208

International Herald Tribune, Paris, 14 February 2005

Toil, tears and technology in a bunker in London

Churchill for the 21st century

By Edward Rothstein
The New York Times


LONDON --  It may be that Winston Churchillís voice and visage have not been the objects of such concentrated homage since his state funeral, 40 years ago, when 300,000 people streamed past his coffin in a line that stretched for a mile. Or perhaps the focus of attention and affection was more urgent during the Blitz, when 200 of Hitlerís bombers strafed London each night and Churchillís voice, with its promises of little else but blood, toil, tears and sweat, helped sustain the populace as almost 30,000 died in London.

Now the scale and setting are different, but in the Churchill Museum, which opened here on Friday, those models are not only invoked, but also aspired to. Churchillís presence is strenuously condensed into an underground extension of the bunkerlike basement "war rooms" where, as prime minister during World War II, he met with his cabinet whenever the risk above ground was too great. This is the first museum in Britain devoted to Churchill, and Queen Elizabeth II came on Thursday to pay tribute to her first prime minister (when he returned to office in the 1950s) and by all accounts her favorite.


But through it all, Churchill looms large. Churchillís voice can be heard from radio broadcasts and speeches in Parliament ("What is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror"). His words can be read on touch screens that catalogue his wit ("In retreat indomitable," he said of Field Marshal Montgomery, "in advance invincible; in victory insufferable"). Images of Churchill range from the villainous buffoon of Nazi propaganda posters (Hitler called him "an utterly amoral repulsive creature") to a concave white mold of his face created for Madame Tussauds wax museum. Animations projected on the walls catalogue his pets, his jobs, his residences, his wartime journeys.

There are also unusual biographical relics of his sad childhood as the barely loved child of a titled father and an American mother -- including a meticulously detailed "punishment book" from the Harrow School, which records that on May 25, 1891, the 16-year-old Churchill received seven strokes of the cane for mischief. And there is plenty of kitsch: his baby rattle, sheet music for "The Man With the Big Cigar" (1941), one of his chomped-on Havana cigar butts.

One interactive screen shows Churchillís beloved Kent estate, Chartwell; the image shimmers to the touch and is soon shown to be a reflection in Churchillís favorite goldfish pond. Trumping it all is a 50-foot table dividing the museumís display room in two, a high-tech "Lifeline," that responds (a bit sluggishly) to the movement of fingers on touch panels to "open" a timeline of Churchillís life, potentially displaying 4,600 pages of documents, 1,150 photographs and 206 animations, many erupting in sound and light.


No matter. Despite its flaws and surface sensations, the Churchill Museum overwhelms a viewer, not solely with its technology, but with the impression of immensity that Churchillís life and persona still put forward, and the attention it still demands.

Copyright © 2005 The International Herald Tribune

Corpun file 15259

Daily Telegraph, London, 23 February 2005


Michael McCrum

Michael McCrum, the former Head Master of Eton, who died on February 16 aged 80, began the school's recovery from the years of upheaval under his predecessor, Anthony Chevenix-Trench.

"Chummy" Trench, Head Master from 1963 to 1970, was a likeable and friendly man with many qualities besides, but he was overawed by the task of running such a large and famous institution. As a prisoner of war of the Japanese on the Burma Railway, Trench had shown stoic courage and leadership. But as Tim Card observed in his superb history of the school, Eton Renewed (1994), his physique was not now up to a demanding job. He turned to alcohol for relief from the pressures, and because of his damaged constitution, was easily affected by it. He also gained a reputation for overdoing corporal punishment. Discipline suffered just when the school was struggling to cope with what Card called "two largely new areas of exploration" – drugs and girls.

In McCrum, who was chosen for the job in 1969 and took up his duties the next year, Card perceived the antithesis of Trench: "He [McCrum] has exceptional ability to master issues and to make decisions; he is physically robust with a distinguished presence; it is hard to doubt that he would have reached a position of eminence in whatever career he had chosen."

After his appointment, word quickly got round prep schools that a firm hand was on the tiller. Among the first of his reforms was to tackle the fraught problem of long hair; trendy Etonians arriving back at school with hair that descended over their collar found themselves steered towards the barber's (this was not a new rule, as McCrum was at pains to point out, but it had not been enforced).

He also made several changes to the entry procedures, including scrapping the practice of guaranteeing entry to the sons of Old Etonians (by 1994 only 30 per cent of the boys were the sons of old boys), and, following the example of McCrum's previous school, Tonbridge, introducing junior scholarships for 10-year-olds from state schools, to allow the boys to spend time at prep schools before coming to Eton.

He extended the freedom of boys to dress as they liked in their spare time, brought an end to corporal punishment by boys and minimised fagging. Although himself a devout Christian, he made attendance at weekday chapel services optional, instituting Alternative Assembly held in School Hall. He gave strong encouragement to the arts, with the result that music and drama flourished as never before.

By the time McCrum left the school in 1980 to be Master of his old Cambridge college, Corpus Christi, his promotion of Eton as a centre of academic excellence had borne fruit in better than ever A-Level and Oxbridge results. His basic management of the school was deemed superb, and although he could seem a distant figure, he was said to know the names of every boy and his parents.

Michael William McCrum was born at Alverstoke, Hampshire, on May 23 1924, the third son of Captain CR McCrum, RN, and his wife Ivy, nťe Nicholson. His great-grandfather, RG McCrum, manufactured linen in Ulster, supplying the Titanic among others, and built the model village of Milford outside Armagh.

Michael grew up at various naval bases where his father was stationed at home and abroad. He became a fine all-round sportsman and won scholarships to Sherborne and to Corpus Christi, Cambridge, to read Classics. But before he could go up he was called up and joined the Royal Navy as an ordinary seaman, serving in the first Arctic convoys, off Sicily during the bombardment. Out in the Far East, as navigating officer of the aircraft carrier Victorious, he was on the receiving end of the Japanese kamikaze campaign, and was four days off Japan when the atom bomb hit.

After the war he took up his place at Cambridge, where he emerged with a Double First with distinction. He taught at Rugby from 1948 until 1950 (when he met his future wife Christine, daughter of the headmaster Arthur fforde), then became a Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi until his appointment as headmaster of Tonbridge in 1962, aged 37.

As headmaster, McCrum soon gained a reputation as a commanding personality with a progressive streak – albeit tempered with doses of firm discipline. He raised academic standards and oversaw changes such as making the Corps voluntary, allowing senior boys to go to the cinema and wear informal clothes in the evenings (he was keen that they should mix more with the town) and abolishing personal fagging and boys beating boys.

By 1969 the Eton Provost and Fellows had decided that he was the man they wanted to succeed Chevenix-Trench, although they were not so confident he would accept. A personal approach from the Provost Lord Caccia, however, proved enough to twist his arm. Apart from having taken the Eton Scholarship unsuccessfully, he had no connection with the school, which he felt gave him the detachment to rule it effectively.

As Master of Corpus Christi, McCrum oversaw the admission of women students and was again much admired for his administrative abilities. In 1987 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, a post he held for two years.

In 1990 he was appointed head of the Cathedrals' Fabric Commission, a new statutory body set up to stop cathedrals from carrying out unsuitable structural work or selling their treasures. In that year he also published Thomas Arnold: Head Master, a 123-page reassessment of the celebrated headmaster of Rugby.

Michael McCrum was appointed CBE in 1998, which many felt was meagre public recognition of his glittering and wide-ranging career.

From his marriage, in 1952, to Christine fforde, he had three sons and a daughter. His family life was notably happy, but he knew how to leave it behind when he crossed the corridor to deal with his charges.

Corpun file 15244

Daily Telegraph, London, 25 February 2005

Law lords reject return of corporal punishment

By Joshua Rozenberg
Legal Editor

An attempt to bring back corporal punishment in independent schools was rejected by the law lords yesterday.

Teachers and parents of children at four Christian schools claimed at a hearing before the House of Lords in December that the ban on corporal punishment infringed their human rights.

They said their schools were established specifically to provide a Christian education that was based on Biblical observance and this meant the use of corporal punishment on a limited basis as part of their beliefs.

But their appeals were dismissed unanimously by the law lords. Giving the leading ruling, Lord Nicholls said: "Parliament was bound to respect the claimants' beliefs in this regard, but was entitled to decide that manifestation of these beliefs in practice was not in the best interests of children."

Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal had previously thrown out the argument that the Education Act 1996, which prohibits smacking in all schools, infringed the parents' and teachers' religious freedoms under Article 9 of the Human Rights Convention and their right to an education of their choice.

The schools involved in the proceedings are the Christian Fellowship School at Edge Hill, Liverpool; Bradford Christian School at Idle, Bradford; Cornerstone School at Epsom, Surrey, and Kings School at Eastleigh, Hants.

Lord Nicholls said they claimed to speak for "a large body of the Christian community" whose "fundamental beliefs" include that part of the duty of education in the Christian context is that teachers should be able to stand in the place of parents and administer physical punishment to children.

He said their beliefs were based on the passages from the Bible they had quoted and their aim was not to injure but to give the message that unacceptable behaviour would not be tolerated.

"The aim is to 'help form godly character'," said Lord Nicholls, by "loving corporal correction".

Corporal punishment of boys would take the form of administering a thin, broad flat paddle to both buttocks in a firm controlled manner, according to the claimants.

Girls would be strapped on the hand and then the child comforted by a member of staff and encouraged to pray.

The law lord said there had to be a balance between freedom to practise one's own beliefs and the interests of others affected by those practices.

"Parliament was entitled to decide that, contrary to the claimants' submissions, a universal ban is preferable to a selective ban which exempts schools where the parents or teachers have an ideological belief in the efficacy and desirability of a mild degree of carefully-controlled corporal punishment."

Lady Hale said the case had been about the rights of children and the rights of their parents and teachers.

"Yet there has been no one here or in the courts below to speak on behalf of the children. The battle has been fought on ground selected by the adults. This has clouded and over-complicated what should have been a simple issue."

Dismissing the appeal, she said: "If a child has a right to be brought up without institutional violence, as he does, that right should be respected whether or not his parents and teachers believe otherwise."

Phil Williamson, head teacher at the Christian Fellowship School, said that violence in schools was getting worse and corporal punishment would put a stop to it. "You never smack a child for childish behaviour," he said. "What you smack a child for is wilful defiance and the breaking of moral codes."

Corpun file 15255

Yorkshire Post, Leeds, 25 February 2005

Law Lords reject challenge to corporal punishment ban

Christian schools' smacking plea fails


The teachers and parents had claimed the ban on corporal punishment infringed their human rights. But yesterday's hearing ruled against them.

Phil Moon, the headmaster at Bradford Christian School in Idle, said he was disappointed with the decision and felt society had deteriorated since corporal punishment was banned.

"It is like when you remove the topstone from a dry stone wall and everything is loosened," he said.

"The more things you take away from parents, the harder you make it for them and ultimately it is the children who suffer."

He added: "We are not in the business of abusing children; it's the opposite. We want to develop children's character."

During earlier court challenges, lawyers representing the teachers and parents cited passages from the Bible, including Proverbs 23:13-14: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death."

And chapter 13: 24: "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, giving the lead ruling, said their beliefs "involve inflicting physical violence on children in an institutional setting".

He added: "Parliament was bound to respect the claimants' beliefs in this regard, but was entitled to decide that manifestation of these beliefs in practice was not in the best interests of children."

His dismissal of the appeal was echoed by the other four Law Lords.

Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have already thrown out the argument that the 1996 Education Act, which prohibits smacking, infringes the parents' and teachers' religious freedoms and right to an education of their choice.


Other schools involved in the proceedings are the Christian Fellowship School at Edge Hill, Liverpool, Cornerstone School at Epsom, Surrey, and Kings School at Eastleigh, Hampshire. Lord Nicholls said their beliefs were based on the Biblical passages they had quoted and their aim was not to injure but to give the message that unacceptable behaviour would not be tolerated.

Corporal punishment of boys would take the form of administering a thin, broad flat paddle to both buttocks simultaneously in a firm, controlled manner, according to the claimants.

Girls may be strapped on the hand and then comforted by a member of staff and encouraged to pray.

Lord Nicholls said the level of corporal punishment envisaged could never amount to inhuman punishment or torture, but the legislature was entitled to take the view that all corporal punishment at school was undesirable and unnecessary and that other, non-violent means of discipline were available and preferable.


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