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rainbow ruler   :  Archive   :  1976 to 1995   :  UK Schools Jan 1976


School CP - January 1976

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 7 January 1976

Schoolgirls get equal chance - to be caned!

By David Anderson

THE schoolgirls really felt liberated when the headmaster asked the boys to leave the assembly hall.

The teenagers listened proudly as the he told them that from now on they would be treated exactly the same as the boys ...

But the girls of Heaton School, Newcastle, were stunned when he added: "And that means you will also get the cane!"

The girls have never been caned before and today there was growing apprehension behind the scenes.

A 16-year-old girl said: "We nearly died when the head said that we will now get the cane. I know it's women's lib year but we think this is taking it too far."

Will she take her punishment like a MAN?

"If I'm ever due to get the cane, I will run home."

At home her mother said: 'The thought of a bamboo cane really grieves me. I never hit my children.

"I do not believe in beating a child. I'd rather the girls be suspended if they are bad.

"There are ways and means of punishing them without hitting them."

But headmaster Mr. Henry Askew was adamant that what's good for the boys is good for the girls.

He said at the school today: "We simply told the girls that from now on they will be treated the same as the boys."

He said that the decision had been taken as the result of pressure from the school's women teaching staff who had had enough of the behaviour of some girls.

Mr. Askew, a juvenile court magistrate, added: "We have resisted caning girls for several years and I hope we do not have to use it on them."

Another schoolgirl, aged 15, said that the girls would be at a disadvantage because they are not allowed to wear trousers in warm weather. "The stick will hurt us more," she said.

It is understood that girls will get the cane if they are put in detention twice in a week.

schoolgirls rampaging

Corpun file 26294 at

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 8 January 1976

Schoolgirls go on the rampage

Police act as strap threat brings revolt

Pictures: Mike Blenkinsop
Story: David Anderson

POLICE were called to a Newcastle comprehensive school this afternoon.

They were called when 200 teenage girls staged a "women's lib" demo.

The girls - at Heaton School - were protesting against a decision by teachers to use corporal punishment on them.

Three police car crews were sent to the school and for almost an hour the chanting schoolgirls were on the rampage.

police talk to parentsThey ran round the school grounds and tried to get the boys to join them in their protest by shouting "Howway the lads" - but the boys stayed at their desks.

The girls then ran on to a school football pitch, where a game was going on - and stole the ball.

The boys dejectedly left the pitch.

On Tuesday, the girls were told that in future they will get the strap - as the boys do - for some classroom offences.

The headmaster, Mr. Henry Askew, said that the decision was taken to combat "uncouth and nasty" girl pupils.

This afternoon Mr. Askew, other members of staff and the boy prefects tried to persuade the girls to return. But they took no notice.

A handful of parents encouraged the girls by shouting through the railings.

One mother said: "No one is going to beat my daughter. I've lost sleep over this."

After an hour the majority of girls were back at their desks.

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 9 January 1976


THE DECISION by a Newcastle headmaster to use the strap on girl students "as a last resort" has run into trouble. Predictably.

But before anyone jumps to conclusions which may later prove to be wrong, let us look at the situation in a calm and rational way.

The headmaster is responsible for the smooth running of the school. He is responsible for the children while they are in that school.

He tells us that women teachers on his staff have approached him consistently about an unruly element among girl students and the difficulty in dealing with it.

What are the options open to him at the present?

Staff can hand out detention and, in more severe cases, pupils can be suspended.

But this would appear to be exactly what the unruly students want.

If they are suspended they don't even need to play truant to have a little time off.

Parents who have commented adversely on his decision would do well to contemplate their actions.

Do they want a school where discipline is totally non-existent; where there is a danger of education standards deteriorating?

We are quick to criticise when the schools turn out unruly students with little or no respect for others and with reading and writing abilities far below those demanded by today's employers.

When a headmaster acts to keep his school moving in the right direction, should we not therefore support him?

At Heaton Comprehensive School boys have received corporal punishment over the years without any furore. Why then is it wrong for girls to be treated in the same manner?

The girls should now take their punishment like a man.

Corpun file 5899

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 10 January 1976

All quiet at City trouble school

ALL was quiet last night at the troubled Heaton Comprehensive School in Newcastle.

Police patrols kept a regular check on the premises but there was no sign of trouble.

Police said today: "We have put no special security into force but patrol cars have kept a lookout during the night in case of any attempt to cause damage.

"Happily there have been no incidents since the pupils left Heaton yesterday evening."

Two days of arguments, pupil riots and damage have followed a threat by headmaster Mr. Henry Askew that the strap will be used on girls in future.

One boy has been arrested for assaulting a teacher, another suspended from school and seven pupils taken away by their parents.

Corpun file 11858

The Sunday People, London, 11 January 1976

Hands off those girls, teacher

By Patricia Boxall

The woman columnist men can't ignoreIT's a grave pity that the terms of the Sex Discrimination Act have been interpreted by a Newcastle upon Tyne headmaster as a licence to strap unruly schoolgirls.

I accept that all girls are not sugar and spice and all things nice. Some are vicious, cruel hooligans, probably utterly beyond the control of their teachers.

I also note that it was the women teachers at the comprehensive school, scared, battered and bruised by the assault of their girl pupils, who backed the threat to give them a whopping just like the boys.

It is, I agree, a dilemma.

But sloshing girls isn't the answer, no matter how deserving they might be of a bloody good hiding and no matter if the tanning is meted out by a female teacher.

In an atmosphere of increasing incidence of wife-bashing, it's essential to get it across that violence towards women is a vile business.

I will guess that many men who dish out vicious hidings to women are convinced in their minds that they deserve it.

Giving the okay to hitting schoolgirls could further this dangerous notion.

The sad thing about this nasty business is that any schoolgirl who gets a strapping won't really be the one who suffers most.

It's the schoolboys who know it's going on we've got to worry about. They are the ones who are going to grow up with the notion that if school can pitch in to the girls, why the hell should they keep their knuckles in check?

Corpun file 11858a

The Sunday People, London, 11 January 1976

As Belsky sees it ...


"I suppose we could have expected a backlash from that sex equality bill."

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 12 January 1976

Parents back girl caning, says head

A TYNESIDE headmaster who caned two girl pupils today said he had never received any complaints from parents over the school's corporal punishment policy.

Mr. Donald Simpson, headmaster of Linskill High School, North Shields, caned two girls after they had assaulted 15-year-old girl pupil who did not invite them to her Christmas party.

The assaulted girl's father said today that he had contacted a solicitor about the incident. But Mr. Simpson said: "The incident was reported to me by my deputy, and the girls were dealt with immediately.

"The matter was finished last week, and there is no animosity between the girls."

He added: "It is wrong that a squabble between three girls should endanger the reputation of the school."

The 970 pupils at Linskill School have a good reputation. Mr. Simpson said that, in his six years at the school, he had never yet had complaints from parents, disagreeing with school policy on corporal punishment for certain offences - especially violence.

"Not one per cent. of the pupils will ever have had the cane at the school," said Mr. Simpson. "We have got a comprehensive cross section of pupils, and a lot of thoroughly sensible parents interested in their children's education and welfare, and they support us up to the hilt."


Today Mr. John Partington, Director of Education for North Tyneside, said he had received no report on the incident and he stressed that the Authority's policy on discipline is that the headmaster is entirely responsible.

"It is left entirely to the headmaster and there is no formal scheme for corporal punishment in North Tyneside schools, other than that details of the punishment must be entered in a punishment book - that applies to all schools in Britain," said Mr. Partington.

Corpun file 14122


The Daily Telegraph, London, 13 January 1976

Girls, 15, caned for black-eye attack

By George Turnbull

FIVE girls were suspended from Heaton Comprehensive School, Newcastle upon Tyne, yesterday, following a playground riot over corporal punishment. At the same time another Tyneside headmaster disclosed he had caned two fifth-form girls for attacking a classmate.

press cutting Mr Donald Simpson, head of Limskill High School, a North Shields comprehensive, said the girls had received "six of the best" after they attacked a girl because she had not invited them to her Christmas party.

The two 15-year-old girls were caned on the hand with a small bamboo cane with the backing of their parents, Mr Simpson said.

The 15-year-old girl they attacked during a break period received a black eye and is still off school.

"The girls accepted their punishment without raising any objections and they have apologised for what they did. The girls admitted it was a stupid thing to do and that they deserved their punishment," Mr Simpson said.

Mr John Partington, director of education for North Tyneside said: "Authority policy on discipline is that the headmaster is entirely responsible. We have no formal scheme other than that details of punishments must be entered in a punishment book."

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Science said last night: "We do not have a policy on corporal punishment as such since it is the responsibility of the local authority to decide whether they use it or otherwise.

'Uncouth and nasty'

Mr Simpson backed the decision of Mr Harry Askew, Heaton's head, to introduce corporal punishment for girls because a "hard core" were "uncouth and nasty."

"Mr Askew is highly respected and liked by all head teachers in the area. I believe he must punish violent or undisciplined pupils. I have every sympathy with him," he said.

When Mr Askew made his announcement that girls would receive the tawse for serious misbehaviour 300 girls went on the rampage. Yesterday, five girls thought to be the ringleaders were officially suspended.

More than half the 90 staff at the school had already decided not to teach the girls "until further notice." Mr Askew informed parents of the reasons for the suspensions by letter.

Mrs Therese Bell, 33, of Holystone Crescent, High Heaton, whose daughter Yvette, 12, was suspended, said: "I am disgusted at the headmaster's high-handed attitude. I want my daughter reinstated. She has been victimised."

Yvette's sister Annette, 15, was also suspended. The other three girls were Jennifer Hay, 13; Kathleen Richardson, 15; and Julie Hiscock.

Corpun file 19443


The Times, London, 13 January 1976

Heads to get guidance about caning of girls

Press cutting

The caning of girls is to be discussed by the executive of the National Association of Head Teachers in London next weekend. Mr Robert Cook, the general secretary, yesterday urged his members, particularly in secondary schools, to be cautious about the use of corporal punishment on girls.

The association is concerned about the implications of incidents at a Tyneside schools and about the possible effect of the Sex Discrimination Act on heads.

Mr Cook said that his members should not use corporal punishment for [sic] girls just because of the Act.

He said the executive hoped to offer guidance to its 19,000 members after the meeting.

Mrs Short, Labour MP for Wolverhampton, North-east, is to ask Mr Mulley, Secretary of State for Education and Science, how many schools in England and Wales still use corporal punishment.

She said yesterday: "I should have thought that for a girl of 15 to be caned by a master was fairly undesirable.

"The aim of the Act was to bring the disadvantaged sex up to the standards of the advantaged, so we should be seeing that boys are no longer caned."

Mrs Short was referring to a Tyneside headmaster who caned two girls, aged 15, on the hands. They had attacked another girl because she did not invite them to her Christmas party.

Mr Donald Simpson, head of Linskill High School, North Shields, said: "They accepted their punishment and have apologized." He said he had the backing of the punished girls' parents.

Meanwhile five girls were suspended from Heaton Comprehensive School, Newcastle upon Tyne, yesterday by the headmaster, Mr Harry Askew. Last Thursday, after he had announced that unruly girls would get the strap, there was a noisy demonstration.

blob Follow-up: 19 January 1976 - Canings head backs new code

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 14 January 1976


Only one side

WE would like to express our views concerning the recent publicity in the Evening Chronicle about the schoolgirls' campaign against getting the strap (N.B. not the cane).

You seem only to have listened to one side of the story. The girls protesting are afraid of getting the strap because they are the offenders in school.

There is only a very small minority liable to get the strap. Some girls did not even know what they themselves were striking for, they just went out to follow the crowd.

The figures stated in your newspaper was [sic] 200 girls. There happen to be 1500 pupils in this school and there was no mention of the 1300 pupils who were for the strap, who remained indoors during the outrageous strike.

Nothing was mentioned about the terrible behaviour of the girls, not only their abusive language, but they also attacked policemen, teachers and cars belonging to staff.

The girls who were campaigning are violent and vicious. If they don't need the strap, what do they need?

-- FIFTH FORM GIRLS, Heaton School, Newcastle.

The right idea

THE headmaster and teachers of Heaton School have my sympathy.

I have often heard the language on the buses of both girls and boys and it would make one's hair stand on end. I certainly wouldn't like the job of teaching them.

A lot of the blame lies with the parents. They seemed to have a rough time when they were young and think they are doing their children a favour by giving them everything they want, when the main thing they need is discipline.

This country is far too soft and it will take something drastic to deal with it. At least this school has the right idea.

-- DISGUSTED, Newcastle.

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 15 January 1976


Waste of time

I THINK the girls at Heaton School are wasting their time, and other people's, by going on rampages.

Schoolgirls who are as bad as boys should get the belt. If they don't other girls will think teachers are going to give in to them.

-- C. BURGESS, Barnesbury, Benwell, Newcastle.

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 16 January 1976

Teachers cane their critics

THE public has "appalling double standards" in its attitude to school discipline, the biggest teachers' union claimed today.

On the one hand, people moan about lack of discipline in schools -- and on the other squeal when corporal punishment is mentioned.

A leader article in The Teacher -- the official paper of the National Union of Teachers -- supports the stand taken last week by Heaton Comprehensive School headmaster Mr. Harry Askew.

Mr. Askew warned girls that they, along with boys, face the strap if they misbehave.

But the warning was followed by two days of demonstrations by about 200 pupils and eight youngsters have been suspended from the school.

The Teacher says: "The union takes the view that while corporal punishment is not a cure-all for disciplinary problems, its use is a matter for the professional judgment of the head teacher.

"The use of corporal punishment on girls may be relatively uncommon but it is by no means unknown.

"Suggestions that the Newcastle incident had something to do with the new Sex Discrimination Act are simply a red herring.

"The Act may have made life easier for some headline writers by giving the story a topical twist but had no relevance to the legal or educational issues at stake.

"The Newcastle regulations governing punishment at Heaton School do not distinguish between pupils on the grounds of their sex.

"More worrying than the widespread misinterpretation of the issue is the appalling double standard displayed by the public and some sections of the Press when issues of school discipline are discussed.

"It needs to be pointed out to critics of the schools that teachers alone cannot establish or uphold a universal code of behaviour."

Evening Chronicle, Newcastle/Tyne, 19 January 1976

Canings head backs new code

A TYNESIDE headmaster in the middle of a controversy after he caned two girl pupils, today backed a new punishment code from the National Association of Head Teachers.

press cuttingThe association's 30-strong executive committee discussed, at the weekend in London, the problem of whether to cane schoolgirls or not.

The executive came out in favour of girls being caned as a punishment -- but only on the hand, by women teachers and only in circumstances where a reasonable parent would do the same at home.

The recommendations are to be incorporated into the association's guidelines for head teachers as soon as possible.

Today Mr. Donald Simpson, head of Linskill High School, North Shields, said: "I agree with them."

But Mr. Simpson, who caned two girls after they had attacked a pupil who had not invited them to a party, says circumstances could arise where it would be foolish to carry out the recommendations to the letter.

"These are only recommendations. If two boys and two girls are sent to me for punishment it would be ridiculous for me to punish the boys and then hunt around the school for a woman teacher to deal with the girls," he says.

"I believe the punishment should meet the circumstances of the moment."

The association, to which Mr. Simpson belongs, is the largest single body in Britain of heads in all types of State schools.

Its executive decided that for younger schoolgirls the type of punishment to be employed "should be such as would be used by a reasonable and caring parent."

Corpun file 23743


Daily Mail, London, 21 January 1976

Ban-the-cane bid fails by 61 votes

Press cutting

A call to ban the cane in all schools was rejected by a 61-vote majority in the Commons yesterday.

Tories and some Liberals joined forces to defeat the demand, led by former comprehensive school headmaster, Mr Dennis Canavan, by 181 votes to 120.

Mr Canavan, Labour MP for West Stirlingshire, claimed that corporal punishment brutalised both teachers and children.

'It is the last vestige of a legalised form of violence in our society. Almost every civilised country has abolished it,' he said.

Because it was still allowed in Britain, was it any wonder, he asked, that we had 'child-battering and other forms of violence?'

It was no longer a deterrent. 'Violence breeds violence. It is counter-productive . . . it can lead to sadism on the part of the teacher and to masochism on the part of the pupil.'

He added: 'Parliament should have the guts to stand up now and say that hitting children has no place in our legal system.'

But Mr Patrick Cormack, Tory MP for Staffordshire SW, dismissed the anti-caning arguments as 'ludicrous, specious, do-gooding nonsense.'

Banning corporal punishment would withdraw from teachers a sanction without which many of them could not do their job.

He blamed the increasingly lackadaisical, permissive and libertarian atmosphere in many schools for the increase in juvenile vandalism and violence.

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