Staffroom mole leaks secret of his school's beatings book
By Andrew Loudon
TEACHERS who want an end to corporal punishment yesterday branded a 1,030-pupil comprehensive as a school for scandal. They said that Litherland High, which handed out more than 1,800 slipperings last year, was "top of the beatings league table".
STOPP, the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment, highlighted the Merseyside school in a report on "the unacceptable face of British education".
Leaks from Litherland's punishment books show that in one fortnight 65 boys received between one and four strokes with an old tennis shoe. One boy was slippered five times in four days for offences such as missing detention, fooling about and being out of bounds.
The confidential files were given to STOPP by Left-wing English teacher Mr Alan Corkish, a 36-year-old ex-bricklayer. He said: "The rest of the staff are calling me a scab and the headmaster has stopped talking to me".
Mr Corkish, of Barons Hey, Cantril Farm, Liverpool, is a former building site shop steward. He has been a teacher for less than three years, since entering the profession as a mature student. Litherland is his first school.
He added: "It is the frequency of beatings that I am against, rather than the principle. The slipper is used so often, it is a waste of time".
He said he never had discipline problems in his class, but admitted that his size - 6ft 4in. and 17 stone - might have something to do with it.
GARY FOSTER "Slipper should be banned"
Mr Corkish, who wore a ban-the-bomb badge in class yesterday, denied that he had a political motive. He said: "I'm a member of the Labour Party and I have read Marx but I would not label myself as a Marxist."
Litherland's headmaster, Mr Eric Colley, said: "Whatever your views on corporal punishment they are going to be wrong with somebody. There are many good things being done at this school, and this business is not going to help anybody."
WAYNE FOSTER "It's better than detention"
The slipperings are carried out by two deputy headmasters using a size 10 tennis shoe in the presence of witnesses. The majority of punishments involve only one or two strokes.
Mrs Marlene Foster, 39, of Ince Avenue, Litherland, an opponent of the slipper, said her son Gary had a bottom "as red as a beetroot" after he was punished for writing on desks.
Gary, 13, said the slipper should be banned. But his brother, Wayne, 16, said it [...] was better than detention -- and most beating victims I spoke to agreed. [...]
RELATED VIDEO CLIP New!
Five-minute segment from "The Oxford Roadshow" (January 1981), a BBC TV magazine show aimed at young people. This is a follow-up to the above press story, set off by one of STOPP's notorious media stunts. There is little sign here of the BBC's supposed commitment to impartiality: the script could almost have been written by STOPP itself. Alan Corkish, the Litherland teacher who leaked the punishment book pages, speaks at some length but there is no attempt to give the views of the school management.
HERE IS THE CLIP:
IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the BBC. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.
And teachers have been told they face the sack if they give "six of the best" in the future.
Labour chiefs of the Inner London Education Authority have forced through the ban on corporal punishment in comprehensives which comes into operation at the end of school today.
ILEA is only the fourth education authority in Britain to outlaw corporal punishment -- after Brent, Haringey and Waltham Forest.
Today pupils and teachers at the all-boys Holloway School in North London applauded the new ruling.
Roy Christie, 16, and now a sixth former, recalls: "When I was 13 all my class of 27 was caned by a master.
"We had a gym lesson with a class of boys younger than us. We played a game called Danish longball and the other class beat us.
"After that some of our class went on the rampage and a boy hit one of the younger team with a shoe.
"The deputy head heard about it. When the culprit did not own up and we refused to grass he caned us all.
"We did not cry -- you can't do that in front of your friends. Even if it hurts you hold the tears back and pretend nothing has happened."
Holloway barred the cane on an experimental basis 18 months ago. The year before, 38 boys suffered the punishment.
Now detentions and suspensions from school are the deterrent meted out to boys who behave badly.
"Caning makes boys come to school in fear -- even a subconscious fear," said Andy Sozos, 16, another six [sic] former.
"It belongs to the 19th century and should have been left there."
Milt Charalambous, 16, and caned once, agreed. "Violence breeds violence," he said. You have no respect for the teacher after being caned.
"There is now a better relationship between teachers and boys. Some of the pupils who were constantly caned became school heroes."
Mr George De Spinoza, head of Holloway School, has never caned a child in his life. He has disliked the punishment ever since he watched a former headmaster cane a boy when he first started teaching.
"I had reported the boy to the headmaster. He said 'Come and watch me cane him.' He actually ran across the room to hit the boy with the cane. I got very upset about it."
But other London head teachers have protested that the cane should have been kept, although ILEA chiefs say it is an "uncivilised punishment."
The London members of Britain's second biggest teachers union -- the National Association of Schoolmasters -- have also declared themselves in dispute with ILEA over the ban, which will affect all secondary schools apart from those which are church-run.
But from today the penalty for a teacher who breaks the no-caning rule is severe. He will be reported and could be fired for breaking his contract.