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School CP - March 1983

Corpun file 19430


The Times, London, 9 March 1983

Minister rejects action on spanking school despite inspectors' report

By Lucy Hodges, Education Correspondent

Press cutting -- CLICK TO ENLARGE -- Image will open in a new windowCriticism of the amount of corporal punishment at the independent school in Suffolk which was alleged last year to have indulged in excessive beating is made in a report by the School Inspectors published yesterday.

However, in an accompanying announcement, Sir Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Education and Science says he is taking no action against St George's School at Great Finborough, on the ground that no evidence was provided by those who those who made the original allegations to the BBC Radio 4 Checkpoint programme to substantiate "the few specific incidents alleged, which were directly denied by the headmaster".

The seven inspectors, who spent a week at the school last November, comment that the incidence of corporal punishment had not decreased noticeably at the school despite new rules brought in by St George's after the programme was broadcast.

In the first 10 weeks of last autumn term the slipper was used on 40 recorded occasions and the cane once, the inspectors note. Such punishment was used for irresponsible behaviour and a few boys had been slippered several times.

"There must be some doubt as to the effectiveness and the appropriateness of corporal punishment in these cases", the report says. "The school should now give attention to the development of a more constructive and sensitive approach to sanctions."

The inspectors make no comment on the officially-sanctioned boxing matches between boys as a way of settling their differences except to say: "As the weight of medical evidence is against the inclusion of boxing as a physical education activity for young pupils without rigorous safeguards the school should reconsider this practice."

The report is also critical of the education provided at the school, particularly in mathematics, Latin, general studies and games.

The inspectors, who contrast the excessive attention to school rules (running into seven pages) with the relaxed and cheerful way boys greet visitors, say the atmosphere is firm but not repressive.

The BBC said last night that it stood by everything it had said in the Checkpoint programme and claimed that the Department of Education and Science had not interviewed a number of people who took part in it. The department said it had written to five people and received no replies.

Herbert Reeves and Company, the school's solicitors, said the inspectors' report was fair, that some of the recommendations had been implemented and that the boxing matches ceased last June.

"In view of the damage which it has sustained in consequence of these unfounded allegations, the school is seeking further advice from legal advisers", they added.

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