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Tuesday, March 24, 1998 Published at 10:55 GMT



UK

Move to ban 'six of the best'
image: [ Opponents say caning degrades children and teachers ]
Opponents say caning degrades children and teachers

An attempt to extend the ban on corporal punishment to independent schools is being made in parliament.


BBC Education Coresspondent Sue Littlemore reporting for BBC Radio 4's Today programme (4'02")
The House of Commons is due to debate an amendment tabled by a group of Labour MPs to the School Standards and Framework Bill which seeks to outlaw the cane from all classrooms.

Britain is unique in Europe because it retains corporal punishment in some schools.

The use of the cane, slipper and other forms of corporal punishment has been illegal in state schools since 1986.

The ban followed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that pupils could not be hit against their parents` wishes.

A 'ludicrous' situation

David Hinchliffe, one of the Labour MPs, who want the ban extended, said it was "frankly ludicrous" that teachers in private schools could still beat children.

He said "a significant number of the better private schools" wanted the ban extended.

The Liberal Democrat Education Spokesman, Don Foster, also said he supported the move.

The prospect of a ban has prompted at least one independent school to take pre-emptive action.

Nicholas Debenham, headmaster at the St James School in Middlesex recently suspended the use of corporal punishment until the law is clarified.

He says he makes no apologies for his belief in the effectiveness of caning a persistently indisciplined child. For years many in the teaching profession agreed with him.

Classroom anarchy

In the 1970s when individual education authorities started to ban the cane many teachers thought the result would be classroom anarchy .

In 1979, commenting on the abolition of the cane in London schools, a senior member of one teaching union said: "Corporal punishment is one of the tools necessary for the job. Abolition is like a Ford worker having his spanner taken away "

BBC correspondents say so few private schools still use physical punishment that the impact of the ban would mostly be symbolic.
 





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