Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 12:01 UK

A 'fifth of teachers back caning'

Children fighting
Corporal punishment might be used to discipline fighting children

One in five teachers would like to see the cane brought back in schools for "extreme cases", a survey suggests.

The deterioration of class behaviour was the main reason given for backing the return of corporal punishment.

The Times Educational Supplement poll of 6,162 UK teachers found more support for the cane in secondary schools.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said violence against children was illegal and unacceptable.

There is justification, or an argument, for bringing back corporal punishment, if only as a deterrent
Primary school teacher
Ravi Kasinathan

The TES survey found that 22% of secondary school teachers would support the right to use corporal punishment in extreme cases.

However, those working in primary schools were less in favour at 16%.

Overall, 20.3% supported "the right to use corporal punishment in extreme cases".

The idea was less popular with heads and deputy and assistant heads, with just 12% favouring the idea, the TES reported.

Supply teacher Judith Cookson told the TES: "There are too many anger management people and their ilk who give children the idea that it is their right to flounce out of lessons for time out because they have problems with their temper.

"They should be caned instead."

And primary teacher Ravi Kasinathan said: "There is justification, or an argument, for bringing back corporal punishment, if only as a deterrent. I believe some children just don't respond to the current sanctions."

'Dark ages'

Corporal punishment was abolished in schools a decade ago.

National Union of Teachers said it could not support the views of those in favour of hitting children.

Acting general secretary Christine Blower said: "To put it another way, 80% of teachers are not in favour of a return to corporal punishment.

"The NUT could not support the views expressed by those in favour of hitting children."

Former Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis and former head teachers said bringing the cane back would be a return to the "dark ages".

But chairman of the Campaign for Real Education Nick Seaton said most people would agree with the teachers in favour of the cane.

He said: "There's no doubt that behaviour and general discipline in schools have become much worse since corporal punishment was banned.

"Schools can't function properly or raise standards unless they have good discipline, so - you know - adults have been encouraged to surrender their authority to children and young people basically, and I think that's not good for society or the young people themselves."

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