Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 11:28 UK

School smacking loophole closed

Sir Roger Singleton and Ed Balls
Sir Roger Singleton was asked to consider the rules on smacking

Smacking is to be banned for anyone working with children outside the family, closing a loophole on corporal punishment, the government has said.

Until now part-time education settings in England, including religious lessons taught in madrassas, have been able to use corporal punishment.

The announcement comes following recommendations from the chief adviser on child safety, Sir Roger Singleton.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said the move was "sensible and proportionate".

Under current rules smacking is already banned in state, private school and nurseries but this has not covered educational settings where lessons were taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week.

But now it will be banned in all forms of tuition, care and supervision outside of the family.

Mr Balls said: "The government does not condone smacking, nor do we want to criminalise parents who choose to discipline their children with a mild smack.

"We know that the majority of parents agree with this view. "

The laws on smacking in schools

Parents are allowed to give their children a "mild smack". This right to smack extends to those who have parental responsibility, such as grandparents or other family members.

The children's secretary said he was glad Sir Roger's recommendations backed the government's drive to promote positive parenting techniques, giving parents "better alternatives to smacking".

Parents who disapprove of smacking should make this clear to others who care for their children, says the report.

Clear message needed

Sir Roger said: "Banning physical punishment outside of the family home sends a straight forward message that it is entirely unacceptable in any form of care, education or leisure."

He sought the views of parents, children, religious leaders and children's charities for the report.

Mr Balls wrote to Sir Roger asking him to re-consider the rules surrounding the use of corporal punishment in "part-time educational and learning settings".

The issue emerged after MP Ann Cryer raised it in a House of Commons debate.

It is under the exemption that covers parents that adults in part-time educational settings have been able to defend their use of "reasonable punishment".



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