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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
EIS rejects belt classroom call
The belt was banned in Scotland's schools 20 years ago
The belt was banned in Scotland's schools 20 years ago
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has rejected a call for the belt to be brought back to tackle indiscipline in secondary schools.

John Swinburne, of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, told BBC Scotland he believed corporal punishment worked.

But EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said it would be a backward step and was "not a desirable option".

The belt was banned in Scottish schools 20 years ago. The Scottish Executive said it did not plan to change the law.

Mr Swinburne said banning the belt had contributed to classroom indiscipline and anti-social behaviour.

"In my day if you stepped out of line then quite frankly you were belted. I'm not talking about primary school, I'm talking about secondary school," the MSP said.

John Swinburne MSP
If you stepped out of line you were belted
John Swinburne MSP

"If you stepped out of line you were belted. You didn't volunteer to be belted again in a great hurry."

He said unruly pupils were being "plucked out of the class" and excluded from normal education, which he described as "unacceptable".

"Possibly a little bit of corporal punishment would have pulled those children into line."

'Turning back the clock'

However, the EIS rejected Mr Swinburne's call and said it would be a backward step.

Mr Smith said: "As early as 1968, the EIS was advocating the removal of corporal punishment from schools.

"The EIS recently produced a major report looking at the issue of school indiscipline and how it can be tackled, and not once throughout the writing of this report was a return to corporal punishment even discussed or considered.

"Turning back the clock almost a quarter of a century to the days of corporal punishment is not a realistic or desirable solution to the issue of classroom indiscipline."

A spokesperson for the executive said the use of belts in schools was illegal and that there were no plans to change the law.

Scottish Greens' co-leader Robin Harper
Bringing back the belt would do absolutely nothing to meet the needs of the young people concerned
Robin Harper
Scottish Greens' co-leader

BBC Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell said that when Mr Swinburne recently raised this issue in parliament, Scottish Green Party co-leader Robin Harper accused the MSP of proposing the licensed assault of pupils.

Our correspondent said the majority view at Holyrood was probably more in tune with Mr Harper than Mr Swinburne and that the Senior Citizens Unity Party MSP "was not built for these politically correct times".

Mr Harper said on Wednesday he hoped the suggestion would be rejected by fellow MSPs.

"I was a teacher when the belt was used," he said.

Alternative strategies

"All it did was condition young people to accept violence in their daily life as a norm, and we still suffer from that in the appallingly high levels of violence that still exist, in particular against women.

"Bringing back the belt would do absolutely nothing to meet the needs of the young people concerned."

The children's charity NCH Scotland said there was no case for bringing the belt back into the classroom.

Spokeswoman Liz Brabender said: "Beating children who misbehave belongs in the past and should remain there.

"There are many alternative strategies that can be used and teachers need to be supported in dealing with problems of indiscipline in the classroom."

Mr Swinburne came to Holyrood three years ago and said at the time he had views to the left of Chairman Mao and to the right of Margaret Thatcher.


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