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School Discipline (Corporal Punishment)

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Education whether he will now take steps to ensure that all school authorities are allowed to use the cane to maintain discipline in schools under his Department's control.

Local education authorities make their own regulations about the use of corporal punishment in schools and I consider this to be a matter properly within their discretion. But I hope that authorities in their turn give discretion, within limits, to head teachers.

Can my right hon. Friend say why his Department cannot issue general guidance throughout schools and not leave this matter entirely to local authorities? Surely this is one thing that we want to bring about, in view of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's remarks not so long ago.

We have always left this question of the organisation of discipline in the schools very much in the hands of those who employ the teachers. I have no reason to think that it is not working well.

Is not the use of the cane recognised by the Home Secretary and many other authorities on this subject as one of the means of averting serious delinquency later on in life? In those circumstances, why are Socialist-controlled London County Council school managers allowed to obstruct Government policy?

I consider that the use of the cane, although it may be necessary, is an admission of failure on the part of the teacher. It is certain that the use of the cane could have a good effect only if the teacher himself believed in using it.

Are we to judge the results of the use of the cane by the products of public schools sitting opposite?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that public and educational opinion all over the United States and the U.S.S.R.—and, in fact, in every civilised country—is appalled at the recrudescence of this barbaric idea that the use of the cane is good for discipline?

We do what we think is right here. We do not need to take lessons in civilisation from other countries.