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Beaten sensible

DAVID BLUNKETT proved his political worth again last week, with a speech that showed he is almost uncannily in tune with public opinion.

Fully three hours before the first copies of The TES arrived hot off the presses at the North of England conference, Blunkett was extolling the virtues of firm discipline to delegates.

Last week's paper, you'll recall, led on the story about parents demanding that schools bring back the birch (presumably the same parents who go in and slap the teachers around when little Jason is kept i for kicking a dinner lady).

David opened his speech with a charming anecdote from the end of the last millennium. It concerned a Benedictine monk from Winchester who recorded in his diary that a group of children had asked to be taught to speak correctly.

"Are you prepared to be beaten while learning?" he asked them sternly. "Sir," they replied, "we would rather be beaten for the sake of learning than be ignorant."

The Secretary of State's conclusion: a good start to the millennium. Children, watch out.

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