Corporal punishment would bolster our authority

22nd November 1996 at 00:00
"Exclusions rise relentlessly" is the front-page TES headline. Meanwhile, on the back page Professor Michael Barber in "Last Word" rails against corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment was the discipline measure of last resort. When we lost it, we threw away a measure which did not drag out in paperwork and missed detentions. Exclusion can be seen as a reward by badly behaved pupils. Corporal punishment cannot.

We did not lose just one punishment. Corporal punishment stood at the pinnacle of the disciplinary system. Abandoning it opened the floodgates. It led to the "You can't touch me" culture which undermines teachers' authority.

Sneering at "moralising" completely missed the point. Just because our leaders cannot live up to some moral guidelines does not mean that we should not have any. We are all fallible human beings. We all fall short. But we teachers do not primarily gain our authority from who we are, but from what we are.

We act in loco parentis. In addition, there is an unwritten contract that pupils will apply themselves to learn and that we will teach them effectively. The authority we wield would be bolstered by the return of corporal punishment.

F D LANKESTER 82 Byfield Rise Worcester

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