Hitting back

24th October 2008 at 01:00

The recent TES survey that revealed 20 per cent of teachers and 12 per cent of heads are in favour of bringing back corporal punishment should come as no surprise. Simon Warr's comment piece ("Sparing the rod has spoilt pupils and the profession", TES, October 17), however, represents the view of a naive apologist for institutionalised violence - which is about as useful to the debate as the cabbie who recalls "It was so much better in my day."

Lee Canter, the US educational behavioural psychologist, put it succinctly: "sanctions contain behaviour; recognition changes behaviour". Simon's nostalgia for the cane combines with his justification for those who administered it - a powerful combination of the "it never did me any harm" philosophy. The problem is that it never did any good on its own either.

We know that 75 per cent of prisoners reoffend. My contemporaries who received the cane certainly went back for more almost 100 per cent of the time. Good schools realise this and don't react with institutionalised violence or educational exclusion. Instead they create a calm, civilised, transparent and professional environment that supports transformational learning and allows us to bask in the glory of our young people's success - and does not demonise them.

Trevor Averre Beeson, Executive headteacher, Salisbury School, Edmonton.

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