Unions made full use of the belt

9th January 2004 at 00:00
Major unions opposed the outright removal of the belt in the autumn of 1973, despite a vigorous 10-year campaign to prevent children being struck by Lochgelly leather.

Both the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Schoolmasters Association were against a UK ban on corporal punishment which would have followed from a Protection of Minors Bill introduced privately in the Lords.

Several local authorities wanted an immediate ban but the EIS countered that while the removal of the belt was "desirable", it could only be achieved after "suitable alternatives" were provided. Teachers would decide when that was, the EIS argued.

Scottish Education Department officials pointed out that the Bill was ill-timed because of concerns about rising indiscipline and strong opposition from the unions. Teachers who belted were in loco parentis, taking reasonable action. The EIS had been considering legal action against Edinburgh Corporation if it moved to a ban since this would have been a unilateral breach of teachers' conditions of service.

The city was considering phasing out the belt over three years and proposed more places for seriously disruptive and emotionally disturbed children.

One recommendation was for school-based social workers in every secondary.

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