I was dismayed to read in the national press that a member of staff had resigned from a secondary school in my constituency after a conviction for striking a pupil, in what seemed to me a rather trivial incident.
Of course, we must all abide by the laws made by Parliament. All I can say is that I never voted for that one.
I am of that generation that took a thrashing at school as an occupational hazard. I remain of the view that it didn’t do me any harm and, on the contrary, may have done me some good. In some cases the sharp painful rebuke made you see the error of your ways, and to abandon a path leading to nowhere. On other occasions a swift caning spared you the misery of a prolonged tedious punishment, and spared the teacher from having to supervise it too.
When we complained to our parents about the injustice, they tended to the sensible view that ‘the little blighter had it coming’.
Years later I enjoyed a short career as a teacher myself in a school where we not too infrequently used the cane. I recall that it was particularly effective at nipping bullying in the bud. After all, bullies tend to be the biggest cowards.
Of course, there have always been excellent and well-disciplined schools that thrived without any corporal punishment. It does however, take a lot of hard work and teachers do have an enormous amount on their plates. No doubt, there are extraordinary teachers who can quell disorder with just a stern look, but that ability is rare.
If punishing a pupil will involve a delayed and time-consuming administrative process, there may be a temptation to ignore the offence, perhaps to choose not to have heard a profanity, or answering-back muttered under the breath by a pupil, and so standards slip.
Yes, there are plenty of good schools, but ask yourself this question:
Overall, have our classrooms become better ordered and disciplined, and has society at large become more polite and less violent in the years since we outlawed corporal punishment?