Banning the cane started the slide in pupil discipline, parents believe

BEHAVIOUR among schoolchildren has got worse since the cane was abolished, according to parents.

Government research showed some mothers and fathers believed corporal punishment was an “effective method of control” when they were at school. They said the decision to outlaw corporal punishment had contributed to a decline in discipline.

The comments — in a study for the Department for Children, Schools and Families — come just months after a fifth of teachers called for the cane to be reintroduced to restore order in the classroom.

This week, a report by Ofsted suggested traditional discipline methods such as suspending hundreds of troublemakers at a time and banning children with shaven heads and designer trainers was a good deterrent.

Corporal punishment, including the use of the cane and ruler, was abolished in state schools in 1987, and 1998 in the fee-paying sector.

In the latest study, 48 adults were interviewed to gauge their perception of behaviour among young people. When asked to describe what they felt was behind a decline in discipline, they made a series of observations.

These included the “increasing demands on teachers, leaving them less effective to teach and discipline effectively”.

The group, which included 32 parents, also cited the “suitability of some teachers to the profession”, suggesting that some lacked an ability to “instil respect and good behaviour among teenage pupils”.

They added that “the removal of corporal punishment in schools, which many felt had been an effective method of control in their day”, also affected discipline standards.

Margaret Morrissey, of the campaign group Parents Outloud, said: “When it was used as a threat, rather than being used to actually hit a child, corporal punishment was often an effective deterrent.

“I am just not convinced that in the present climate there is a possibility it can come back. Can you imagine the number of compensation claims it would lead to?

“I really do believe that the problem for the deteriorating behaviour is the political correctness of the last 10 years that has told children to stand up and complain the moment someone tries to tell them off.”

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “This is not evidence that anyone wants a return to corporal punishment in schools.

“Since its abolition, there has been no widespread demand for a change in this position.”

A survey of more than 6,000 teachers last year found more than a fifth believed the cane should be brought back.