EIS rejects belt classroom call


The belt was banned in Scotland's schools 20 years agoThe Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has rejected a call for the belt to be brought back to tackle indiscipline in secondary schools.

John Swinburne, of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, told BBC Scotland he believed corporal punishment worked.

But EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said it would be a backward step and was “not a desirable option”.

The belt was banned in Scottish schools 20 years ago. The Scottish Executive said it did not plan to change the law.

Mr Swinburne said banning the belt had contributed to classroom indiscipline and anti-social behaviour.

“In my day if you stepped out of line then quite frankly you were belted. I’m not talking about primary school, I’m talking about secondary school,” the MSP said.

John Swinburne MSP
“If you stepped out of line you were belted”
John Swinburne MSP

“If you stepped out of line you were belted. You didn’t volunteer to be belted again in a great hurry.”

He said unruly pupils were being “plucked out of the class” and excluded from normal education, which he described as “unacceptable”.

“Possibly a little bit of corporal punishment would have pulled those children into line.”

‘Turning back the clock’

However, the EIS rejected Mr Swinburne’s call and said it would be a backward step.

Mr Smith said: “As early as 1968, the EIS was advocating the removal of corporal punishment from schools.

“The EIS recently produced a major report looking at the issue of school indiscipline and how it can be tackled, and not once throughout the writing of this report was a return to corporal punishment even discussed or considered.

“Turning back the clock almost a quarter of a century to the days of corporal punishment is not a realistic or desirable solution to the issue of classroom indiscipline.”

A spokesperson for the executive said the use of belts in schools was illegal and that there were no plans to change the law.



blob RELATED VIDEO CLIP (2 minutes 4 seconds) from BBC TV Reporting Scotland, 7 June 2006.

Report by Gavin Walker. Examples of tawses are seen in a museum. John Swinburne, Member of the Scottish Parliament, calls for the belt to be reintroduced in Scottish schools to deal with growing anti-social behaviour by teenagers. CCTV footage of out-of-control youths behaving anti-socially.

Various other people (a teachers’ union official, a psychologist) think corporal punishment is not the answer. An online poll suggested a majority for reintroduction, but this was not borne out by a vox pop of parents outside a Glasgow school. The Scottish Government has no intention of restoring CP.


IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the “fair use” doctrine EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.


Corpun file 17739


The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 8 June 2006

Bring back the belt to discipline children, says MSP

By Louise Gray

AN MSP [Member of the Scottish Parliament] yesterday urged ministers to bring back the belt to discipline unruly schoolchildren.

John Swinburne, the sole member of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party at Holyrood, said Scotland’s classrooms have descended into chaos since corporal punishment was outlawed.

Backed by Tory MSP Phil Gallie, he called for stricter measures in classrooms to help all pupils learn.

But education groups said that any form of physical punishment simply served to legitimise violence and would be a step backwards.

Mr Swinburne raised the issue of corporal punishment as a way of tackling “yob culture” prevalent in Scotland’s classrooms. A recent investigation by The Scotsman revealed that more than 34 assaults on teachers and other school staff take place in Scotland’s classrooms every day of the academic year.

“They have a problem with discipline in classes today,” said Mr Swinburne. “We didn’t have a problem because in my day if you stepped out of line you got belted. And it is a coincidence that since discipline in the class stopped you seem to have a sort of yob culture.

“Possibly a little bit of corporal would have kept those children in line.”

Mr Swinburne admitted that his proposals would be unworkable under current European legislation but insisted it was a legitimate issue to bring up.

“The government has accepted legislation from Europe which bans teachers from belting children and they have yet to come up with a solution to the problem that has created,” he said.