Head fined after boy is injured by cane

A headmaster who caned a seven-year-old boy was fined £5 and ordered to pay 26 guineas costs at West London last week. He was convicted of assaulting the boy thereby occasioning him actual bodily harm.

John Durnford, 39-year-old headmaster of St. David’s co-educational preparatory school, South Lodge, Elvaston Place, South Kensington, had pleaded not guilty.

He said that the boy was caned after complete disobedience and defiance.

“I told him to lower his trousers and keep his underpants up. I caned him three times. He returned to his class, and he was perfectly all right.”

Weals across buttocks

Dr. Richard Rossdale said the boy had two weals and bruising across the buttocks, consistent with what he thought was a quite severe caning.

Mr. Gordon Adam, defending, said that the headmaster was in the position of a parent, and entitled to administer reasonable punishment.

“It is becoming a permissive age, and perhaps because of that corporal punishment is frowned upon and we have the hooliganism we see reported in the papers.”

Corpun file 20975 at www.corpun.com


Sunday Mirror, London, 30 March 1969

Mass canings storm at a school

An investigation has been held into the mass caning of 100 boys at a school.

The canings were made in relays by three masters.

The man who carried out the probe, Mr Frank Wyeth, said yesterday that the boys — all aged about 13 — were each given one stroke across the seat of their pants.


The mass punishments were given to almost every boy in the third year at John Kelly’s School, Willesden, London.

Mr Wyeth, education chief for the borough of Brent, said he had finished his enquiry.

“I have spoken to the headmaster, and this sort of thing won’t happen again,” he added. Mr Wyeth made it clear that he strongly disapproved of the canings, but said: “What’s done is done”.

The master responsible, he said, had not been disciplined. The incident happened on a wet afternoon, said Mr Wyeth.

“The boys were unable to play games and you know what boys are. They were disorderly and making a lot of noise,” he added.

“The master in charge said that if the boys didn’t stop misbehaving he would cane the lot of them.

“But the boys would not stop, and he had to carry out his threat or discipline would break down completely”.

Mr Wyeth said that he headmaster did not know about the canings until the staff concerned informed him the next morning.


The education chief said that the threat should never have been made, and that the canings should not have been carried out without reference to the headmaster.

Corporal punishment was not forbidden in schools, but the decision had to be made by the head.