Mr Callaghan takes teachers to task

By Staff Reporters

Press cuttingAs the Prime Minister yesterday criticized teachers for taking protest action after referring their dispute to arbitration, more schools were forced to close because of unruly behaviour by pupils left without supervision at lunchtime.

Mr James Callaghan said in the Commons: “When I was a trade union negotiator it was the principle that when a matter had been referred to arbitration, you awaited the verdict of the arbitrators before you took action.”

Teachers’ refusal to supervise lunches and other school activities has led to a wave of pupil unrest. In one Warwickshire school, 50 children, including girls, who barricaded themselves in a classroom were each given two or three strokes of the cane yesterday.

Twenty-four of the 30 pupils who barricaded themselves in a classroom at Sir Harold Wilson’s old school, Royds Hall secondary school at Paddock, Huddersfield, on Wednesday, were each given two strokes of the cane. Four others who refused punishment were suspended and the other two have not returned to school.

The caned children were aged from 12 to 16 and included four girls.

Three schools in Telford New Town, Salop, were closed for a “cooling off” period after education officials had said control over the pupils had been lost. A Leicester school was closed because its headmaster said, the pupils had been acting like hooligans.

Police officers were called to the school after a window had been broken and a girl injured by glass. At Huyton, Liverpool, a schoolboy was arrested for alleged breach of the peace when about two hundred pupils demonstrated against the teachers’ sanctions. Stones were thrown at a police car.

At Canvey Island, Essex, council staff were locked in their offices for protection when 300 children attempted to storm the building in protest against meal sanctions imposed by teachers at Furtherwick Park Secondary School.

The pupils demonstrated outside the school and then marched over a mile to the Castle Point District Council offices, where they battered on windows, chanting and shouting. The police marshalled them on to the pavement and they went back to school, singing defiantly.

In Belfast yesterday the police questioned 25 pupils of Ashfield Grammar School about incidents on Wednesday when it was alleged that pupils from the school went on a rampage in Holywood, co Down. Between 60 and 70 pupils were estimated to have been involved. Some summonses are to be issued.

Teachers at some Norfolk schools relaxed sanctions yesterday so that children should not be turned out into the snow during lunch hour.

Mr Fred Jarvis, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said yesterday: “I deplore the type of hooliganism that has occurred in one or two places, but it will not make us alter our plans at all.”

The teachers involved in the sanctions have opted to go to arbitration after rejecting a 9 per cent pay offer. No date has yet been fixed for the arbitration to begin. Some teachers’ leaders believe that sanctions would be discontinued once arbitration is under way.


Corpun file 19614


The Times, London, 17 March 1978

Pupils face retribution after a brief revolt

By Arthur Osman

It was a day of retribution yesterday in some Midlands schools for pupils who demonstrated against the teachers’ sanctions. Scores of children were caned.

Press cuttingAt Polesworth school, Warwickshire, 50 children, including girls, who barricaded themselves into classrooms for up to four hours, were each given two or three strokes of the cane. Two members of the fifth form were suspended as the alleged ringleaders and will be brought before the governors.

At Solihull, west Midlands, Mr Robert Fulton, head of Tudor Grange Comprehensive School, caned 20 boys and put several girls into detention for an unauthorized walk-out. “There seemed no justifiable reason for their playing truant so I decided to take tough action”, he said.

An undisclosed number of children at Sandwell, West Midlands, were caned after a demonstration that led to three youths being arrested at West Bromwich.

More than 2,600 children at Telford, Salop, will not resume school until Monday. The county education department, after talks with head teachers and the local police, decided to close the schools for a “cooling-off” period because of disturbances involving the pupils of three schools.

Mr K. Pattinson, head of one of the schools, Abraham Darby, said: “In my view television coverage, particularly from the Birmingham area, exacerbated the situation and encouraged the children.”

In Staffordshire three leading members of the county council made a joint protest to teachers that they were causing hardship to pupils and some parents.

At Stoke-on-Trent 200 children marched to the education officer and handed in a petition with 600 signatures calling for the teachers’ pay demands to be accepted.

Members of the Birmingham young socialists organization distributed leaflets in the Northfield area urging children to join the National Union of School Students. The leaflets said: “School students have rights, too”.

A recruiting meeting has been called for next Tuesday in a building normally used by shop stewards at Leylands’ Longbridge plant.

Tim Jones writes from Cardiff: The line of boys standing outside the headmaster’s office at Barry comprehensive school yesterday afternoon maintained that they were unwilling participants in the wave of disturbances which have swept schools in Wales since teachers began their sanctions.

The boys at Barry had been called to account for their part in lunchtime incidents on which pupils smashed 17 windows while unsupervised by teachers. Mr Teifion Phillips, the headmaster, described the pupils as mischievous rather than vicious.

A third-form pupil waiting reluctantly for his encounter said: “Some other boys started throwing stones and we just followed them. It’s over not having any dinner.”

In fact the school has been supplying dinners almost normally. The pupil was ignorant of the issues involved and could not name the teachers’ unions that were taking sanctions.

Outside the school, another pupil, who also refused to be named, said: “We don’t like school, and it’s nice to run around”.

In spite of his reluctance to give his name the boy’s parents will learn today of his proclivities, for the headmaster has sent letters to them explaining what the pupils had done and the disciplinary measure taken against them.

A fifth-former at the school, Michael Thomas, aged 15, said: “The pupils who cause the trouble were led by a hard core who are always challenging the teachers. All they want to do is get out of school and any excuse to get out of school and any excuse to cause trouble is used by them. Normally discipline here is good”.

Local authorities in Wales have been attacked by the biggest teachers’ union in the principality for their “bloody-minded attitude” in refusing to employ more meal supervisors.

Mr Gwyn Jones, Welsh committee chairman of the National Union of Teachers, said the education authorities should “pay for more supervisors or face the consequences. Their own attitude was largely to blame for the trouble at some schools this week.

His view, shared by most teachers in Wales, was that for too long the authorities have taken advantage of teachers’ willingness to work for nothing.

The teachers reject suggestions that they have a moral obligation to supervise school meals. They say that it is only because of their dedication that school authorities have been able to “shirk” their responsibilities for so long.

The disturbances in Welsh schools are likely to be investigated by a committee set up by the Welsh Office to investigate behavioural difficulties among Welsh schoolchildren.

Ronald Kershaw writes: Pupil power in the North appeared to wane yesterday and education officials seemed to think the advent of the Easter break was largely responsible. Leeds education department said that on Wednesday four Leeds schools had disturbances, but yesterday only one incident was reported.

About twenty pupils refused to return to school after the lunch break but were quickly persuaded by teachers to return.

Head teachers at the trouble spots earlier in the week identified pupils who were known trouble-makers. Most were due to leave school today and it was thought they were having a last defiant fling before leaving.


Huddersfield Weekly Examiner, West Yorkshire, 23 March 1978

Pupils caned over meals sit-in

TWENTY-FOUR pupils at Royds Hall Secondary School have been caned and four suspended for staging a sit-in.

Press cuttingChanting “No school dinners, no school,” the pupils barricaded themselves in a classroom during a morning break and refused to come out until mid-afternoon.

Now they have been disciplined by caning or suspension and by having to stay in detention after school hours, for periods of one-and-a-half or three hours depending on how long individuals were involved in the demonstration.

“The incident is considered a breach of internal school discipline and has been dealt with as such,” said Royds Hall headmaster Mr Peter Clarkson in a letter to parents. “Therefore when the punishment is completed the matter will be closed.”

But parents have accused him of over-reacting to the pupil protest.

Mr Barry Williams and his wife Jean, of Southern Road, Cowlersley, said they intended to keep their sixteen-year-old daughter away from school for a week — the last week of her school career.


“We do not agree that she should both be caned and kept behind after school,” said Mrs Williams. “She is upset and it is a pity that her school life should end like this.”

But Mr Clarkson said pupils were being kept in detention only for the periods of time they had “wasted” during the sit-in.

Pupils who agreed to be caned instead of being suspended had received only two strokes of the cane on their buttocks, and another member of staff had been present at each caning. Four girls who received corporal punishment were caned by the school’s senior mistress.

“Sixteen out of a total of thirty pupils involved do not anyway stay to school meals, and four more live in the immediate area,” stressed Mr Clarkson. “That is, two-thirds of the pupils involved do not take school dinners.

“The whole incident involved only thirty out of 1,060 pupils at the school. And a notice displayed by them said: ‘We are not coming out until we come to an agreement that we will only attend school in the morning …’ which I think is highly significant.”


The Journal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 25 March 1978

Police to probe strapping


POLICE have been called in to investigate a “mass strapping” at a Tyneside comprehensive school after a pupil-power demonstration.

Parents have complained that pupils, aged between 11 and 12, were left “black and blue” after the strapping by four teachers at Blaydon Comprehensive. A police doctor has examined some of the pupils alleged to have been thrashed.

It is claimed that about 20 pupils were lined up and given four strokes of the strap — on the hand for girls and across the backside for boys.

The punishment came after they had boycotted lessons on Monday in protest at the lack of school meals during the teachers’ dispute.

One father has officially complained to police; several parents had complained to the headmaster and one mother has demanded that her two daughters be transferred to another school.

Parents have organised a petition calling for an official inquiry.

Gateshead’s deputy education director, John McMillan said last night: “We have had a report from the headmaster and it indicates that the punishment was in accordance with regulations and no personal malice was involved. We are waiting for the results of the police investigation.”


The head, Mr Tim Cowey, was not available for comment yesterday, but chairman of the school governors, Coun. Bill Ainsworth, said: “I shall certainly be making inquiries.”

Long-distance lorry driver George Wright, aged 33, whose 12-year-old son George was strapped, said yesterday: “I expected him being punished, but not like this.

Mr Wright, of Cowley Gardens, Winlaton, said he had made an official complaint to police.

Another of the strapped youngsters, 11-year-old David Powton, of nearby Laburnum Road, said: “I couldn’t sit down afterwards, I was so sore.”

His mother, Mrs Sylvia Powton, said: “He was too frightened to tell us what happened. When I did find out what had gone on, I examined his backside. It was all black and blue.”