Thrasher’s name can’t be beaten



New Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell spent much of last week trying to live down his Rugby schooldays nickname of ‘Thrasher’.

It won’t be easy. Fellow ex-pupils say that by the time Mitchell became head of house at Rugby in the Seventies, all the boarding houses had abolished beatings – except one, Tudor, where self-proclaimed disciplinarian Mitchell was in the all-powerful position.

‘The cool set had a spliff in one hand and a Hendrix LP in the other,’ said a contemporary. ‘Andrew had a big stick in one and a Tory manifesto in the other.’

School history lesson takes some beating!


A SET of books unearthed at a school make a whacking good read.

The punishment records reveal how teachers used to deal with unruly pupils.

Dating from the 1940s they list what happened when children dared to step out of line.

Offences such as “suggestive talk”, extortion, being cheeky to a prefect, bullying, throwing a knife, fighting, smoking, insolence and truancy were all punishable by being hit by a cane or a ruler.

The handbooks, found at Braunton Academy in Devon, are dated to 1985 — two years before corporal punishment was outlawed in state schools.


Records show that in 1981 a 14-year-old was given three strokes of the cane for truancy, lying and taking a cycle.

Five pupils got three strokes for “setting off fireworks on a cross-channel ferry”.

The era of corporal punishment was the subject of the TV comedy series Whack-O! starring Jimmy Edwards as the schoolmaster more than happy to brandish the rod.

A Times Educational Supplement poll of 6,000 teachers found that one in five teachers would still back the use of caning in extreme cases.