To beat or not to beat

By Humphrey Evans

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HALF are for, half against. That is the attitude Young Observer readers take towards corporal punishment. And many of those who support the use of corporal punishment have personal experience of it.

Of the 453 replies to our questionnaire, 222 are in favour, although 67 of these would ban it for the under-sevens and 43 for the over-16s.

One hundred and two readers have been caned or strapped and of these just about two-thirds themselves approve of corporal punishment.

Commenting on these findings, Dr Rhodes Boyson, Conservative spokesman on schools, notes, ‘Most young people want a firm, disciplined school … sarcasm is what children hate, not reasonable corporal punishment given within set rules.’

Nick Peacey, chairman of the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment, points out, ‘We are living in a “caned” country so people who have been caned tend to think it is a good thing.’

Parents have a strong influence on their children’s views, and fewer than 20 per cent of replies came from youngsters who disagreed with their parents on this issue.

One question asked about discipline in the reader’s school. Only 20 per cent of replies came from pupils who thought their school badly disciplined, and two-thirds of these said their school did use corporal punishment.


Corpun file 21031


The Daily Telegraph, London, 6 October 1977

Teacher refuses to use strap

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A SCHOOLMASTER who refuses to punish pupils with the strap is to ask a court to stop a meeting which could end his career.

Mr Denis Docherty, 24, is seeking an interim interdict to prevent the General Teaching Council for Scotland from holding a meeting which his solicitor claims would appear to “flout the rules of natural justice.”

He claims that the meeting in Edinburgh on Monday will consider a recommendation that Mr Docherty, who has just completed his two-year teaching probation period, should have his provisional teaching registration withdrawn.

If registration was withdrawn Mr Docherty, of Kirkdale Drive, Glasgow, who has an honours degree in French and Italian, would no long be able to teach.

Head’s report

Mr Docherty claims that the withdrawal recommendation has been made by his headmaster at Lourdes Senior Secondary School, Cardonald, Glasgow.

The teacher’s solicitor, Mr James Carmichael, claimed yesterday that the headmaster’s report had been submitted on the basis of Mr Docherty’s approach to corporal punishment.

Mr Docherty refuses to give the belt contrary to instructions of senior staff at the school.

Mr Carmichael said that his client would have no legal adviser at the General Council meeting and would be represented by a member of his union, the Educational Institute for Scotland, who is not legally qualified.

Yorkshire Post, Leeds, 8 October 1977

School canes sold through newsagent

Yorkshire Post Reporter


HUNDREDS of canes for punishing children in London schools are being supplied through an accommodation address — a small, city-centre newsagent’s shop in Leeds.

About 1,400 28in. canes were supplied to Greater London Council supplies department last year by Mr. K. Brown, who gives his business address as 44a, Wellington Street, Leeds.

R. and M. Inman, a small newsagents, sweets and tobacconists, just off City Square, also serves as an accommodation address for among others Mr. “K. Brown.”

After writing to the GLC supplies department, Mr. Edward Baker, a trustee of the Portia Trust charity, received a letter from Mr. K.L. Fox, director of supplies, which said they had experienced great difficulty in securing suppliers for the canes.

“Accordingly, we do our own research into the supply markets and have no independent trade directory.”

The Yorkshire Post left a message for K. Brown at Inmans, and a man later telephoned and agreed to a meeting at a city-centre public house.

He said he was Mr. Brown but declined to give further details of his identity, or home or business address.

He said supplying canes was a sideline, his main occupation being the renovation of vintage toy models, mainly cars, for resale.

He had seen a GLC advertisement asking for tenders for the supply of punishment canes in a London evening newspaper about four years ago.

“I buy Indonesian kooboo cane from a local supplier and fashion the punishment canes to a length of 28in.,” said the bespectacled Mr. Brown.

He had supplied 1,200 the first year, but expected to supply up to 1,700 this year, and had recently received an order for 2,000 for use in New York schools.

“I don’t know where they got my address from. I use an accommodation address because mail to my home had been going astray.”

At the shop, Mrs. M. Inman said: “Lots of people use this shop as an accommodation address. I don’t know what line of business Mr. Brown is in.”

A Department of Education and Science spokesman said that the choice of supplier for items such as punishment canes was entirely a matter for individual local education authorities.


Daily Telegraph, London, 28 October 1977

GLC bans sex-aid shop canes

Daily Telegraph Reporter


THE Greater London Council has ordered that the supply of canes to its schools has to stop until it has investigated allegations that they are being supplied through a mail order sex-aids shop.

The canes are supplied to the schools run by the Inner London Education Authority from an address on the outskirts of Leeds, an address which has been sending canes to London for the past three years.

The GLC gave the contract to Mr Ken Brown, a Canadian-born immigrant who lives in lodgings in Leeds, after he had written to the Council saying he could supply Indonesian kooboo canes at what the Council calls “very favourable terms.”

But early this week the GLC heard that the address they had been using to order the canes — 20 inches long for primary schools and 28 inches for secondary or senior schools — was a basement shop in Wellington Street, Leeds which specialises in soft “porn” magazines.

The shop is also believed to be used as an accommodation address for buyers of sex aids, sex aids catalogues and pornographic books.

Since he began trading with the GLC Mr Brown has supplied more than 4,000 canes for use in ILEA-controlled schools. This year he fulfils an order for a further 1,000 canes which he cuts to size in a workshop near his home.

Methods not checked

A GLC spokesman admitted yesterday that when they awarded the original contract to Mr Brown they did not check up on his method of supply or his business address. They say that normally such checks would be carried out, but in Mr Brown’s case the overall costing for the contract was so low it did not justify any special inquiries being made.

Mr Bernard Brook-Partridge, GLC spokesman on law and order, said last night: “This tender was obviously accepted for the natural reason that it was low, but we now feel we must inquire further into the background. We do not really want to appear to be fishing in this particular pond.”