Canings & Slipperings   -   (CS & FB May 2020)

Chris Snuggs: Corporal punishment was always part of the WHS deal. When I arrived in 1958 prefects, too, were allowed to slipper boys: for example those caught talking after lights out. In my experience, this did not happen frequently. I have no idea whether teachers KNEW about this and if they did whether they cared - or whether it was an accepted part of the required disciplinary system. I did not get the impression that either canings or slipperings were massively used during my era (58 to 64), and I am personally astonished - and disappointed - by some of the anecdotes below. Doc T, for example, is alleged to have caned boys frequently. I was unaware of that and am now disappointed by it; there should be (have been) other ways of disciplining boys. And caning by the Head is one thing, but it is insane to allow just ANY teacher to apply the cane; WHO ON EARTH is going to ensure it is being used fairly, and not with an element of sadism?

There are alternatives to corporal punishment: detention of various kinds, written punishments (lines etc) and expulsion for repeated offences when warnings have been ignored. In hindsight, the whole thing was ignoble - even barbaric.

John Tuddenham: I was caned only once - can't remember what for - by Johnson ..... didn't hurt!! I was with 2 others ... must have been class or dorm related I guess ... not sure.

John Coles - Hansons 53-60: I was caned by Butch Richardson for being out after lights out. I was photographing lightning of a thunderstorm. It was more humiliating than anything else. It did not happen again.

Nick Brackenbury - Berners 58-65: I am applying for a School Record ?? Only boy to be caned three times, all during 5th Form 1962/3. Should have got an entry into Janus, ha ha????

Chris Snuggs - Berners/Halls 58-64: I always thought you were a good boy ......

Nick Brackenbury: I was, just misunderstood by a school of teachers, none of whom had been engineers. They did not respect my practical side ....

Graham Forster - Orwell 59-67: I was only caned once but slippered several times.

Nick Brackenbury: Shakey slippered me once; it was worse than the cane. But the worst part was having to wait outside his study door for 20 minutes beforehand. It was for issuing a long string of swear words which I heard from older boys. The joke is, at 11 years old, I had no idea what these words meant.

Louis Parperis - Orwell 63-70: I was caned and slippered so frequently that some masters probably recognised my arse more readily than my face. Doc caned me in my first week, possibly on the first night, and the unfairness of it still irks me as the broken lampshade I was picking up from the floor when he came into the dorm was the work of Bob Peeling who had tried to hit me with a pillow over the top of the partition separating our beds after a mass pillow-fight had ended, and like an idiot I had got out of bed to help him pick up the pieces.

Patrick Hutton caned me for being late for lesson six every Friday afternoon of my first term except for the first occasion when I was given a warning, but I was such a hopeless timekeeper that the two strokes I received with such regularity seemed part of the curriculum. Bailey caned me for hitting Chris Redpath with a cricket bat, which sounds a lot worse than it was, but I had to beg him to do it as I was so sure Doc would cane me as soon as he found out since Chris was his blue-eyed boy and I was most definitely not.

In my second year, the late Christopher Morris, my contemporary and a very gifted poet, wrote a play that was produced in the Summer term, "The Prisoner of Conscience", in which I played the lead, affecting an odd pair of plimsolls as part of my costume (I think I found a black pair that happened to fit me in the props cupboard). A few weeks before the actual performance, assuming correctly the predictable irritation this would cause Evans as well as the amusement it would give to the majority of my classmates, adding lustre to my burgeoning reputation as a bit of a wag, I turned up for the first of our two PE sessions of the week sporting a black and a white plimsoll. True to form, in front of the whole class Evans attempted to ridicule me and, in his standard proprietorial manner, announced: “Do not wear that pair of plimsolls in my gym again,” thereby giving me the opportunity to turn up to the next PE session wearing the other pair. Evans had the option to call me out as an arsehole, something I am sure Peter Sadler or Neil Clayton would have done, but he chose the path of ridicule once again, with the opening gambit of "I told you not to wear that pair of plimsolls in my gym." which I had anticipated well in advance and swatted away with the "These are a different pair, Sir." defence which he could not refute, though his instant resort to corporal punishment as a means of bolstering his authority did surprise me a little, even using one of my own plimsolls to beat me.

Most of the beatings I took failed to cause me any pain, save for those from Doc, and more importantly failed to make the designed impact on my behaviour which I carried with me into parenthood and, with one exception which shames me still, never smacked any of my children. If you want to make a truculent teenager more truculent, it seems to me that beating them with a cane or slipper will do it unfailingly.

Chris Snuggs: Taffy had his good points, but was fatally flawed in others. He could have said: "Parperis, you have odd plimsolls, but oddness suits you." and won the humour contest, which he instead lost. A sense of humour was not his strong point. And to be honest, was there really any harm in wearing odd plimsolls? Your repeat performance with a different but identical pair the following lesson was very clever and funny, and worthy of your undoubted reputation as a smartass (this was all impressively bold for a second year!) - shame he didn't share the joke as others might have. And rather sad.

I was never caned or slippered by anyone during my six years at WHS. I used to think this was something positive, but I am now starting to feel like a weirdo .....

Jonathan Kemp: I was slippered by HJR more than a dozen times. He always allowed you to choose a slipper from a collection he had.

Chris Snuggs: That was frankly childish , stupid and shameful.

Bill Kitchen - Hansons 61-68: WOW! Sooooooo unfair. I received a regular range of slippering and canings (mostly warranted as I could be really cheeky). However, it was Cox’s lashings with the Bunsen burner tube that I really feared. He lost his rag so often with our physics class, although we were in an adjacent lab, that Roberts, Kypri, and I wore 3 pairs of pants to every lesson!

Louis Parperis: I bumped into the venerated Hashi Lulu at various demonstrations and NUS conferences in the early ‘70s (there were four of us at at least one conference, along with Chris Morris and Julius Marstrand, Robinson as was). I think he was reading for a science degree at Surrey. Dave left suddenly at the end of the 5th form, as did his great mate, Andrew Hesketh and his squeeze box, and Andrew Kypri. I had played in junior house rugby and cricket teams with Dave in my first year and always liked him a lot. He was a colossally brave fullback and a great tackler, but I think he suffered from Islington’s Disease, an irrational affection for Woolwich and the colour red.

Bill Kitchen: I presume you refer to Dave Roberts?

Louis Parperis: Yes, the Orwell version, not the older version in Hanson’s who was Alan MacKay’s mate.

Peter Alexander - Corners 64-71: I believe I hold the record for being slippered. Neil Clayton managed it 5 times in one week. I can't remember what it was for but I'm sure I deserved it. But it was Stretch Poole's who upset me the most. He was standing in as Head for some reason and before he gave me a rather tame slippering, he told me that he had been looking forward to it for three years! That upset me.

Graham Forster: The worst slippering I had was from Fred Mudd. I was sent to the hobbies room for talking after lights out where Fred was making picture-frames. He chatted to me amicably for about 15 minutes then said: "Right! Off you go to bed." Thinking I had escaped I was just about to open the door when he said: "Oh I forgot." He gave me 3 with his enormous plimsoll with me in pyjamas.

Robin Boot - Orwell 67-72: I, too was caned very regularly, at least 8 times in the first two years, each time by Doc with his split cane - which was vicious - and often after he had been at the port. Only ever slippered by Cromarty, but then I suppose everyone who had him was slippered at least once, mostly in a mass-slippering. At the time, and even looking back now, I think that most of them were well deserved.

The one time which I thought was unfair was when I had received a £1 note from my father for my birthday and failed to hand it in. When it got stolen, I reported it to a prefect and got the worst 6 of the best from Doc I had ever had. Our whole dorm was sent on a forced march to the lodge at the bottom of Freston Hill whilst our tall boys were searched. I never did get the money back nor found out who took it.

Graham Forster: Cromarty's slipperings were great. I remember one mass slippering when Adrian Brown laughed after having received his. "So it's funny, is it? Do you want another dose?" to which Brown replied: "Ooh, yes please Sir!"

Ray Brady - Orwell 79-83: I have to say, I was only slippered once and I deserved it; broke the rules after hours - we all knew the score. Woollett tried to cane me in 3rd year before I went home just before my dad died. I said to him: "I dare you. Touch me with that and I'll give it back to you," and I would have. It was then that I started to go off the rails; went home the following day and was gone for 3 or 4 weeks. I was only back for a night; walked out the following morning after maths with Warsi, I never saw Woollett or Skailes again.

Chris Snuggs: CP was utterly wrong, and that was eventually recognized. In hindsight, should we have rebelled? COULD we have rebelled? Did any boy ever REFUSE to accept it? HAD one done so, what could the teacher have done - physically fought with the boy and tied him down to be beaten? Reminiscent of how it was done on The Bounty under Captain Bligh - and unthinkable. But we didn't refuse it: it was accepted practice, and it is rather frightening that something wrong and immoral can come to be considered as normal. That happens in all dictatorships of course, which is one reason I hate them.

Two last points:

  1. I am sometimes surprised that sadistic teachers were not sought out and given the same treatment by their victims once the latter had left school.
  2. It has always astonished me that CP could be administered WITHOUT the knowledge of parents. That a boy should be caned with some regularity without his parents being officially informed now seems to me quite preposterous. Still; tempora mores, and things have definitely improved in this area at least.

The Guardian, London, 27 November 1971 - "London children spared the rod" - By John Windsor

The school cane and all other forms of corporal punishment are to be forbidden in the Inner London Education Authority's primary schools, it was announced yesterday. No British education authority has yet succeeded in banning the cane. An attempt by Cardiff was short-lived because of opposition by teachers. It is banned in Europe -- in Denmark since 1967, and in Poland since 1790.

But London teachers are in the main clearly opposed to the ban, claiming that, although most of them favour corporal punishment only as a last resort, teachers should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to use it.

By January 1, 1973, Mr Ashley Bramall, Labour Leader of the ILEA, said the cane will be phased out and primary schools will have had time to "adjust their disciplinary arrangements." There is so far no indication that the schools subcommittee will extend its ban to secondary schools.

Mr Terry Casey, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters, who earlier this week asked education authorities to do more to protect teachers from violence in schools, said: "This is a monumental piece of mistiming. We are not advocating an intensification of corporal punishment, but we believe that the professional judgment and discretion of teachers is the only safe criterion you can use in this matter. For any education authority to erode that discretion is wrong."

Meanwhile, in Haywards Heath, Sussex, ILEA's suppliers of two standard sizes of cane, both straight or with crook, were philosophical about their loss of trade.Sales have dropped to 100 a year, no great threat to solvency at their price of £5 a gross. Their larger size, not over 36 inches long, is for secondary schoolboys, the 30-inch size for all girls and primary schoolchildren.

"Spare the rod and spoil the child," a cane maker of long-standing said. "I think the ILEA are making a big mistake."

The decision came five years after the Plowden Report's recommendation to abolish corporal punishment. Lady Plowden was at the meeting of the 25-strong schools subcommittee which finally discarded the cane in over 600 primary schools. The abolitionists' campaign, simmering since Plowden, became more energetic when Mr Bramall became leader after the Labour takeover of ILEA in April last year. The Consultative Committee on Education Matters, comprising elected ILEA members and representatives of teaching organisations, became a forum for heated discussion.

Mr Edmund Chandler, secretary of the London Schoolmasters' Association, said: "It is all very well for Mr Bramall to point out that 40 per cent of primary schools do not use the cane. The point is that it had not been abolished officially. If any school had thought it necessary they could have brought it back tomorrow. We now feel that a political, as distinct from professional, decision has been imposed on us."

Mr Bramall said in a statement: "I am convinced that the tide of opinion among teachers is now flowing strongly in favour of abolition. Schools which in 1968 retained corporal punishment were employing it rarely, typically perhaps twice a year."

Mr William Wilford, secretary of the London Head Teachers' Association, said that the cane should have been allowed to die out. Teachers should not have been restricted by an authoritarian ban.

A senior official of the London Head Teachers' Association said: "If you took a census of our members you would find that on corporal punishment we are split almost completely down the centre, but there is not one of us who believes in corporal punishment as an article of faith. Many headmasters keep the cane as such an ultimate deterrent that they have to all intents abolished it. This decision comes at a time when we were all anxious to cool the issue."

Other officials of teaching associations made the point that teachers often had to consider the wishes of parents when deciding on corporal punishment. Many parents favoured the use of the cane.

STOPP -- the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment -- is to celebrate the decision with a party for East End children.

(and in private schools receiving any state funding)