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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Those far off days

When I started this blog I may have mentioned the punishments handed out at my school and at many other schools of the time. Recently, after getting into a discussion about naughtiness and discipline, a cyber-friend asked me about those times long ago in the 60's and 70's.

Corporal punishment was then an accepted way of dealing with pupils. There may be valid reasons for it not to be so nowadays, but having gone soft on this issue we have reaped what we have sown I think; in the outbreak of hooligans and thuggish behaviour by juveniles and teenagers .

My junior school was a feeder into the main school, provided that you passed an examination at 11 years of age. You were in short trousers until 13 and woe betide you if you were spotted without your cap and blazer or fooling around in public.

Punishments in the junior school were usually a slippering in front of your class. You just went up to the front when called, bent over and received however many whacks with the plimsoll (trainer) that the teacher felt like giving you. More serious infractions such as fighting or  telling lies resulted in a summons to the Head’s (principal’s) office where you would receive six of the best with a cane. By the time you moved to the senior school you may  have never been punished or you might have had the cane quite a few times.

At the senior school the staff could give you lines, order a detention period after school or use the plimsoll. The teachers who favoured the plimsoll were well known. We never thought it was strange behaviour on their part – it was just quicker and easier for us to be whacked than doing lines or extra work.

Serious infractions resulted in a call to the Head’s office after Assembly. There might be a few pupils there in the queue or just you. You went in when called, stood to receive the telling off and then took off your jacket before bending over for 6 strokes with a particularly mean and zippy cane.

You left the room with a sore bottom but a cool image.

Again there were pupils who travelled through their whole senior school years never meeting the slipper or the cane and there were others, like me, who can remember many occasions when they  bent over for one implement or the other . My last caning was for drinking and smoking during a school trip - I was 17.

Did these punishments make me into a spanko? Who knows? 

They didn’t do me any real harm and I left school a highly motivated person, who knew right from wrong.


  1. Michael,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. In the US, I attended Catholic schools. CP was used to keep us in check. A belt to the bottom or a ruler to the hands was a common practice.


  2. michael, this post really got me thinking about my schooldays. I remember there was an omnipresent threat of the cane. We too had to wear short trousers and caps and woe-betide any boy found not wearing his cap. We even had to wear it on the school bus - and there was always a prefect willing to dob a boy in for not wearing it. Like you said, if yuor were in school uniform, then you didn't mess about anyware in public. to do so would be letting the school down and well worthy of a six-of -the-best caning. But that's how discipline was then. No one used the slipper or plimsole in our school. It was the cane or nothing. The cane was used sparingly though, maybe half a dozen times in a year across the school and normally it seemed like it was the upper school pupils who got cane, probably I suspect becasue the Head expect them to know better. Canings were only given by the Head and unlike your school, where boys were called out to report to the Head, in our school the matter was dealt with and the next morning's assembly, the Head would explain the wrongdoings of the boy - although he would never reaveal his name - and at the end of his salutory speech he would then announce, 'That boy has been caned.' It was that really poignant statement that struck home just home important discipline was in the school. No boy I knew took the threat of a caning lightly and I was scared stiff of the thought of being sent to the Head's study. So scared I was a proper little goody, goody. It seemed to me really humiliating for the boy concerned for everyone to know he'd had his bottom warmed. I think that thought also scared me into keeping out of trouble.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Michael. I find it fascinating to hear about how it was when you were younger.



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