AFTER A week in which the flogging propensities of a former Eton headmaster engaged letter-writers throughout the land, the Independent on Sunday could find only four public schools that admitted they still use corporal punishment.
Caning pupils is illegal in state schools following a ruling in the European Court in 1982. The Independent Schools Information Service and the majority of school headteachers take the view that corporal punishment has no place in schools.
But Scarisbrick Hall co-ed school - 515 pupils, pounds 800 a term - at Ormskirk, Lancashire, confirmed yesterday that it still gave corporal punishment, although rarely and only for 'serious misbehaviour'. St James Independent School for Boys - 336 pupils, pounds 1,380 a term - in central London said corporal punishment was given only by the headmaster.
No one was available at Hulme Grammar (boys) school - 856 pupils, pounds 1,070 a term - in Oldham, Lancashire, to comment yesterday, but its entry in the Equitable Schools Handbook says it uses 'very limited corporal punishment'.
Rodney School - 200 pupils, boys and girls, pounds 1,470 a term (boarders) - in Kirklington, Nottinghamshire, holds the distinction of being the only school where corporal punishment has been inflicted on girls recently. A spokesman confirmed yesterday that the school retained the right to cane pupils: 'But I haven't seen anyone caned and I've been here since last September.'
A Department for Education spokesman said pupils on assisted places were exempt from corporal punishment in schools where full fee paying pupils could be caned: 'Any schools which do have corporal punishment have to make it known. There are really very few of them.'
Several other schools refused to discuss the matter yesterday, although opponents of corporal punishment believe up to 100 small religious schools of various denominations use corporal punishment.
It is not recorded whether Anthony Chenevix-Trench, the former Eton headmaster, quoted Proverbs 13:24 to the boys he flogged, but glowing testimonies from them following allegations that he was a brute and an alcoholic suggest the essence of the quotation sank home.
Chevenix-Trench was Eton's head from 1963 to 1970. Claims that he became too ready with the lash and too fond of the bottle will be published this month in Eton Renewed, an authorised history of the school by Tim Card, its vice-provost. Mr Card writes that staff at the school were embarrassed by Chevenix-Trench's drinking and that he 'regarded corporal punishment not as a last resort, but almost as the first'. He claims the head was forced to resign eventually and that the matter was hushed up. Chevenix-Trench, who died in 1979, said on his retirement that the 'stress and strain on a headmaster have clearly increased.'
Old Etonians and pupils of Bradfield College, where Chevenix-Trench also taught, rallied round last week in support of their former teacher. With one voice they spoke of beatings from him that were, somehow, life-enhancing.
Rupert White, an Old Etonian, said he had been beaten 'with great courtesy and not very hard'.
Martin Marix Evans's beating at Bradfield was a temporary physical discomfort which 'left my self-respect not merely intact but enhanced'.
David Foot, who held Bradfield's record for the greatest number of floggings in one term, said: 'To the few of us who were in a position to form an objective opinion, his canings were not to be feared, at least physically.'
Others were not so lucky. Christopher Hourmouzios was flogged vigorously with a strap on his bare backside at Bradfield and recalled that 20 boys received similar treatment from Chevenix-Trench in one afternoon.
And Mr Card's book claims that Chevenix-Trench was aware of the possible ramifications of the thrashings he handed out, remarking once that it was 'a good thing the NSPCC does not know anything about it'.
Last year the House of Lords voted in favour of caning continuing to be permitted in public schools in England and Wales. And last January, John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, said there was merit in caning being reintroduced into state schools.
Mr Patten, who was beaten by his Jesuit teachers at St Peter's School in Leatherhead, Surrey, said this was because he had failed to remember a mathematical theory. 'The possiblity of corporal punishment being reintroduced has long gone,' he said. 'The Government accepted the ruling of the European Court. But I think under certain circumstances it can be very useful.'
Singapore flogging, page 16