Whacko does not produce better pupils

Punishment debate: A bad day for the Education Secretary after comments in radio interview set her at odds with Major
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The Independent Online
Pupils do not behave better if they are beaten. The influential Elton committee concluded in 1989 that "punitive regimes tend to be associated with worse rather than better standards of behaviour".

Nor would corporal punishment stop the present spate of exclusions of unruly pupils. The committee, which reviewed all the research evidence, found that "those schools which relied most on corporal punishment tended to exclude more pupils". It also pointed to "some evidence that standards of behaviour tended to be worse in schools which make more frequent use of corporal punishment."

Most other countries realised this before Britain. The British government banned corporal punishment in state schools 10 years ago, the last country in Europe to do so. The first to outlaw beating in schools was Poland, 203 years earlier.

Independent schools in Britain are still allowed to beat pupils, except those on government-funded assisted places, but heads of the leading schools frown on all forms of corporal punishment.

The Government introduced legislation to ban beating in state schools in 1985 after it had paid compensation to several parents who were backed by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. Since then, parents of two independent school pupils have taken their cases to the European Court. The Government paid compensation to a boy who had been caned at Brighton College to stop the case going to court.

In 1993, the court decided that slippering a boy three times on clothed buttocks did not breach the European Convention on Human Rights, but said the decision was not to be taken as indicating that it approved of corporal punishment.