Letter: John Patten's schooldays

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Patten regrets the passing of corporal punishment in school, recalling the days of the ferule at his old school (5 January).

In 1961, I was a 10-year-old boy in my first year at Wimbledon College and he was my form prefect. One morning, he ordered me to take his briefcase to the prefects' room. The next day, he ordered me to write a two-page essay as a punishment for the serious offence of placing his briefcase the wrong way up.

What I learnt from this was that those intoxicated by power can exercise it irrationally. Perhaps I should be grateful that only the Jesuits, and not the prefects, were allowed to beat us.

Yours faithfully,


Beckley, Oxfordshire