'Nearly half of parents' back corporal punishment

Bullying (staged) Teachers have the power to use "reasonable force" to restrain pupils

Related Stories

Nearly half of parents of secondary school children say corporal punishment such as the cane or slipper should be reintroduced, a survey suggests.

In total, 49% of more than 2,000 parents surveyed for the Times Educational Supplement were in favour, compared with 45% who were opposed.

Nearly all surveyed thought teachers should be able to be tougher on pupils.

But one teachers' union said evidence suggested behaviour has improved since corporal punishment was banned.

The research, carried out by YouGov, showed slightly less support for corporal punishment than a TES survey in 2000 - which found 51% of parents in favour.

And when parents were asked specifically about "smacking/caning children", support dropped to 40%, with 53% disagreeing.

'Erroneous impression'

Support remained high for most traditional punishments, including sending children out of class (89%), after-school detentions (88%), lunch time detentions (87%), expelling or suspending children (84%), and making them write lines (77%).

Start Quote

The right every child deserves to be taught properly is currently undermined by the twisting of rights by a minority who need to be taught an unambiguous lesson in who is boss”

End Quote Education Secretary Michael Gove

But shouting at children was less popular, backed by only 55% of parents, and embarrassing children was frowned on, with just 21% of parents supporting it.

Among 530 secondary school pupils also surveyed, 19% backed a return to punishments such as the cane or slipper, though 71% were opposed.

However, 62% of pupils thought teachers should be allowed to be tougher in terms of classroom discipline, compared with 91% of parents.

Parents also said they were concerned that teachers had become more fearful of their pupils (91%), the parents of their pupils (86%), and of facing legal action over disciplining children (90%).

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "The right every child deserves to be taught properly is currently undermined by the twisting of rights by a minority who need to be taught an unambiguous lesson in who is boss."

He said the government was signalling to teachers "they are freer to use their own judgement" and boosting teacher training on behaviour management.

But the National Union of Teachers said parents may have got the "erroneous impression" from government statements that the classroom was a place of "rowdy and disrespectful behaviour".

It said teachers needed consistent support from management, along with appropriate sanctions and rewards, "not the right to hit children".

The NASUWT teachers' union said there was a "mythology" around corporal punishment.

In the 1950s and 1960s, vandalism and assaults against teachers were "common features of life" in many schools, and evidence suggested behaviour had improved since the practice was banned, it said.

General secretary Chris Keates also said behaviour support services had been hit by funding cuts.

Celebrity teachers

Both parents and children were asked which public figures would make the perfect teacher.

For male teachers, among parents, actor Steven Fry came out highest (40%), followed by wildlife presenter David Attenborough (35%).

Harry Potter character Albus Dumbledore (36%), Yoda from Star Wars (26%) and TV chef Jamie Oliver (26%) topped the students' choices.

For female teachers, former Countdown host Carol Vorderman (48%) was parents' favourite, followed by actress Helen Mirren (36%).

And among pupils, Harry Potter author JK Rowling (40%) was most popular, followed by Miss Honey from Roald Dahl's Matilda (26%).

The research was carried out online, between 19 and 30 August, among 2,014 UK parents with children in secondary school education, and 530 children currently studying at secondary schools.

Top 10 'perfect' male teachers Top 10 'perfect' female teachers





Stephen Fry (40%)

Albus Dumbledore (from Harry Potter) (36%)

Carol Vorderman (48%)

JK Rowling (40%)

David Attenborough (35%)

Jamie Oliver (26%)

Helen Mirren (36%)

Miss Honey (from Matilda) (26%)

Alan Sugar (25%)

Yoda (from Star Wars) (26%)

JK Rowling (31%)

Cheryl Cole (25%)

Albus Dumbledore (from Harry Potter) (24%)

Michael Mcintyre (25%)

Dawn French (26%)

Kate Middleton (21%)

Jamie Oliver (21%)

David Beckham (23%)

Moira Stewart (21%)

Amanda Holden (17%)

Peter Jones (18%)

Mr Miyagi (from the Karate Kid) (20%)

Kelly Holmes (18%)

Dannii Minogue (16%)

Mr Miyagi (from the Karate Kid) (18%)

Jeremy Clarkson (19%)

Nigella Lawson (18%)

Alesha Dixon (15%)

Duncan Bannatyne (16%)

Peter Kay (19%)

Sarah Beeny (16%)

Dawn French (15%)

John Keating (Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society) (16%)

Simon Cowell (18%)

Anne Widdecombe (16%)

Kylie Minogue (15%)

Ross Kemp (Grant Mitchell from Eastenders) (16%)

Steven Fry (17%)

Deborah Meaden (13%)

Carol Vorderman (15%)


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    In my old school there was behaviour which I, as a pupil, found truly shocking. The attitude of some pupils towards teachers was disgraceful, and they simply laughed if the teacher attempted to discipline them. This was long after the abolition of corporal punishment and I must say, there is no doubt in my mind that were these pupils to be given a beating it would have been to the benefit of all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Those of you advocating that 'parents should give their kids a good hiding', actually you don't need to go that far. Watching a number of parents with children, many don't seem able to show firmness when their child is playing up. A stern 'no!' & an icy glare works wonders as does actually carrying out threats of 'no treat'. At school most children aren't violent & unruly as some on here suggest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    I don't think it is the teacher's place to discipline children, that is the job of the parents. Teachers are educators not riot police, as someone else mentioned. Parents should be allowed to smack their kids, not anyone else. School punishments never made any difference. The fear of what my mother would do to me when I got home was the deterrent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    I'm a young, female, 5 foot 3" teacher in a tough school - kids learn in my classroom because I gain their respect, not through fear. If I had the right to hit them, would a 6 foot 16 year old boy really be bothered by that? It would be a complete joke. It's up to parents how they punish their own children - I'll stick to teaching thank you

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    Unfortunately, respect for schools, teachers, authority starts at home at a young age and can only be imparted in the most by parents who are able and want the best fo their child. Parents of the trouble makers in schools simply take the side of their child..not thinking the purpose of schools. As other countries educate their children, the parents here are running their children in to the ground.


Comments 5 of 31


More Education & Family stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.