HC Deb 26 October 1954 vol 531 cc1748-9
22. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many education authorities have a regulation compelling teachers to keep a record book of corporal punishment as recommended in paragraph 464 of his Department's publication, "The Primary School in Scotland."

Mr. Henderson Stewart

No education authority has made a regulation requiring all their teachers to keep records of all corporal punishment administered. When the memorandum to which the hon. Member refers was issued, it was not intended that its suggestions should be enforced by regulation but that they should be brought to the notice of teachers for their guidance. This has been done, and my right hon. Friend knows that some teachers have adopted the practice of keeping records.

Mr. Thomson

Is this not an admission from the Under-Secretary of a great disregard on the part of the Scottish local authorities of the modest recommendation made four years ago in this document; and does he not feel, quite apart from any question of the eventual abolition of corporal punishment in our Scottish schools, that we ought to try to control it much more than we do? Would the hon. Gentleman not take some lead in this matter and try to keep Scotland's educational traditions at the level at which we used to be accustomed to have them?

Mr. Stewart

It is the old question of the extent to which the central Department should dictate to local education authorities. In this matter, as in others, we take the view that the suggestion made in the memorandum should be regarded as a suggestion rather than a command, and left to the good sense of the teachers to act upon.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Does my hon. Friend not agree that we are losing all sense of proportion in this matter, and that to have a record kept of every time a child gets a couple on the pants is really too silly?

Miss Herbison

As it is four years since this publication came into the hands of the education authorities and of the teachers, and since we on this side of the House do not believe in direction, does not the Joint Under-Secretary of State now think it advisable to send a further circular to every education authority and ask them to let every teacher in Scotland have a copy of that circular?

Mr. Stewart

Of course, I will consider the suggestion of the hon. Lady.