by Christopher Howse A QUESTIONNAIRE on corporal punsihment has been sent to head teachers in the Westminster diocese as a preparation for a policy decision by the diocese's bishops and education commission on its use.
The enquiry follows a deputation in March from Stopp, an organisation which seeks to ban corporal punishment in schools. At least three local education authorities in the area have stopped the use of corporal punishment in county schools: Haringey.. Brent and the ILEA.
In a letter to head teachers, the Westminster Education Commission secretary Mr A. M. Meehan said: "In June this year, the Diocesan Education Commission had discussion upon thevalueand desirability of the use of corporal punishment in Catholic schools and on that occasion, Bishop Konstant, the chairman of the commission, took the view that the Council of Diocesan Affairs or the Education Commission should be prepared to advise Governors on the subject."
This week, Mr Meehan refused to speak to the Herald on any subject, but it is clear from his letter that he recognises that for voluntary aided schools the matter is in the last analysis for the Board of Governors. He told chairmen of governors that "It
must be stressed that the questionnaire does not ask for personal views."
The questionnaire asks for school poky on corporal punishment, who administers it, whether governors and staff have considered its use in the last three years and if the local authority had seen the punishment book.
It asks if corporal punishment had been used less than ten or more than 100 times in the last term and whether any pressure group had approached the school.
Bishop Konstant himself once taught at the Cardinal Vaughan school and was known as a supporter of corporal punishment. At present the school uses the cane — on 18 occasions last term. Its governors decided last term to leave the question to the head master.
The school's headmaster said that while it used other forms of punishment the possession of corporal punishment as a deterrent was considered essential. It clearly worked. He added that he would be very surprised if the Westminster schools committee were to issue an instruction against corporal punishment.
The diocese does not seem to have consulted parents of schoolchildren on their own practices and preferences concerning corporal punishment.