A teacher quickly learns it pays not to be considered weak.

By Joanna Jones

Dr Harte had viewed September and the start of his second year as a teacher with some trepidation. He knew his job at Victoria College depended on him getting a firm grip on discipline right from the beginning this term.

The ‘College’ was a private day girls’ school in a town to the south west of London, though it served a much larger catchment.

The pupils were generally very good, but the trouble was that Dr Harte in his first year had got off on rather the wrong foot. He had tried to treat all the girls as he would the undergraduates he had tutored as a postgraduate tutor when he’d studied for his doctorate in geography. However, as a result some girls had taken advantage, and with his reluctance to employ the normal disciplinary methods (usually the slipper) things had rather got out of control. Trouble was once you got a reputation as a soft touch it was very difficult to get it back.

His feedback at the end of his first year from his direct mentor, the Head of Geography, and the Headmistress had been clear; get a control of class discipline or else. He had not passed his probation, but had till Christmas to convince the two women that he could control a class as well as he could potentially teach it. Indeed the only reason he had probably got this second chance was that the A-level stream had all exceeded their expectations, where his knowledge and approachability had worked rather better.

The day before term started Mrs Dawson, the rather severe Head of Geography, had given him a large plimsoll with a remarkably thick sole. She made it clear she expected him to dust as many pairs of bottle green knickers as it took for the girls to realise that he was not to be trifled with.

Therein lay the problem – he was not an advocate of corporal punishment, and additionally did not feel at all comfortable in ordering girls to lift their skirts and bend over. Given the thick knee length pleated design, to say nothing of the underskirts the girls apparently wore, he could see that the slipper’s efficacy would be limited otherwise, but he still wished that when the governors decided that they should allow the appointment of male as well woman staff a few years ago they had updated the uniform at the same time.

However, if it was a choice between his job and a few embarrassed young ladies with sore bottoms then there was little choice; sore bottoms it was going to be.

As it happened his first class on Wednesday morning, the first day back, was his upper sixth A-level group. He had had few problems with them last year and expected none this either. However, as he had promised to do for every class he taught, after some words welcoming them back and reminding them how important thus year was, he brought out the slipper and warned them that while he did not expect to need it with them, he would not hesitate to slipper even a sixth former if it was necessary. He then spent a few minutes reminding them of the class rules he expected them to abide by.

Most of the girls looked rather bored as he outlined the regime. It was similar to what they’d heard from other teachers before, and most teachers were flexible with the strictness of interpretation of those rules, especially in the sixth form. They all still expected Dr Harte to be the most ‘flexible’ of the lot, as he had been last year. None of them expected him to actually use the slipper, and certainly not on a sixth former!

Like her friends, Olive of course knew nothing of the pressures their teacher was under. They were allowed to discuss the problems they were working on quietly and she took the opportunity to exchange whispered news with Brenda next to her as well.

Dr Harte frowned, but decided they were working hard enough not to make an issue of it. However, when he started going through a description with them on the board Olive clearly carried on whispering, though Brenda, noticing his look, had the good sense not to reply.

He knew what he had to do. “Olive Barker, would you care to remind me of the rules I intimated to you less than twenty minutes ago, about talking when I am.” He asked angrily.

Olive looked a bit sheepish. “I am sorry sir, it won’t happen again.” She replied.

Her sheepish looked turned to shock as the hitherto unused plimsoll reappeared on his desk, as Dr Harte said: “I intend to make sure it does not happen again. Get out here now!”

Olive started to panic as she realised that the slipper was now meant for her backside. She blurted out: “No, please, you can’t slipper me! I am in the sixth form….”

Rather than remonstrate with the girl as most other teachers would have done, Dr Harte took a breath and said: “Is that your final word?”

Olive felt relieved as she instantly replied: “Yes sir, I really am very sorry about the whispering sir.”

She could not believe how lucky she was to be being let off. Perhaps he was just trying to shock them, she thought.

Olive’s reasons for disbelief changed only a few moments later as Dr Harte responded, having simultaneously started to write a note: “Very well, you can take this note to Miss Harrison and discuss the matter with her.”

The gasps from the rest of the class were not lost on Olive. She knew that the Head kept something far more painful than a slipper in store for those sent to her.

Suddenly she was begging to be ‘let off’ with the slipper. However, Dr Harte was as uninterested in arguing with her as before.

“Miss Barker, you gave me your final word, and I have given you mine. Now I suggest you make your way to the office right now, unless you want to make it worse for yourself.”

However, Olive seemed utterly unable to reconcile herself to her fate and did not move from her desk. “But sir, please… I promise I’ll never chat again.” She pleaded desperately.

She was on the verge of tears now, Dr Harte noted guiltily. However, he could not go back now. Scanning the room his eyes lighted on Annabelle, one of two prefects in the class. “Annabelle would you take this note and escort Miss Barker to the office. Please let the headmistress know that she refused to go herself when requested.” As he spoke he passed the note to the prefect to give to the Head.

Annabelle was not keen on dragging someone she considered a good friend to the office, but what choice did she have? This was not how she expected her first day as school prefect to start at all.

Meanwhile, Olive watched and listened in horror. This was getting worse and worse. She recognised now that any further debate could only make it worse still. Defeated she allowed Annabelle to help her up from her chair to make her way out of the classroom and along the corridor.

Olive’s tears started flowing immediately the moment they were out of the class. “Oh….I am going to be caned.” She wailed mournfully as they made their way to the stairs.

Annabelle gave her shoulder a brief pat. There was nothing to say after all.

“Why has he suddenly changed?” She asked miserably.

“You know he had trouble with some of the younger classes last year. I bet he’s been ordered to clamp down.” Annabelle replied perceptively. “I am afraid you’ve been unlucky!”

“It’s not fair.” Moaned Olive.

Annabelle thought Olive had rather talked herself into this predicament, but confined herself to: “I am sorry Olive. You never know, maybe Miss Harrison might be sympathetic, after all it is the first day back…”

Neither Olive nor Annabelle really believed in the chances of a sympathetic Head, and in fact Annabelle rather thought if Dr Harte had been told to clamp down, then poor Olive was more likely to find herself made an example of rather than being let off lightly. She was very glad indeed not to be in her shoes!

The new prefect led the way into reception and explained the situation to the secretary. A brief chat on the intercom later and the secretary told Olive to wait as Annabelle entered the Head’s office.

Despite having little to fear, she was much more nervous on this second visit to this room. The first time had been just over six weeks or so before, on the last day of term in July. She’d been with fifteen other girls to receive the news of their appointments and their special ties. They’d also been given ribbon to sew around the lower arms of their blazers over the summer. That had been a happy occasion. In contrast, this was not a duty she was enjoying.

Miss Harrison took the note from the girl, belatedly remembered that this was not the one in trouble, but one of her prefects, and invited her to sit down.

Having read the note she asked Annabelle to explain what happened. Trying not to land Olive in it too much she did so as best she could. The frown on the Head’s forehead did not bode well for Olive though.

Annabelle was glad to be dismissed, but less so to be asked to wait until she had dealt with Olive.

Olive’s tears had stopped, but she looked terrified as she made her way into the Headmistress’s office for the first time in her career.

Unsurprisingly Miss Harrison did not give her the opportunity to sit down. Instead she was left standing before the desk as the Head glared frostily across it.

“So you talk across your teacher, then refuse to take your deserved punishment, and then need to be escorted to my office to discuss the matter! I have rarely heard of such disgraceful, cowardly behaviour, particularly from a girl in the upper sixth.”

Olive desperately wanted to say that it was all a horrible misunderstanding and beg to be let off. However, one look at the cold stare across the desk made it clear that her goose was well and truly cooked. Hoping she might be lenient she explained she’d panicked, bitterly regretted not having taken her slippering without argument, she tearfully told the Head how sorry she was.

Miss Harrison was in her late fifties and seen it all before. As far as she was concerned young Miss Barker had a lesson to learn on what it really meant to be sorry.

She pondered a while at the miserable girl fidgeting nervously in front of her, and formulated a plan.

“I am going to give you a choice Barker. Either you can bend over for six of the best I can give you – four for being sent here and two for the disgrace in being escorted; or I can give you three of the cane on your hands for your disgrace in being escorted here, and you can return for a full six of the slipper in front of your classmates on your knickers by Dr Harte,” she intimated, before after a brief pause, finally saying: “So which is it to be?”

‘Knickers’… Olive suddenly felt sick as the word sank in. That morning she’d chosen a plain white cotton pair rather than the nylon bottle green things she disliked. She knew quite a few friends did, especially in the sixth form, but that was not going to help her now. There was a rigid rule the wrong underwear was an extra two whacks of the slipper, unless that put you over the six strokes, which meant a visit to this office, usually for four of the cane in that case. Olive felt tears welling up as she realised that her confidence in that sixth formers hardly ever got whacked had been, like everything else that morning, sorely misplaced.

Miss Harrison misinterpreted the shocked face with tears running down it as indecision between her choices. “Come on girl,” she demanded. “Pull yourself together and make your mind up, unless you want me to do it for you.”

Olive broke and sobbed out: “I am sorry miss, but I put on the wrong underwear this morning.”

For the first time Miss Harrison felt inwardly a little sorry for the girl, who having never been formally punished before now seemed to have conspired with herself to get a very severe thrashing indeed.

However, she could not show that sympathy. For one thing the priority was to support Dr Harte absolutely as he tried the difficult task of turning his reputation around.

“Very well.” She said resignedly. “It looks like you’ve managed to earn yourself a full eight strokes from me.”

With that she cleared a space on the desk and ordered the girl to lift her skirts up and bend over it.

As she miserably did so, Miss Harrison retrieved a senior cane from her cupboard.

Returning round the desk the Head perfunctorily tucked Olive’s blouse tail out of the way, revealing her plain white underwear. While a little on the skimpy side, at least they were plain. She had seen far more flagrant breaches in her time.

Olive involuntarily flinched at the touch on her waist as Miss Harrison adjusted her blouse and exposed her knickers completely. She could not believe she was lying on this desk for the worst caning allowed under school rules, all for having chatted in class.

Tears were already again flowing in anticipation, as she gripped the desk tightly.

“Right Barker I want you to hold tight and stay in position. If you do not then I will cane your hands too! Understood?”

“Yes, miss,” muttered the girl disconsolately as she felt the warning taps of the rod announcing the start of her punishment.

Outside Annabelle wondered how long the lecture was going to go on for, as the muffled conversation vaguely permeated into the reception.

The secretary had told her to sit in the comfortable visitors chairs that were normally forbidden to pupils. There were some plain wooden ones, currently unoccupied, for them. A minor perk for a prefect, she supposed.

Annabelle did hear the first ‘Crack’ through the door. She immediately guessed from the sound that poor Olive was getting her bottom rather than hands whacked.

Olive meanwhile had somehow managed not to scream as the blow, her first cut of the cane ever, bit into her. That did not mean she had not felt it though. Already she knew the cane was at least as bad as it was rumoured to be. The next couple of minutes were going to be utterly awful.

A second swish and another ‘Crack’.

Olive clenched her teeth to prevent the scream, and gripped tighter on the desk.

A further quarter of a minute passed then Miss Harrison unleashed the third cut.

A gasp escaped through Olive’s teeth as her backside absorbed the impact. Tears were flowing quietly out of her eyes.

The fourth blow was a little lower and for the first time the head saw the end of the cane’s stripe peeking out of the edges of the girl’s underwear. The knickers were cut moderately high and much of the lower half of the target was essentially uncovered. She had taken the first four pretty well she thought, but then again she had felt a little sorry for her getting eight for what had started as a trivial classroom issue.

However, she was entirely responsible for having escalated her punishment to this level and Miss Harrison decided to keep to her strategy of making the second four, to be administered to the lower half of the target, that bit harder.

A louder hum preceded the ‘Crack’ of the fifth stroke. The pain flashed into Olive and for the first time a wail was heard.

Outside the secretary glanced up and gave Annabelle a shrug as the prefect cringed at the sound of her friend getting what she thought was six of the best.

The sixth was a bit harder still and low on the target. It was all Olive could do to hold on as she screamed uncontrollably and sobs started to wrack her body.

She could not take two more like that, but she had to.

The seventh was on the lowest part of her bottom and given with the full venom that Miss Harrison could apply to a stroke.

The scream from Olive Barker was louder still. Thankfully she just managed to hold on, though that did not stop her from blubbering a “please” and “no, no…” as she waited for the last cut.

Annabelle was in shock. Eight was, if rumours were true, very rare, poor Olive, the Head was indeed making an example of her!

She perceptibly flinched as the final, loudest whack of the lot echoed through the door.

Miss Harrison had whacked it down viciously in a gap between where the fifth and six strokes had been given, judging by the parts of the marks not covered by the underwear.

Olive had done more than flinch, with a final tormented yell she’d pulled herself off the desk with her hands clawing desperately at the outrage in her rear. As for her face, it was a mess, with tears and light makeup mixed together.

Miss Harrison had barely noticed the latter when she had arrived as it had been very discrete. While technically forbidden, and something she would normally give an extra stroke or two for, she knew the girl had certainly had enough.

After a minute she ordered her to let her skirts drop back into place and gave her a tissue to wipe the worst of the mess from her face.

Olive was warned of the school makeup rule as the Head completed the punishment book, then called Annabelle in.

The prefect was shocked to see the dishevelled mess that was her friend, and felt even more pity for her as Miss Harrison told her to escort the girl directly back to class. Olive was to apologise to Dr Harte, then spend the rest of the lesson facing the wall holding her skirts and blouse out of the way so everyone could understand what happened to sixth formers who thought school rules were not for them.

It took Annabelle a good while to help Olive back. She was still sniffing as she apologised to the teacher and a fresh bout of tears came as she faced the wall and gave her classmates, and of course the rather shocked Dr Harte, a view of her white pants, with bright red tramlines visible on either side where the fabric did not cover them, for the rest of the lesson.

More than one sixth former determined to revert to regulation undergarments that morning!

The story had the desired effect as it spread round the school. It took only a few extra slipperings over the next week or two for the younger girls to realise the change. No other girl was foolish enough to refuse to bend over immediately, Olive’s story made sure of that.

A few more whacks with the slipper during the term to remind the girls he had no intention of easing up ensured Dr Harte found his lessons more productive and had no problem finally passing his probation that Christmas.

As for Olive Barker, she ensured that her first school caning was most definitely her last.

The End