Two girls are caught cheating
By Richard Marks
(Based upon a true event in a girl’s private school in 1980 from the teacher’s perspective)
St Catherine’s School had introduced a new discipline system in early 1980. Demerits were awarded for minor infringements such as running in the corridor, and detentions for more serious offences. Three demerits in a term automatically resulted in a detention and three detentions in a term entailed a disciplinary interview with the Head, Sylvia Crawford. Mrs Crawford had decided to end the use of the cane and girls therefore expected to be suspended for one or two weeks. Teachers were encouraged not to use corporal punishment, but it had not been banned and the occasional slippering still took place.
Discipline in the school was good, and I seldom had the need to award a demerit. Most of the girls were keen on learning and a pleasure to teach. This situation changed when marking coursework for a class of senior girls. I noticed that two girls handed in very similar work and got the same answers wrong, even using the same reasoning to arrive at the wrong answers!
I immediately suspected that one of the girls must have copied the work of the other. One of the girls in question, Fiona, was an extrovert. She was confident and good at sport, but academically only average. She was tall and had dark hair and olive skin. Further, she was one of the few senior girls to opt to wear trousers rather than the navy skirts that formed part of the school uniform. The other girl, Clare, was brighter academically but had a quieter nature. She did not stand out in class and got on with her work without making a fuss.
I checked to see if there was an obvious excuse for one of the girls copying the work of the other, such as catching up after illness but no reason came to light. I therefore asked them to stay behind after the lesson in which the work was returned. When I asked for an explanation they both looked uncomfortable and had little to say. They both started to look at their feet. I told them that cheating was a serious offence and that I was considering sending them both to Mrs Crawford unless one of them owned up. The next lesson was about to start and I told them to think about the situation and report back after lunch.
At about 1.00 pm there was a knock at the door and Fiona and Clare came in. I asked them again if they could explain what had happened and they both started to look at their feet again. I told them that I had decided not to send them to the Head (they suddenly looked relieved) but, in view of the seriousness of the offence and the fact that neither one of them would own up, they would both serve a double detention after classes ended on the next two Friday afternoons.
Fiona suddenly became agitated. “You can’t do that Sir. I’ll miss two important hockey matches and I’m Captain!” I reached for the punishment book which I had ready for the purpose and was about to enter the details. Fiona kept pleading: “Isn’t there anything else?” Can’t you punish us another way?” Clare looked unmoved, head bowed. I then thought of a discussion earlier in the staff room about the merits of slippering girls and wondered about the possibility of Fiona and Clare agreeing to me slippering them. The idea somehow seemed appealing.
I put the pen down and took my chance. “There is one alternative that could be considered, if you both agreed. I could slipper you.”
Fiona almost immediately said: “Yes Sir, I will take a slippering instead.”
Now it was the turn of Clare to become upset. “I’ve never had the slipper. I can’t bend over in this pencil skirt. My parents will find out.”
“I will let you borrow my spare trousers,” interrupted Fiona, at which point I told them to go away and come back after school at 4.30 pm with an answer, either double detention or the slipper. I found myself quite excited during the afternoon lessons, and took the precaution of ensuring that I had a gym shoe available just in case!
At 4.30 pm there was another knock at the door and both girls crept in. I noticed that both girls were now wearing trousers. I asked them if they had made a decision. “We will take the slipper Sir.” Fiona announced. I asked Clare if she agreed and she nodded. I took the gym shoe out of my drawer and Clare looked very worried. Her face was red and her lower lip was quivering.
“Would you like me over the desk?” Asked Fiona. I realized that I hadn’t thought of that, but pulled a chair out and suggested that she should bend over and put her hands on the seat for support. She moved forward and I noticed how her navy trousers tightened around her bottom as she bent over, presenting an appealing target. I announced that they would both get four strokes.
I tapped the slipper on Fiona’s bottom to get my aim right as the target was much higher than any of the younger pupils that I had slippered to date. I drew the slipper back and the first stroke landed with a THWAACK on her right buttock. She made a slight “oooh” sound and a slight gasp as the second and third strokes landed on alternate buttocks. I decided to make the last stroke count as I was certain in my mind that Fiona was the culprit and had copied Clare’s work. However, of course I could not prove it. I therefore drew the slipper right back and brought it down with a CRACK on her left buttock. She swung forward with the force, then let out an ARRGH! and shot upright rubbing her bottom.
I told Clare to bend over. She crept forward and nervously put her hands on the seat of the chair and slowly bent over. She had a slightly smaller bottom and her borrowed trousers did not tighten so perfectly over it. I tapped the slipper on her bottom and noticed that she was already close to tears. The first stroke landed with a WHOPP on her right buttock. She swung forward with the impact and shot upright with a yell and burst into tears.
I told her to bend back down and after a few minutes she lowered herself slowly back into position. I decided to get the ordeal over as quickly as possible for her but felt that it wouldn’t be fair just to give her some token light strokes. I therefore gave her three quick strokes across the centre of her bottom. She was in obvious distress and she slowly stood up, breathing quickly, with tears flowing down her face and turned away from me.
I told both girls that the matter was now closed and that they could go when they were ready. Fiona thanked me but Clare didn’t say a word. The experience of Clare’s reaction to her punishment unsettled me and I decided to try to use detentions for serious offences in the future. Whether or not the gym shoe remained in my drawer may be revealed in a future story.