A new headmaster and a new regime

By Gillian Howard

My name is Gillian Howard and I attended a girls grammar School in the north of England from Sept 1962 to July 1969. In September 1965 we merged with the boys school and became a mixed Grammar School, one of the very few at that time.

Our uniform consisted of a Royal Blue knee length skirt, blue shirt, blue and yellow striped tie and blue blazer with yellow piping, blue knee length socks and Royal blue knickers. Our gym and games kit was a short yellow skirt and knickers and a white polo shirt.

Our Headmistress was a Mrs Grey and she was a firm believer in corporal punishment and allowed all teachers to use the slipper to spank errant pupils and she did not hesitate to cane girls across the hand and boys on the bottom. We also had a detention system where the slipper was used often and three detentions a term meant an automatic caning.

She did have some odd rules as well and one was that to stop pupils being late for lessons, and thus interrupting the next lesson, any pupils about to receive the slipper at the end of a lesson and the punishment had not started when the bell went then they were reprieved and let off.

In my six years at the school I had never come anywhere near receiving any form of punishment apart for one occasion in the 5th year when our advanced maths class right at the end of term were all chatting and not doing our set task. Mr Gregg stood up and asked all the class to write a number from 1 to 4 on a sheet of paper. He screwed up four pieces of paper and put them in his chalk box.

He then told us all to stand and hold up our pieces of paper. He then put the chalk box in front of me and asked me to pick a piece out and read what was on it. I said the number 3 was written. He then showed me the rest which were numbered 1, 2 and 4.

He told all those who had number 3 on their sheet of paper to come to the front of the class. There were five boys and myself. He said we were there to learn and not spend the class chatting. He then told us to turn our backs to the class and to bend over. As my fingers touched my shoes I realised that I was about to be spanked for the first time. I heard him open his cupboard and pick up his slipper and tap it on his hand. He then said that we would all receive six slaps, but as he said it the bell sounded for the end of the lesson so we were let off.

At the end of our lower 6th year our Headmistress had a stroke and we were told that we would have a new head for the start of the new term. We started back to school on Monday 2nd September and I was now in the upper 6th. We were introduced to our new Headmaster, a Mr Gore, who said that he had been asked to take over the school and to clamp down on discipline as it appeared to have gone down hill the previous year.

He said that there were a few alterations that we needed to know about and they where as follows:-

1. All teachers would now be allowed to cane any naughty pupil on the hands and the end of lesson rule was abolished.

2. If a pupil was reported to himself for punishment they would be caned across the bottom with only one layer of clothing.

3. Pupils would not know if they had been reported to him till their name was read out at Friday assembly when they would leave the hall and wait outside his office to be caned.

4. He accepted that fashions were changing and he was relaxing the school uniform rules for girls in years 1, 2, 3, and 4. They could wear their skirt 2 inches above the knee. For 5th and 6 years, it would be 3 inches above the knee and also upper 6th did not have to wear school knickers.

5. All pupils would be issued with a punishment book that they had to carry at all times. These would contain all recorded punishments they had already received and also any future punishments arranged. These books had to be signed by the pupils and the teacher at the time of the punishments and by parents the same evening. These books would be inspected daily by a member of staff.

6. All pupils including lower and upper 6ths would be liable to punishments.

We were then dismissed. Everyone was astonished and we in the upper 6th especially. We went to registration and were all given our punishment books and myself and my best friend Liz were two of the very few to have received no previous punishments.

As the week progressed we heard pupils being caned in next door classrooms and on the Thursday we witnessed our first caning when were having Maths with Mr Gregg. He set us all a problem that should be reasonably easy for us and anybody getting it wrong would be caned. After five minutes he asked us all to put or pens down and then asked Liz to come out and do the problem on the board as he checked her book. She got it right but one boy and one girl had got it wrong.

They were told to stand at the side of their desks as he collected his cane from the cupboard, came up to them and told them to hold out their hand. He then gave them an almighty whack across their hand and told them to sit down. Both had red eyes and were blowing hard onto their hand. He then turned to Liz and congratulated her for getting it right but said that any pupil who got it wrong on the board would get two strokes.

As we were walking into assembly the following morning Liz and I were busy trying to guess if anybody we knew would be caned today but we could think of nobody. We were so busy chatting we did not notice Mr Gore talking to some members of staff until he turned, tapped us on the shoulder and told us to report to him after assembly as we were to receive a detention for talking in the assembly hall.

There were seven pupils names called out and told to wait outside the headmaster’s office to be caned after assembly. Liz and I rushed to the head’s office with our punishment books to receive our detention notice. We had to wait outside while the first boy was caned and we could clearly hear the whack of the cane striking his bottom. After six strokes he emerged with tears down his face.

The Head came out and called us both into his office and said we were lucky not to be on the caning list for next week but we will have the detention instead and to come back at lunchtime on Monday to collect the slip. As he filled in our punishment books he could not believe either of us had ever been punished before.

The following week had gone very well and in Maths on Thursday Mr Greg again gave us a simple problem that I had finished easily. He called me out to do the problem on the board which I did with no effort and all those who got it wrong were asked to stand up. He duly caned four of them.

He then turned to me and said: “Well done Gillian, but you seemed to have rushed through the work as you have not written an answer in your book.”

I could not believe this but was shown the book and was told that as I had done it on the board I was to receive two strokes of the cane. My jaw dropped as I looked at the class. I could seem some smirks that I was to be caned.

I was told to move forward and to hold out my hand and not move it. He rested the cane across my palm before raising it above his shoulder and bringing it down across my palm. I thought he had cut my hand in two, the pain was so bad. I then had to hold my other hand out and received the same to that hand. The pain was unbearable.

I returned to my seat, tears running down my face and trying to rub away the pain in both hands. I was still in pain at the start of our next lesson which was English and could not pay attention and was spoken to on three occasions before Miss Green said she had already warned me and now had no option but to put me in detention next week. She asked for my Punishment book and saw that I had been caned last lesson and was also in detention that night. She said I had better watch out as to receive two detentions in the first week means that any other in the term would mean the cane from the Headmaster.

Liz and I both served our detention without any problems and on the way home I showed Liz the red line on each of my hands from my caning. When I got home and mum saw the two detentions and the caning she went mad and she asked how come I had not shown her the detention notice till now. I said i didn’t need to get it signed till after the detention. She said the letter all parents had received seemed to indicate different but I said nobody had said anything so I must be right but she added that I was grounded that weekend anyway for being caned.

I met Liz on the way to school and she said she had also been grounded for getting a detention.

As assembly was drawing to a close Mr Gore stood up and said the following pupils should report to my room now from upper 6th: Elizabeth Greenall and Gillian Howard. We both looked aghast at each other as the head said we were being caned for not getting punishment books signed by our parents.

We trooped off to his office and his secretary was there to tell us to put our hands on heads and noses against the wall. We were joined by eleven others, three girls and eight boys. Shortly after the head appeared and he shouted for Greenall to follow him. I could hear the Headmaster’s raised voice and then quiet before the secretary’s door opened and she went into the heads office.

A few minutes later I heard a swish then a loud whack as the cane struck Liz, followed by a scream. Five more strokes followed and then the door opened and Liz emerged in tears rubbing her bottom and moving slowly down the corridor.

Then I heard my name called and went to the door and entered the headmaster’s office. I gave him my punishment book and he said that he was not surprised to find me here as I have already been caned by a teacher and got two detentions in under two weeks. But all I could do was look at the three foot long cane on his desk.

He told me that I had not obeyed the rule over getting my punishment book signed by my parents on the day my detention was given and therefore had been reported to him and would now receive six strokes of the cane. He then told me to bend over the end of his desk and as I did so I could see the damp patches left by Liz’s tears. As i bent over I felt my skirt ride up slightly and only then remembered that I was only wearing a very flimsy pair of yellow nylon knickers I had been bought for my birthday last week.

The secretary came behind me and I felt her roll my skirt up to my back and appear to pin it to my shirt leaving my bottom exposed. The Head told me I should have worn school knickers as this was going to hurt more with having little or no protection. I saw him pick up the cane and then I heard a few swishes before the cane was resting on my bottom.

After a few seconds it moved and I heard a swish and then a crack and the shock made me gasp but then the pain came and it was unbelievable. Before I could recover another blow struck and I yelled out. Then another came, and another. It was then I realised that the secretary had a hand on the middle of my back to stop me rising.

The fifth stroke came right where my bottom and thighs joined and I let out such a scream all the school must have heard as it was on bare skin. Before I could catch my breath the sixth landed.

I heard the head tell me to get up and sign my punishment book which somehow I managed to do and was then dismissed. I left his office and returned very slowly to our common room as we had a free period. Liz was there drinking a cup of tea but standing up. She asked how I was and I just burst out crying again.

I settled a bit after fifteen minutes and managed to get a cup of tea, but all the others wanted to see the damage so Liz and I turned round and lifted our skirts to show six parallel lines across our bottoms, very red and swollen. Then somebody reminded us that it was Friday 13th September.

When I got home I gave mum my punishment book to sign and she was really annoyed that in the first two weeks of my year in the Upper 6th I had gone from never having been in trouble over my first six years to getting two detentions and being caned twice.

She promptly grounded me for two weeks and said any more trouble at school would mean the same at home. Doing a detention would mean grounding and a caning would result in a spanking at home.

The End