A headmistress tells about the time she used her cane on a girl.
By Julie Baker
My name is Sally Johnson and I was born in Sheffield in March 1957. I was schooled through the state system and I was head girl in my last year. I achieved three straight A grades in my A levels and won a place to study geography at Cambridge University. I enjoyed my time there and when I graduated I got a place on a teacher training course at Durham University. One year later and I was applying for teaching posts in a variety of state and private schools. I took a position in a small private all girls school in Leicestershire as a class room teacher. Within three years I was head of their geography department and by the time I was 29 I was appointed to be Deputy Head.
I stayed in this position for a further two years and then I was advised by the Head at the school to start applying for a position as a head teacher. This seemed to be a massive step up at a relatively young age, but I took her advice and started the process. In the first year of trying I got a few knock backs but within the space of a two hectic weeks I had applied for a position, gone to two interviews and been offered the post of head teacher at a small girls boarding school in Lancashire.
The school had just over 300 pupils at that time, aged from 13 to 18, and it was very traditional. I was 32 when I took on the job and still relatively inexperienced. During the summer holidays before I started I had numerous meetings with the Chair of Governors and the deputy head who had been at the school for several years. They both impressed upon me that standards of discipline in the school were very high and they believed that this was largely due to the use of corporal punishment. I was left in no doubt that I would be expected to continue with this regime of frequent beatings.
The school rules were quite explicit about some forms of punishment. Corporal punishment could only be administered by the head teacher and would always be applied to a girl’s bottom. The maximum number of strokes was six and girls could not be beaten more than once each day. There was no restriction on the type of offences that could result in a girl being slippered. There were a prescribed number of offences that would result in a girl being expelled. Violence against a teacher or sexual activity on school premises were two examples of offences that would result in automatic expulsion. Curiously, there was only one offence that would result in the use of the cane; smoking within the school grounds.
I was actually not too comfortable with this set up. When I did my teacher training course, corporal punishment in schools was still quite common but it was certainly being phased out in many schools ten years later. We were not instructed on how to administer physical punishments during our training and I had no first hand experience of my own to fall back on. The prospect of having to beat any of my girls therefore left me with an uneasy feeling. How hard should I hit them? What rules on protective clothing should I employ? How should I direct them when it came time to bend over? These might seem like inconsequential details but they exercised my mind considerably before that first term began.
I had two days back with my full staff before my first autumn term began. Amongst the normal preparations I made sure that I spent time with the school secretary, Mrs Jones, who was able to help me on a number of matters. I decided to ask her about the corporal punishment routines. She said the previous head had frequently used the slipper but she had not been required to be a witness during a punishment and could therefore not confirm if there was any particular routine that was followed. She showed me a collection of miscellaneous single shoes that had been used in the past to slipper the girls. They looked old and grubby and I asked her to put them in the bin. She then showed me three canes but these too looked old and barely hygienic. These were consigned to the bin also.
I asked Mrs Jones to order two new canes from the school equipment supplier. We looked in the catalogue and ordered a junior and a senior version. I then went into town the next day and bought two pairs of shoes from the budget shoe shop. I got size 8s as they seemed to be a reasonable size for a young girl’s bottom and chose two different styles as I wasn’t sure what would be most effective. I got some ladies sandals with strappy tops and smooth plastic soles and a pair of fairly stiff rubber plimsolls. They had soft canvas tops and rubbery soles with a slightly ridged pattern on them. I felt fairly confident with the prospect of delivering a slippering as I thought I would be able to gauge the severity by the reaction of the girl and it would be almost impossible to over do it. The cane was a different proposition though.
However my first year at the school turned out to be a considerable success and I didn’t have to use either of my new canes. I did slipper several of the girls but, as I suspected, this was quite an easy trick to pull off. When one of my girls warranted the slipper I would tell them that this was going to be their punishment. I always administered the punishment the day after the offence took place to allow a period of time for the recipient to become properly nervous. Slipperings were always done at the end of the school day at 4.30pm, after the last lesson.
The girls who were going to be punished had to line up outside my study with the youngest first and the oldest last. They would then come in and I would ask them to remove their school blazer and then their skirt. I would then ask them to face the window and bend over so that they could just touch their toes. Depending on the age of the girl and the type of offence I would then deliver between two and six sharp blows to their bottoms. Some took it without a murmur and others would be in floods of tears before I had even started. I’m not sure what good it did, but it was noticeable that many girls only ever came to me for punishment once. I found the rubber soled plimsoll was better employed on the older girls, as it was heavier, while the sandal delivered more of a slap that was better suited to the junior’s bottoms.
I was fortunate in that first year that the previous head had left me with a quite fantastic head girl and set of four prefects. They were the other half of the drive for good discipline, with their diligent coaching of the younger girls in good behaviour and their ability to remind their fellow pupils that a visit to the head’s study would not be a pleasant experience. Combined, this helped to keep most of the girls in check. In the summer term I knew that I would have to select a new team and that I needed to get this right.
There was one girl in the lower sixth who absolutely stood out from the rest. Her name was Holly Granger. Firstly she was absolutely beautiful with an attractive face, long blond hair and a slim athletic body. But she also outshone her fellow pupils on many different levels, given that she was on course to achieve excellent A level results, which would eventually enable her to go to Oxford University, and she was county standard for both hockey and swimming. She had a very kind nature but was also quite quiet and gentle with others around her. She was almost shy in personality but didn’t, understandably, lack confidence in herself. I liked her and could actually see quite a bit of myself in her at that age. I would have loved to have offered her the job of being head girl, but in the end I made her a prefect and selected one of her friends who was more outgoing to take the top job.
The next academic year ran very smoothly. There were the normal relatively minor disciplinary problems and I had to utilise my slippers on certain girls on a fairly regular basis. One girl in the lower sixth was causing me a particular problem and it seemed like I was giving her the slipper almost on a weekly basis. She didn’t seem to mind the ordeal and was becoming quite accustomed to visiting me in my study. I wanted to use one of my new canes on her but I rechecked the school rules and this wasn’t possible unless she was caught smoking. Eventually I decided that I would try to jog her out of what seemed like a comfortable routine for her. The next time she appeared in my study for punishment I asked her to take off her blazer, skirt and also her knickers. I could see her doing a double take and her cheeks turned bright red. She hesitated but did as she was told. She then received six hard strokes with the smooth soled shoe on her bare bottom. The noise of that shoe slapping against her skin was considerable and she was in floods of tears at the end. I think there was an element of humiliation, given that she had to show her bare bottom to me, but also the lack of a protective layer clearly increased the stinging effect. I didn’t see her back again for more!
This episode did teach me something. There was nothing in the rules that prevented me from punishing a girl on her bare bottom. I now had this as an extra sanction for repeat offenders. The possibility of having to cane a girl was also something in the back of my mind. I was sure that some of the senior girls would have an occasional cigarette when they were at school and it was only a matter of time before I would have to administer a caning to one of them. It troubled me, though, that I had received no training and I could see the dangers of applying the cane too severely. I decided at that moment that any caning I had to deliver would be to the recipient’s bare bottom. I would then be able to judge precisely the effect that each cane stroke had as I progressed through the process.
The academic year was coming to a close. Summer was in full swing and the ‘O’ and ‘A’ level examinations were behind us. In the last week of term nothing much happened on the academic front and the main events were the sports day on the Wednesday and our annual swimming gala on the Thursday. Everyone went home for their summer holidays on the Friday. On the Monday of that week I decided to go on a tour of the school to assess the quality of the activities that my staff had organised for the girls. I left the school by the back door and decided to cut through to the science block by a little used alleyway. Half way down the alleyway was an old container used to store sports equipment. I have no idea what made me do it but I decided to have a look round the back of it and there I found Holly. She was smoking a cigarette.
I couldn’t believe it. The nicest, kindest and best behaved pupil in the whole school had now been caught smoking within days of her leaving for university. However I was absolutely stuck with the situation. If I had seen her in the distance I could have turned a blind eye but we were less than six feet apart looking at each other eye to eye.
“Oh, Christ!” She said.
“My office now, Holly,” I replied and turned to go back to the main school building with Holly in my wake.
We got into my study and Holly closed the door behind her. The first thought that crossed my mind was that nobody but Holly and me knew what had taken place in the past five minutes.
“I’m really sorry, Miss Johnson,” she opened up with. “I might look confident but I’m really apprehensive about leaving school at the end of this week and a cigarette always calms me down. I know it’s against school rules but I thought I was in a place where I wouldn’t be caught and I was doing it on my own.”
I had to think fast. I could have simply given her a lecture on the dangers of smoking and told her to keep this confidential between the two of us. But this would have been contrary to my responsibilities and duties laid down in the school rules and in my job description. I also wrestled with the concept of favouritism. Holly was one of my favourite pupils, but I shouldn’t let this influence my actions and maybe I owed it to Holly to teach her a lesson.
“I’m sorry, Holly, but I am going to have to punish you. Smoking on school premises is against the rules and you know that. The only concession that I am prepared to make for you is that you can come to see me at 2.00pm tomorrow rather than the normal 4.30 time for punishments. I’m happy to keep this entirely between the two of us. I’ll not tell anyone about this and you can do the same if you want. However, smoking is a caning offence, Holly. Please prepare yourself for an unpleasant experience.”
She had tears in her eyes as she apologised again and confirmed that she would see me the following day as instructed. I can’t imagine what sort of a night’s sleep Holly got with the prospect of her first experience of corporal punishment coming to her the next day. I must confess that I didn’t get much sleep either. I was nervous about having to use the cane for the first time but I was also disappointed in Holly for putting me in this position. Anyway, time passed and it was soon 2.00pm on the Tuesday and I was sitting in my study waiting for Holly to arrive. There was a timid knock on my door and in walked Holly. She looked immaculate. Hair combed back into a tight bun and a crisp white blouse fitting closely onto her slim body below her school blazer. She was wearing the normal pleated navy skirt that came down to her knees which emphasised her slender waist. Short white socks and black court shoes finished her look. I invited her to sit on the upright chair on the opposite side of my desk and I sat in my usual chair on the other side.
I can only describe the events that followed as surreal.
Before I could speak Holly opened up.
“I’m sorry, Miss, but I have decided that I’m not going to allow you to cane me. I know that I broke the school rules but I’m eighteen and I’m legally entitled to walk out of here anytime. I’m not sure how we go forward from here but you have to find an alternative to using the cane on me.”
This was a turn of events that I hadn’t anticipated. I quite admired her spirit as I hadn’t thought she had it in her, but equally I was annoyed that she thought she could come into my study and start negotiating with me. I decided to play for time.
“Why are you telling me this, Holly?” I asked.
“Well, Miss,” she started. “The obvious answer is that I’m terrified of the pain the cane would inflict on me. I know that sounds pathetic but the other girls have told me how unpleasant the slipper is, so I can’t imagine how bad the cane would be. Also, it’s the swimming gala on Thursday. I tried my costume on last night and when I looked in the mirror it was surprising how much of my bottom was visible around the sides. I’m sure if you caned me today then the marks would be seen by everyone. At the moment it is only you and me that know about this. After the swimming gala everyone would be asking me about the marks.”
“Well, the obvious comment is that you should have thought about this before you decided to smoke in the school grounds,” I replied. “You know it is against the school rules, and the school rules state that any girl caught smoking will receive corporal punishment. I’m sorry, Holly, there is no alternative.”
“OK, Miss, could I be slippered instead?” There was a note of desperation coming into her voice. “If you slippered me high up then at least my swimming costume would cover the affected area.”
“Look, Holly, I’m not prepared to sit here negotiating with you,” I replied. “I’ve told you that I’m going to cane you and you have pointed out that legally you don’t have to take it. However, I would then need to expel you and that would be a permanent blot on your hitherto perfect school record. Furthermore, if anyone in the future wrote to me to ask for a reference I would be professionally honour bound to mention the fact that you were expelled. I’m not enjoying this situation any more than you are, Holly. Now I suggest we get on with it. It will soon be over and we can all move on. I don’t think that I can help much with the cane marks but I will do my best to keep them higher up to reduce the risk of them being visible when you wear your swimming costume. You have always got the option of not taking part in the gala if you feel embarrassed, but if you don’t accept your punishment then you won’t be at school on Thursday anyway!”
I could see a bit of doubt creeping into Holly’s face.
“I really don’t want to miss the Gala,” she said in a low thoughtful voice.
“Come on, Holly, time to be brave,” I said as I got up from my chair. “Let’s get you ready and get this matter over with.”
“OK, if I do go ahead then what is the procedure?” She asked.
I could sense that I was getting there.
“I will ask you to stand up and place your chair in front of my window with the seat towards you,” I explained. “I will then ask you to take your blazer off which should be hung over the back of your chair. You will then remove your skirt and underwear and place them on the seat of your chair. I’ll then take the cane out of the cupboard and I’ll ask you to bend over so that your legs are together and your hands are gripping each side of chair seat. If necessary, I will raise the back of your blouse so that it is completely clear of your bottom. The one concession that I will grant you is that I’ll only give you four strokes of the cane. I had planned to give you six. Now, Holly, are we getting on with this or do we have to go down the other route?”
“OK, I accept,” she replied. “Let’s get it over with.”
Amazingly, she didn’t appear to mind about the removal of any protection for her bottom. I had decided in advance that my one departure from a normal slippering would be to get Holly to grip onto the chair for support as this would keep her steady. I also felt that I wanted to minimise the danger of Holly putting a hand behind her to protect her bottom at the wrong time and the cane catching her. This had happened in the past with slipperings, but a shoe was a different type of implement to a cane.
To her credit, once she had taken the decision to go ahead she never wavered. She stood up, moved the chair as instructed and took off her blazer. I thought she might be a little embarrassed during the next phase but her skirt and panties came off with no perceptible hesitation. Her bottom at that stage was mostly hidden below the tail of her blouse, but when she bent over to grip the chair her blouse rode up so that it came to just above her tail bone. As I suspected, she had a most beautiful bottom. Lovely shape, firm flesh and a warm creamy skin colour with no hint of a blemish.
Meantime, I had gone to my cupboard and taken out my new unused senior cane. It was about a meter in length and the colour of bleached straw. It was a bit thinner than I might have expected but reasonably stiff. I had practised on a cushion the evening before, so I had a definite game plan in mind. I don’t know which of us was more nervous. I could certainly feel my heart beating fast but Holly seemed completely calm, yet it was her that had an ordeal to endure.
I moved closer to her and assessed her position. I slipped the tail of her blouse a little bit further up her back to just below her bra so that her bottom was completely clear of any obstructions. I then gently pressed with my hand on the small of her back to create a concave shape which ensured that her bottom stuck out and presented a better target for the cane. I then rested the cane on Holly’s bottom before giving her a few taps to help me with my aim. At this point I noticed that she tightened her grip on the seat of the chair and her knuckles turned white. She was nervous after all!
“OK, Holly, this is it. I’m going the give you four cane strokes for smoking on school property. I want you to stay in position until your punishment is complete. You may only rub your bottom when I tell you that you can stand up. I have heard your comments about the swimming gala and I will do my best to cane you on the upper part of your bottom, but for your benefit I will try to space the strokes out so that no two land in the same spot. Your bottom is quite small so I may need to go lower than you would like. Do you understand Holly and are you ready?”
“Yes, Miss,” she replied in a slightly breathless voice.
I delivered the first stroke quite firmly to the middle of her bottom. There was no perceptible reaction from Holly but within seconds I could see an angry red line appear where the cane had struck. Surely that must have hurt, I thought, but she was showing no signs of anguish. I applied the second one higher up and a little harder. This time I did at least get a sharp intake of breath from Holly but no more than that. Half way and I decided to fit the next stroke between the previous two, both which I could see clearly on her pale skin. I aimed to go with the same strength as the second stroke. Another couple of taps on Holly’s bottom and then I delivered the third stroke. This time I did get more of a reaction. Nothing audible, apart from the crack of the cane on naked flesh, but she swayed a bit and I could see that she was taking in large gulps of air.
“Last one, Holly,” I said. “You’re doing well.”
The thought crossed my mind that maybe I wasn’t applying the cane firmly enough, given the minimal reaction from Holly. I had one cane stroke left and I decided to go a bit harder. I was also left with the problem that I had pretty much filled the top half of her bottom and I wasn’t confident of being able to place another stroke in this area without overlapping. I would have to go lower. Holly probably sensed this as I lined up the final stroke just above where her bottom finished and her legs began. I gave it to her full and hard. She maintained her grip on the seat but her legs gave way and she let out a low groan. That one had really hurt her. I could see that. However, she rapidly regained her position and, apart from the deep intakes of breath and the four bright red cane marks, we were back to where we started.
“OK, Holly. That’s it done. You can stand up now and get dressed.”
She slowly got up but didn’t turn to face me. Her hands instinctively went round to her bottom and I could see her running her fingers along the raised cane marks. There was no rubbing and it seemed that this action was more curiosity than a need to dispel any pain. Holly’s clothes were in front of her and she picked up her delicate white panties first. She stepped into them, pulled them up her legs and then carefully eased them over her bottom. This covered all the cane marks apart from the last one which was just visible peaking out on either side of her knickers.
‘Poor old Holly,’ I thought. ‘That one is going to be on show at the gala!’
She replaced her skirt, put on her blazer and then turned to face me. Her face was streaked with tears but she managed a weak smile as she replaced the chair in its former position.
“Thank you, Miss. Can I go now?” She asked as she put the chair down.
“Yes, Holly. That is the matter dealt with. You have been a brave girl but I hope you have learnt a valuable lesson. You are now free to go!”
After the door closed behind her, I slumped into my chair behind the desk and did nothing for five minutes. My mind was racing and I reflected on just how strange this whole episode had been. I had delivered my first caning, but Holly Granger was absolutely the last person in the entire school that I would have expected to be on the receiving end. Then gentle and obedient Holly comes into my study and refuses to take her punishment! I hadn’t seen that one coming either. I then ask her to take all her lower clothes off and deliver quite a thrashing to the girl’s bare bottom, but get almost no reaction. She looked like a nice girl who would probably have quite a low pain threshold but it would appear that the opposite was true.
That turned out to be my one and only caning experience. That summer I recommended to the governors that the school abandoned its policy of using corporal punishment. They agreed and it came into affect at the end of the following academic year. I delivered a few slipperings only in that final year and I was actually quite relieved that I wouldn’t have to go through that whole process again. The infamous four punishment shoes were placed in the bin at the end of that summer term, although it was only the two right shoes that had actually ever been used. I took the two canes home with me and I cut up the unused junior cane to make kindling wood. Something stopped me doing the same with the cane I used on Holly, though, and I put it safely on the top shelf of my wardrobe. Over the years I have occasionally got it down to have a look at it and remind myself of the day that it was used on Holly’s bottom. It’s hard to explain my sensations when I have that cane in my hands once more, but I certainly get a a deep stirring of my inner feelings as I once again see Holly’s bare bottom in my mind’s eye.
I retired from that school and teaching last year. When I left the school, it was 800 strong in pupil numbers and had spent millions of pounds expanding and improving its facilities.
After Holly had departed for Oxford I didn’t see her again for 18 years. Then, out of nowhere, she appeared at an open day for prospective parents and pupils. I saw her across the room and immediately recognised her. She hadn’t changed much, although she now had the look of a very attractive lady in her mid thirties dressed in expensive and elegant clothes. She had two girls with her that I estimated to be about 10 and 12 and a handsome husband who looked similarly prosperous in his well tailored suit. Our eyes met and I could see her whisper something into her husband’s ear. He gathered in the two girls and she walked directly over to me.
“How nice to see you, Miss Johnson,” she opened up with. “You are looking really well!”
“Thank you, Holly. It’s good to see you as well. Are they your two girls?”
“Yes, Miss. I’m hoping that they can come to school here as I did all those years ago. I so enjoyed my time here. You gave me a great academic education. I loved the sport and I learnt some valuable lessons.” There was a moment of hesitation. “Do you remember the day that you caned me?” She asked.
I, obviously, wasn’t going to mention this episode all those years later, but she had made the first move.
“Yes, of course I do,” I replied. “You deserved the punishment and took it well, Holly. I would have to say that I could see the cane marks peaking out from beneath your swimming costume at the gala, but I don’t think anyone guessed how you got them!”
Holly laughed at this and I could see a bit of colour come into her cheeks.
“Yes, that was quite an ordeal that day. So painful, but having tried to get out of it I was then determined not to show any weakness during the punishment. It was two weeks before all the marks and bruising eventually disappeared. However, I must thank you again for the way that you dealt with me. I learnt that day that actions have consequences and that you have to face up to those consequences. You cannot run away. Also, you absolutely killed my smoking habit! The caning was a sharp shock to my system and I have never touched another cigarette since.”
She smiled at me and I marvelled at how genuinely pleased she seemed to see me.
“Now, let’s go across so that I can introduce you to my husband and see what you make of my two girls.”