An unusual story for us in that it contains male as well as female punishment, but there’s a twist that some readers have asked for. By a new writer to us.
By Graham Morris
It was the first day of the new term, and I was enthusiastic about spending this one at a new school. The school in question was a brand new private one taking both boys and girls, and I had been keen to come here due to the excellent new facilities, particularly those for sport. A couple of months previously I’d visited for interview where I met some of the senior staff, and had been sold on it from the off. Having no friends initially was not too big a deal, since everyone else would be in the same situation, and I was therefore delighted when I heard I had been accepted.
I had not met Mrs Frost, the headmistress, on my previous visit, but it had been made clear that she could be very fussy and a stickler for the rules. Discipline would apparently be strict, although given the commonplace indiscipline and disruption that had been normal at my previous school, I hadn’t been too upset to hear this. One of the senior teachers also mentioned at length that Mrs Frost had a particular bugbear for untidy dress, and that she would not tolerate this from either pupils or staff. School uniform, although simple, was to be absolutely mandatory for all pupils with no variation even for seniors; plain white shirt, red/grey/navy striped school tie, smart black trousers or skirt/tights and black shoes.
I had been told that the headmistress would be extremely strict in enforcing this with immediate punishment for any breach. A significant difference between this and my last school was that here, even minor things like an undone top button could attract punishment. Indeed, although it had not been expressly stated, it was very clear that pupils not correctly wearing school uniform would quickly become familiar with the school’s corporal punishment policy. Caning would be used here, with a condition of entry for all pupils being the return of a signed consent form. Those 18 and over were required to give their own consent, while younger pupils needed that of their parents.
At my last school, both tawse and cane were used, and like many other boys I had been on the receiving end. Nether was used that frequently though, and it had been something of an anomaly that I was one of the few to have received three canings despite having been one of the better behaved pupils in my year.
Each was memorable, with the first coming after being carelessly caught swearing the day after the head had made a big deal of that very matter. The second was for being rude to a PE teacher I didn’t like who was wilfully being an idiot, and to whom I had then told exactly what I thought of him; he caned me himself and it was a particularly painful experience. Third time it was after a friend and I persistently turned up a few minutes late for the first class after lunch, after letting our daily game of football run on too long. In all the time I was there I never once had detention despite them being very common, and only got lines once after forgetting my homework. When I got into trouble, I did it properly!
With that in the past, I was now keen to get on with my first day at my new school. I dressed carefully; nicely ironed white shirt, tie done up properly, shoes polished, hair and teeth done. I headed happily to my new school for the first time. The first morning saw a special assembly to welcome all pupils and staff and get the admin stuff out of the way before classes began. There was nothing especially interesting, just an introduction as to how things would work, and things like access to the school’s facilities after the last bell. The headmistress did most of it before her deputy spoke for a few minutes. Just as it appeared that it was coming to an end and that we’d soon be on our way, the headmistress strode to the front with an entirely different look to the one she’d possessed a few minutes ago. This was obviously her angry face.
She went on to outline that she was furious at the lack of respect shown by a number of pupils who she had seen talking at various points in the assembly, and ordered 18, drawn from all year groups, to the front. All were lectured furiously, to the obvious embarrassment of most of them, before being told they would each spend two hours after school in detention.
Those in the top two years were shamed further, being told publicly that they would be caned at the end of their detention, before all 18 were ordered to put hands on heads and noses to the wall for the rest of the assembly. She was in full ranting flow by this point, and came on to school uniform. She said, as I had been told, that she would be extremely strict with this. It looked to be a general warning and parting shot, and so it was a surprise when she ordered another three pupils to the front. As they nervously turned to face the assembly it was clear they had been called out for improper uniform.
There was an anxious buzz about the place now, and the three at the front were obviously and understandably nervous, with punishment on their first morning seeming certain.
“I will show you all that I expect school uniform to be worn properly at all times. The three before you will also have detention after school today, but before that, the small matter of the cane.”
The first to be dealt with was a boy in second year; he was being punished for wearing a white polo shirt instead of the proper shirt required. After a lecture on this inadequacy, a cane was produced, giving rise to a murmur of anticipation. This dissipated quickly however, as he was told he would be having four strokes from this cane in detention along with the senior pupils who had been caught talking, before being promptly sent to join them facing the wall with hands on head.
This left two, one boy and one girl, nervously awaiting their fate. Both were clearly from the upper years, and after brief interrogation from the head, it was established that both were already 18 and had come here to do a repeat of their 6th year, having not quite managed the exam results they’d hoped for.
“Two of the oldest pupils in the school, yet you cannot even follow simple rules on your first day? Quite unbelievable. Two severe punishments required, I think.”
With that, the two were made to put hands on head and face the assembly while the headmistress left the hall. An awkward hush ensued for a few minutes until she returned with some paperwork; the consent forms that gave her permission to cane them. Having established that both were 18 and that both had given written consent to receiving canings as required, she was now happy to proceed. I’m sure she already knew, but just wanted to draw it out a little to emphasise their fear and humiliation.
The girl was called forward first, and her uniform was frankly a complete mess; top two shirt buttons undone, and a short tie with massive knot hanging at half-mast. The angry Mrs Frost made it very clear that this was not on, ordering the now shame-faced girl to sort herself out there and then. With shirt and tie eventually properly in place, she was unceremoniously marched to the centre of the stage and bent over the handily placed desk. Once again the buzz was noticeable and this really was it; someone was about to get the cane.
The position of the desk was carefully planned, such that once in position the miscreant would be facing the assembly, but their hind quarters would be out of sight of everyone bar the headmistress. As the girl assumed the position with a look of terror on her face, she was informed of her fate. She would not have to remove her trousers this time, but would receive six strokes of the senior cane. Tears looked to be starting, as Mrs Frost calmly showed the assembly the differences between the cane she would use here, and the thinner, lighter one that younger pupils or those guilty of less serious offences could generally expect to receive.
Now turning back to the matter in hand, she picked up the thicker cane and approached her hapless target. Without any practice strokes she simply took the cane back over her shoulder and lashed it down hard on the bottom awaiting its arrival. The crack reverberated right around the hall, quickly followed by a piercing yell. From her position of pain and shame, the recipient could be seen to be in distress already, her pained face in full view of us all. I also noted in passing that with her head protruding over the top of the desk, the school tie that had caused all the problems now hung down from her neck towards the ground.
Down came the second stroke, hard again with another loud crack. More pain, tears, screams. Three, four and five followed the same pattern with no let-up, then a lengthy pause before the last. I thought she had done well to stay down and take this barrage, but the last was quite clearly harder than the rest, causing the poor girl to jump up clutching her bottom. She was immediately ordered to put her hands on her head and join those facing the wall.
Finally it was the 6th year boy’s turn, and his lecture went on for ages, all about how older pupils should set an example and that he had disgracefully failed to do so. In truth, I don’t see how he could have avoided punishment that morning. He didn’t even have his school tie visible as he had obscured it completely with a round-necked black jumper. Of course, he had to remove it on stage, and upon doing so his uniform was perfectly acceptable.
“An absolute disgrace, boy, and this will certainly be severe,” she glowered at her now terrified target. “At your age, I think eight hard strokes will be appropriate. Bend over.”
With that he nervously took up the position over the desk facing everyone else.
“Trousers down, boy!”
Another mutter of anticipation and some hesitation from the victim before he reluctantly released his hold on the desk and reached back. Upon regaining his grip with trousers presumably now removed, stroke number one immediately rattled down causing the obligatory crack and a strangled “Ahhh”. The following strokes cracked down with a real rhythm, causing louder and louder cries of anguish each time. By number six, this big lad who must have been older than almost all of those watching, suffered the indignity of shedding tears in front of the school. With the strokes apparently getting harder and harder, number seven caused him to release his position and jump up screaming. Big mistake.
“Well boy, you will now be the first to appreciate the need to follow an instruction to bend over for the cane when told. Your punishment was not complete yet you chose to stand up and that is simply not on. You will now have two extras.”
No prior warning, no last chance, just immediate punishment. This was obviously how Mrs Frost worked and in a strange sort of way I did respect her for efficiently getting the job done like this.
The beleaguered lad managed to grunt and scream his way through the last of the regular strokes and the two extras, now making no attempt to be brave. Clearly, it was just about seeing it through. After a final lecture he was told to pull his trousers up, put his hands on his head, and join the others facing the wall.
There was a real feeling of shock that she had so effectively reduced one of the oldest pupils in the hall to that state, and she finished with a warning, pointing menacingly to everyone assembled.
“Just remember, I will be strict, I will punish you if you break the rules, and I will not hesitate to use my canes should the need arise. Some schools treat older pupils more leniently but I will do no such thing. Indeed the older you are the more severe you can expect your punishment to be if you step out of line. Right, get to class!”
Once underway, classes on that first day progressed fairly well. Behaviour was pretty good on the whole and there was a good environment to learn in. Teachers had been told to be strict that first day, but my classes passed with just a couple of pupils given token detentions; one for talking, the other for not paying attention. However it was clear from discussions at lunch time that this wasn’t the case everywhere, and that detention that first day would be a busy affair.
As the last bell went, I felt a sense of relief that I had made it through the first day without major incident. The sports facilities were great, and the older pupils were allowed free access to these along with staff, for a period of two hours after the last bell. I had got myself fit over the summer and wanted to keep that going, so intended to head along to the school’s small gym right after school. I had a really good session and got to know a few others trying out the facilities, staying for just about the full time. Upon showering and changing, I had that happy feel that comes from a good physical workout, and decided that all in all it had been a satisfying day.
As I walked towards the exit gate I noticed that Mrs Frost was approaching from the opposite direction. I gave a respectful nod, but she did not reciprocate and seemed in a bad mood. That was no surprise as she appeared to have come from the busy detention room. Instead, she eyed me intently before asking quietly: “Why no tie?”
I explained calmly that I had just spent two hours working hard in the gym and was on my way home so hadn’t felt the need to dress fully just to go home immediately. I was surprised when she then asked me to accompany her to her office, and became more than a little nervous given what I knew about her intolerance of untidy dress. Her angry face was full on as she pressed me on the matter.
“You saw in assembly this morning how seriously I view these matters. Where is your tie?”
“It’s somewhere in my rucksack,” I explained nervously. “I’ll find it and put it on now if you’d like me to.”
She didn’t reply immediately, and instead went to a drawer which was full of the familiar stripes of school ties. She returned with one and handed it to me. “Put that on instead. I’ve been here long enough today and I’d like to get this punishment done quickly.
This was the first mention of punishment and I couldn’t quite believe what was happening.
“This is a misund…” I began to protest but was cut off almost immediately by this formidable woman.
“NO IT IS NOT!” She bawled. “No tie means a caning, now get that school tie round your neck right now!”
My thoughts were completely muddled and all I could do was obey. I fumbled around to put my top button in, then in a haze knotted that striped piece of fabric and pulled it up to my collar.
“As you saw this morning, anyone older than 5th year gets eight strokes of the senior cane if they have to be dealt with for no tie. Trousers down, bend over my desk.”
“Please, this just isn’t fair…” I tried to protest one last time, but to no avail.
“Oh it’s perfectly fair, boy.” I was forced into positon. “Do not get up until I am finished. Oh, and what’s more, your protests mean it should be more severe, so…”
She didn’t complete her sentence, and instead just pulled my pants right up to expose bare flesh. I was terrified but now done with arguing and found myself now submissively accepting what was to come.
With no warning, the cane crashed down onto my largely bare bottom. I quickly became reacquainted with that feeling of delayed pain, with the explosion taking a second to spread. It had been a while since I’d last been on the receiving end but even allowing for this, that first stroke already felt much worse than anything I’d had before. I managed to hold on and maintain my position, and briefly noted that, like that girl caned in assembly, I now had a school tie hanging down from my neck towards the floor.
My thoughts were rudely interrupted as number two crashed down. Again, pure pain, this time dead centre on my exposed flesh. I grunted as my body convulsed but crucially managed to hold on. Three more of these wretched strikes followed the same pattern, with my grunts getting louder each time.
Number six cracked down low and I could bear it no more. Despite my age, I had now been reduced to tears like the unfortunate boy this morning. I held on, just, but I was broken and openly sobbing. And then the inevitable; an absolute stinger harder than those before saw me jump up shrieking with my hands going to rub the pain away, which I’m sure was her intention.
“I gave you a clear instruction, boy, and you have blatantly defied it. That will obviously be two extra, taking you up to ten.”
I didn’t even care, it barely registered. I just tried to reassume my position of doom to somehow get through the last three. I howled in pain as she made every one really count but somehow stayed down until it was over. In a daze I was roughly shoved towards the wall before obediently complying with the order to face it with hands on head. I don’t know how long I stood there sobbing, but eventually I was allowed to go.
As I finally arrived home, I ran through my day again, and tried to comprehend how a decent one had ended so painfully. When I completed my schooling four years ago at my last school and left for university, I never for a minute imagined that my first day at my new school, returning to the classroom as a teacher, would see me arrive home wearing the stripes of the school tie round my neck and the stripes of the school cane across on my bottom.
© Graham Morris 2015