An insight into the discipline at a north of England school.

By Gillian Howard

Hi I am Janet Webster and I attended a mixed Grammar School in the north of England from 1957 to 1964. At school we had to wear school uniform at all times; the boys wore white shirt and grey trousers and maroon blazer and cap; the girls wore maroon skirt and white shirt with maroon knickers and maroon blazer with a straw boater with maroon band and white knee length socks; both wore a maroon and grey tie. Failure to wear full uniform would result in corporal punishment.

The school had a very good reputation for behaviour and both educational and sporting achievements. The Headmaster was very proud of this reputation and tried to instil the same pride into the pupils.

Every teacher in the school employed some type of corporal punishment and it was used on a regular basis. Both boys and girls were punished in front of the class. Girls would have their skirt raised and be smacked on the back of the thighs, while the boys would bend over and have their bottoms spanked with the teacher’s hand. Also, all pupils could receive the slipper while bent over a chair in front of the class or the ruler across the hands.

If a pupil was sent to the Headmaster they would normally be caned across their underwear, but in some cases they might receive the slipper across their underwear or the cane across the hands. These punishments were applied to both boys and girls.

Detentions were also used quite liberally and very few who attended detention escaped without at least four whacks with the slipper.

If a pupil was reported to the Headmaster for breaking any rules outside school then the following morning The Headmaster would arrive at assembly carrying a cane. The pupil would rarely know they had been caught until they were summoned to the stage at the end of assembly where they would receive one or two strokes of the cane across each hand for disgracing the school reputation. Only then would they be sent to wait outside his office to receive the cane across their underwear for whatever offence they had committed, which could be another three or six strokes. These canings occurred at least twice a week and were mostly for uniform infringements, fighting on the school bus or for smoking.

In my first five years at the school I had, like all the other girls, had my legs smacked on many occasions and had to bend over in front of class for the slipper seven times and the ruler six times. I had also had about eleven detentions and always left with a sore bottom.

This may sound a lot of punishment but in those days you never argued or complained as what the teachers said you did and we deserved most punishments. I was one of those that had never been sent to the Headmaster, unlike about 40 or 50% of the rest of our class, so I had never felt the cane, but for the last two years I had been fascinated by its use in assembly and always looked forward to watching the culprit being told to hold out their hand and seeing the cane descend and strike the out-stretched palms and seeing if they managed to hold back the tears. A lot of the boys did but most of the girls were crying when they left the stage to go to get their bottoms caned. I often wondered if I could stand there and receive the cane and not cry. I thought I would, but then thought I don’t want to find out.

At home I have a brother and sister, twins two years younger who did not pass the Eleven Plus. They go to the local Secondary Modern school where the cane is used by all teachers and they had both felt it on both their hands and bottom. I had seen the results on my sister’s bottom as we share a room.

If either twin had been caned at school, mum would send them upstairs to change into their pyjamas and wait for Daddy to come home from work. He was a doctor at the local hospital. He would then send them to his study to stand with hands on head and pyjama bottoms around ankles till he decided to punish them, normally after five to ten minutes. I could hear their yelps as they got the same number with the belt as with the cane. They would then be sent to bed with just a sandwich and a glass of water.

I had never suffered this, never having been caned. We had always been told to tell mummy when we got home if we had been caned because if we didn’t and they found out later he would double our punishment.

I had always been to dance class and had done very well, passing all my exams, and had appeared in several shows and pantomimes over the years and now trained with the adult dance troupe.

By this time I, like most of the other dancers, enjoyed a quick cigarette in the breaks, both in training and during shows. As I was 5 feet 8 inches tall and had shoulder length jet black hair, I had been selected to appear in a large cabaret show in our local theatre where we would be opening both halves of the show and closing the show with a ‘Tiller Girl’ type dance sequence.

Mummy went with me for the costume fitting and I was given my first ever pair of tights  which were fishnet and flesh coloured as you could not buy tights in the shops and we only ever wore stockings. As I tried on my outfit I was very embarrassed as the costume covered very little round the bust and between the legs and my pubic hair could easily be seen. I mentioned this to mummy and she said not to worry she would sort it out, which she did when we got home.

We did the show for five evenings around half term. As it was a great success, it was to be repeated after Easter.

Back at school, being in the upper sixth meant that we did not have to wear knee socks or school knickers and could wear stockings and suspenders instead along with ankle socks. Virtually all the girls wore these, but it meant if were punished you were more likely to get the slipper than have your legs smacked unless by a female teacher. On several occasions I saw a girl smacked and her suspender strap flit off and she had to readjust it afterwards.

I still had this morbid feeling whenever the headmaster walked into Assembly carrying his cane and watching girls and boys called to the stage wondering if I would ever have the courage to break a school rule. I knew all I had to do was to walk to school smoking and it was almost certain that I would be seen, but the marks you saw on a girl’s bottom in Gym used to put all thought out of my mind till the next time.

We finished our mock exams and I got quite decent results which meant that I might get the provisional University place I had been offered.

The week before Easter I was meeting mum from school to try my outfit on for the show over Easter so she would have a week or so to get any alterations done. It was Wednesday afternoon and we had a double Maths lesson. Mummy was picking me up after Maths to go for the fitting and Mrs Thompson appeared to be in a foul mood.

We were split into pairs and I was with my best friend Shiela, as we were the two best at maths and we were always given more difficult problems to solve. As was usual when we were divided into pairs, a lot of chattering was going on and in the first ten minutes she called out five pairs and gave them all the ruler and announced the next one to disturb the class is straight to the Headmaster.

After about fifty minutes Shiela and I were really struggling with a problem and while we were allowed to discuss this quietly we could not make any more noise. You could hear a lot of whispering going on with the other groups but it was all acceptable. Then both Shiela and myself had a Eureka moment at the same time and we both shouted: “YES!”

Suddenly everything was quiet and we looked up and everybody was looking at us, apart from Mrs Thompson who appeared to be still marking her books. We looked at each other and both went bright red, realising what we had done could have earned us both our first visit to the Headmaster.

As we started to write up our solution, Mrs Thompson suddenly stood up and shouted: “Janet and Shiela, come here now! You heard what I said about the next interruption resulting in a visit to The Headmaster. Well, take this note to his office and come back immediately he has dealt with you.”

We both blushed. As I took the note and turned towards the door, I saw several of the class screwing up their faces as if they had just been punished.

As we approached the Head’s office I said to Shiela: “I hope he only slippers us.”

“No chance! Mrs Thompson had already punished five couples and had said the next would go to the Head,” she replied.

I said: “I hope that if we get it across the bum my suspender straps don’t shoot off.”

Shiela said: “No chance! Haven’t you heard he makes you undo the back straps, pull them out of your knickers and out of the top of your skirt? That’s according to my sister who got caned three times last year.”

We arrived at his door and knocked.

“Enter!” We heard from inside.

We went in and stood in front of his desk and I offered him the note. He read it slowly before getting up from his chair and leaving his office. He returned after five minutes carrying two buff coloured files, sat down and read them.

He then said: “Well, have you anything to say?”

I tried to explain about the difficult problem and that after trying to solve it for over thirty minutes we both suddenly spotted the soloution and had said: “Yes,” in unison.

He stood up and turned his back on us as he looked out the window and said: “That is a very plausible excuse, but it does not excuse you disturbing the class after being warned of the consequences. What should I do to you? What do you think as neither of you has been sent to me before?”

Shiela said: “You could give us the slipper, Sir.”

He turned around and said: “Yes, I could. But if it had been two less well-behaved girls, would I slipper them? The answer is No. I must be fair and therefore you will both receive four strokes of the cane. I see you are both wearing stockings so please undo the rear suspender on each leg, pull the strap out of your knickers and out the top of your skirt.”

As we started to do this he walked to a cupboard and extracted a cane longer than the one he brought to assembly. When we had done as we were told he said: “Shiela, stand against the wall, hands on head, please. Janet, come forward please and bring that chair from the side of my desk. Place it with the back facing the door, then bend over the back and hold onto the bottom rail. You will not move till told to do so or I will call in my secretary to hold you down and will start again. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I murmured, and bent over the back of the chair. I managed to hold onto the bottom rail and could feel my white cotton knickers riding up exposing more of my bottom. I then felt my skirt and underskirt being rolled up and clipped to my shirt. I then felt the cool cane tapping on my bottom before it moved away.

Then swoosh thwack as it landed.

At first, I felt nothing but then a line of fire across my bottom.

As another Swoosh Thwack landed, the pain was instantaneous and I heard a scream, then realised it was me. One more followed, intensifying the pain. Then I realised only 1 to go and as it came Swoosh Twack I let out one almighty scream as the pain was unbearable.

I was sent to stand next to Shiela as she was told to come and bend over. .Although I could hear her caning I could not see much through the tears. She was told to move the chair back and he replaced the cane.

He sat at his desk and told us to stand in front of him and to re-attach our suspender strap and to make sure it went through our knickers. I soon found out why, as the strap rubbed against the welts and he gave us both some tissues as he made an entry into our files. He then opened a green leather book and made an entry which we had to sign saying we had been caned.

We then returned to our class and at every step the suspender straps rubbed against the welts causing more pain. We had to apologise to Mrs Thompson and she asked us what had happened. We said we had both received four strokes of the cane over our knickers. I looked at my watch. We had been away less than ten minutes. For the rest of the lesson we wriggled a bit but were left alone.

As I went outside after the lesson I could see mummy waiting near the gate. As Igot to her she said: “Are you alright, Jenny? You seem to have been crying and are walking funny too.”

I had to explain that Shiela and myself had just been caned.

“She said: “You do realise that daddy will strap you when he gets home and that everyone at the costume fitting will see you have been caned because remember, the back of  the costume is like a g-string so your bottom will be fully exposed. Better expect some ribbing! As expected, the other dancers and the show’s producer all thought that it was very funny that I had been caned.

When we arrived home the twins were not yet home and mummy sent me straight upstairs to change into my pyjamas, reminding me to wear nothing underneath.

I was just coming downstairs when the twins arrived and they just stared at me and said in unison: “Janet, have you been caned at school?”

I replied, saying that I had received four strokes over my knickers.”

Julie said: “And now four with daddy’s strop on your bare bottom. Ouch, that will hurt.”

On the dot at 5.30, daddy’s car pulled into the drive and I could feel myself begin to blush and had butterflies in my stomach. As he came in, he hung his coat and hat on the hall stand and went into the kitchen to greet mummy. As usual, she never said anything to him and he then came into the sitting room said hello to the twins and then saw me sat in my pyjamas and said: “Does this mean you have been caned at school today, Janet?”

“Yes daddy, four strokes.”

“Right, young lady, you may not have been caned before but you know what to do. Go into my study now, remove your pyjama bottoms and stand in front on my desk with your hands on your head. I will be in shortly and will give you four with the strap, then it’s off to bed with a sandwich and glass of water. Understand?”

“Yes, daddy.”

I turned and went through to his study, removed my pyjama bottoms and stood facing his desk with my hands on my head. I noticed that all my privates were on view but that did not worry me as daddy was also my doctor. After about 10 minutes daddy came in closed the door and sat at his desk looking at me and asked me to explain why I had been caned.

I explained to him but he said I had deserved it. He then went to the door and removed his razor strop from the handle and told me to touch my toes. This I did, and I felt the cold leather against my skin. It then moved and I heard a soft swoosh and felt my bottom go on fire. I was screaming for him stop after number two and by the time the fourth landed I was in agony.

Once finished, he returned the strop to the door handle, gave me a cuddle and sent me to bed. As I entered the room, the sandwich and glass of water was on the sideboard. I ignored them and lay on my bed face down and cried myself to sleep.

I was up early the next day and after having a wash and getting dressed went downstairs where mummy was preparing me breakfast. I ate this and she cuddled me and wished me a good day.

As I walked to school, I met Shiela and she also suffered a further punishment at home. We got to school and faced some ribbing, especially off some of the boys, and this continued most of the day which resulted in me having my legs smacked in the first lesson and the ruler in two more lessons.

But the main culprit, Richard, was seen in the last lesson and was sent to the Headmaster and returned having received six of the best. The Easter holidays came and Mum once again used daddy’s cut throat razor to tidy up my pubic region for the show which again was a smash hit and received some rave reviews in the local press.

After the Easter holidays we had started to revise in class ready for our exams in six weeks. On the first Sunday after Easter we had a party next door and everybody turned up and it was great being able to smoke and drink as I was at home and it was not a school day.

I still thought about how I felt every time the Headmaster entered carrying his smaller cane. I used to wish it was my name that he would call out, then I remembered my caning and the thought soon disappeared.

On the Monday after the Party I was stood in the front garden when Mrs Mckenzie came over and said how much she enjoyed the show as she didn’t have chance to speak to me yesterday. Anyway, she came into the garden and as I had plenty of time I chatted to her and she lit herself a cigarette and gave me one saying she did not know that I smoked till yesterday.

I told her it was a habit I had picked up at dancing. We finished our cigarettes and went out of the garden and walked together part of the way to school before she turned towards town where she worked and I carried on to school.

I met up with Shiela and she told me that Yvonne had been seen smoking by the Headmaster on the way to school, and as she had never been caned before she was terrified. We found her and tried to reassure her that she will live; it will be very painful but we had both survived.

She pointed out that we had each other and she was on her own. We said not to worry as there may be somebody else,  but it could be a boy.

As the Headmaster entered the hall I could see the cane in his hand, so knew that Yvonne would be receiving the maximum punishment as a sixth former of two across each hand, then six over her knickers. She normally wore very brief ones similar to what I was wearing today. In a way, I was thankful it was not me being caned.

As the Assembly finished, the Headmaster stood up.

“Yvonne Cooper, come to the stage. You were observed smoking in full uniform this morning. You will receive two strokes of the cane across each hand then go to my office to receive six of the best across your knickers.”

Again my mind wondered why it couldn’t have been me but I did not have the nerve to smoke coming to school. Then I remembered talking to Mrs Mckenzie in the garden and smoking away. Could somebody have seen me?

I banished the thought from my mind as Yvonne’s punishment started. She was screaming after the first stroke and he had to hold her hands for the remaining three.

As she walked towards the back of the hall I could see she was really struggling. Then I was brought back to earth with a bang.

“Janet Webster, to the stage. You were also observed smoking in  uniform in a public place even if it was your own front garden.”

I couldn’t believe it. I was going to be caned in front of the school. I went on to the stage and was told to hold my hand out. I did as best I could and as the first stroke landed I thought my hand had been cut in two. The second was worse but I managed to hold it there. However as the third stroke landed on my other hand the tears started and by the fourth stroke they were running freely.

I was sent to his office as I heard another name called out. As I stood, hands on head, four boys joined us. They had been seen bullying.

When the Headmaster arrived he called Yvonne and myself in and gave us a big lecture and told us to undo our rear suspender straps and prepare. I was first and as I bent right over I could feel my bright red knickers disappearing into my bottom. As he raised my skirt he commented on my knickers, suggesting I should have worn some more substantial.

I was screaming after the second stroke and don’t know how I stayed down for all six, but I managed it.

The Headmaster called his secretary in before caning Yvonne and she was held down and the screams were horrendous. Replacing our suspender straps was again very painful and every step made it worse. By the end of the day it was just bearable and as I had an extra study period I did not get home till 5pm.

As soon as I walked in I could see Julie in her pyjamas and mummy said: “She has had six of the best from the headmaster and now she will be punished by daddy. How did your day go Janet?”

“Well, I also got six of the best for smoking in public and another two across each hand for disgracing the school in public.”

“You had also better go and change into your pyjamas and wait for daddy.”

As I came downstairs, Julie saw me and said: “Not you too! How many?”

“In total, ten,” I said. “Six on the bottom and four on the hands.”

I had just started wearing baby doll Pyjamas and was just going into the kitchen when daddy’s car pulled up. As I was returning to the sitting room he opened the door and saw me.

“Caned again? I see you know the drill. To my study!”

As he walked past the door he also saw Julie.

“You too? You know the drill.”

As we were both stood hands on head, daddy came in and sat down. I was told to bend over and was given ten very hard strokes with his strop and was screaming for him  to stop after the first three. Julie received hers and we both went to bed and fell asleep on our fronts.

That was the last time I was caned at school and I received excellent A-level results which enabled me to study law at university, specialising in Business law.

The End

© Gillian Howard 2014