Back in the early 1980s, before the abolition of corporal punishment in state schools (1987), I endured a very brief career as a student teacher. I completed my teaching practice at a middle school (ages 11 to 14) in a slightly grim East Midlands town in the depths of an icy winter.

The school used corporal punishment, the cane I believe, but of course student teachers were not permitted to use it. Nor did I ever witness its use directly. However, I was aware of its use and that some students had received it.

One of the students I taught was N, a slightly cheeky 14 year old girl, who could be a bit lively in class. I can’t remember exactly how it came about, but I spoke to her in the corridor one day and she mentioned that girls could also be caned for misbehaviour. I said I knew, but only on the hand I presumed.

“Well,” she said. “If we’re really naughty we get it in another place.”

Da