Tara was an 18-year-old studying in a private girls-only school in London in the 1970s. Whilst not a boarding school, the establishment had a strict code of conduct and a strong disciplinary policy. Girls who broke the rules knew justice would be both fair and quickly applied, whether it be lines, detention or corporal punishment. The girls knew what to expect and took their medicine without complaint. This is an extract covering a few days from Tara’s journal whilst she was in the sixth form.

Wednesday 15th November 1978

Dear journal,

A very good day today. We had an inter-school hockey match and I scored 3 goals in an 8-1 victory over North Cliff School. I was player of the match. One of the opposition was soundly slippered after the final whistle by her games mistress for disputing a decision and getting sent off. I didn’t pity her for the hour or so on the badly sprung school bus back to school afterwards.

Even better, no homework from Mr Jones in History. That’s certainly well worth a diary entry on its own.

Father flew out to Spain today on business. He is due home on Sunday.

Thursday 16th November 1978

Dear journal,

Everyone was talking about that poor girl from North Cliff who was slippered. Penny gave a blow-by-blow account to everyone. Mrs Smart told her to quieten down or she would organise a re-enactment, which brought a huge laugh from everyone. Well, everyone but Penny.

I got a telling-off from Mrs Marshall in English this afternoon. In my rush to get to hockey yesterday, I had forgotten she needed a small piece on the scenes from ‘King Lear’ that we did in class. Better not forget that tomorrow.

Keira got 4 with the slipper from Mrs Bates after assembly this morning for passing a note during the prayer. Not the harshest punishment, but it was on stage touching her toes. I think her poor face was probably redder with embarrassment than her bottom.

Got a heap of History homework today. I knew Jonesy was messing with our heads yesterday.

Choir practice tonight after school was great. We did the first run-through of the pre-Christmas concert for the school and the parents. It went very well indeed.

Friday 17th November 1978

Dear journal,

The day started splendidly. Mrs Patterson gave the choir a wonderful review in assembly. Then the highlight. A small group of four 5th formers were talking, ever so quietly, as we stood during the school hymn. Mrs Grave’s bat-like hearing honed in on them and she made her way in front of us and, whilst the assembly continued, one by one, whacked each girl twice, one on each buttock as she made her way down the line. The smacks were audible above the singing but the girls knew they must not make a sound or they would get the same afterwards from the headmistress.

Disaster after lunch. With choir practice and having double History homework to do for today, the short piece for English was forgotten about – again! Mrs Marshall was not at all happy with me. She gave me a detention slip for Monday which I had to get signed at home. Mum was angry as she says that I do too much outside the classroom and I am spoiling my education. She signed the form then told me to take off my skirt. She then lowered my panties and put me over her lap for a sound spanking with her hand. She spanked especially hard. Father is still away on business, so I am not sure whether that was a factor or she just had a point to prove. I was so pleased that Rory was at grandma’s for dinner; bad enough being spanked like a little child. Worse still if your 17-year-old brother was to witness it. My bottom was so sore afterwards that I sat on a cushion at dinner. Thankfully, Rory did not get home until later.

Saturday 18th November 1978

Dear journal,

Oh dear, what a day. Mum’s car broke down on the way to the supermarket and we had to wait 2 hours for the nice man from the repair company to get us going. He had to rescue a little old lady who really should not have been driving. He soon had us on our way. He said it was the battery. Father had warmed mum about the battery.

Sunday 19th November 1978

Dear journal,

Father flew home today. Mum picked him up from the airport and they got home shortly before 4.00 pm. He brought us gifts. I got some local sweets, Rory got a hat and mum some perfume, which she was thrilled with.

Monday 20th November 1978

Dear journal,

Father had a well-deserved sleep-in today. Mum said he was exhausted from his trip.

School went OK. I handed in the Shakespeare piece. After school, detention was a pain but at least I got my homework done. Wendy Price and Penelope Walsh were caught swapping notes. They had to touch their toes and received four swift whacks with Mrs Goodall’s plimsoll. Wendy all but fell over, much to everyone’s amusement.  We all got Mrs Goodall’s nasty stare for smirking at Wendy’s plight. I just got home from hockey training and managed to catch up on my homework backlog.

Tuesday 21st November 1978

Dear journal,

A quiet day at school. Choir practice was cancelled due to staff illness, or so it said on the notice board. Walking home, I could see Rory about 150 yards ahead. You can’t miss his red hair, but his walk seemed hunched. On opening the door, I could hear what sounded like a sound telling-off. Surely, perfect Rory isn’t in trouble? I closed the door quietly, took off my shoes and silently made my way down the hall. Oh my! Mum was in the lounge and was waving a familiar sight, a detention slip, back at him.

I needed to know more. Mum was going on about ‘the altercation’ but went into no detail. Signing the slip, she gave it back to him and then the bomb shell. She announced he was to be spanked! Rory, what have you done? I hid. Our spankings usually took place in our bedrooms, except when the house was empty. Then they take place in our rooms and on the bare bottom. I had assumed his were, if indeed he was ever spanked.

I remembered the cancelled choir practice, so mum must have thought it was still on. Mum took a chair, sat on it and called Rory over. She appeared to unfasten his trousers and yank them down, followed by his undies. Thankfully, he was straight over her knee for a really hard, long spanking. As she finished, I ducked away while mum kept her gaze directly at his face. I silently let myself out of the house again, carrying my shoes. 10 minutes later, I thought it safe and announced loudly that rehearsals were cancelled at the last minute. Rory was nowhere to be seen.

I could not wait to get this down on paper whilst it was fresh in my mind.

Dinner was quiet. Rory didn’t say a word. Mum was quiet too, so I followed suit.

Wednesday 22nd November 1978

Dear journal,

Hockey against St Mary’s School. An easy victory for us; 6-1 and no sendings-off. I did not score but set up two of the goals. Penny was the rightful player of the match.

Dinner and homework. Father took us for a short walk to see where a car had crashed into a house. No one was hurt but the police had caught the idiot driver; only aged 14, they said. I wonder if his parents would give him a good hiding when he got home.

Thursday 23rd November 1978

Dear journal,

A quiet day at school, apart from an argument in the dining hall at lunch. No idea what it was about.

Mrs Marshall handed out yet more English homework. Thankfully, this week I had remembered to hand it in. I was not going to make that mistake again in a hurry!

Choir practice was a little chaotic compared to last week. Pride before a fall? Got soaked walking home so I had a hot shower before dinner and Mrs Marshall’s homework. I am sure she hates us.

Friday 24th November 1978

Dear journal,

What a day! Rained all the way to school and everyone’s feet were cold and wet in the morning. At afternoon break, four girls, 5th formers, had a falling-out. This developed into a full blown argument. Mrs Perkins was on yard duty and moved to break it up but slaps and kicks started to fly. Most unusual for a school like ours. Mrs Perkins, assisted by a prefect and the head girl, broke it up and all four 5th formers were frog marched to the headmistress’s study ahead of Julie and Zoe who were to discuss their Oxford entry exams.

Zoe told us later that Mrs Wilson gave the four an ear-bending lecture on decorum and behaviour which went on for a few minutes. Then followed swift justice. In turn, Zoe said, the first two girls had to bend over the headmistress’s desk with skirts raised. They each got the plimsoll 6 times. For some reason, when the other girls bent over they were rewarded with 4 strokes of the cane, also across their knickers.

Zoe recounted they were in floods of tears when they came out a few moments later. As I wrote in January, I have experienced Mrs Wilson’s plimsoll once and I can only imagine how bad that caning was.

The fight was the talk of the school at home time. Mum was interested to hear, presumably with a view to Rory’s scuffle. It must have been a low key affair by comparison.

I hope you enjoyed reading these extracts of days gone by in a private school. This was not dissimilar to many other schools up and down the country in those days, a far cry from the gentle touch approach of modern education. I know which I prefer, even if it did hurt!