I went to primary school just off the Old Kent Road in London in the 1950s and whilst corporal punishment was a part of school life in those days, I actually had only few experiences of it. The first one was when I was quite young, about 6 or 7 years old.

Mrs Drabble was our teacher and I must have done something to disappoint her (cannot remember what) and she called me out to the front of class. I was wearing the usual school outfit, short trousers, shirt and jumper. When I stood by her, she pulled me over her knees and asked me if I would like a spanking. If she would have asked me this some years later I would have said absolutely as she was in her late twenties, attractive, slim and very nicely dressed. However, I surprised her by saying no! She ignored me and gave me a light spanking of no more than 10 to 12 smacks on my bottom and then got me off of her knees and told me that was a warning not to do it in future. This warning obviously did not work as I cannot remember what I did.

My next experience, at about age 9, was when a boy called John had been mucking around in the assembly. Mr W, the headmaster who everyone hated and feared, must have seen this and when we had all been dismissed and gone back to our classes he came to our class and called out John to the front. He went to him and he grabbed him, held him and pulled up his short trousers as far as they would go and started to really thrash his thighs with his hand. He really hit hard and hit him about 20 to 25 times and I was really sorry for John as he was very soon in tears and an absolute mess at the end. I think six of the best on his bottom with the cane would have been preferable to him. Mr W then turned around and left as abruptly as he arrived, leaving John to hobble back to his seat as best he could. I did notice that the teacher was good to John and left him alone for the rest of the lesson.

My final experience was when I was 10 or 11 with Mr D, the husband of my previous teacher. He told the class before we went to assembly that anyone who was sent back to class from assembly for any reason would get the cane. I, of course, was sent back. I was at the very back of the rows of children and was lying on my front listening when Mr W obviously saw me and did not like me laying out and ordered me back to class.

When I got there, Mr D asked me why I had been sent back. I told him the reason and he looked at me for a few moments and then went to get the cane. I was now quite fearful and nervous, but I had to just stand there awaiting my doom. He returned and told me to bend over and touch my toes, which I did, looking at my shoes trying to relax. He raised the cane and hit my bottom firmly and then told me to get up. I got up feeling a slight discomfort from the stroke but relieved and confused over what had just happened.

He said to me, “Let that be a warning as if it happens again I will properly cane you. Do you understand?”

I replied that I did and thanked him and went to my seat.

‘Wow,’ I thought. I have had 2 warnings instead of proper punishment from a married couple, now my favourite couple of teachers.

These are the only Primary School memories I have regarding punishment, so not very bad at all, for me that is! My next memories will be about my Comprehensive School days.

PN