Sydney Morning Herald, October 25, 2000

It's the cane mutiny as schools fight to do it with love and care

Two Christian schools which refuse to accept the State's ban on caning students have been warned they face deregistration.

A spokesman for the Board of Studies confirmed yesterday it was in negotiations with Nambucca Valley Christian Community School and Sutherland Shire Christian School after they refused to embrace the ban on corporal punishment.

The State education director for Christian Community Schools, Mr Neville Pollard, said he supported the stand taken by the schools.

"We believe corporal punishment is biblically endorsed, but it's not the only method of discipline endorsed by the Bible ... If given lovingly and caringly, it is a very viable method of punishment," he said.

The Board of Studies spokesman said it was the first time the board had faced this problem.

Under education legislation, schools must register with the board their agreement to the ban on corporal punishment.

The board spokesman said the Nambucca Valley school was due for re-registration this year.

He was surprised at the school's stance as believed it had not used the cane for years.

He said the board was also tackling the Sutherland school, although negotiations were not as advanced.

The business manager for Sutherland Shire Christian School, Mr Bob East, refused to comment, saying it would jeopardise relations with the board.

"Negotiations are at a very delicate stage ... we don't want to inflame the issue any further."

Since 1995, all 53 Christian community schools in NSW have had to include a disclaimer in their discipline policy that they do not use corporal punishment.

All had done so except for Nambucca Valley Christian School, Mr Pollard said.

"Generally, the schools had been very disappointed that they had had to insert the disclaimer, but all but one had toed the line," he said.

Before 1995, there were no standard regulations governing the schools' corporal punishment policy, he said. It was up to individual schools as to what degree of force could be used, or what misdemeanours incurred this penalty.

It could be used up to "half a dozen times" a year by some schools, he said.

Mr Pollard stressed that caning had been just one of many punishment methods used by the schools, including after-school detention and suspension. "We are not cane-happy", he said.

He was "fairly optimistic" that a solution could be brokered between the schools and the Board of Studies.

Under section 47 of the Education Act 1990, schools must meet six sets of requirements in order to gain registration.

An amendment to the act in 1995 stated that schools were not permitted to use corporal punishment on students.

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