Approved school

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St. Peter's School in County Durham, converted to an approved school after the Second World War. Former St. Peter's School - - 881872.jpg
St. Peter's School in County Durham, converted to an approved school after the Second World War.
Accommodation blocks near Dobroyd Castle, used when it was an approved school. Accommodation Blocks near Dobroyd Castle.jpg
Accommodation blocks near Dobroyd Castle, used when it was an approved school.

An approved school was a type of residential institution in the United Kingdom to which young people could be sent by a court, usually for committing offences but sometimes because they were deemed to be beyond parental control. They were modelled on ordinary boarding schools, from which it was relatively easy to leave without permission. This set approved schools apart from borstals, a tougher and more enclosed kind of youth prison.


The term came into general use in 1933 [1] when approved schools were created out of the earlier "industrial" and earlier "reformatory" schools. [2] Following the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, they were replaced by Community Homes, with responsibility devolved to local councils; in Singapore, which by then was no longer under British rule, the term approved schools continued to exist.[ citation needed ]

UK regulations

Approved schools were mostly run by voluntary bodies, under the overall supervision of the Home Office or the Scottish Education Department, [3] and subject to the Approved School Rules 1933. [4] The Home Office maintained a team of inspectors who visited each institution from time to time. In Scotland the Education Department made the appropriate arrangements for inspection and administration.

Offenders sent to approved schools, as well as receiving academic tuition, were assigned to work groups for such activities as building and bricklaying, metalwork, carpentry and gardening. [5] Many approved schools were known for strict discipline, with corporal punishment used where deemed necessary, generally a rather more severe version of the caning or strapping that was common in ordinary secondary schools. [6] In particular, boys and girls [7] who absconded were given a maximum caning of 8 strokes (sometimes 6) on the clothed bottom immediately on return to the school, and a 1971 statistical study found that this could be an effective deterrent. [8]

In Scotland, after 1961, only Heads of Schools were allowed to apply corporal punishment, using a strap. Each incident had to be recorded in the School's Punishment Book designating the offence and the part of the child's body. This would then be counter-signed by school medical officers during their weekly visit. Increases in the frequency of Home Leave and the introduction of a wider range of privileges offered scope for regimes without corporal punishment.[ citation needed ]

Age groups

Approved schools were split into three age groups: Junior, Intermediate and Senior. Most were for boys; there was a small number of separate approved schools for girls.

Community homes

The term "approved school" officially ceased to exist in the UK in the early 1970s. In England and Wales, as a result of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, responsibility for these institutions was devolved from central government to local councils and they were renamed "Community Homes". [9]

In Scotland, after the Kilbrandon Report was published, its recommendations were incorporated in the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, and with the introduction of Children's Hearings, the administration for offending children continued to differ from that in England.

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Spanking corporal punishment involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person

Spanking is a common form of corporal punishment, involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause physical pain, generally with an open hand. More severe forms of spanking, such as switching, paddling, belting, caning, whipping, and birching, involve the use of an object instead of a hand.

Corporal punishment form of physical punishment that involves pain

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A Borstal was a type of youth detention centre in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. In India, such a detention centre is known as a Borstal school.

Caning form of corporal punishment

Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks or hand(s). Caning on the knuckles or shoulders is much less common. Caning can also be applied to the soles of the feet. The size and flexibility of the cane and the mode of application, as well as the number of the strokes, vary greatly — from a couple of light strokes with a small cane across the seat of a junior schoolboy's trousers, to a maximum of 24, very hard, wounding cuts on the bare buttocks with a large, heavy, soaked rattan as a judicial punishment in some Southeast Asian countries.

Birching corporal punishment

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School discipline punishment used in schools

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Industrial school type of school in Ireland and England

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Caning in Singapore Corporal punishment

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A slippering is a term for the act of smacking the buttocks, or the hands, with a slipper as a form of corporal punishment. A slippering on the buttocks is a form of spanking; it is a much more common method than slippering on the hands. The verb "to slipper" means "to give a slippering". Until at least the 1970s, slippering was widely used by British parents as a means of punishing children and adolescents. The routine nature of such punishment is demonstrated by the frequency with which comics of the day showed scenes in which characters such as Dennis the Menace, Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx and Beryl the Peril were slippered by an irate parent. There has been very little data, research or evidence compiled about the use of slippering. Information is mainly based on anecdotal reports from individuals who have given, received, or observed slipperings, or who have been in households or schools where slipperings were used. Slipperings are particularly associated with Britain and Commonwealth countries, although not exclusively so.

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School corporal punishment physical punishing of pupil at school

School corporal punishment is inflicting deliberate physical pain/discomfort as a response to undesired behavior by a student or group of students. It often involves striking the student across the buttocks or palms of their hands with a tool such as a rattan cane, wooden paddle, slipper, leather strap or wooden yardstick. Less commonly, it could also include spanking or smacking the student with the open hand, especially at the kindergarten, primary school, or other more junior levels.

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  1. Gillian Carol Gear (1999). "Industrial Schools in England, 1857-1933" (PDF). University of London Institute of Education. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  2. Children and Young Persons Act 1933, s.79 ff.
  3. Fourth Schedule to the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, s.1.
  4. Approved School Rules 1933 Archived 6 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine (Summary).
  5. Memories of Hereward Approved School Archived 14 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine .
  6. Approved School Rules 1933, rules 33-39.
  7. "Storm over caning of girl aged 15". The Sun. London. 4 November 1980. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  8. Home Office Research Studies 12: Absconding from Approved Schools.
  9. Davis, Ann (1981). The residential solution: state alternatives to family care. London: Tavistock Publications. ISBN   0-422-77320-4