Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here
PUNISHMENTS IN LINTON SCHOOLS IN VICTORIAN AND EDWARDIAN TIMES

The Linton National Church of England School was founded in 1840 and the first headmaster was Frederick Mutimer. He kept a log book of daily events and surviving entries date from 1863. The parents and pupils had to obey strict rules and schooling had to be paid for until 1891. Several of the school laws (note the term) in 1863 would be very useful today but no one would dare to apply them!

Children in mid Victorian times came to school in an unruly state and had to be disciplined. Bullying was not tolerated at Linton and anyone found molesting their school fellows on their way home was detained for 30 minutes after school for a whole week. Lateness was punished on the same day and culprits were put into detention for one hour during the lunch break.

Needless to say the parents had no say and were not informed. If pupils complained to their parents they were likely to sustain a beating.

Fighting in school was not tolerated and two boys at Linton were banned for the rest of the term in November, 1863 for fighting in the playground. If a class misbehaved the whole group were kept behind for 30 minutes after school. Do not forget that class sizes averaged 45 mixed age pupils with only one teacher and no helpers.

Absenteeism without the master’s permission led to expulsion or a fine of one month’s fees. Perhaps this could be tried today to curb unauthorised absence taken for holidays in term time!

A tiny minority of pupils still misbehaved in class but the majority were deterred from joining them by the harsh range of punishments in the Linton school’s armoury. John Starling resisted a teacher who tried to remove him from the class and so the teacher pushed his head as hard as possible into a desk top. This was allowed!

Teachers could box ears, hit most parts of the body, pull hair, publicly humiliate and throw objects at lazy or disobedient children. Not surprisingly, within a few years Linton school was a very calm place and reports of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI’s) usually complimented Linton on the good order and excellent manners of its pupils.

The ultimate deterrent was the cane. Every school had to keep a punishment book and the Linton and Abington books make interesting reading. Caning was usually on the hand and both sexes were punished in this way. Only boys were caned on the backside.

Linton school averaged about 100 canings a year before 1914 and then numbers fell to under 20 in the inter war period. However, unofficial hitting was widespread and did not have to be recorded or justified.

Abington school broke every local record. In 1908 there were 49 canings, in 1909 some 146 and in 1910 over 350! What went wrong I have yet to find out but the most dangerous times for a pupil to be at school seem to have been immediately after a holiday break.