Two private schools in Perth that still use corporal punishment to discipline students have fallen under the national spotlight after an education adviser to the Federal Government reignited deb-ate about the merits of the cane.
The head of the Abbott Government's national curriculum review panel Kevin Donnelly said on Tuesday that he had "no problem" with the use of corporal punishment in schools if it had the support of parents. The Department of Education Services, which registers private schools in WA, yesterday confirmed that Bible Baptist Christian Academy in Mt Helena and Nollamara Christian Academy had corporal punishment in their discipline policies.
It said the schools, which have fewer than 35 students each, would review the policies before the end of the year.
The Bible Baptist Christian Academy says in its parents' handbook that corporal correction should be carried out by a parent in the presence of a staff member.
"A reasonable number of firm strokes, not to exceed six, would be administered by a parent using a simple bamboo stick," it said.
Associate pastor Andrew Hurst, from the Mt Helena Bible Baptist church, said parents fully supported the policy, which was used rarely.
He said schools had been forced to take over the role of parents in instilling character in students, as well as educating them.
"There's not the same respect, there is a breakdown in the homes and it's showing up in schools because this issue keeps getting raised," Pastor Hurst said.
"During the 1950s and 60s it was misused and now as a society we've swung away from that and said we'll completely ban it - but I think there is a middle ground."
Physical punishment stopped in government and Catholic schools in 1986. It was banned in public schools under the School Education Act of 1999. Education Minister Peter Collier said he would consider taking steps to ban the cane from private schools if the community called for it.
"I believe we have moved on from corporal punishment," he said.
"However, in a free society parents need to be able to make informed decisions about what they believe to be in the best interests of their children."