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ACT educators slam Kevin Donnelly's endorsement of corporal punishment, question his role

ACT educators have condemned Dr Kevin Donnelly's endorsement of corporal punishment.
ACT educators have condemned Dr Kevin Donnelly's endorsement of corporal punishment. 

ACT educators have condemned Kevin Donnelly's endorsement of corporal punishment on 2UE radio on Tuesday where he said the punishment was "very effective" and he had "no problem" with it "if it's done properly".

Teacher andAustralian Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler was quick to criticise the suggestion.

Australian Education Union ACT secretary Glenn Fowler.
Australian Education Union ACT secretary Glenn Fowler. 

"All fair-minded people would see these comments as totally ridiculous and out of step with Australian community opinion and out of step with the law," Mr Fowler said.

Canberra Grammar principal Justin Garrick said "as someone who’s been teaching for 20 years I just can’t think of an occasion which I would even have dreamt of it ever being appropriate. It’s so far gone it’s unbelievable".

Mr Fowler saidhe did notneed to consult teachers he represents "to know that they have no interest in beating students."

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"It was utterly disturbing to hear Donnelly recount stories of his past of teachers luring students behind the shed to administer a punishment," he said.

Dr Donnelly is co-chair of the Australian curriculum review along with Kenneth Wiltshire. They are expected to hand their report to the government at the end of July.

Dr Garrick said the comments called Dr Donnelly's professional role into question. "I do think it is a concern that someone with those kinds of views is apparently playing an influential role in the current educational climate," Dr Garrick said.

The AEU Mr Fowler agreed and said "the real issue here is Christopher Pyne's judgement in employing this man to review the Australian curriculum before it has had time to do its work".

Mr Pyne has responded, saying he does not support a return to corporal punishment.

ACT Education Minister Joy Burch echoed these sentiments, saying “corporal punishment is banned in ACT schools. The ACT will not be bringing back the cane.”

The ACT's Association of Independent Schools executive director Andrew Wrigley also denounced the comments.

Mr Wrigley, a former teacher, said the strap was used while when he was at primary school and the cane at his high school, but that was "back in the days of black and white TV".

"It has no merit in our modern schools," he said, "management and discipline of children is part of student welfare, and student welfare is the bottom line."

Mr Donnelly's comments are notisolated. In June a set of policy proposals considered by ACT Young Liberal party members suggested private schools "should be offered the option of disciplining students through corporal punishment, with the use of the cane."

In December Prime Minister Tony Abbott suggested a "gentle smack" could be good for children, but hastened to say the community should treat their children well.

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