When Michael Gove was Education Secretary he introduced guidelines that allowed exercise to be used to discipline unruly children.
His successor, Nicky Morgan, has done a U-turn after campaigners said ordering pupils to run laps of the school grounds could put them off sport.
Ooh, diddums. Poor things.
If the punishments of my era were still in force there would be a constant stream of Health and Safety inspectors turning up at the school gates accompanied by police officers to arrest most of the staff.
Those were the days when corporal punishment wasn’t an option, it was compulsory.
Canes were used with regularity. Boys were held on their toes by their sideburns by sadistic teachers. Wooden blackboard rubbers were thrown like grenades. The woodwork master threw chisels. Miscreants sent to the headmaster were marshalled into wire wool platoons to clean the corridors.
Actually playing sport was dangerous. Well, it was at a rugby union school with a strong tradition.
“You run with the ball in a straight line.”
“But there’s a giant with tree trunk legs and arms like Popeye in front of my straight line and he’s from Oldham.”
“Pass the ball just before he hits you.”
This was the sporting logic in which I was trained.
“You will not speak to the opposition before a game,” was another instruction.
Two lads from different forms who lived in the same town checked which train they would catch on the way home as they left the changing room. They didn’t play. They were hauled out to do laps. Pulling the heavy roller.
At the time I enjoyed sport, be it rugby, football or cricket. Being given laps to run as punishment would have been deemed daft. It was good exercise. Exhilarating.
And far preferable to the wire wool platoon or pulling the heavy roller.