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Title: The shifting status of teachers in the United Kingdom with reference to the European Court and Commission of Human Rights.
Author: Parker-Jenkins, Marie.
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 1988
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This thesis focuses on the shifting status of teachers in the United Kingdom which results from the findings of the European Court and Commission of Human Rights on cases involving corporal punishment. Teachers have traditionally held a right to administer corporal punishment to pupils with whom they stand "in loco parentis" and providing that it was moderate and reasonable, they have been provided with a defence against a charge of assault. The position began to alter when education became compulsory in the 1870's, but there was no effective legal remedy until 1949. At this time, Britain joined the Council of Europe and became a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, subsequently recognising the competence of its chief enforcement agencies, the European Court and Commission of Human Rights. A number of important decisions have been provided by these bodies regarding the use of corporal punishment in British schools which imply an unwillingness to endorse its use. Moreover, as the only Member- State, prior to 1987, which still employed this disciplinary sanction, Britain appeared to be clearly out of step with the rest of Western Europe. The Government moved some distance towards rectifying the problem by enacting the Education (No. 2) Act (1986). This statute contains a number of shortcomings, however, in that some categories of pupils are still liable to receive corporal punishment. What also remains unclear is the new status that teachers will occupy as a consequence of this legislative enactment. Indeed, the teacher's right to inflict physical punishment has now been severely fettered and whilst the notion of "in loco parentis" is not rendered defunct as an educational doctrine, there is a pressing need for redefinition of the concept. The thesis employed six methods of research: (a) a literature review examining the growth and development of the teaching profession; the historical relationship between teacher and pupil; judicial interpretation of the Common Law right to administer corporal punishment within the context of the "in loco parentis" doctrine; and the origins and workings of the European Court and Commission(b) monitoring and analysing the legal transcripts of British corporal punishment cases adjudicated by the European Court and examination of cases pending; (c) a review of European cases taken to Strasbourg pertaining to education; (d) fieldwork which involved in-depth focussed interviews with parties concerned with the educational, legal and political concerns of the litigation both in the United Kingdom and in Strasbourg; (e) examination and analysis of primary source information made available by the Council of Europe regarding the jurisprudence of the Court; and (f) related secondary source material, reflecting contemporary developments in education, especially those of a legislative nature precipitated by the Court's judgements. The legal arguments emerging from the United Kingdom corporal punishment cases centre on the issues of "the right to education", respect for parents' "philosophical convictions" and the "degrading" nature of physical chastisement. Observed from a broader perspective, the litigation also raises concerns about the very essence of the British educational and political systems, namely: the authority of the teacher; the concept of corporal punishment; and the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. Further, the human rights of pupils in the school system are highlighted and the limitations they may present to the teacher's authority, together with the interaction between British education law and the European Convention. Finally, the implications of the Strasbourg findings demand critical analysis, since, alternative sanctions to corporal punishment may ultimately require support, both legislative and financial, in order to be effective. Accordingly, the consequences for educationalists, politicians and administrators are far-reaching, necessarily precipitating a significant change to what can hitherto be considered a relatively "in stasis" profession.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Corporal punishment/teachers Education Law Law enforcement Prisons