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The Tawse

November 20 2005 at 4:28 PM

Has any one experienced the tawse applied to the hand...male or female pupils. How long did its effect (pain)last, and did the palms swell? Has anyone ever given the 'belt'

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Anonymous Strath

Re: The Tawse

November 20 2005, 6:54 PM 

I received the belt at school in Scotland it is a very sharp pain and a shock to the system.
It was finally banned I think about 1987/1988 although Strathclyde and Lothian in Scotland banned it in 1982.
There were different techniques for teachers giving the belt and one never knew unless belted by that teacher "how to present the hands"
Most teachers settled for two or four strokes but serious crimes lead to six of the best very sore I can tell you.
If you wish John I will correspond privately with you.


Name edited. Anonymous contributions are not permitted on this forum.

John Burnett

Re:The belt

December 3 2005, 9:23 PM 

I attended a boys only school in Scotland between 1965 and 1971. There the teachers used the belt...it was never known as the tawse outside Edinburgh as I recall...was used as a daily aid to teaching.
I doubt if many boys avoided it and I was not alone in receiving it on more than one occasion. Belts came in various weights but the "XH" extra heavy was the popular choice in our secondary school.
It was usually applied across the palm of the hand but I have seen it delivered the length of the hand, one hand on the other or hands crossed. Whatever the efects were the same...very painful throbbing hands and a very subdued pupil.
I lived in fear of it for years,

will smith

Re: Re:The belt

December 5 2005, 9:52 PM 

Hi John

fancy corresponding you went to school roughly same time as me in scotland


Re: Re:The belt

December 9 2005, 3:42 PM 

Also interested in corresponding on getting the strap on hands



December 28 2005, 1:05 PM 

I would like to respond but the system will not let me. Are you properly logged in?



December 28 2005, 4:21 PM 

I`d be happy to respond to anyone who experienced the tawse or the cane from mid 70`s up to the abolition.Also most interested in hearing from Teachers who dished it out.Have lots of experience and accounts of those times.If you would like to try the tawse or the cane again let me know?


the tawse

January 4 2006, 3:20 PM 

my wife and i are school teachers at a all girl's private school.
we have spanked many a naugfhty girl.
otk hand spankings.
bending leaning over the teacher's school desk for the paddle wooden or leather.
the cane
and the strap or tawse as you call it.
all spankings are done on the naughty girl's bare bottom.
please write to william at:

Not anonymous

Re: Correspond

January 5 2006, 4:59 PM 

Oh dear.

We have an infestation starting.

This guy "intercoursewhatever@wherever" is a serious pest poster on other message boards - always starting with "I and my wife are teachers etc etc etc".

Yeah right, of course you are!!!


Effect of the Tawse

January 6 2006, 7:58 PM 

When you mention tawse i asume you are reffering to the infamous Lochgelly tawse.It came in many versions 2 and 3 tailed.The most poular was the heavy or H.The M or medium was used a lot to.The XH extra heavy was the most feirce of them all and was a truly painfull weapon.2 frim strokes of the M would leave the hands stinging for about 20 minutes.2 from the H would see that increase to doule that.The XH left the hands almost numb with pain but was rarely used as far as i can recollect.Anyone who claims to have taken 6 of the best with an XH needs their story verified as i think this would never have been possible.The tawse was used as a quick method of maintaining or getting classroom order for most that worked but for some it never did or never would have worked.The tawse appied to the buttocks did go on, stricltly illegal but none the less it happened and i know from experience.Yes some teachers enjoyed using it and did get a sexual thrill from doing so but again most used it simply to keep order.


logged in

January 25 2006, 12:33 PM 

Thank you for replying. I assume that I am properly logged in. My email address is 'strafesix@hotmail.com' I look forward to hearing from you.



February 3 2006, 11:34 AM 

I would be very interested in hand tawsing/caning. It would be fscinating to make a comparison of their relevant effectiveness. Also interested in School Experiences.



October 21 2008, 1:17 AM 

last time i got hit with tawse was november 1978 , i reckon the teachers did it for fun,

Subscriptions Manager

Re: The Tawse

October 21 2008, 6:35 AM 

We’ve had Fun Posters, Fun Bummers, Fun Slipperers and now it’s

Fun Tawsers!

Keep tawsing!


The Tawse

December 11 2008, 2:54 PM 

This is about the time when I was in my fifth year at school and had arrived back late to an English class. My teacher was a Mrs. Stewart. Her class was our first after lunch on a Thursday. We were constantly late. One day myself and 3 friends arrived as normal at her class. The rest of class were sitting at their desks and Mrs. Stewart had begun the lesson. The four of us had walked through the classroom door and had made our way to sit down at our desks. Suddenly, Mrs. Stewart called out, "You four can come down here to the front-now! The four of us, Eileen, Anne, Julie and myself walked out to front of the class. Mrs. Stewart then said, I have had enough of people coming in late and disrupting my lesson. You think because you are senior pupils, you can get away with anything you want. Well you can't. You are the top fifth formers and I expect better behaviour from you." I thought about what was going to happen. Mrs. Stewart pulled out her 21 inch, 2 tailed tawse from a drawer in her desk. Right, I am going to make an example of you and hopefully, there will less repeats of this late coming to my class in future." The four of us were lined up beside her desk. Eileen was first in the queue. Mrs. Stewart then put her tawse over her shoulder to administer it." You first, Eileen" Eileen held out her hands the left one over the right. After 3 strokes had been delivered, Mrs. Stewart then said" Other hand, please" and Eileen then put her right hand over her left. Another 3 strokes were administered. Anne and Julie then received their six. I was the smallest person of the four and was last. Right Angela, now for you."
I can only remember the shock and embarrassment of receiving the "belt" in front of the class. Certainly it was sore! However, I never felt like crying or anything like that. Also, I was always on time in future, at least for her class. It was most unusual for top fifth formers to be given the belt but this teacher really was a bit envious of us and had been looking for an excuse to bring us down a peg or two. I remember thinking to myself "bitch" at the time.
I received the "belt" on numerous occasions both at primary and secondary school. It did not really bother me. To me, it was just something that happened at school. Many teachers used their tawse for more or less nothing. I cannot recall how many times in total that I was on the receiving end of the "belt." I received the belt a few times in primary for being late, talking and most often for spelling mistakes. In Scotland, prior to the abolition of the tawse, there was the dreaded spelling test. This typically consisted of the teacher asking for 10 words to written down on a paper. These papers would be handed in for correction and then one by one you would go out to the teacher's desk to collect your corrected work. For every mistake you made you received one stroke of the "belt" upto a maximum of six. Contrary to what various Websites tend to convey, I never once saw or heard of a tawse being used across the bottom. At secondary, in the first 3 years, I received the belt for talking, forgetting books and not having Gym kit. Sometimes, I did not bring the Gym kit on purpose as I did not like the P.E. class. At the start of the P.E. lesson, I would normally go and tell the teacher that I did not have my Gym Kit. Sometimes, I would told to sit outside in the changing room, sometimes, I would be given 2 of the belt and occasionally, I would be told to do press ups. I was not too keen on the press-ups but 2 of the belt more often than not seemed worth it to get out of doing P.E. In some of the Websites, mention is made of girls being put across gym vaults, desks etc, and being punished across the bottom having had their pants being taken down. I cant say that I ever heard of this being done, certainly not in Scotland.
Usually, only 2 strokes of the belt were received in the early years. The episode I have told you about in fifth year was from memory the only time I received the belt in my final school year. It was rare for the top fifth formers to receive the belt. I am now a teacher and am glad that the use of the tawse has been abolished. I do not think it is my job to act as a "policewoman" and as I have said earlier I am not tall and therefore would find it embarrassing giving the "belt" to some tall person or anyone else for that matter. In addition, there are other ways of dealing with unruly pupils rather giving them the belt. Also, in instances of really wild behaviour such as fighting or being in possession of a knife, using foul language, the pupils involved are unlikely to hold out their hands for punishment. Corporal punishment could now really only be administered to reasonably behaved pupils. This would lead to many teachers like myself loosing control of the class where unruly pupils have lost it. As I said, there are methods such as psychology is more effective. For example, when I walk into a class there is immediate silence. This is a respect that has been earned over many years. Good teachers have an aura about them which commands respect and obedience even from the most unruly of students. The same respect would not be earned simply because I had the authority to swing a belt.
As stated, I am not bitter about the abolition of the tawse and do not regret the fact that it was used when I was at school. I probably deserved it most of times. It certainly never did me any harm. The fifth form episode, for example, Mrs. Stewart probably felt she had to do something but to give 6 strokes was a bit much but I had to bear in mind that I was a big girl at that time. As far as I was concerned, there was never any lasting hatred of a teacher (even Mrs. Stewart who believe it or not was to be colleague when I was given my first teaching post only 6 years later) that gave me the belt and they certainly did not allow it to linger on their mind. The belt was administered and that was it. In some ways, I possibly am glad the tawse was used when I was at school as the punishment was over and done with quickly whereas the use of detentions, suspensions, punishment exercises and expulsions has a more lasting effect especially on your record. However, I am glad that I do not have to use a belt.

Subscriptions Manager

Re: The Tawse

December 12 2008, 11:00 AM 

The above piece sent in by 'Angela' first appeared on a fetish site several years ago.



the tawse at school

September 10 2010, 11:54 AM 

i remember getting the tawse at school from my hadmistress, twice on each hand, it hurt and had a sharp burning sting to it really unpleasent, took a while for it to wear of.

Nelly from Lochgelly

The tawse on the hands

September 11 2010, 2:46 PM 

Administering the leather tawse to the palms of outstretched hands was normal practice in Scotland's schools. It could be extremely painful because there was no protection from the sting of the belt and most of the belts teachers' used were made from very thick, stiff, hard and dense leather. Most had 2 tails, some 3.

The tails of the belt are moving very fast as they come down from over the teacher's shoulder to lash the full length of the palm and fingers. The pain caused is unique and often excruciating. Often the other hand has then to be presented for another stroke to be administered, or the first hand strapped again. Up to 6 stokes could be administered.

The very intense and throbbing pain could last fully 10 to 15 minutes followed by it slowly reducing over the following hour. Parts of the hands could be left numb after a couple of strokes, releasing their pain later while, if the belt landed slightly on its side, red lines could be seen where the edge of the tails dug into the hand. If a stroke landed "high" (an inch or two up the wrists) the tails could leave nasty red marks or weals or purple "tail tip bites" where the ends of the tails had bitten into the wrist.

The hands and fingers were usually left red after a belting and sometimes also puffy or swollen if they had been soundly leathered. It was very difficult to write after you had been belted.

The pain and humiliation of a typical school belting in Scotland was not something the pupil forgot, and these beltings occurred remarkably frequently in virtually every Scottish school up to the 1980's.


Getting the belt

November 21 2010, 4:01 PM 

I went to school in the sixties and the tawse or belt as we called it was in common and frequent use. I first felt it's sting in primary three aged seven years. I received it frequently from then until the end of my school career. Nearly every teacher in primary and secondary school had their own belt. If the belt had been made by a sadler called Dick whose shop was in a village called Lochgelly then the belt was usually called a lochgelly. The belt was usually made in two lengths, 21inch and 24inch. A lot of the female teachers used the 21 inch lochgelly because they liked the shorter belt. The best belters in the school usually had an H or an XH lochgelly and two of the belt from them could result in very sore hands for a while. It was also important to try and not get the belt or cold hands and the sting could increase twicefold.



Tawse v Cane

November 22 2010, 3:31 AM 

As a recipient of the cane administered to my buttocks on several occasions I have often wondered it sitting down after a caning was worse than having to write after having hands strapped or caned. When I was caned I found it difficult to sit for about 15 minutes after my punishment and the throbbing would subside over and hour later. For those who were whacked on the hands I have wondered how they hid their hands from parents when they returned home, unlike those punished on the bottom it would have been difficult to hide swollen hands.


Re: The Tawse

November 22 2010, 4:08 PM 

Most Teachers waited to belt you after the lesson if there was writing to be done.Some belted in a temper so occasionaly that approach went out the window!

They usualy told you to tell the next Teacher you had just been belted which usualy meant you had to stand outside the classroom until called in.Cooling off period no doubt!

Never can recall 6 of the belt given in front of the class but i can`t doubt it took place in other schools.This type of CP was carried out at finishing time with a note for you to present to your Parents explaining why.I wonder how many of those notes made it though!

The Head would call your Parents if you were getting belted often.That would result in further action at home.I doubt that would happen now.They would probably arrive and attack the Teacher!


Re: The Tawse

December 2 2010, 8:47 AM 

Found this very realistic recreation of a school belting:



The Tawse

December 3 2010, 12:00 AM 

A most realistic scene of punishment to the hands. It was similar to the way the cane was administered except that the head of the school would stand side on to you rather than in front of you to administer your punishment. It seems as though the tawse was used excessively as any teacher could administer corporal punishment. It would seem that as an everyday occurrence the recipients and those witnessing those punishments would have become numb to corporal punishment. I received the cane four times during my schooling and only the head of the school or the deputy head of the school could administer corporal punishment at the schools I attended. If was being sent to be caned or someone else was sent to be caned there was a silence in the classroom and you or they were in serious trouble. I think that corporal punishment must have lost its effectiveness as a disciplinary tool as it appears that it was overused in Scottish schools. Any comments?


Re: The Tawse

December 3 2010, 4:58 PM 

The You tube link does represent a proper Tawsing.
It is one of the few that i have seen that recreates the scene.

Over use was very true.It was a belt fest at times.You could easily
witness several beltings going on at the same time in corridors
and assembly points.

Nelly from Lochgelly

Use of the tawse

December 11 2010, 10:48 AM 

A few statistics on the use of the tawse in Scottish schools.

Unlike in England where, officially at least, most instances of the use of corporal punishment were formally recorded, the same did not hold true in Scotland where the tawse was used with much greater frequency than was the cane in England.

A few survey examples are that in 1978 80% of all Scottish schools still used the tawse regularly. That a sample group of 40 Scottish secondary schools over a 14 day period showed that 36% of 12 to 15 year old boys were belted at least once. That of 40,000 school leavers 95% had been belted at least once whilst attending school. That in the 1970's 85% of boys and 57% of girls were belted and that 21% of pupils were strapped at least 3 times in 14 days.

In the 40's to 70's you could visit most Scottish secondary schools at any time of the teaching day and be virtually guaranteed that the sound of the belt in use would be heard in one or more of the classrooms and corridors.


Re: The Tawse

December 11 2010, 12:39 PM 

Hi Nelly from Lochgelly,

Thank you for your interesting posts.I'm aware of the stats you quote and also of the note that when the Scottish Office did in the 70's 'trial' the recording of belting in the Edinburgh area , the scheme was found within weeks to be completely unworkable because of the volume of incidents, and was abandoned .

Coming from England , and , because of being schooled in the North , in a lea which recruited Scottish teachers , and allowed them to use their belts, albeit under 'punishment book' and 'private ' conditions,I did receive the belt, a John dick, once, a full six, three on each hand , at 10/11, which really crushed me . HERE I therefore find it difficult to imagine the atmosphere in a school where the belt was used effectively most lessons, and often for mass punishments also.

Don't get me wrong , I know it happened, I have a very close friend who taught in Scotland at the end of the 80's and whose family had taught there for generations, She confirms essentially what you say. But a few questions if I may . I am just interested in your take on them , as they seem to be issued largely passed over in silence.. .

Accepting that it was virtually impossible, especially with group and class punishment, to get through school without being belted, there must have been some kids who lived in terror of this. Whist it might have been a badge of honour amongst the 'macho' guys to take the belt well, there must have been those weaker and indeed a number of girls who found it almost impossible. How did teachers deal with that situation? Were there literally kids in floods of tears in the middle of class, which , if there were, must have made learning anything a trial! Or was their plight made worse by a class who laughed at their predicament.Sometimes there is a marked resemblance between the Roman Circus and a class full of early teems , believe me !

Did teachers identify and deal in any way differently with those type of kids.

Did you see or know of students who transferred from England or non belting schools into this 'mainstream' and if so how did they adapt?

Finally were there, or did you know of, any teachers in 'belting' schools , who chose not to do so. I am particularly reminded of the entry in corpun regarding a probationary teacher who was threatened ( the final outcome is not , I think, recorded there) with being removed from the teaching register because of his refusal ti use the belt .

Thanks in advance for your time



December 11 2010, 1:25 PM 

My bad again

Important typo

I have a very close friend who taught in Scotland at the end of the 80's and whose family had taught there for generations,

.....taught in Scotland at the end of the 70's ( she moved to England end of the 80's )



Nelly from Lochgelly

The tawse

December 11 2010, 1:37 PM 

Hi Prof n,

I think that the great majority of pupils feared being strapped. After all, the tawse was designed to be feared so that pupils were encouraged to behave and work diligently in order to avoid finding themselves on the wrong end of it.

That said some, usually less bright boys, regarded getting the belt and taking it well in front of their peer group as something of a badge of honour with a few entering into competitions to see who could get it the most in any given week.

The majority of pupils would want to reduce their chances of being belted by behaving and trying to pay attention in class. In practice very few managed to achieve this for all their school years and, with the possibility of whole class beltings, it would be very difficult to get through all the school years unstrapped.

Some pupils were genuinely fearful of getting the belt. This could lead to them becoming somewhat withdrawn, frightened to offer an answer to a teacher's question in case they were wrong and might be belted. A caring teacher might recognise this fear and give alternative sanctions such as lines or detention, but in my experience few did. The belt was seen as a quick and effective punishment for all pupils and for all classes of offence.

Fellow pupils could also be cruel. It was not regarded as manly to attempt to avoid corporal punishment and it was also important for street cred to be seen to take the belt and to take it well. No crying or yelling as the punishment was administered.

Some teachers avoided using the belt on some pupils or gave fewer and/or lighter strokes to some but in general the belt was widely applied.

I have no experience of pupils coming from England and receiving the tawse as an alternative to the cane. I suspect that any who had received the slipper in England might have had a rude awakening when they felt the Scottish tawse!

Some schools used the belt more than others. It depended on the nature of the catchment area, the view of the headmaster towards CP and the view of individual teachers. I have known a few teachers who did not own a belt and who either sent the offending pupil to be belted by another member of staff or sent the miscreant to another teacher to borrow a tawse. A very teachers few did not belt on principal and used other sanctions instead. This was not frowned upon unless there was a loss of control in class in which case the headmaster would be having a word with the teacher concerned and the belt might start making an appearance. Some pupils viewed a teacher who did not use the belt, or who did not use it effectively, as being soft, leading to a loss of control.


Re: The Tawse

December 11 2010, 3:33 PM 

Hi Nelly from Lochgelly,

Your views reinforce the issues my Scottish fiend has often raised , and which she has written of on other sites.

My friend says that although she enjoyed teaching , she often was uncomfortable about the way the belt was used. Her family had lived in the Highlands , and both mother and father taught. However the schools in the area were fairly small, so each student was known individually, and whilst the belt was used it wasn't anywhere near as frequently as in some large schools. also normally two stokes were sufficient, sometimes one........she says in the urban school where she started her career , the staff laughed at the idea of single stoke .....

She also says she tried to follow the Scottish Office /EIS code as to which offenses shouldn't be punished with the tawse . Again her colleagues laughed One of her most difficult decisions was over a group punishment. She was put into a position where she was instructed to punish an entire group in her class. She disagreed strongly with the instruction and at first refused. She said she would stake her life that a goodly number of those involved had done nothing at all wrong, but understandably , given the school, its location , and the reputation some as bullies , they wouldn't out of false honour or pure fear 'grass' the culprits.

She changed her mind on being told that one of the PE masters would be told to do the deed. He gloried in his power and frequently used an XH At least if she did it she had some control, as you say, over which type of belt and how hard she gave the strokes. But it caused her unrest. Subsequently , as she became established she took a harder stand , and started often undertaking the belting in private , at the end of class.She also followed the Scottish instructions not to belt for work failure or minor matters. But if she dud belt, she could when necessary really make it count!

Belting at the end of class or the morning/day , had two advantages. she felt it stopped the Roman carnival,and the in class disruption , as well it allowed her more discretion as to number of strokes, the power she used, etc. In particular it allowed the weaker student some dignity . However , whilst becoming quite popular with the kids, ( and believe me she isn't soft by any standard ; even today she can command immediate obedience in a classroom by presence alone) she was harried by some of the staff.

They told her she was undermining the school , by removing the 'pour encourager les autres ' element from her classes, and ( this one shook me ) also by removing the public spectacle, she removed - the public humiliation- which was an important part of the punishment.

She felt some of these staff were in teaching for one reason and one reason only - not to help kids, but to belt them!!!! She was torn . One half of her wanted to leave this caustic environment , but her belief that as a teacher there she could do some good and at least influence standards in the school eventually pulled her the other way.


error again

December 11 2010, 3:37 PM 

Grovel again , can't type today

Your views reinforce the issues my Scottish fiend has often raised ,

Obviously some may have thought my Scottish friend a fiend.........if they were on the wrong side of her, but I'd better correct it before she reads it ! happy.gif

Nelly from Lochgelly

The Tawse

December 11 2010, 5:13 PM 

My belief is that, in general, there were more female teachers opposed to the use of the belt than males, but none the less about 90% or more of all teachers did own and use the belt.

Some female teachers had difficulty with the whole act of administering discipline. Striking a pupil did not seem right. The problem sometimes lay in the fact that pupils came up through their school years used to the belt being used as the normal form of correction. A teacher who did not use the belt could be seen as an easy target and often found herself finally caving in and following the established procedure.

I have seen various methods designed to reduce the humiliation as well as the pain of the belt. As I stated previously, one was to administer fewer strokes, perhaps a single, where 3 or 4 might have been considered normal for that particular offence. Also the application of a lightish tap, enough to send a warning without delivering severe pain. I have seen pupils ordered out into the corridor to be punished but when the teacher followed them out and closed the classroom door, the strap was used to strike the wall, or the teacher clapped his/her hands, both to imitate the sound of the belt leathering the hands for the benefit of those still in the classroom, but with no actual punishment being delivered. The class were left unaware that the pupil had gone unpunished and the timid pupil would have learnt a lesson without having hot stinging hands.

It appears that in England the cane was frequently the preserve of the Headmaster and Assistant Head rather than every teacher having one and using it in front of the class. More private caning by fewer staff while in Scotland there was more belting in front of classes by all classroom teachers. Headmasters, Assistant Heads and Heads of Department tended to by used when there was a particular problem such as the classroom reacher not having a belt available or the need for a particularly strong message to be sent.

Of course some Heads and some teachers had reputations as particularly hard belters. Pupils would want to avoid being punished by such figures if at all possible. Another reason to behave.


On The Hands

December 11 2010, 11:01 PM 

In 1960 I attended an all boys school,thankfully only for 1 year. I prayed every day to be released from that Hell-Hole and finally my prayers were answered - we moved to another area. See, there is a God!

This was one of those schools that you would not want to send your dog to, let alone an 11 year old child. Anyway, caning was rife, to the point where public canings were dispensed on the school stage after assembly.

The head caned bottoms, the teachers tended to cane hands. It was given on the slightest pretext.

Anyway, I had the cane numerous times across the hands. Palms and fingers were caned with relish using very thick canes that I would estimate to be 10-12mm thick. One sadist, sorry but my opinion of teachers is low, would would run down the classroom and lash one's outstretched hand, like an all - England bowler. And he aimed for fingers.

Upon the palms it is painful, across the fingers, excruciating. Hit hard enough or multiple times the fingers go numb with pain. It's intense and I can only liken it to severe frostbite only more painful. And, it lasts for hours. Hours of extreme pain.

I hope this helps to give an idea of what severe hand caning/tawsing is really like.

Nelly from Lochgelly

The Tawse

December 12 2010, 12:04 PM 

ICU gives an interesting account of being caned across the hands whilst at school. Being from Scotland I never experienced the cane, although I felt the tawse many times.

I suspect that it is the hardness of the cane, the inflexability and the narrow concentrated stripe on contact that makes a hand caning so painful. I can only imagine it, but I can understand how stressful it must have been to have to stand with your hand held out waiting for it to be caned, especially knowing just how dreadfully painful the experience is going to be, and worse too if you were to receive more than one stroke.

The typical Scottish tawse was about 24" long, 32mm wide and 9mm thick with the punishing end slit into two tails for almost half the length of the tawse. The top quality leather was thick, hard and dense and the tawse was usually swung down onto the hands from over the teachers shoulder in a powerful and sudden movement. There was a loud "crack" as the tails lashed the hand and the pupil would often react with distorted facial expressions, shaking of punished hands or sometimes an "Aowww" or an "Ooyaa".

While in England the cane was applied ACROSS the palm or fingers, in Scotland the tawse was normally applied UP the length of the hand and fingers, with about the last 5" or 6" length of the tails striking the hand with each stroke. The pain could be excruciating, especially on cold days if the hands were cold. Some teachers asked for a single hand to be held out to be belted, others required them to be "crossed", one placed on top of the other to give a firmer platform for the tails to chastise. Two strokes was a fairly normal punishment but up to six strokes would be given for more serious offences.

The pain was extreme as the tails struck, remained very sore for about 15 minutes and then remained sore for about another hour before any numbing of the hand cleared and a needle and pins effect took over, ending with red, sometimes puffy hands and with a not unpleasant warmth.

Both the cane and tawse have certainly left very unpleasant and painful memories in the minds of school pupils for generations.


The Tawse

December 12 2010, 2:00 PM 

There were several advantages of the tawse - one was that, as it's applied to the hand and not in any proximity to erogenous zones or requiring any bending over, teachers of either gender could and did use it to punish errant pupils of either gender without risk of accusations of impropriety. This meant that Scottish girls could be adequately dealt with if their misbehaviour merited corporal punishment, whereas English girls often got away with bad behaviour because there often was a no caning policy, but only for girls.

Also its effects are salutary but visible and limited in duration, so a pupil intent on misbehaving might be punished more than once a day by differing members of staff without requiring the intervention of a visit to the head teacher to ensure that any cumulative punishment was not excessive. A teacher who can only maintain discipline by proxy, by threatening to send miscreants to the head for a caning, will not be popular either in the class room, or the staff room for wasting the head's time on maintaining discipline.

Nelly from Lochgelly

The Tawse

December 12 2010, 4:37 PM 

It was in the late 1800's that Scottish education authorities moved away from the practice of punishing pupils on the buttocks. Most classes were mixed sex and it was considerd inappropriate for boys to be belted across their bottoms in front of girls, or for girls to be belted on their bottoms at all.

For the first half of the 20th century the guidelines did permit the use of the belt "on outdoor clothing" but in practice this seldom occurred - the hands were overwhelmingly the normal target area.

The guidance was made partly on the grounds of appropriate behaviour by the teacher and consideration of the class viewing the act of correction, but also to ensure that there were no sexual overtones apparent when punishment was being administered.

Unlike the cane, the tawse could be kept out of sight, yet convenient, in the teachers desk drawer or carried discretely over the shoulder under a jacket, or in a brief case or handbag. This enabled it to be readily available when required to deal with incidents occuring in the corridors and playground. Most punishments were administered in the classrooms.

The Scottish tawse was a really effective instrument delivering a severe and memorable rebuke, especially so when a top quality belt was used by an able and enthuastic practitioner. Unlike the cane, the tawse was, even over 100 years of regular use.

Nelly from Lochgelly

The Tawse

December 12 2010, 8:49 PM 

There were about 30 good makers of school straps in Scotland and in addition very many small town saddlers who would turn out a tawse on request. The best straps came from the town of Lochgelly where the Philp and Dick families produced tens of thousands of school straps from about 1885 to 1985. About 70% of all Scottish school teachers used a Lochgelly tawse, the most desired by teachers and most feared by their pupils.

Some school straps were up to 29" long and as short as 19". The Lochgelly makers' straps varied in length from 27" to 21" with, latterly, an additional miniature 12" model. John J. Dick was a prolific Lochgelly maker producing 24", 23" and 21" straps in both 2 and 3 tail versions. He also introduced 4 different weights - Light, Medium, Heavy and Extra Heavy so that a suitable strap was available for every age group and severity of punishment required.

In the first half of the 20th century the width of teachers desk drawers was sufficient to enable a 26" or 24" strap to be stored flat along the front of the drawer. Later designs of teachers' desks had narrower drawers, most of which could accept the "new" shorter length 21" tawse stored flat but the longer length straps were usually kept folded in the drawer.

Even a very thick Lochgelly tawse was capable of being folded in a loop and some teachers would teach with their strap held loped in their hand with the tails and handle together. Although officially the strap was suposed to be kept out of sight when not in use, the rule was sometimes ignored. A teacher walking around the classroom with his tawse held in his hand could be intimidating and a very real warning of what would follow if there was misbehaviour or a failure to answer questions correctly.

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