Department for Education
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Government to ban smacking for anyone working with children outside the family

The Government has today announced its intention to ban physical punishment of children in any form of tuition or care outside of the family following recommendations from the Chief Adviser on Child Safety, Sir Roger Singleton.
Current legislation means that teachers in schools are banned from using any form of physical punishment, but those who tutor outside of school, including in part-time educational and learning settings and evening and weekend faith schools, are not covered by the ban.

But following Sir Roger’s report, Physical punishment: improving consistency and protection, the Government announced today that physical punishment of children will be banned in all forms of tuition, care and supervision outside of the family. 

Sir Roger Singleton's report
Ministers responded to concerns raised late in 2009 about the use of physical punishment in supplementary and part-time faith schools. In January 2010, the Children’s Secretary asked Sir Roger Singleton to investigate urgently whether Government action was needed on the issue.

Sir Roger Singleton collected the views of parents, children, religious leaders and children’s charities over two months. In his report, he makes three recommendations to the Government which have today been accepted in full
  • The current ban on physical punishment in schools and other children's settings should be extended to include any form of advice, guidance, teaching, training, instruction, worship, treatment or therapy and to any form of care or supervision which is carried out other than by a parent or member of the child's own family or household.
  • The Government should continue to promote positive parenting strategies and effective behaviour management techniques directed towards eliminating the use of smacking.  Parents who disapprove of smacking should make this clear to others who care for their children.
  • The development of appropriate safeguarding policies in informal education and learning organisations should continue to be promoted.  Legal changes which flow from adoption of these recommendations will need to be communicated effectively.

Responding to the report, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said:
Sir Roger’s report makes it absolutely clear that a child should not be smacked by anyone outside their family. I believe this is a sensible and proportionate approach.

The Government does not condone smacking, nor do we want to criminalise parents who choose to discipline their children with a mild smack. We know that the majority of parents agree with this view.

I am glad that Sir Roger’s recommendations back the Government’s drive to promote positive parenting techniques, giving mums and dads better alternatives to smacking.

I am thankful to Sir Roger for his extensive work with charities and parenting groups and his careful consideration of this sensitive and complex issue.

The Government’s Chief Adviser on Child Safety, Sir Roger Singleton said:
While preparing for this report it was clear that there are a wide range of views on this area. Banning physical punishment outside of the family home sends a straight forward message that it is entirely unacceptable in any form of care, education or leisure.

There is some excellent ongoing work promoting positive parenting techniques. It is imperative that this work continues to give all parents the ability to support a child’s development without the recourse to physical punishment.

In 2009, the Government worked with a range of charities and voluntary organisations to produce a guide entitled ‘Being a Parent in the Real World’ which aims to help parents avoid smacking as a form of discipline.

Sir Roger Singleton highlights that this guide and others like it should be further promoted to ensure more parents have alternative behaviour management techniques for disciplining their children.

Sir Roger Singleton also recommended that the Government should further promote the importance of child protection and safeguarding policies and practices for more informal educational and learning organisations.

Further information
The report and response can be found on DCSF's safeguarding pages.

On 28 January, the Secretary of State asked Sir Roger Singleton for advice on the use of physical punishment in part-time educational and other learning settings, see the press notice for more.

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