A SCHOOL headmistress who caned several of her girls is being widely

praised by parents of her pupils.

They include military men who send their sons and daughters to the

exclusive Rodney School at Kirklington Hall, Nottinghamshire.

Miss Joan Thomas, head of the #5600-a-year school, had been criticised

for caning six 13-year-old girls who were found in the boys' dormitory

at night.

Now, she disclosed yesterday, she is receiving letters of support from

service personnel in the Army and Navy, including a vice-admiral. ''They

tell me to keep up the good work,'' said Miss Thomas.

The girls who went to the boys' quarters late at night knew it was


''They had a choice of being caned or expelled and they all opted for

the caning, which I carried out. Afterwards, the girls, by way of

apology, bought me chocolates and a bouquet of flowers. They said I was

right to cane them,'' said Miss Thomas.

''Other schools are afraid of the bad publicity if they admit using

corporal punishment.

''But I know of two other co-ed independent schools where they still

cane girls.''

The 200 boys and girls at her school deserve and get equal punishment,

she added.

Caning in state schools was banned in 1987 after a EU court ruling but

is still allowed in private establishments.

Dr Rosemary Leach, of the End Physical Punishment of Children

Campaign, said: ''Some parents who pay for private education seem to

count having their children beaten a worthwhile extra.