back         next

Prefects' Meeting

Old boy Michael Ferguson (1956-63) recalls details from his time at the school:

"You're on Prefects' Meeting!" " I was once caught riding my bike from the bike sheds that used to be round the back of the then gym block along past the old canteen and out towards the Hamilton Road exit. This was quite a stretch and any sensible biker would have ridden it rather than push his bike - especially way past 4 o'clock when most boys had gone home anyway. The snotty-nosed prefect concerned apprehended me and gave me a hundred lines to write (it might have been 200 for being cheeky to him as well, I can't remember the details). He will have given me a deadline by which I had to deliver up the lines (no doubt something brilliant like: "I must not cycle in the school grounds.") and if I didn't meet it, the next sanction was "You're on Prefects' Meeting!".
'Prefects' Meeting was like a court session, held weekly (Friday lunchtimes, I think) in the prefects' room at the end of the gym block corridor, with the head boy and deputy head boys acting as the 'judges' and all the other prefects sitting around to listen to the individual 'cases' and put a word in. The head boy would call the culprits in from outside in the corridor where they had to wait, the prefect who'd booked the poor bugger then read out what his 'crime' had been and the 'judge' would then decide on a suitable punishment. This was usually lines, detention, referring to the headmaster (who had the right to cane) or - corporal punishment administered by the prefects themselves, without any recourse to any member of staff.

"..the head boy's role was to decide on the length of the run-up to be taken by the prefect administering the slippering"

This took the form of 'slippering' in my experience, i.e. the victim bending over (a chair usually) and being hit on the backside by a gymshoe wielded by one of the prefects. Anything up to half a dozen strokes being quite normal.
I can't be sure, but I think the head boy could nominate any prefect to actually administer the slippering (often the most athletic character of course), he didn't have to do it himself."

Steve Gamester, teacher and old boy recalls that the head boy's role was to decide on the length of the run-up to be taken by the prefect administering the slippering. The Prefects' Room was at the end of the Maths Block corridor, so the prefects could gather quite a momentum, if required.
In spite of these recollections, most prefects did not abuse their powers. John Walter was at the RGS between 1923 and 1927, and is one of the oldest surviving members of his schoolboy generation. Now aged 89, he shared his memories of the school in the 1920s.

Some Sixth Formers were made prefects and were allowed to slipper delinquents if caught in the act. I was one, and one day a Master asked me to slipper a boy he had seen doing something wrong. I didn't think much of that but had to do something. I took the boy into the Sixth Form room, told him to bend over, and slippered the leg of the table in case the Master was listening!
Michael Ferguson comments in a similar vein: "I myself as a prefect never actually slippered anyone, nor - fortunately - was I ever on the receiving end. We didn't use the slipper terribly often though in my recollection, it was, on the whole, done with a sense of responsibility and only, as it were, as the last resort."