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Burning cheeks, red faces

for young-looking teachers one of the biggest risks when starting at a new school is that a senior member of staff will mistake you for a pupil.

Can there be anything more embarrassing than having a colleague threaten you with detention or demand to know why you are not in uniform?

The answer is, yes. It can be so much worse in Malaysia.

There, in the southern-most state of Johor, a headteacher has apologised after mistaking a 28-year-old teacher for a pupil and caning her in front of her class.

The teacher said she was instructing pupils to go back to their classrooms.

"Suddenly, and without asking questions, the female principal, who was patrolling the area, caned me on the buttocks and also caned several other students," she said. "I was ashamed because all the students in form 1 saw the incident."

The incident has attracted press attention, with the headline in the Borneo Post running: "Teacher says principal caned her buttocks".

Loke Yim Pheng, the general secretary of Malaysia's National Union of the Teaching Profession, said: "We have always stressed that leadership in schools is very important. But the act of caning a teacher has gone too far."

Be warned: teacher caning seems to be a new international trend. The TES reported a similar incident in Uganda only last month.

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