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A case of chalk and torch

Disappearing furniture, spontaneous combustion and vanishing children are all standard parts of a magician's act - but it seems teenagers could give conjurers a run for their money.

Visitors to the TES online staffroom have been discussing the best tricks played on them by pupils. One recounted how "the kids hollowed out a stick of chalk, put a match inside, and repacked the dust. Twenty minutes later, writing away, the end of my chalk burst into flames. Great gag. Wish I'd thought of it when I was at school."

Another described returning from an errand to find the classroom empty. "I was about to run into the corridor to drag them back, when I heard a faint titter from the back of the room. Somehow 11 kids had managed to wedge themselves in a four-foot gap behind a lab bench," he said.

One contributor described how pupils stole items from her desk when her back was turned. "This went on for several weeks," she said. "One day, I had to photocopy something. When I got back, my desk had disappeared. It had been lifted to the back of the room."

But the most subtle wind-ups were tasteless gifts - with an unfortunate teacher feeling forced to "display them proudly".

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