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Class act takes teachers to top

TEACHERS have been thrust into the upper echelons of British society alongside judges and barristers, according to a reclassification announced this week by the Office for National Statistics.

The new system, which comes into effect in 2001, reflects the changing face of Britain and the decline of manufacturing. Teachers, who used to be in social class II as associate professionals, now find themselves in Class 1.2 as higher professionals.

But teachers and librarians, who also benefit, should be warned: the cost of mixing with the smarter set may prove beyond the means of most.

There are clubs to join and cars to drive. It may be time to cast off that corduroy jacket and pick up a smarter suit. And a fashionable hair cut is de rigueur. Only don't call it a cut, it's styling.

None of this comes cheap. The Carlton Club costs Pounds 795 a year (women need not apply) while the latest Jaguar XJ8 is not less than Pounds 35,000 (or Pounds 900 a month for four years on HP).

Made-to-measure Austin Reed suits start at Pounds 379, which is Pounds 200 more than a styling at Nicky Clarke's London hair salon. As for education, a boarding school won't leave a lot of change from Pounds 15,000 a year.

It doesn't stop at money. The TES went seeking advice on proper behaviour.

Lindsay Fulcher, assistant editor on the decidedly upmarket magazine, The Lady, was aghast. "The middle class have taken over the world. How boring," she said.

The Government may have reclassified teachers as upper class, but Ms Fulcher is sceptical: "Not in my book, they're not."

If they did persist in maintaining their new status, Ms Fulcher's advice was plain: speak in English and not American; dress with decorum; learn proper table manners; and get a subscription to The Lady.

Lucy Higginson, deputy editor of The Field, the country sports bible, was similarly forthright.

"I would recommend they get a shotgun licence and book some shooting lessons, " she said. "They could also go hunting."

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