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Eyes on the ball

"Kids love removing the mice's balls," Ged Parr, a distressed teacher at Windsor Boys School, started by explaining. "They like using them as marbles."After initial alarm that he might be talking about some kind of amateur vivisection craze, we were reassured to find the victim was of the computer kind. Then we started to do the sums.

"We had eight balls go missing in one lesson recently. If you total it all up, we probably lost 40 or 50 balls last year," Mr Parr said, of his 1,000-pupil school. If you apply this ratio to the 3,181,813 secondary pupils across the country, it makes 159,090 balls missing in action every year. At about pound;1.75 per replacement, it's a total national loss of pound;278,407, and if it has spread to the primary sector, double that.

Mr Parr is demanding "some kind of government strategy or white paper" to tackle the problem but, while he waits, The TES will include ball retention advice in an IT tips for teachers book sent to every entrant in this summer's "Laptop for Every Teacher" campaign.

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