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Gift market cottons on with apple for teacher gimmick

It looks like Snow White's poisoned apple and you certainly shouldn't eat it, but the intentions of the giver are good.

Thousands of teachers will have gone home for the holidays last week carrying a bright red "teacher's stress apple" - the latest product of the ever-growing and, some might say, ever-tackier teachers' gift market.

The rubber apple miraculously regains its shape no matter how hard you squeeze it as you take out your frustration at whichever little sods have just ruined your morning.

And if you didn't get one this summer, just wait till Christmas. Its makers have shipped 10,000 to Britain and Ireland in the past year alone.

The end of term has joined Hallowe'en and new events such as Grandparents' Day as an occasion that shops will tell you are incomplete without a present or card.

"It's an American thing, really, but it has really taken off," says Julie Stoner of gift firm Russ Berrie UK, whose US parent firm came up with the apple idea.

Worse lurks ahead. How about a flowerpot candle with the motto: "4 the best teacher"? Or , horrors, a teddy with the message: "If I could have one wish come true, every teacher would be like you"? How many extra marks would that earn in next term's essays?

Then there are mugs, fridge magnets and picture frames, all with cute mottos and all destined to join the traditional china ornaments in the back of the drawer. Most teachers will be thankful they don't have the pupil from a travelling family who reputedly offered his teacher a horse for Christmas, or the boy who gave his (female) teacher a negligee.

The stress apple's box comes with a charming verse: An apple for a teacher Who's one of a kind.

Squeeze it when students Drive you out of your mind.

It may not scan, but you can't fault the sentiment.

Have your say www.tes.co.uk Stressed teachers, 4

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