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It used to be a belter of a job

REMINDERS that they did things differently in the old days comes delightfully this week in the form of Scots At School, an anthology of two and a half centuries of Scottish schooling, compiled by David Northcroft, former vice-principal at Northern College of Education in Aberdeen (Edinburgh University Press, pound;13.99).

But some things seldom change. Teaching was never a bed of roses. "I am teaching this week and feeling like hell," were the sentiments of Jennie Lee, the Fifer who went on to become a Labour MP and wife of Aneurin Bevan, the minister who created the National Health Service.

There were remedies, however. "The children tested her," Lee's biographer wrote. "By her account, she gave a leading troublemaker two strokes of the strap" (appropriately for a lass from Lochgelly).

And then: "He laughed and threatened to throw her slates at her. She struggled with him and then spanked him."

Innocent times.

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