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Class gets a comic touch.

Beano readers will be well used to the antics of the Bash Street Kids, but educationally-aware regulars of the comic cannot have failed to spot the theme featuring Minnie the Minx, billed as the world's wildest tomboy.

This takes the shapely form of Minnie's new, young teacher who, in between battling with the wiles of her worst pupil, strives to keep up-to-the- minute with educational trends.

A recent episode went to the heart of classroom conflict when a new assistant arrived in the shape, wait for it, of Minnie's mum who wants a career outside the home. Minnie has formed her own views: "What loser would apply for that job?" The story then develops a theme many teachers will instantly recognise when the assistant tries to tell the teacher how to teach reading, and then starts to take over. The conflict is resolved when the heidie gives both teacher and assistant lines and detention for arguing in front of the children. The EIS will surely be along in a minute.

Stop Collum him names

Willie Collum, the referee who provoked the wrath of Celtic fans following his decisions at the most recent Old Firm game, which Rangers won, must surely wonder how he could have ended up as a villain in the eyes of the Parkhead club.

For his real job is as principal teacher of religious education at Cardinal Newman High in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire. Perhaps that is the point: he may feel he has to be seen to avoid the merest taint of partisanship. But there are clearly some who believe that helping the boys in blue to victory is taking ecumenism too far.

Decorum est

We reported in a recent issue on new rules being introduced for teachers in Eastern China, including no cleavage, wrinkled clothes or "ostentatious" jewellery. Among banned substances are "peculiar colours" to dye their hair and painted fingernails. As for the women .

We are grateful to Glasgow teacher Margaret-Claire Devine for passing on this decorum diktat, which she unearthed during her career break in Beijing. But who can disagree with this injunction from the Nanjing education bureau: "Whether engaged in teaching activities or out in public, clothes should reflect teachers' professional characteristics - elegant, graceful, befitting a teacher and in step with the times." Amen to that

Faint praise be damned

It's an old rule of politics that if you want to cause trouble for your political opponents, praise them. So Education Secretary Michael Russell must have been up to no good when he admitted to being "fond" of his Tory opposite number Elizabeth Smith, during the recent parliamentary debate on class sizes. "God help me," she wailed.

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