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Jotter - Waiting for the bells

Among the more sombre warnings from the teaching unions over the festive period was one from the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association about the risks associated with the humble school bell.

"It is clear that many bells are installed on the basis of one very loud bell being cheaper than four quieter bells," thundered general secretary Jim Docherty in his new year message. The "repetitive and prolonged ringing of very loud bells" could damage the hearing of teachers and pupils, he said at length.

The SSTA lost little time in tilting at familiar windmills - schools built under PFIPPP schemes were among the worst offenders, it seems, because of the drive to cut costs.

And, of course, no union would be worth its salt if it did not end on an obligatory threat of "legal action" against local authorities if they did not desist from making such a racket.

Changing times

We are grateful to Herald reader Barrie Crawford who recalls the innocent days when male - and indeed female - PE teachers thought nothing of striding through the changing rooms of pupils of the opposite sex.

One PE principal teacher did not quite get the point when, going through the female changing area, he always shouted: "Right girls, eyes closed!"

It all ads up

A San Diego maths teacher, one Mr Faber, has hit on a wheeze to get round budget cuts: he invited parents and local businesses to advertise in his class test papers, charging different amounts depending on the type of test.

One local dentist entered into the spirit of it, urging pupils to "brace yourself for a great semester!"

Paul Robinson, the school's principal, defended the move, saying: "It's not like 'this test is brought to you by McDonald's or Nike.'"

Something tells us it is only a matter of time.

A belter

The pages of The Academical, journal of the venerable Edinburgh Academy, can always be relied upon to stir old memories, such as the halcyon days of corporal punishment in the most recent issue. Ah, the regime of the clacken and the tawse.

Old boy Donald Cameron recalls his art master father was a dab hand with the tawse in his job at Edinburgh's Melville College. It was "extra heavy duty", he says, "having been obtained from a tanner in Fife who advertised in Scottish Farmer of all places."

Cameron rounds off: "It is a sad reflection on modern society that neither tawse nor clacken are recognised by my spell-checker."

It makes you think.

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