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Lots to declare;Jotter

When customs and excise officer Andy Barr emptied his pockets during a presentation at the recent school boards conference in Glasgow, his audience could have been forgiven for thinking that he had been moonlighting as a cleaner in a secondary school staffroom.

Out came a flick knife, a chemical spray, an electric stun gun "capable of laying low the biggest mammal" and a pornographic magazine capable of showing the biggest mamm . . .

Barr's visual aids were his way of dramatising the fact that exotic powders and potions are not the only things pupils are tempted to smuggle back into the country after foreign trips.

And it is not just pupils. East Dunbartonshire's director, Ian Mills, described how one teacher had confiscated a banned substance, cheerfully bringing it back through customs as evidence in a subsequent investigation. At least that was the teacher's story.

It was his good fortune that he did not run into what one contributor at the conference described as "a robust response from the authorities, such as the cutting off of hands and heads" (surely not at the same time - Ed).

Now that would have been a real story for our tabloid colleagues who, according to Mills, subject his fiefdom to more intense scrutiny than most authorities - since so many of them live there.

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