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In the Middle - Beware the seasonal gift trap

So, how are you celebrating Christmas in your department? Have you bought tokens of appreciation for your team? (It's an easy job for some, a potential minefield for others. You were only trying to show your appreciation: how were you to know that Mr Jones, who has filled in your department from the agency this term, is celebrating five years on the wagon?)

Have you booked a table at a local restaurant to celebrate the end of a long term with a few too many glasses of mulled wine, only to be have your order taken by a member of your form? Jokes about having your soup spat in aren't funny but the member of your tutor group seems especially pleased to be serving your table and you have been haranguing him about his uniform daily for the past term.

Were you looking forward to the afternoon carol concert only to know you have been posted at the back of the hall with Kyle from 5B, who has taken possession of mistletoe to whole new levels with Kylie in Year 9 this lunchtime? Still that's better than sitting among your tutor group perhaps.

School Christmas dinner has always been a popular event for pupils but this year there is a new trend. The lunchtime mistletoe challenge has been replaced by a new game among the Year 11 boys. Eat as many sprouts as you can in order for a different form of entertainment in the packed school hall than that provided by the virtuoso playing of the school orchestra ...

It's alright though; you hold the trump card. You've got the deputy head in the staff secret Santa draw. It's the best opportunity in the year to get your own back for him timetabling you for double Year 10 on Friday afternoons. The witty, well scanned poem full of imaginative metaphors you've written for him will never be traced back to you as a head of English, surely.

Josephine Smith, Deputy head, Long Field High, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

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