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On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: teachers' gift Scrooges

It's been the longest term imaginable. The children have driven you nuts for the best part of 15 weeks and you haven't even started your Christmas shopping yet. The life of a teacher is a tough one, and with little time or money to pamper yourself, it's up to the students to make you smile on the last day of term.

The more bizarre and useless presents they bring can be received with a grateful smile and swiftly regifted to the charity shop. And the big-ticket items, such as whisky and department store vouchers, serve to take the edge off your complete exhaustion.

But it appears that some officials are determined to put an end to this little jamboree of festive spoiling. The Arlington schools board in Virginia, US, is preparing to take a vote on whether to cap each student's total annual spending on individual teachers to $100 (#163;60). Other meaner counties have put a $25 limit on presents. We see their point, but come on - it's not as if teachers can expect freebies from any other direction.

A recent survey in England showed that, after thank you notes, teachers preferred to receive luxurious gifts: vouchers, theatre tokens, spa days or alcohol.

So, Scrooges, who would deny a teacher half a day of massages and exfoliation? Get to the naughty step. And, no, you can't have a mince pie.

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