Oddly enough - Top year for surrealists

Tes Editorial

New year's resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. But with this in mind, The TES went back over 2008's more surreal Oddly Enough articles in a bid to make some recommendations for 2009 to the global teaching community:

1. Never work with animals

A good rule for everyone, but especially teachers. Take the West Sussex school that came under attack from screeching seagulls after they objected to a stuffed replica being placed on a playing field as part of a sponsored walk at Medmerry Primary, near Chichester.

Meanwhile, at a Texas high school in the US, two pupils were rushed to hospital after being bitten by a venomous pit-viper. Well, their teacher did tell them not to.

2. Keep an eye on kites

The head of Manor Primary in Drayton Bassett, Tamworth, was left red-faced after taking his charges out for a spot of kite flying. One of the strings broke and flew into a nearby power line sparking an electricity blackout in the village. Richard Lane saw the, er, positives of the incident, suggesting the experience had taught his pupils a valuable lesson in safety.

3. Cut your cloth

It's unlikely the Pounds 2,500 school blazer made by Savile Row tailor Thomas Mahon will find too many takers among parents feeling the pinch this year. Blazers at Eton carry a top price of only Pounds 145, after all. But Mr Mahon optimistically says: "You get what you pay for." To use another cliche, he's likely to find parents voting with their feet.

4. Parents are always right

An indignant Mrs SJ Allcock wrote to her local paper in Staffordshire to complain about how much holiday teachers have. Her rant veered into the bizarre, claiming teachers would be experts on their Xboxes "with all the time off they get". It ended with a suggestion that workers should be paid only for the work they do. "Working three-quarters of a year," she fumed, "should mean only three-quarters of a year's pay."

5. Keep an open mind in Japan

Wacky Japan stories affect teachers as well. Take the lighting technician who tried to sneak into a girls' high school near his Tokyo home trussed up in wig, make-up and school uniform. Tetsunori Nanpei was also 39 and nearly 6ft tall.

Or how about the high school maths teacher caught jogging naked - well, more "seen" than "caught", which implies some attempt at subterfuge - in a Tokyo park?

But perhaps the oddest of the lot is the chap from the Japan Toilet Institute who has been examining schoolchildren's poo. Atsushi Kato proudly told pupils at one elementary school in Tokyo: "I've come to teach you how to do healthy poo."

6. Put spelling top of the agenda

Teachers at Whitminster School were shocked when their decision to stop spelling tests at the Gloucestershire primary provoked national outrage on internet forums. They must have looked on in pained bemusement at some people's posts. Take this from Jane Foster: "No wonder kids are stabing ids all over the UK... look at whats wrong with this generation - they are spoon fed by idiot teachers like those in the school above." Thats u told, Witmunster.

7. Steer clear of brothels

An honourable mention must go to the teacher in Hungary who performed a pole dance for her 15-year-old pupils after joining in a game of truth or dare.

But those in charge of organising pupils' work experience should take note of the experience that befell one Croatian school. When unsuspecting staff sent a group of girls to work at a beauty salon in Osijek, there was one small hitch: the salon turned out to be a brothel.

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