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HIGH STREET shops generally have suffered dismal sales over the summer because of the torrential rain and a hike in interest rates. But not Woolworths, which saw its sales rise by nearly 4 per cent in the eight weeks to the end of July.

The reason for its mysterious success? It would seem partly due to devoted primary teachers splurging on furniture for their classrooms.

The TES online staffroom has been abuzz with reception teachers boasting about their educational finds in Woolworths. Purchases included a shelter for pupils to read books in ("could also be used as a bear cave"), a camouflage tent for studying dark and light and a child's hammock ("great for the hospital role play area as a bed for the 'poorly' children!").

One poster on the website returned with a "sun umbrella for the seaside topic" and was so excited about a bench with a bug design that she was planning to divide her pupils into snails, ladybirds, bumblebees and butterflies.

"Make sure the lower ability are not the snails," another poster suggested. "I know one teacher who did this unintentionally the kids didn't mind but the parents were not very impressed."

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