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For Queen and jannie

it's not every director of education who can boast not only a letter from the Queen but, more importantly, from one of his jannies too.

Bruce Robertson, OBE, the man at the helm in Highland (and soon Aberdeenshire), is clearly no ordinary director. For his looming departure from Inverness caught the eye of Bobo, the jannie at Glenurquhart High, who was keen to pass on his best wishes.

"I must say we were all shocked to hear about him leaving, as he always seemed to be well settled in," Bobo wrote. "But I suppose the lure of going 'home' and being closer to the Dons was too much of a pull."

Referring to the plans of a certain American millionaire, Bobo signed off:

"Tell him I may well be looking for a round of golf at Donald Trump's new golf course when he becomes an exclusive member."

Wright stuff Last week's TESS report on the concerns of lecturers about current standards in writing will have resonated with staff at Dumfries and Galloway College. But it's not the students' skills they're worried about: it's those of their bosses.

Andy Wright, the head of curriculum at the college, wrote in a memo: "Can you PLEASE emphasise to all your staff about class finsihing times.

Students have been out of there classess from 4.10 please discuss with your staff. To be honest it was across a range of areas (sic)."

The staff responded by rewriting his email "as we think you intended it".

They helpfully added: "As part of your own continuous professional development, you may want to consider en-rolling on an Access 3 Intermediate 1 Communication course to bring your skills up a level or two."

Cheekily, they signed off: "Yours in search of excellence." No doubt it was a good career move.

Bully for them

The potential for leavening difficult situations with mirth was never clearer than at the educational psychologists' conference in Glasgow last week (page 8).

Robyn Hromek, of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training, had jetted over from Oz to explain how children could give themselves "emotional first aid".

One technique is a game designed to de-stigmatise bullies' taunts. Players pick up cards with genuine playground insults that Ms Hromek has collated.

The most vivid of these was: "You're a snot-eating slob."

Another set of cards contains suggested retorts devised to befuddle the bully, such as: "Mmm - very interesting" or "How kind of you to notice."

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