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Shear delight of pupils' presents

Some children know just what ewe want for Christmas.

Christmas gifts from pupils will have a definite woolly feel to them for some school staff this year. The TES can today reveal that sheep, be they stuffed or frozen, are some of the strangest presents British teachers will receive this Yuletide.

Jim McManners, head of the environmental award-winning Cassop Primary School in County Durham, farms a flock of 60. Each year, he says, pupils give him Christmas cards which tend to feature, er, sheep.

Down south in East Sussex, music teacher Tim Costello has been overwhelmed with seasonal gifts of stuffed sheep ever since he made Shaun the Sheep (from Wallace and Gromit) his class mascot. But the ultimate homage came when one Year 8 boy, who lived on a farm, presented him with an entire frozen half of a sheep.

Mr Costello, head of music at Ringmer Community College near Lewes in East Sussex, gave some of it to friends, some to neighbours - and ate the rest for dinner.

Meanwhile, parents of children at Eastfield primary in Leicestershire have been queuing up to care for its animals, including sheep, on December 25.

The school is setting up a farm and has 13 chickens, two ducks, six bantams and two rabbits, and is now preparing for the arrival of two sheep and two pigs. Seven families volunteered for the twice-daily duties at the chicken coop.

Jemma Kidd, the celebrity make-up artist and sister of Jodie, has suggested nominating a teacher for an award rather than giving a festive gift - wacky or otherwise.

"Teaching is something I feel passionate about and teachers certainly aren't recognised enough," she said. "Let's give something back and say thank you."

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