It's tricky when they say they're ill. I want to be sympathetic - but there are hypochondriacs, and it's best to check if you can.

She's only 11 and is complaining of headache and tummy ache. I ring her parents, who tell me she didn't feel too well the night before. They offer to come and pick her up.

I tell her what's happening, mildly reproachful that she's wasted a lot of our time. "You were feeling bad last night?" Mild, almost guilty nod of agreement.

"So why did you come to school?" She gazes at me, innocence outraged.

" 'Cos I wanted to get an education."

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