In 2013, budgets were slashed, curricula were rewritten and ministers rode roughshod over teachers. But it was also a vintage year for rib- tickling moments, finds Helen Ward, from fried chicken love letters to ninja flapjacks
Why did you become a teacher? You may claim that it was because of the sweet high of seeing a child grasp the 19th-century Corn Laws. Or that you were inspired by a maverick teacher who recited poetry while standing on a desk. Or even because it's a fairly well-paid job that fits in with your own children's holidays. But we know the real reason: it's a brilliant laugh.
In recent years, too many comedians to count have tried to cash in on school-related antics, but none of their efforts are a patch on the reality. So here we give you, in no particular order, 10 hilarious highlights from the world of education in 2013.
1. Educating Yorkshire
"Like my eyebrows?" says Bailey, one of the student stars of fly-on-the- wall television series Educating Yorkshire. She pauses for effect, looking at her classmates. "Shaved them off. Shaved all my eyebrows off."
Bailey captured the hearts of British viewers when she appeared in the show's trailer. And this was also the first time we saw Jonny Mitchell, headteacher of Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. The all-important first impression of Mitchell was of a physically imposing bald man in a pink shirt, doing a ballet-style dance. The voice- over? "I'm a new headteacher; my values are very traditional."
The music swelled as we watched children dancing Gangnam-style into the dinner hall and assistant headteacher Matthew Burton announcing to his class, "As we know, people, Northerners, we're proper right clever. Aren't we, Jade?"
The trailer glittered with emotion: teachers punched the air in triumph, tears were wiped away, kids were perplexed by maths. Viewers of the first episode discovered that Bailey's heavy make-up was not down to teenage vanity but to self-consciousness after a traumatic dog bite to her face.
Many adoring words have been written about Mitchell and his staff. And, proving that nowt impresses like trying your damnedest to get kids through their exams, the school has reported a spike in interest from parents, Mitchell has been rugby-tackled to the floor and had beer poured on him during a night out in Leeds (this is a good thing), and the show is returning for a Christmas special on Channel 4.
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