Jean-Paul Sartre may have observed that "hell is other people". But, for teachers at least, it seems, hell is older pupils.
According to today's TES poll teachers are more likely to believe in eternal damnation if they work in a secondary school. Thirty-one per cent of secondary school teachers say hell is a real place, compared to 27 per cent of primary. It is the only area of the poll, other than a tiny difference over reincarnation, where secondary teachers have stronger religious feelings than their primary colleagues.
Dr Martin Stringer, of Birmingham university's department of theology and religion, said that overall belief in hell had waned over the past 50 years and was now largely confined to conservative Christians and some Muslims.
But he said it was telling that secondary teachers choose to pipe up about Satan's inferno. "It is interesting that more secondary teachers are talking about hell," he said. "It could depend on how seriously people are taking the survey. It is possible they would answer "yes" to a question like that by saying it is around us all the time.
"There is no doubt that there is great pressure on secondary school teachers and that may be reflected in this answer."