13th January 2006 at 00:00
There's a secret joy in wearing non-regulation knickers, Bill Hicks finds

I'm aware that we have just entered 2006, but for a few moments today, on reading a thread in the TES Opinion forum, I was dragged back through the decades to a crisp autumn morning in 1966 when I was given a detention for once again wearing the wrong colour socks (purple not grey) and the wrong sort of shoes (Chelsea boots, not lace-ups).

I can still remember keenly the joy I felt: at last, I had been noticed, I had broken the school rules. I'd stopped being good and started being bad and there'd be no looking back. I owe this burst of nostalgia to a thread started by ElaineC, inviting posters to nominate their school's most ridiculous rule. The volume of response suggests that schools across the land are still remarkably adept at framing rules that simply beg to be broken.

Among the warm-up items supplied by ElaineC (or her son), I particularly liked "no black underwear to be worn". How, she wondered - we all wonder - could any teacher check on this one without breaking many other rules?

Wilma offered a rule which I've heard of in several schools, but which deserves further ridicule: "pupils (secondary) having to ask permission (which can be refused) to remove jumpers, no matter what the temperature".

K76 had a couple of classics: "At my own secondary school (left 9 yrs ago) there was a 3ft rule for boys and girls! Also in the sixth form we could wear our own clothes but could not combine red and black as this was provocative!"

LadsNR: "I have to ask - what is a 3ft rule?"

Mrs snake-eyes: "Usually means 3ft between males and females at all times - makes walking in corridors a right giggle!"

This was one of very few ridiculous rules unrelated to school uniforms.

Taster offered an even better one: "Biggest nonsense ever was one applied across the board to staff and students whereby a certain door was not to be used. As it was two steps away from the room I taught in and the alternative was a 10-minute walk, guess what I did?"

But the prize for the most ludicrously detailed requirement must go to a rule about a stripey school tie: "Students must have four stripes between collar and the end of the tie. Five is too many and must be changed. Three and a half is also a heinous crime!"

Now of course, all these rules were created for a reason, and don't for one moment imagine that our debunkers were going to get off scot-free. Enter SirHenry@RawlinsonEn: "It is rules like these that once made schools places that teachers could teach in and pupils could learn in, and which made this country great."

Later, as more examples poured in, Sir Henry was moved to further protest:

"What happens if we allow kids to wear their ties too short, or their shirts hanging out? What is the next step they take if they can use their mobiles openly in the corridor?

"If you turn a blind eye to little things, expect them to grow in size."

Quite so, Sir Henry. I too can think of good reasons for preserving even the most footling of school rules: the ingenuity children employ in breaking them, and the sheer pleasure they can derive from undetected infringement.

Follow these threads at www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

* Opinion: Is it time to take the C out of ICT?

* Behaviour: The cure for indiscipline has been found!

* Pay and Employment: Anyone stand to gain from TLRs?

* Opinion: The best chocolate in the world has to beI

* Personal: Can you get the hots for some one after a one hour convo on msn?

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website

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