Is belief - and occasional flashes of jealousy - greeted the news that a teachers' union was debating whether gifts for school staff had become too competitive. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference last week heard examples of some of the pricier presents for teachers, including #163;1,000 gift vouchers and a Tiffany bracelet.
Many in the TES online staffroom could not believe that parents or pupils were so generous, giving examples of the lower-budget gifts they had received - which included a half-eaten bag of sweets, a biscuit-less biscuit tin and a peephole bra.
"I want a job in a school where you get given Mulberry bags and champagne!" said dinx67.
But some staff had witnessed flashier gifts. NickiBerry, teaching in Finland, said she had received a "beautiful Marimekko vase" at Christmas, while blazer recalled that a former colleague who had gone to work in a private school in Monte Carlo had been given a Prada handbag by a pupil. "She said it was so ugly that she took it back to the shop and got a 1,500 Euro store credit and bought something she liked," he said.
The best gift, however, was received by tangerinecat: a flashing Jesus. This turned out to be a picture of Jesus being crucified, surrounded by tiny red LED lights set in a plastic mahogany and gold-effect frame.
"When you flick the switch on the back, the LEDs flash, creating a blood-running-down-the-body effect," tangerinecat said. "I taught in a Catholic school at the time".
- Teachers make good MPs? The general consensus on the staffroom seemed to be yes, with approving nods in the direction of Estelle Morris, the former education secretary and one-time PE and humanities teacher.
Spectre noted that MPs and teachers had a lot in common. "We're constantly lampooned by the media for being rubbish at our jobs and we get long holidays, so there's two similarities."
DaisysLot agreed: "I suppose once you are used to talking crap with no one listening in a class you can do it anywhere ..."
Discussion about the worst PE excuses ever has, impressively, reached its fifth month.
The thread was started by blazer in November, when he described how a parent of a Year 10 pupil had "rang in to get her daughter excused from pilates on the grounds that she is a Catholic".
Since then other examples have trickled in. Morint described one note received from a parent, which stated: "Please excuse X from hockey today as she had Jim for the first time yesterday and the tops of her legs still ache".
Eruditus had plenty more examples. Best of all was this recent one: "Since Z is not allowed to wear a tracksuit she will not be participating in tennis this term - the required tennis dress insisted upon serves little more than to fuel the fantasies of paedophiles and teenage boys."
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