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In your own time - Sickies, milk snatchers and sagging boobs

Taking time off for exam marking, colleagues pinching your stuff and boobs fill the forums

Exam marking is one of the subjects claiming the attention of members of the online staffroom. McDiploma attended a local authority meeting where it was reported that sickness rates rose in June and July when teachers took time off to mark exam papers. ResourceFinder was indignant, saying teachers should mark in their own time, and was not the only one to take exception to the practice.

An extra 200 exam scripts to mark this year meant beats had to work longer hours at night and harder in half-term. "I can understand why staff may feel that they need to pull a sickie, especially when deadlines are tight," says beats. "But you know what you are signing up for and it isn't fair on your colleagues if you are taking the time off."

However, examining can be a useful form of professional development, says Coalwoman57. She recalls that her time as a moderator for GCSE art involved visiting other schools to see their work. This needed to be done during the day, so she would negotiate time off with colleagues, but the benefits were considerable. "It was a worthwhile experience and it was better CPD than any 'educrap' course," she says.

As a principal examiner with 16 years' experience, durty_linen confessed to a vested interest, but while never endorsing throwing a sickie, feels moved to extol the value of examining. The veteran examiner says: "Being an examiner used to be an honour bestowed upon the brightest and best in our profession. Heads used to see the value of the 'free' inset examiners gained in really understanding exactly what the boards are looking for."

DollyD has an altogether more pressing dilemma: what to do about a colleague who steals your milk? Dolly was making her tea and went to the fridge only to find her pint missing.

Luckily, someone else had milk in there that she could "borrow", but imagine Dolly's outrage when she walked into a colleague's classroom to see HER milk there, on the desk, without so much as a by your leave. "Do I, therefore, confront the brazen thief," she asks. "Or do I let it go and let them think they have got away with it."

Inky suggests writing your name on the milk carton to stop future snatchers, but for restorative, rather than preventative, justice, Cyolba recommends the maximum-embarrassment approach. A casual inquiry if they have seen your milk, preferably done in front of colleagues, can have a powerful effect. "Smile and watch them redden like a sunburnt England fan," says cyolba.

On a different topic, Fiona_L wants to know what to do about sagging boobs. At 33, Fiona is dismayed at what has happened to her upstairs. "They look so gross and just hang there like old ladies' ones!," she laments. Short of surgery, acceptance is the only policy that will work, advises Lilyofthefield. "No matter how great your bra is, sooner or later you have to take it off and watch the mighty fall."

Fortunately, plenty of colleagues are on hand to reassure Fiona that it doesn't matter. Thirdtimelucky says: "In my experience, any man that you happen to have got them out for is so amazed and grateful that you are female, naked and enthusiastic that any further considerations don't come into it." There you have it. Hang in there.





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