Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Beard and Wonderful

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Beard and Wonderful

Article excerpt

It is summer term and the thoughts of our female teachers turn to Fifty Shades of Grey. "That's what my wife calls it," I tell them in reference to the patchwork of hairiness around the bottom half of my face.

Before anyone can respond, our headteacher appears. She is investigating reports that a scruffy-looking old man has been spotted wandering the corridors.

"Well, that's one mystery solved," she says, cheerily. "So, Mr Eddison, I see you're now sporting a beard."

I smooth down my bristles and smile winningly. Facial hair is in fashion at the moment, and the colour of mine is not entirely dissimilar to that of George Clooney.

"Some of the mothers couldn't keep their eyes off me this morning," I announce with a wink.

"They probably couldn't believe someone as old as you is still a teacher," laughs Miss Brightsmile, which is ironic because she looks far too young to be one.

"Just because I didn't want to join in your game of Duck, Duck, Goose, doesn't mean I'm no longer up to the job," I protest. "I have an arthritic right ankle; a terrible legacy from my sporting past. I used to play Sunday league football, you know."

Looking around, it occurs to me that the age profile of our staff has dropped dramatically over recent years. Later, I discover that this phenomenon is not confined to my school: according to a 2013 study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UK has the youngest primary teachers in the developed world. Almost a third of them are aged 30 or younger. …

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