Parents 'compete over class teddy'
Most teddy bears would be happy with just a picnic but, thanks to increasingly competitive parents, some of the beloved toys are spending their weekends mixing with high-fliers and captaining ships.
A necdotal evidence gathered by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) suggests that increasingly elaborate games of one-upmanship are forcing many schools to ditch the idea of the "class teddy bear".
Class teddy bears are used by many schools to encourage parents to spend time and do activities with their child at the weekend, and to involve parents in their child's school life.
Primary school children take it in turns to look after the bear at the weekend, taking pictures and writing in a diary about the activities they do with the toy.
But TES research, based on evidence from their online message boards and a series of interviews, suggests that parents are becoming overly-competitive and attempting to out-do each other with exciting activities.
Rather than visiting the park, a cinema club or taking a country walk, some bears have been captaining ships or enjoying high-profile events, it was suggested.
At the other end of the scale, some bears have been subjected to DIY and even a spin in the washing machine.
One teacher told the TES that her class bear had been returned on Monday morning with a photo and a caption in the diary reading "the bear wandered aimlessly around B&Q, looking at taps".
And another parent revealed that the bear had "enjoyed the afternoon spinning around the washing machine to clean off the ingrained dirt it had accumulated during the school year".
TES editor Ann Mroz, said: "Parents find themselves nosing through the bear's diary to see what it has been up to on previous weekends and they start to judge and compare.
"We've seen, through online discussion boards, that some parents have been reduced to tears over having the bear for the weekend.
"Some parents work all weekend, while others struggle with the English language to the point that just writing the report becomes a stressful exercise.
"It's unfair that they should be judged harshly by other parents as a result."
She added that parents should be given the chance to opt out of taking part in the activity.