TOMMY Mac is one of the naughty boys. At the moment he’s hunched over his desk in a maths lesson, working on fractions, but his punishment book is a catalogue of bad behaviour from repeatedly swearing at teachers through being caught stealing cider to playing poker in a cupboard with other boys.

Although he’s dressed in school uniform - green jumper with the school’s logo on it over a white shirt and green and yellow tie, grey shorts and grey socks - he manages to look decidedly scruffy.

Tommy is one of the regulars at New Grange Manor, an adult role play school based in Hampshire.

And although his character is a boy of around ten, he’s actually Carol*, a 45-year-old NHS admin worker and mother of one.

Every eight weeks Tommy gets changed into his uniform and the mindset of a naughty boy and goes back to school with 15 to 30 other ‘pupils’ for a day of lessons, school dinner and discipline.

The ‘school’ is run by Miss Livingstone, a 40-year-old successful businesswoman and mother of one from Hampshire.

New Grange Manor is part of the ‘adult school role play scene’. There are ‘schools’ throughout the country although New Grange Manor is one of the more structured ones.

“The school is based on traditional school role play,” she explains.

“It’s like reverting to a 1950s style school so we have various lessons including English, maths, art, PE, science, geography and so on and corporal punishment, which is what a lot of people come for.”

Corporal punishment on offer at the ‘school’ includes caning, spanking and slapping but every ‘pupil’ sets their own limits of what level of punishment they are happy with, with some opting for lines or standing in a corner if they misbehave.

Although you could assume that this must give the ‘school’ a sexual element, Miss Livingstone and Carol are keen to emphasise that this is not the case.

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“There’s absolutely nothing sexual about it,” says Carol.

“From a pupil’s point of view, I enter Tommy’s mindset. When you’re taken to the head teacher, you’re in trouble. It’s about being a child again.”

Miss Livingstone agrees: “Even as a teacher you forget your day-to-day problems. The moment I become Miss Livingstone I forget my tax returns and everything else.”

She adds that although the ‘school’ is role play, proper lessons are taught.

“I do at least four hours preparation for every 45-minute to an hour lesson I teach. The lessons are accurate. They’re not taught to degree level but they’ll introduce the ‘pupils’ to new information so everyone will go away having learnt something - we even set homework!”

She is very protective of her ‘pupils’. Because of the corporal punishment aspect, only ‘teachers’ she knows personally are allowed at the school.

“If they are punishing anyone there’s always a senior teacher there to make sure the play is safe,” she adds.

“We have a book system which says what level of punishment is acceptable to each ‘pupil’. It’s important to make sure that ‘teachers’ aren’t over the top with ‘pupils’.”

She says that her pastoral role as head of the school spills over into everyday life, with some of her ‘pupils’ contacting her outside of ‘school’ for help with personal issues etc.

Carol, who grew up wanting to be a boy, says that the school offers a therapeutic element. She is one of a number of ‘pupils’ who adopt the opposite gender in the school.

Miss Livingstone adds: “I find a lot of people want to create the experiences they didn’t have while they were at school. The people who were really good at school are often the naughtiest ones who play the biggest pranks and want to be told off the most.”

As well as attending bi-monthly day schools and boarding weekends, the ‘pupils’ also get to go on school trips to places such as the Natural History Museum and Avebury stone circle.

Although they go in character they tone down the role play - “if you took Tommy Mac to a museum normally I’d be very naughty,” says Carol - and combine the trip with raising money for a charity, to allow them to pass in public without people realising what they are doing.

Although Miss Livingstone is open with her friends and family about what she does others, like Carol, are more secretive as they are aware that they may be judged and seen as strange by those not involved.

“My son is 19 and he knows about it,” says Miss Livingstone. “I don’t really talk to him about it but if he wanted to ask anything I’d tell him. People in my business life don’t know though. I don’t think they’d be comfortable with it.”

Miss Livingstone has been running New Grange Manor in Hampshire since October and previously co-ran another adult role play school for six years.

She has around 30 ‘pupils’ and 11 teachers on her books as well as a dinner lady, ‘tuck man’, matron and a care taker, who tidies up the hall they use after they’re finished.

‘Pupils’ pay minimal fees - £33 for a day – which cover the cost of hall hire, their substantial school dinner and materials such as paints for art classes.

Most of those involved are educated to degree level, with many of the ‘pupils’ in high paid IT and accounting jobs. They range in age from late 20s to mid 70s.

Miss Livingstone thinks that perhaps it is working in stressful jobs that encourages people to seek the release of regressing back to their school days - the best years of their life as the expression goes - for an escape.

“The biggest thing for me is that you’re escaping adulthood,” says Carol.

“You have no cares beyond taking out your books and doing what you’re told - or choosing not to. It’s such a lovely release from responsibility.”

* Not her real name.