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Best of times, worst of times

DENNIS GOULD head of Bewsey Lodge Primary, Warrington

I come from south Wales, where there's a very strong rugby tradition, so when it came time for some serious decisions about a career we - all my pals - applied for colleges throughout the country and intended to become secondary PE teachers.

At my first teaching practice I was assigned to a junior school. I was absolutely aghast. I tried everything to get moved. But I did this four-week teaching practice in a very posh junior school in Bolton and I never, ever wanted to go into secondary after that.

My friends who were doing teaching practice in secondary schools were coming home with horror stories. But I couldn't believe the atmosphere in this junior school, the enthusiasm and ability and need to please from the kids. That clinched it for me. I've stayed in primary schools ever since.

I'd been in the job a few years and started looking for promotion. I'd een to a parent-teacher meeting and the usual practice was that, after the meeting, the boss would take us to the local British Legion for a few pints. There was a general election coming up and while there we were introduced by a local councillor to the prospective Conservative candidate.

In those days we were trendy lefties. My friend and I got this chap into a corner and just bombarded him with questions and counter arguments. He was eventually rescued by the councillor.

The following week there was a knock on my door. It was him! "Can we count on your vote in the election?" "Absolutely no chance," I said, or words to that effect.

A few weeks later I went for a job interview. In those days they had posts called second masters, like a second deputy. I walked into the interview room and guess who was chair of governors. I could see the recognition in his eyes. I didn't get the job.

Martin Whittaker


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