Joy Hoban, who has been a primary school deputy for longer than she thought, says it suits her better than ever and she's enjoying it hugely. In 17 years at Firs Junior School in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, she's served under several headteachers and been acting head more than once. But the best time is now. "We've got a brilliant team and morale is very high. We have a very good leader, and I do really enjoy what I do."
This is in a school where 70 per cent of children are on free meals and the transient population of the local estate means a 40 per cent turnover of children every year. But the perception of staff at Firs is that the children are great, that parents can be encouraged and that teachers support each other.
Recently, they were talking about Bouquet of the Week and decided to nominate Joy. A circular went round that collected soundbites from every member of the school's staff telling me about Joy. "Just watching her teach and manage children is an educational experience in itself," says Year 3 teacher Andy Clarke. "Constant as the Northern Star," writes Marion Small, a Year 6 teacher. "Over many years Joy has been a great sounding board and her firm, fair and consistent approach to adults and children has been an inspiration and example to us all."
The younger teachers write that she has been a great mentor to them and that she is always approachable. The head, Anne Bufton, says that in Joy she has "a tireless deputy - she believes in us all".
Well done, Joy, who said that recognition from her colleagues and from Friday had been "absolutely wonderful".
This week is a special one for The TES with the launch of our Music for the Millennium campaign, which highlights and supports learning and performance in all schools. Soon, at London's Festival Hall 3,000 children will be performing on extraordinary hand-made instruments called "drumpets" (see page 15), while in New York the inspiration of Leonard (West Side Story) Bernstein is being felt across the curriculum in elementary schools (pages 16 and 17).
The metaphorical bouquet of the week goes to John Skelton, the teacher who was assaulted by a parent. Having seen justice done - the parent was sent to prison - Mr Skelton's confidence is back and, for the sake of other teachers, he has told his story of recovery.
Bouquet of the Week Names, please, on a postcard - and why - to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Bouquet of the week is given in association with Marks amp; Spencer