Skip to main content

Bouquet of the week

I am pleased to come back from half term and find myself sending a bouquet to a deserving secondary teacher. We're knee deep in postcards nominating popular primary teachers, smashing school secretaries and devoted dinner ladies, but secondary teachers - and the colleagues who might nominate them - seem a bit thin on the ground. Which is a shame because we know there are thousands of them doing difficult jobs well. So here's a challenge: your nominations, please, for Britain's unsung secondary heroes.

Which brings me to Sue Warrington - the "inspirational, tireless, charismatic" deputy head of Haggerston School in the London borough of Hackney. "She champions the pupils' voice and is the teacher we all aspire to be," says Steve Townshend, head of year at the inner city girls' school, who nominated her.

When you're at the top, it isn't easy to be highly effective while remaining popular, but Sue seems to manage that - scoring highly with staff and pupils alike. Unusually perhaps, Haggerston is the only school she's worked in since joining as a newly-qualified English teacher 22 years ago. Over the years she's done almost every job - head of English, year head - and she's become the mother of two sons.

Her mentor was headteacher Pat Collarbone - now Dame Pat - who turned the school around this decade and who encouraged Sue to do a two-year MBA which she's just completed. Her final dissertation was on the development of the "pupil voice" in improving schools. Currently responsible for pupil progress and welfare, she makes learning a priority while listening to children's views and involving them in change.

Sue is "sad, but excited" to be leaving Haggerston at Easter for her first headship at Crace Community School in Enfield. She might never have done so well without a good sense of humour ("Does The TES do obituaries because I think I might kill Steve when I see him?") A good laugh is great medicine according to our Mind amp; Body feature: the protective effects include better blood circulation, muscle relaxation and increased endorphines (the body's natural pain relievers).

Children are much better at it than we are, laughing on average 300 times a day compared with an adult's measly 50. And Victoria Neumark has found a head who performs magic tricks and sees humour as an integral part of making a school work. "We want the children to be happy and then they will learn," is his view. Enough said.

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

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you