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Culture vulture

Life in Manchester goes with a bang for Sue Downey

Best book ever

I grew up in Manchester in the 1960s, when everything seemed grey and grimy. I have always been struck by Catherine Cookson's Katie Mulholland, the story of the hard life of a young girl. It is poignant and rings true for me.

Best film ever

Goodbye, Mr Chips with Robert Donat. The fact that he never had his own children but becomes such a good listening teacher is wonderful. I show it to the children at school, and they love it, even the hard nuts.

Public sculpture

I love "The B of the Bang" (pictured, the UK's tallest sculpture by Thomas Heatherwick outside the Manchester Stadium). It's like a big explosion of pipes and to me is everything Manchester stands for: its industrial past; its regeneration. It's fabulous. We've taken the kids to see it. One of our teachers used to be an architect and he's got them all drawing it.

Best resource

Our children from nursery to Year 6 adore Roger Hargreaves's Mr Men books.

I have my own room where I run circle time and work on emotional literacy.

It's known as the Mr Men room because I have Mr Men soft toys, games and books, cups, glasses, everything. I have a big, cuddly Mr Happy and even the tough guys will come in, put him on their knees, hold him and just talk.

Something to share

I want to take children to the ballet; they would get so much out of it. I always wanted to be a ballet dancer but I'm 5ft 8in. I adore the shapes, the music, the fantasy, the colour.

Looking forward to

When we become a Montessori school. I already run classes in emotional literacy, impulse control, art and music therapy and building self-esteem; this is a further development. Working with individual children at their pace and through their way of learning is so important for pupils in an area like this. I wish I'd been taught in that way when I was little.

Sue Downey, 44, is learning mentor at Gorton Mount primary school, Longsight, Manchester, which runs an innovative emotional literacy programme and is planning to become the first maintained Montessori primary in September. She was talking to Elaine Williams

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