A day in the life of Dennis Dickinson

Making time to get to know pupils is of the utmost importance to this geography teacher and housemaster, who has taught at Scotland's oldest boarding school for nearly three decades

My alarm is set to wake me at the start of Chris Evans' show on BBC Radio 2, and I listen to the news and weather before stirring into action.

After a 25-minute drive from my home in Dunbar, I arrive at Loretto School on the outskirts of Edinburgh shortly before 8am. If I fancy it, I will have some breakfast with the boarders and then see my two house managers. I am housemaster of Schoolhouse, which accommodates all the day pupils at Loretto, and I have 155 pupils in my care.

The first bell of the day rings at 8.20am, when everyone goes to their tutor for registration and a wee bit of tutor time. I am covering for an unwell member of staff, so the group meets me in my IT room. Over more than 27 years at Loretto, I have learned that tutoring is a vital cog in the school system. It is a role I really enjoy and I find it both challenging and rewarding.

My teaching day is full of geography lessons and some IT lessons, ranging from second form to fifth form (ages 12-16). Often I spend break times chatting to pupils in Schoolhouse, finding out what is going on in their world and building connections.

This approach has evolved over the years, but primarily it derives from an inspirational former headteacher of Loretto, Michael Mavor, from whom I learned the importance of making time to talk to and get to know pupils. A successful school is all about the strength of its community, which creates a sense of belonging and purpose.

A lot of my time between lessons is consumed by keeping on top of emails - my inbox is filled with messages from teaching staff, tutors, parents and pupils.

After morning lessons and lunch, I normally have a games session, as do most staff. Fixtures are a weekly highlight, allowing your team to pitch themselves against local rivals. Over the school year, I move from rugby to hockey and then cricket, with a mixture of midweek and Saturday matches.

After games we have two hours of optional activities and the vast majority of Schoolhouse choose to take part. During this time I either run or supervise an activity and help to make sure everyone is in the right place.

Tea is at 6pm. There is a real buzz, with everyone chatting. When I'm not supervising, I join the queue with the pupils for my usual: a jacket potato and filling from the salad bar.

By 6.30pm most Schoolhouse pupils have departed for home and this is my signal to head for my car. I drive home with my son, a member of the fifth form, who tells me about his day in between checking the latest sports news on his phone. We are usually back by 7pm and I always love the moment of stepping through the door. After a final look at the inbox, it's time for family and the possibility of a tasty snack to eat in front of the television.

Looking back, I analyse how the day has gone and hope that I have achieved my target of leaving everyone I meet with a positive impression. Well, at least I can try. I enjoy my work.

Your day

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