Friday Hero

Karina Downie is an Australian teacher on a permanent contract at Bexleyheath secondary school in the London borough of Bexley Ms Downie was recruited in Melbourne by Bexleyheath's energetic headteacher, Malcolm Noble, and arrived last September to teach science at this 2,100-pupil, 11-19 mixed comprehensive which has 130 members of staff.

She settled in quickly and soon became a favourite with her Year 9 form. Three months before their SATs she started a course of science revision lessons - twice a week at first, building up to every day after school in the last six weeks. Among her Year 9 recruits was Christian Dalton-Locke, then aged 13 (pictured far left with Ms Downie and fellow pupil Kristina Dolan).

Christian, who nominated Ms Downie for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, revised like mad and reckons that "in an average week" she gave up 18 hours of her own time to help him and his classmates. His nomination is full of exclamations: "Thanks to Miss Downie I think I've done very well! She even comes in when she's ill! She is the best tutor you could ever have! She is also a GREAT FRIEND!" Obviously he's delighted that Ms Downie prefers Bexley to southern Australia and is staying on to be his form tutor in Year 10.

Malcolm Noble, who helped Bexley borough pull through a staffing crisis last summer by recruiting an amazing 23 teachers on a trip to Melbourne, is particularly pleased that his own school has benefited and that pupils appreciate their teachers. "We all think Karina's done very well and are delighted that she's joined the permanent staff," he says.

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