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'I smiled all the way till Christmas'

The autumn term blues may be familiar to many teachers, but not for Antoinette Valente.

The 27-year-old German language teacher, who has taught for three years at Winston Churchill school in Woking, Surrey, said that she looked forward to the winter term and felt at her most stressed in February and March.

Ms Valente also bucks the trend by saying that her first year as a newly-qualified teacher was her most enjoyable.

"The cliche is that you shouldn't smile till Christmas, but I was smiling all the time and it didn't seem to do the pupils any harm," she said.

Ms Valente's job has grown more challenging since she became a deputy head of year, a role which involves much more administration.

She said that she found the spring term the hardest part of the year because of the clustering of deadlines for reports.

"It's different for other teachers," she said.

"I mentored two NQTs last year and their low point - the point where they were wondering if the job was for them - was Christmas."

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