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Making herself at home

LAURA COOPER, winner of the probationary teacher of the year award, teaches home economics in the same school where she was a pupil.

Audrey Gibson, her head of department at Larbert High, near Falkirk, told her when she was a 15-year-old pupil that she should become a home economics teacher and so it has come to pass.

In her probationary year, Miss Cooper has set up and run an after-school cookery club for S1-2, which she uses to reinforce healthy eating choices, and she helps with food preparation at the breakfast club which runs one morning a week. The cookery club attracts a range of pupils keen to enhance their practical food skills, including some of the more "challenging" in class and has increased their confidence.

In their nomination, members of Miss Cooper's department said: "She has made a huge impact on the corridors of our department. She has arranged photo opportunities of pupils' work; she has created colourful displays to demonstrate the learning and opportunities within food and consumer technology. She has created exciting displays, such as one to show how home economics links with A Curriculum for Excellence. This demonstrates her commitment to develop her familiarity with education policies and initiatives."

It can be difficult when a former pupil returns as a teacher, but Miss Cooper has fitted into the department very well, said Mrs Gibson: "She has an unassuming nature and uses her probationary time well. She goes into other teachers' classrooms to learn her trade."

This summer, Miss Cooper is taking part in the week-long summer activity school run by Larbert High to help P7s with their transition to secondary another sign of her enthusiasm and commitment.

For Miss Cooper, the reward of teaching is the pleasure in passing on knowledge. "I love to see they have learnt something they didn't know how to do before they came into my class," she said.

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