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That man Craig again

THE recent publicity campaign to attract more students into teaching has added to the usual end of session reflection on the nature of our profession, why we do it, and whether we still enjoy it.

I always find that our sixth-year leavers' "Prom" adds to this kind of pause for thought. Seeing pupils, who it seems only yesterday were nervously taking their first steps into first year, now resplendent in evening wear and Highland dress, discussing career prospects, years out, or university placements can't help but be a reminder that time flies past faster with each successive year.

Our sixth year this time were a particularly fine group who gave the school community much about which we could be proud, but then I have a feeling I say that about every sixth year. However, at their Prom, amid all the prizes for "Student most likely to . . ." they surprised the staff with a gesture which, on reflection, was typical of them.

Fiona and Katrina announced that the year group had decided they would use the profit from the Year Book to give the school something by which the class of 2001 could always be remembered. They produced a finely carved shield of the school badge which they asked to be presented annually to the group of pupils in school that raised most for charity.

Having raised more than pound;4,000 for the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund through a 24-hour fast, it's fair to say that the moist eyed staff felt this was a fitting legacy from this group of young people who consistently eschewed fine words for meaningful action.

However, any danger of rampant sentimentality was soon removed by Lisa who sat at my table. "Why did you become a teacher, sir?" she asked between the sweet and the coffee.

Despite my emotional state, I refrained from any beauty contest replies about the good of humanity, and muttered about my English degree and BBC Scotland's sixties series about a Scottish guidance teacher, This Man Craig, played by John Cairney (not ours). I pointed out that he had portrayed a humanity and affection for his pupils quite unknown in my own school, but that I'd felt I'd quite like to be a teacher, if it could be like that.

Any chance of self-satisfaction about the state of the profession was removed by her thoughtful reply. She nodded with the wisdom of a school-leaver looking back on her career, and said conspiratorially: "Aye sir, well, you were a sound teacher, like, but, see some of the other teachers, I don't think they saw that programme . . ."

As John Cairney might have said in his other major role as the Bard: "To see ourselves as others see us"!

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