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Personally speaking - 'Mum rhymes with bum - she'd got it!'

Who has been your biggest influence?

My much younger brother David, who was identified as dyslexic in the early 1970s. David is a very bright, articulate person, who still reads hesitantly and reluctantly. I learnt from his experience that specific learning difficulties did exist, contrary to what many teachers believed at the time.

What has been your career high so far?

I worked as a professional adviser in the new educational developments division of the Scottish Executive from 2002 to 2005. I contributed to policy decisions about the future direction of Scottish education at a time when immense changes were being discussed.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

When I realised that I could not transmit my fascination for history to adolescents who were bigger and louder than me (and seemed more concerned with their current love interest).

Which pupil are you most proud of?

Michelle, the nine-year-old who knew that I believed in her ability to learn to read and write properly. When she stopped me in the corridor one day, declaring that mum rhymed with bum, because "they sound the same at the end", I knew she had finally got it.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Remember to seek out and celebrate all that is of worth in every learner, including yourself.

What is the most outrageous thing you have seen a colleague do?

A 15-year-old was cowering with his back to a wall, while the teacher placed his own hands either side of the boy's head, put his face so close that his breath ruffled the boy's hair, and shouted at him. We were all besmirched by the humiliation: teacher, pupil and observer.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

An editor for a publishing house.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Relax in front of a DVD with a glass of rose and my man.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

Seville at Easter with my daughter. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

"She didn't come in because she had diar, diorr ... the runs."

Hilery Williams trained as a history teacher and now works with dyslexic pupils at schools in East Lothian. She also helped create Glow, the Scottish schools intranet, and last month won a best practice award from educational software publisher iansyst for her work on dyslexia.

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