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Personally speaking - Parent wrote sick note on toilet paper'

Who has been your biggest influence?

A teacher at my first teaching post who had a quirky sense of humour taught me to treat all children as individuals. More recently, a deputy whose enthusiasm for everything was boundless.

What has been your career high so far?

Working as a deputy with a retiring "old-school" head who was succeeded by a very progressive, forward-thinking head. I hope I was a successful bridge between the two.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

In an interview, when I was asked if I was merely paying lip service to a particular issue. My answer was: "I never pay lip service to anything." I didn't get the job.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

I was very proud when my Herod in the nativity play ordered his guards to remove a small boy who was making a nuisance of himself in the front row. "Guards, take him away!" remains, for me, the ultimate ad lib.

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

Someone told me that it is important to remember that all children are loved by somebody. You must always keep that in the back of your mind when teaching them.

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

I once worked with a colleague many years ago who set up a bar in his classroom stock cupboard using some discarded optics from the local pub.

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

Miserable.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

In my early career I used to look forward to Monday on Friday. Now I tend to just have a meal and a glass of wine with my partner.

What was the last book you read?

I am intrigued by the author Thomas Szasz, particularly his books such as The Myth of Mental Illness and The Manufacture of Madness. The titles say it all.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

I once had a letter from a parent written on a piece of toilet paper which simply said: "Sorry, John had the shits."

Graham Morris, 68, has just marked 50 years of unbroken service as a primary school teacher and deputy head. He teaches part-time at Manor Park Primary School in Coventry.

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