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Personally speaking - 'Staff skinny dipped in the school pool'

Who has been your biggest influence?

My mother was a maths teacher and my father a businessman, so I like to think that I have a bit of each of them in me. Both of them have influenced, advised and supported me greatly throughout my working life.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

Anything to do with staffroom politics and pre-inspection paperwork.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

I once took some children to an international netball match and met up with one of my former first VII netball captains, who is now a PE teacher and was there with pupils from her school. It made me feel very old, but also proud that she had seen me as enough of an inspiration to become a PE teacher herself.

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

Skinny dipping in the school pool. After hours, in the school holidays.

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

A rugby physio. The attraction of the job is obvious, but I am a bit squeamish when it comes to blood and dislocations.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Go to the local village pub for a glass of Merlot or two, sitting in front of a log fire in winter and outside in the pub garden in summer.

What car do you drive?

A VW Golf called Willamena. It's my third Golf in a row.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

Bequia and Mustique in the Grenadines. My husband and I went there to treat ourselves for our 10th anniversary. Great for rest, relaxation, cocktails, seafood and sunsets.

What was the last book you read?

Whistle Down the Wind by Mary Hayley Bell. The message it gives is one that I agree with: if only we adults could see the world through the eyes of children.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

When I was a housemistress I heard lots of excuses from children who were up to mischief after lights out. They could never understand how I knew what they were up to. I used to do the same when I was at boarding school.

Catherine Stoker taught in independent schools for 13 years and is now managing director of consultancy firm Gabbitas Education.

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