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Personally speaking - 'At week's end I retire to a public house'

Who has been your biggest influence?

My parents. It sounds cheesy, but they always told me that I could do anything I set my mind to, and I make sure that I pass that message on to my pupils.

What has been your career high so far?

Taking my first GCSE class through from Year 10 and then seeing their fantastic results: 22 A*s between them, across English language and literature.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

I had just started teaching as an NQT at a school renowned for impeccable behaviour. A bee flew into the classroom and the class descended into hysterical chaos. I grabbed the bee to throw it out of the window, but this just multiplied the hysteria tenfold. Pupils were screaming: "It'll sting you! What are you doing?" at the tops of their lungs, just as the head walked past my room.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

There was a student in my Year 11 class who had a massive phobia of exams - he would get into the exam hall and just freeze. Eventually he came up with a solution: he would tell himself that he was writing for a friend, and it worked. He attained an A and a B in his exams, and was thrilled.

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

I would be an English lecturer researching women's writing of the 17th and 18th centuries. I completed my PhD when I was 26 - it was teaching seminar groups while I researched my PhD that gave me the teaching bug, but I do sometimes miss the research.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Retire to a public house with colleagues to "put the week to bed", then go home for a relaxing evening with no prospect of marking or lesson preparation for at least a day. Bliss.

What car do you drive?

I live in central London, and I don't have a car at the moment. I spend my life attempting to go to my happy place in my head while stuck in cramped tube carriages.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

"I was doing my essay outside and a bird pooped on it; I was going to bring it, but I didn't think you'd want to mark an essay with bird poo on it, so I didn't. I was thinking of you, Miss!"

Stephanie Foster is co-ordinator of sixth-form English at Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, north-east London. She graduated from the Teaching Leaders programme in 2009.

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