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Proverbs perfect prefects

"One hand cant clap" is a Jamaican proverb with a strong message for any teenager taking on the responsibility of a prefect. Year 11s received some pithy training in peer management when Lorlet Hudson visited our breakfast club with her workshop based on 52 flashcards bearing the kind of one-liners grandmother used to deliver. Students laughed as they discussed the meanings of such Caribbean proverbs as "You come 'ere to drink milk you don't come 'ere to milk cows", and suggested uses for them in school.

Lorlet guided them in using the English explanations on the back of the cards to think about attitudes and behaviour our prefects are expected to show: determination, perseverance, hard work and co-operation, for example. Having a professional trainer emphasised the importance of their role, which has to be earned. Games and jokes based on the proverbs appealed not only to students with Caribbean backgrounds but others too.

Students contributed proverbs from Ghana and Ireland, for example.

Lorlet had previously worked with us on motivation among disaffected boys and we realised her approach had much to offer all students, including the gifted and talented.

I'll be listening out around the school for "If yu wha good yu nose hav fi run"(Success comes after hard work) and "Yi caan tek medicine fe summadi else" (Individuals have to take responsibility for themselves).

Juliet Coley

Citizenship co-ordinator and head of Year 11, Gladesmore Community School, Tottenham, north London

* Things Mama Used to Say flashcards, Email:

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