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Pupils I'll never forget

Alex Walker recalls the weird ways of her primary charges

Even after 13 years in teaching, infants have a constant capacity to surprise me. There is a sort of crazy logic in the things they do and say.

As they get older, we often educate it out of them - for teachers, that's a loss. I love that craziness; it's what keeps me sane.

So I think with affection of Michaela, who went through a phase of wearing a silver glitter wig and would only do what was asked of her if I addressed her as "flying horse". Or of Salahuddin, who, at the age of five, talked endlessly about a "chocolate mosque", but who had a total knowledge of the London Underground. He could reel off every station on every line.

And poor Omar. I told him to "get undressed for PE" but he must have misheard. There he was, stark naked in a spreading puddle. It was nothing that a mop, clean pants and a reassuring cuddle couldn't put right, but there was great hilarity in the staffroom at my expense.

But that's what it's about. The children you remember are the ones who make you feel, even after the grimmest of days, that of course your job is worth doing - not just for the learning that goes on, but for the laughter and fun that come with it.

Names can be interesting, too. I've taught sisters, "Sahara" and "Nevada Dessert" (not Desert as I couldn't help saying). We've a pair of fantastic twins at the moment. One is called "Bill Clinton" and the other is simply "Reagan". I like to picture them as they grow up. Will they, I wonder, live up - or down - to those presidential expectations?

I'd like to forget (but I'm sure I can't) the little charmer who cut off the gerbil's tail (she wanted to see if it would grow back - it didn't).

Ditto for the girl who presented me with a packet of "daddy's special balloons" as a birthday gift. And I'm not sure whether I should still be smiling when I remember the child who, when asked to draw fish, painted neat orange rectangles. Too sad that fish fingers were the only sort of fish he knew.

But it lightens the day. Tomorrow, I know, will bring more stories like it.

So who wants a change of jobs? Not me.

Alex Walker is assistant head at Avondale Park primary school in the London borough of Kensington. She was talking to Michael Duffy. Do you have special memories of unforgettable pupils? Write to TESFriday editor Sarah Bayliss at the address on page 3 or email

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