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A sense of uneasiness on the road ahead

From not letting the pupils down to playing rounders, everyone has hopes and fears for the new school year.

The secondary school starter

Roxanne Sherwin, 11, this week started secondary school at The Mitchell high, Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent

"The classrooms are bigger and more colourful but there are less posters on the wall than at primary school.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new friends and new teachers.

"Most of my friends have chosen to go to another school, but I wanted to come here because the teachers are nicest."


Julia Ledingham, 36, is an NQT in ICT and business studies at The Mitchell high school, Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent "The start of term has left me feeling a bit wobbly, but I'm looking forward to putting into practice everything I've learnt.

"We're in an estate where more than 40 per cent of parents are unemployed so you can't just take a normal approach to education.

"I hope business and ICT can help raise aspirations. I want to do my best.

The only thing I worry about is letting the kids down."

The academy principal

Yvonne MacCallum is principal of the Haberdasher's Aske's Knights academy in Kent

"It's an exciting time. We're fully staffed and have gone from being a school that was few people's first choice to being over-subscribed.

"I am confident we'll do well. We're starting from a very low level in a school which has underachieved. We're not in our new buildings yet, but the temporary accommodation has been beautifully refurbished and morale is good."

The union leader

Until last week Mick Brookes was head of Sherwood junior school in Nottinghamshire. He is now general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers

"I'd love to be positive about the year ahead, but there seems to be an aura of doom and gloom - not helped by the Government's announcement that it is going to get tough with heads. It just reinforces this feeling that they are out to get us.

"The Howson report about the shortage of heads must be taken seriously - if we don't do more to make headship attractive to middle managers, in the next 10 years half our heads will have left.

"The new inspections are a positive thing but the introduction is flawed.

Putting the emphasis on short-notice inspections contributes to the feeling of them trying to catch us out.

"I'll miss working day-to-day in the school and was acutely aware that the children went back this week. I rang them to see how things were going, but everyone was too busy to talk to me."

Interviews by Simon Atkinson

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