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Staffroom stereotypes - Which type are you?

Professional development is a journey of self-discovery. To help you along the way, TES is offering an ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek series of questions that will uncover who you really are. Supportive colleague or anxious newbie? Passionate part-timer or management material? Log on to www.tesconnect.comquiz to find out the truth.

But before you bare your soul, do you recognise this forgotten individual?

Ralph Nearly-Retired

Just as the Queen thinks that the world smells of fresh paint, Ralph Nearly-Retired believes that a pigeonhole is simply a storage device for "Sorry you're leaving" cards.

For Ralph has had more comebacks than The Who. Teetering on the edge of retirement since his first farewell bash, nigh on half a decade ago, he is seemingly taking more classes and doing more extracurricular work than he ever did in his prime. Yet as he sits in his quiet corner of the staffroom with a photocopy of The Times crossword, he's become accustomed to those "Are you still here?" double takes from colleagues.

Ralph has moved through the ages of blackboard, whiteboard, interactive whiteboard and virtual learning with increasing bemusement. But there was a time, forgotten by most, when our Ralph was a pedagogic mover and shaker. In the Keith Joseph era of the 1980s, he led a successful department, before those smart-arsed value-added initiatives spoiled everything. He also had a stint as assistant moderator for a now defunct exam board. And he even did the timetabling one year, when the head of maths was off with a fractured isosceles.

Nowadays, no one seems to bother much with Ralph. When he regales colleagues with those hilarious staffroom memories about the cane-wielding maverick, nobody seems interested.

He contents himself with offering words of advice on pruning wisteria to anyone who will listen or by putting a tomato plant and an honesty box (for donations) next to the staff lockers.

Ralph's hopes of retiring before he gets old have long since faded. But he doesn't mind. He prides himself on being the spokesperson for a certain generation of teachers and more often than not he proves to be a man worth listening to on education matters. After all, there are no new problems in education, only new words to describe them.

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