Teachers shine at Games

British athletes and officials take time out from the classroom to go for gold

Richard Vaughan

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Many school staff spent the last few weeks of term counting down the days until the start of the summer holidays and the arrival of the Olympics, but one geography teacher has been waiting years for the London Games.

Dan Fox, a defender in Team GB's hockey team, is taking part in his first Olympics and has already scored in the team's opening game against Argentina.

Over the next few days, the 29 year old will battle it out against the world's top teams in the hope of winning a medal, before starting a new role this September as a geography teacher at the independent Cranleigh School in Surrey.

Mr Fox was dropped from the British squad two years ago, so being in the team for the 2012 Olympics is all the sweeter, he said. "It has been very hard work to get into the final 16," he added. "Just a few weeks ago, 27 were in with a shout of making the squad, so there has been a lot of pressure building up to this point."

A number of Mr Fox's former students from his old school, North London Collegiate, have been cheering him on since the Games began and the teacher can add a few more fans to the list after he and his team mates played host to the Queen and Prince Philip, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

"We haven't been able to move for all the royalty," Mr Fox joked. "But the whole experience has just been amazing. These are memories that I will keep and look back on for some time. However, right now I am just glad it has started and hopefully we can go on and win a medal."

Already among the medallists is Helen Glover, who partnered Heather Stanning in the women's coxless pairs. The duo won the first of Britain's gold medals in the Games on Wednesday, before which Ms Glover was a PE teacher in Bath. Prior to 2008 she had no experience in rowing.

On the non-competitor side, scores of teachers are involved in making the 2012 Olympics happen. Among the most high profile is Margaret Werrett, who is one of a handful of official starters at the Games.

A chemistry teacher at the pound;26,000-a-year Bromsgrove boarding school in Worcestershire, Ms Werrett was selected as the only woman in a team of four official starters during the 10 days of the athletics competition.

Ms Werrett is very highly rated in the world of athletics and has been involved in officiating since 1998. "It's very exciting," she said. "The Olympics will be the biggest event I've ever been involved in. We don't know which races we'll be starting, but I expect it to be seven or eight races each.

"It's unlikely that I'll be starting the men's 100m final, which is the most high-profile event, as that is normally done by the chief starter or the international chief starter."

Although the 100m final looks unlikely, Ms Werrett has been selected as chief starter for the Paralympic Games, which she described as a tremendous honour.

The Paralympics start in London on 29 August and will run until 9 September.

`It was amazing'

Dozens of school staff also took centre stage at the opening ceremony, which was regarded as a huge success across the world.

Peter Flew, headteacher of St Edmunds Catholic Primary School in Godalming, Surrey, was given a role as one of the industrial miners who appeared from beneath the tree in the early stages of the show.

Mr Flew was part of a section of the ceremony called "Pandemonium", in which the green and pleasant lands populated by farm animals and village folk gave way to the Industrial Revolution.

"Just being part of such a thing, where thousands of people had given up their time willingly and then the eyes of the world watching you - it was amazing," Mr Flew said.

Photo: Geography teacher Dan Fox scores for Team GB. Credit: Corbis

Original headline: Staff inspire their pupils with goals and gold

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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