Alison Weatherston saw through Scott's naughtiness

13th May 2005 at 01:00
I'd been teaching for about four years and was taking my first P7 class of 11-year-olds, when Scott arrived in the middle of October. The school was in a deprived area of Glasgow and this class was my most challenging to date, particularly the boys. Then Scott turned up, and he was "gallus".

There's a lovely Glaswegian word for you. He was a friendly lad, who walked with a bit of a swagger, always wore a cheeky grin and had a sparkle in his eye. But his behaviour was very challenging. He found it hard to fit in.

Scott was always trying to impress the in-crowd, but they didn't want to know, so we'd have tantrums and the like. I really felt for him. He didn't do a stroke of work all term, even though he was obviously a bright boy. I found out later that ours was the eighth primary he'd attended. I tried to reach out to him, to get by the attention-seeking behaviour, and gradually we came to an understanding. By the end of the year, he was doing some work and his future didn't look so bleak.

There have been others like him since then, but I've never forgotten him because through him I realised the importance of using different approaches with different children. I stopped panicking so much about delivering the curriculum and began to concentrate more on finding out what made my learners tick.

Even his mum noticed a difference. When I met her she thanked me, because I was the first teacher he'd had who had seen through his challenging behaviour. When he left for secondary school I still kept in touch with his family as his sisters were at the school, but then they moved, and I moved and I lost sight of him. But five years later his sisters joined my new school. One day there was a knock at the staffroom door and there was Scott, tall and grown up. He was 17, still at secondary school and already with some qualifications. He came to see me because he remembered me as the first teacher to build a relationship with him. I don't think he'd have made it through secondary school if he hadn't found back in P7 that some teachers do care.

Alison Weatherston has been teaching for 18 years and is now depute head at Springhill primary, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire. She was talking to Su Clark. Scott is a pseudonym. Do you have special memories of unforgettable pupils? Write to Sarah Bayliss at the address on page 3 or email

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