Bouquet of the week

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
I am delighted that so many readers have responded warmly to the idea of sending flowers to the unsung heroes of the nation's schools. The bouquet is Friday's way of saying thank you to teachers and other staff for going beyond the call of duty and doing a terrific job.

This week we've chosen Steve Goldthorpe, chemistry teacher and head of science at Mereway Upper School in Northampton who's become a "teaching guru" at the school. "Watching his lessons - well, they're 100 per cent better than mine!" says headteacher Rosemary Litawski who has made Steve an assistant head.

Twice a year he gives a "science lecture" to 400 youngsters from local middle schools. By all accounts he turns into Professor Brainstorm, portraying the discovery of oxygen with fireworks, bangs and balloons. "He finishes with the 1812 Overture and they're spellbound. Within an hour he's enrolled another 10 pupils to this school and inspired them all with science."

Steve's teaching, which has been praised by OFSTED and HMI, has helped turn this school around from bottom of the county to 38th in the "most improved" national league. He now leads a "teaching and learning" working party giving advice to colleagues on things like how to start and end a lesson. Sounds simple but, for instance, some lessons now start with the setting of homework to focus attention on what pupils should be aiming for.

He's also successful because he's "kind and gentle, extremely well-organised - a fantastic bloke altogether", says Dr Litawski. This term Mereway has been especially supportive of him because his wife died suddenly at New Year, leaving him to bring up a 10-year-old daughter. Steve is back in school, "giving 100 per cent".

Success in the face of adversity is the theme of several pieces this week: the three girls from the volcano-torn island of Montserrat now studying 14 A-levels between them in Suffolk , and the home for the elderly where a children's nursery seems to have breathed new life - literally - into the building.

Seven pages focus on career development and especially the odds against women getting to the top. But is it worth it, if once you get there you find "absurd expectations?" asks headteacher Bernard Barker.

Men's work, he argues, is equally ill-adapted to human need and happiness. So for everyone's sake, headship needs to become a more civilised way of earning a crust. Barker's lesson for life is not to "neglect the soul and lose our delight in the present". Hear hear, now read on...

Bouquet of the Week Names, please, on a postcard - and why - to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Bouquet of the week is given in association with Marks Spencer

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