Bouquet of the week

15th May 1998 at 01:00
Where do teachers get their energy from? They need an abundant supply, and staying healthy in termtime is essential. Helen Mason, the first Scottish teacher to receive a Bouquet of the Week from Friday, is a woman with inner strengths as well as physical vitality.

At Keir Hardie primary school in Motherwell near Glasgow she's known for her green fingers, which have helped create an award-winning garden. Her brick-laying skills came in handy when the school built a rockery, cleverly transplanted from the 1989 Glasgow Garden Festival. She loves being in the open air and is convinced that a spell working in the school garden can transform the mood of the most "hyper" children.

Helen Mason is leading Keir Hardie school's bid for an award from Eco - a European network linking schools that are trying to conserve energy and cut down on waste through recycling.

She says she doesn't think she's any different from the rest of the team at the school - although she admits she was touched by the Bouquet of the Week nomination. "We all just do our best."

Headteacher Jean McClean values this dedicated teacher - "she finds time for everybody and everything" - who spends two lunchtimes a week helping to run the Scripture Union. Helen Mason also finds time to work as a volunteer at Lanarkshire's only hospice. "I find it relaxing," she says. "The atmosphere is unique and so contrary to the busy-ness and noise of school."

Creativity in all its forms is an important theme for us this week. In an interview with Nigel Williamson, conductor Sir Simon Rattle champions the cause of music in schools, and endorses the TES Music for the Millennium campaign. Back in the mid-Eighties, when Sir Keith Joseph asked him which music college the Government should fund, Sir Simon told him to concentrate on Britain's primary schools.

His conviction that children's imaginations need to be fostered by teachers has resonance for our Write Away competition, which attracted more than 10,000 entries from children in 760 schools. The six winning entries show the power of original thinking and the pleasure that writing can give. Settle down with the six pages we've devoted to them and think of the 20 finalists taking to the stage at Shakespeare's Globe in London today.

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

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