So it's back to school, with all its promises and challenges. Here at Friday we begin the new year with a look back at our Bouquet of the Week winners and nominees, and a look forward to more recognition from the Government for professional excellence.
"Good teachers don't just teach exam classes." It's hard to imagine that we'll see a more enthusiastic recommendation than the letter nominating Section 11 teacher Stephen White for a bouquet. "He's one in a million," says Husna Chowdhury, who speaks for the 40 Biddenham Upper School students, past and present, who penned "thank you" messages to their teacher.
"For more than 10 years, Mr White has been helping young Bengalis, Pakistanis and others learn English," says Husna. "He has looked after and supported us through the earliest stages of speaking and writing. He has helped us adapt to a strange new world, and helped our families understand new forms, rules and customs. He has been more than a teacher; he has been a friend to the whole community."
Headteacher Mike Berril, who took over as head of the Bedford school in 1997 after it had faced closure, says the first thing he did was add Stephen to his senior management team. "He knows all the pupils, a consummate professional, " he says. The school is now rated top in Bedfordshire for value-added.
When 19-year-old Husna joined Biddenham six years ago, she says she was "totally lacking in confidence". She had just come from Bangladesh, could not speak English and had to tread the difficult line between her home culture and life in Britain.
Working with Stephen White, she went on to good grades in GCSE and A-levels, a job helping with home-school liaison in her community and now a place to train as an infant teacher at de Montfort University. "Husna is a great success story," says Stephen White. "She'll be a good teacher."
Our own Gemma Warren starts her new school and a new fortnightly column this week, as she leaves behind the relative security of teaching practice to face her first class.
And, as you begin the task of drilling information into pupils, take a look at Weird Health, a new column which this week features trepanning.
Bouquet of the Week is given in association with Marks Spencer. Names, please, on a postcard - and why - to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY
Sarah Bayliss. Friday editor