Bouquet of the week

4th June 1999 at 01:00

This time last year student teacher Abi Orr had her fingers crossed. Fresh from a PGCE course at Aberdeen University, she'd just landed her first job as an English teacher on the west coast of Scotland. Was she doing the right thing? And would her new head of department, Anne Mackison, help her make a successful start?

Gairloch High School is in a remote part of the Highlands. It's a rural secondary which draws its 210 pupils from a 700-square-mile catchment area. Being second-in-charge of a two-person department was quite a challenge for Abi, the newly-qualified teacher.

Three terms later she has nominated Anne for being a "magnificent" colleague who calmed all her anxieties. "She knows when to challenge, when to compliment and when to console," says Abi. "Her subject knowledge is second to none but she greets each new challenge with enthusiasm and is eager to learn - even from me!" Anne Mackison has taught at Gairloch High for six years and loves it. Five years ago a new school building opened and the academic results at Standard grade are among the best in Scotland. "The kids here really want to learn. They want to make the best of their time and enjoy school - it's their social life too," she says.

This year the English department has had particular success - two sixth-formers won the north of Scotland debating competition and several pupils were commended in a national writing award. Inspired by Anne, Abi has started a drama group and pupils are encouraged to perform in the Gallic Mod - a local arts festival of music, dance and poetry.

Abi says she's "proud and privileged" to work for Anne, and our flowers are to say thank you to her for being a great mentor.

This week new recruits to teaching will find special advice in our career development pages. We focus on the secrets of success, how to improve your chances and fulfill your dreams. If you're a teacher seeking promotion and trying to catch the selector's eye or if you have just been disappointed in the scramble for a new post this term, you're sure tofind something relevant. Good luck on the jobs front.

Sarah Bayliss Friday editor

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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