Bouquet of the week
This is the time of year when the goodbyes start. Year 11 pupils go off on study leave and the exam season gets under way. At Hengrove School in Bristol, two pupils wanted to say a big thank you to their head of year, maths teacher Emma Hall. "To thank her for all the wonderful things she's done for us," wrote Elaine Webb and Lisa Hand, nominating her for Bouquet of the Week.
They say she's "a very special teacher", devoted and caring, "never says no", and always listens to their problems even if it's gone five o'clock and the problem isn't a maths one. The school secretary was the first to endorse Lisa and Elaine's words when I rang the school last week. "Emma is a darling. She joined us when she was newly-qualified and she's given us 500 per cent ever since."
Glenda Baker, the pastoral deputy, said: "If you ever wanted a perfect example of mutual respect this is it."
Then there's her influence on maths. "She's also absolutely passionate about maths for all and gets a great deal of pleasure from seeing her pupils succeed. She gives a different slant to the subject because she's so enthusiastic, and that's infectious."
Last Friday Emma was hosting the "Year 11 Formal Leavers Ball" at the Grand Hotel in Bristol, no less. There would be a four course dinner (menu chosen by Y11) followed by a disco (requests from Y11 already faxed to the DJ at the Grand). "It's going to be very posh and I'm quite excited," said Emma, who at 27 admits she sometimes feels like her pupils' big sister.
"You have to be involved" is her verdict on what she does - adding that she first met Lisa at Hengrove's trampolining club in Year 9. The area has little for young people to do "so for most pupils school is their social life".
She comes from a family of three maths teachers - both her parents are heads of maths departments in Kent schools. "Yes, it's very sad at Christmas," she said, laughing.
Maths is our Subject of the Week, with 13 pages to guide you through the proposed changes at every level. Book of the Week is Class Act, by Jonny Zucker and David Parker, two lads from London who love teaching. They're having a day off soon - to appear on 'Richard and Judy'. See page 18 for a discounted copy of their book.