Bouquet of the week;Devon Elliot

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
It's great to receive nominations for Bouquet of the Week signed by the whole staff of a school. This week, site manager Devon Elliott is the unanimous choice of all his colleagues at Manvers Junior School in Cotgrave, Nottingham. And you can see why.

Not only does he do all the usual stuff well (keeping the school spotlessly clean, warm and in good repair) but he also likes children (not always the way with school caretakers) and gets involved in their learning, especially in music.

Four years ago he set up the Manvers Junior Gospel Choir, which meets after school every Friday and gives regular concerts. Up to 40 children from this former pit village sing in the choir and have learned to perform solos. "Music is my hobby and I just love it," says Devon, who is also a drummer for an adult choir. "Music encourages people, it helps them work together and brings children out of their shell."

Through the teamwork he rates so highly, he has seen friendships develop and children supporting each other. "When they're nervous about being on stage and singing together, they seem to become friends."

Devon, who at the weekends is a Sunday School teacher and youth leader, is also a willing volunteeer when it comes to school trips and residential visits. The last one was an adventure holiday with abseiling, horse riding and forest walks.

"You can decide just to be a caretaker or you can get involved in the life of the school. In my experience you find friendship and encouragement when you start to do these things."

The postcard from Manvers junior staffroom says: "Nothing is too much trouble for Devon and he has a smile for everybody." I'm glad they've shown how much they appreciate him and I hope other readers are inspired - please let me know about the stars in your school.

Teachers can make such a difference and on the page opposite theatre director Michael Attenborough describes the English teacher who changed his life. English is our Subject of the Week (Pages 18-25) and whether you're a primary or secondary teacher, please don't delay with your final entries for the TES Write Away competition. You can read how last year's winners benefited from writers-in-residence.

Sarah Bayliss Friday editor.

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