Bouquet of the week;Interview;George Klein

16th April 1999 at 01:00
Practical people who enjoy creating a home-from-home at their place of work make the best school caretakers. Cleaning, decorating and joining in when there's fun and games are all in a day's work for someone like George Klein.

Mr Klein, as he's known to staff and children, has been the caretaker at Ermine Junior School in Lincoln for the past 17 years. According to headteacher Dr Steven Hopkins, who nominated him for Bouquet of the Week, he's a devoted team member.

"He takes a great deal of pride in the school and has a wonderful repertoire of DIY skills," he says. Ermine, a grant-maintained primary with 350 pupils, has recently had an extension built and Mr Klein gave it the finishing touches - plastering, lighting, joinery and laying the carpets. "His handywork is everywhere; he's a super man," says the head.

The other reason for singling him out is for his work with children. Apart from planning and constructing two ponds in the school's wildlife garden, he's also a coach and supporter of Ermine's football team. And he runs the knitting club.

Knitting? It's Polish knitting actually, which brings us to Mr Klein's roots. He came to Britain from Poland, aged 19, to be reunited with his father, a wartime refugee. When Mr Klein Jnr had his own family - two sons - his mother taught him to knit. "I call it Polish knitting, but maybe it's just the way my Mum does it. We cast on quite differently."

Mr Klein clearly loves his job. "I adore it and I get on very well with the children. A lot of them are married now and when I see them they still say: "Good morning, Mr Klein."

This term he's starting a course in computers at the local college and is hoping to surprise everyone with some new skills.

This week our first feature explores what life is like for black and Asian teachers. In interviews with six educationists, Elaine Williams discovered ability being wasted and promotion blocked. Michael Peters, director of educational services for York, has some strong advice for the people who recruit teachers. Their assumptions may need challenging. Anti-racist education from the nursery onwards is the content of our lead article for subject of the week.

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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