Bouquet of the week;John Savory

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
Lately I've heard several stories of grandparents getting involved in schools and I wonder if it's a trend. With a working life behind them, they are the unhurried generation with time to invest. And when they've got special skills, plus the patience that sometimes comes with age, schools can benefit hugely.

Mr John Savory has two grand-daughters, Emma, nine, and Kirsty, seven, at Carrant Brook junior school in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. When Emma joined the school in Year 3 he offered to help. Headteacher Christine Hammant, who nominated him for our bouquet, says it was obvious from the start "how interested he was and what gifts he'd got".

Mr Savory is a retired engineer and a DIY enthusiast. He helps children with design technology and often works alongside them on computers - there is a suite of eight machines as well as one in every classroom. But he also hears children read, accompanies day trips and, says Miss Hammant, "does whatever the staff ask of him".

Two years ago he joined the governing body and is an "invaluable" member of the premises committee - his technical drawing comes in handy for adaptations to the building. This summer, having established what changes teachers would most like to their classrooms, he repaired shelving, put up pin-boards and painted walls, ably assisted by his wife, Rita.

"We were astounded when we came back from the holidays," says Miss Hammant. "We don't know how we managed without him - he's a star."

Mr Savory says the school has always made him welcome and he is so pleased to have started "a whole new life", having retired from the mining industry with health problems. "I'm very mindful of the pressures on teachers, and what I do for them is a very, very small part," he says. "I'm full of respect for what they do."

Music and the arts is our subject of the week, opening with a preview of the Music for Youth Schools Proms, taking place in London's Royal Albert Hall in a fortnight's time. As Nigel Williamson writes, they will start with a fanfare and end with a bang to celebrate 25 years of music-making by children and their teachers.

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 E1W 1BX. Or e-mail:

Sarah Bayliss Friday editor.

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