Dais of glory: teachers line up to take the Gormley Trafalgar Square challenge

10th July 2009 at 01:00

He's coped with swine flu and visits from inspectors in the space of one week - but Kevin Smart isn't seeking peace and quiet at the end of a challenging term.

Instead, the Nuneaton head will be centre stage at 9pm on Monday week (July 20) as he becomes a public monument in Britain's latest piece of open-air art.

Along with a band of brave teachers who have signed up for the project, Mr Smart will be on view to the world as he occupies the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square.

Many of the teachers who have got involved hope to inspire their pupils by taking part in the Antony Gormley project. But they all have different plans on how they will spend their hour of fame.

Mr Smart, 42, had to close much of his school, Stockingford Juniors, this week after an outbreak of swine flu. Unfortunately, this coincided with an Ofsted inspection on Wednesday and Thursday.

But he and his pupils are looking forward to showing off the school's artwork. He will be wearing a "cloak of creation" designed by pupils and four African masks, chosen by a vote among the children.

"We want to spark their ambition and imagination, and they are all looking forward to this spectacle," Mr Smart said.

Chris Allen, 53, a special needs PE teacher from Peterborough, is also due to make an appearance. He will be leading an aerobics session on Thursday, July 23.

First of the teaching cohort up on the plinth was Kelly Bignall, head of art at Stopsley High School in Luton. She spent her hour drawing the National Gallery during her hour of fame on Tuesday.

"It was initially meant to be something just for me, but then I realised it was an interesting way of inspiring children and showing them anyone can do something," said Mrs Bignall, 32.

Joanna Brittain, 31, an English and media teacher from Leicester, will recite Shakespeare during her time on the plinth tomorrow.

Henry Phillips, 55, signed up because he wanted to do something unusual after being a "boring" teacher for more than 30 years.

Mr Phillips, head of Hordle Walhampton School in Hampshire, wants to raise awareness of the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy, a charity connected with the school. On Sunday, July 19, when he stands on the plinth he will display a sign and make a collage which he hopes Antony Gormley will sign.

Jill Robinson, head of Year 9 at Blackpool Collegiate High, faced "bemused faces" from her pupils when she explained why she was taking part. Ms Robinson, 37, wants to show the children have opportunities available to them and will let off balloons with their names on.

Other teachers have simpler ambitions. Judith Dance, 42, from Haverhill, Suffolk, just wants an hour to herself to read a library book during her slot on July 22.

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