Diane Lambert;Bouquet of the week

5th February 1999 at 00:00
They're going to miss Diane Lambert, finance officer at Belfairs Community College in Leigh-on-Sea, when she leaves at half term. In nine years at this Essex GM comprehensive she has become a highly valued member of the administrative team, not only for her skill with figures but also because she's revived the school's staff association.

"We have tried to develop a broader team approach, with teachers and non- teachers working together," says headteacher John Duprey, "and Diane has been a leading light in bringing that to fruition." He believes an active staff association helps relieve the stresses of school life. But it requires organisation, "and Diane is prepared to do that. In her work she's quick and bright, while socially she's a party animal."

The Belfairs staff association organises theatre trips to London, badminton and softball tournaments, outings to the local dog track and end-of-term parties. Everyone who works at the school is invited. "You spend a lot of time with your colleagues and it's good to enjoy their company as well," says Diane.

Teacher Linda Burrage nominated Diane for Bouquet of the Week. Please send me your nominations, not necessarily to say goodbye but to say thank-you and well done.

This week Friday magazine goes to Blarney in County Cork, to meet 16-year-old Sarah Flannery, who has applied her creative ability in maths to stunning effect; her invention may revolutionise global commerce on the Internet. Many factors have come together to influence Sarah's genius, not least the structure of Irish education.

Her school is a rural comprehensive that doesn't have to compete for pupils, as most schools in Ireland have a fairly firm catchment area and there are no league tables. Maths runs in her family (both her parents are university teachers) and at school she is taught maths and science by imaginative people.

But the really significant factor is the existence of something called "the transition year", which two-thirds of Irish schools run in the British equivalent of Year 11. It has no fixed curriculum and no exams but encourages creativity linked to work experience and learning new skills. It was in Sarah's transition year that she developed her ideas to win the Young Scientist of the Year award from Irish Telecom. You'll find her story on page 4.

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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