Friday Hero

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Ask anyone at Walthamstow school for girls who is a quintessential part of the school and, says headteacher Rachel MacFarlane, whatever their age or subject area they'll all answer "Val Allport".

"It's really difficult when you have 100 staff to pick someone out," says Rachel. "But she's such a one-off and such a star."

But by the time you read this, Val will no longer be a part of the east London school; she retired at the end of the summer term after 19 years as a humanities teacher and sometime deputy head. Rachel, who nominated her for our flowers, chocolates and champagne, says she'll be welcome back anytime. Val has been "an exceptional teacher and fantastic colleague", a constant source of "objective, considered and insightful" advice and deliverer of "legendary" Inset sessions.

She is "loved and respected" by pupils, not least by those belonging to her "London club". Two or three times a term Val gave up her Saturday to take a group of around 20 girls on educational-cum-recreational expeditions into the city centre to visit the sights, parks, exhibitions or restaurants.

"More than 40 per cent of the girls are from Pakistani families, some of which are reluctant for their daughters to go out of the area and on public transport unsupervised," says Rachel. "The trips that Val runs are a wonderful opportunity for the girls and I know that they and she will be sorely missed."

Most of all, the head, the rest of the staff and Walthamstow's 900 pupils will miss having her around. "She is such a good, fun person," says Rachel.

"She's just had her 60th birthday but she is so young in spirit and really mischievous.

"Val is a really selfless person who would never expect any recognition for her enormous contribution, but I know that there are many colleagues past and present who would think it was very appropriate for her to be a Friday hero."

We know there are heroes out there. Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about yours at the address above. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer

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