Haven't I seen you around before?

5th November 2004 at 00:00
Manon Maddock has known her "pupils" since they were 11 years old. Like all teachers, she watches them work, monitoring their progress and awarding appropriate grades. And, afterwards, she takes them to the staffroom and discusses their work over a cup of coffee.

Mrs Maddock, Welsh teacher at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, a comprehensive in Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, is the matriarch of an unusual teaching lineage.

The 33-year-old has taught at the school since her own induction year. Last year she married Aled Maddock, Ystalyfera head of music, a former pupil at the school. And this year the two are acting as induction tutors to three former pupils who have returned as teachers.

Mrs Maddock acknowledges that it is not an easy role. It is often a struggle to remember that the pupils she taught in her own induction year are now teachers in their own right.

"They're basically the same as they were when they were 11," she said. "I feel maternal towards them. That's when you realise you've reached middle age."

And the return of the prodigal pupils has led her to feel self-conscious in other respects, too.

"I'm aware they may think I'm still delivering the same lessons I used for them," she said. "I've had to draw up new lessons plans.

"But, at the same time, they use techniques that I used, and still do, like counting down from five to get pupils to be quiet. I can see myself in their lessons. It's eerie."

But Noir Jones, 22, one of Mrs Maddock's inductees, insists that it is precisely to learn from the teaching they received themselves that so many former pupils return to Ystalyfera.

And, he adds, coming to the school as a newly-qualified teacher enables him to appreciate many elements of classroom life that he was less fond of as a pupil.

"You're on the other side of the line," he said. "You can't let pupils misbehave, even though they are doing things we did at school.

"At that age I just thought of teachers as the people who give you homework and hand out detentions. I couldn't imagine being a teacher myself."

Nia Hopkins, 22, has found it less challenging to adjust to life on the other side of the staffroom door.

"I was taught throughout school by the same teachers," she said, "so it's a natural process to be training as a teacher with Mrs Maddock."

But certain adjustments have been harder than others. "I mean Manon.

Calling teachers by their first names worried me at first. But you get used to it."

"Occasionally, I do have to remind them I'm not Mr Maddock any more," agreed Aled Maddock. "But it's getting easier."

It is a struggle that he will never resent. "When I left school I didn't go back and have never been back. My teaching is clearly so good that my pupils want to come back for more."

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