Make it a knight to remember

21st January 2005 at 00:00
Tod slays dragons and vanquishes the enemy, his finely chiselled features striking fear into opposition forces, joy into the hearts of adoring women.

But, frankly, none of that is quite as much fun as teaching. Tod, the gladiator-turned-teacher, is the hero of a job advert placed in The TES last week by staff at Preston Manor high, in Brent, north London.

The school's advert for newly-qualified teachers uses a 1900-era picture of a knight, gazing dramatically into the middle distance. A sword in one hand, a shield strapped across his bare chest, he rests one foot on the neck of a vanquished soldier. The accompanying caption highlights the folly of choosing a life of derring-do over a career in the classroom.

"Tod was an NQT," it reads. "He somehow felt he had missed a golden opportunity with Preston Manor."

Brian Green, the school's designer, found Tod among an archive of Victorian and Edwardian images. "People are stuck in jobs where they clock in and out," he said. "Being a white knight is just another job. But Preston Manor is rewarding and challenging. It's like running away to the circus, only you're actually going into a sensible job."

Andrea Berkeley, Preston Manor head, hopes that Tod will prove effective in the battleground of teacher recruitment."It's really important that our teachers have a sense of humour," she said. "I don't want anyone too po-faced."

But Tod had to overcome serious competition from four other draft adverts.

Two highlighted the appeal of teaching over more mundane occupations.

Another showed a man looking through binoculars, with the caption: "Preston Manor is looking for NQTs."

And one used a picture from the annual school pantomime. "That was rejected because the male staff were in drag," said Ms Berkeley.

But she is not concerned that women will be deterred by Tod's unequivocal masculinity. "He's quite dishy-looking, isn't he?" she said. "Women will think there might be eligible young men on the staff. But looking like a gladiator isn't part of the requirement."

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