My best teacher

21st July 2006 at 01:00
I went to school until I was 15 and took my GCSEs, but then I stopped and started modelling. I was not the most academic of people, nor was anyone in our family, but I was sporty and that got me through school.

I was also dyslexic, so that made concentrating on anything to do with writing quite hard. I remember my French teacher sitting me down and saying, in a thick French accent, "Jodie, I do not think you should be taking your French examinations as you don't understand your own language, let alone my language."

I was a bit disruptive because I couldn't be bothered to learn. According to my school reports I had the smallest attention span in the whole world, but I know that isn't true in general - I've recently gained my international racing licence and I sit in a racing car and listen to instructors for ages. My racing instructors have said, "We've never known anyone with more concentration and drive."

I suppose I knew that I wasn't going to be a lawyer or a doctor. My father was a show jumper and we're all quite sporty in my family. As I look back I can see I was constantly training for swimming, lacrosse, netball or athletics and that was all I was interested in. By the time I was 10 years old I was representing West Sussex county in all those sports except athletics.

I didn't mind science - chemistry was fun and different. And I loved art, but sitting doing essays and solving maths problems was too difficult. I wanted to be outside.

My sports teacher was called Mrs Ballard and she knew what I wanted - more and more sport. It was a boarding school, so she used to pick me up and take me to all the local competitions. She spent a lot of time with me, driving round the county to all my mad sporting endeavours.

I was the only person in the school representing the county, so I think she was proud of me. She was a young blonde teacher and everyone liked her - her style was very open and encouraging. She seemed a lot nicer and more sympathetic than other teachers. I thought them all incredibly bossy, as you do.

I remember we found out her first name, Eileen, so at every school dance we all began asking for a song that was out at the time, "Come on Eileen". But she never seemed to mind - it was all taken in a good spirit.

I think the school gave up trying to persuade me of the value of anything other than sport. While I was considered a disruption in class, I was Mrs Ballard's model pupil. They saw I was driven so they just went with me and supported me as much as possible. Mrs Ballard trained with me so she was the main teacher I related to.

Every now and then the headmistress, Mrs Bolton, would allow me time off lessons to train for a big event. She was very sport-orientated herself and used to watch me as much as she could. She also ran the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and was very into outdoor, healthy activities.

In my last two years the headmistress changed and I really didn't get on with the new one. She wanted the school to be more intellectual and cut sports lessons down to the bare minimum - from six or seven sports lessons a week to around four. The year after I left, the school closed down - I don't know why.

Modelling kept me so busy I've never seen Mrs Ballard again. The only teacher I've kept in contact with was a lady called Rachel Carpenter, who taught me how to ride horses, but outside school. She was probably 60 years old at the time and she'd taught three generations in our family to ride, so she trained me and I learned everything I know about horses from her.

She is still a family friend.

Model Jodie Kidd was talking to Mark Anstead

1978 Born and raised in Petworth, West Sussex, and at the family home in Barbados 1982 Primary school - Conifers, Midhurst, West Sussex

1989 Secondary school - St Michael's, Burton Park, Petworth

1995 Begins to model multimillion advertising campaigns for Chanel, Calvin Klein

1998 After criticism of her "stick thin figure" takes a year out and learns to play polo

1999 Returns to catwalk and fashion shows

2000 Represents Britain at polo

2003 Begins training for Maserati motor racing team; starts Pret-a-Polo entertainment company 2004 Pret-a-Polo goes bust; signed as face of Monsoon

2005 Hosts Fashion Avenue, TV programme in America

2006 Face of British International Motor Show, at ExCeL, July 20-30. Info: or call 0870 060 0245

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