Pupils I'll never forget

12th September 2003 at 01:00
Susan Tarling remembers Brummy girl Hannah who was good at games I didn't teach Hannah until she was in my GCSE PE class at Coleshill comprehensive, Warwickshire. I'd come across her before when I was covering lessons, and I knew her reputation. She had two distinct sides to her character. On a good Hannah day she could be a model pupil; on a bad Hannah day she was the child from hell.

In a way she was a classic Brummy lass: long blonde hair, lots of jewellery, always in a track suit. She was good at games though - sporty, well co-ordinated and quite aggressive. She played for a local football team, and was popular with her friends.

But she wasn't always so popular with teachers. She was unpredictable, and had a temper. She had horrendous problems at home; there was an issue with alcohol, and perhaps with drugs, too.

She was learning to play hockey at school, and to encourage her I used to have a quiet word when I saw her around the school, or when she was in the corridor outside my classroom (which was frequently).

Then it came to Year 10 options, and she wanted to do PE. She was never easy to teach, but she began to trust me. If anyone ever praised her, she would come and tell me. She still exploded, though. Once, when I was heavily pregnant, she screamed swear words at me which really upset me.

Perhaps it showed, because she sought me out later and apologised.

But, for all that, she frittered away her GCSE years. In the end I think she was asked to leave. And that would have been the end of the story, except that in the summer she left she telephoned to ask how I was, and then when my son Josh was born she asked if she could come round to see him. She said she wanted to find a job and I helped her compile a CV on my computer.

A few months later she visited again. She'd got a job in a local sports centre - "working in a gym", she said, and loving it. She said she was going to study, too, "to get qualifications". She sounded happy and confident. We'll probably lose touch, but I don't think I'll ever forget her.

Susan Tarling (pictured with her son, Josh) is 33 and recently retired from teaching on medical grounds following a second liver transplant. She was talking to Michael Duffy

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