Pupils I'll never forget

20th February 2004 at 00:00
Lynn Jones recalls a pupil from 20 years ago whose drive shows children of today what they can achieve

Stephen Hardy was a pupil in my first social sciences class when I introduced the subject in 1984. It was a new venture and the head let us do a trial. We only had seven in the class, but now we have 80 taking GCSE every year.

I remember Stephen because he was so determined. What was remarkable about him was that he was so conscientious. Whenever you set any work, he would do more than anyone else. I asked the class to do a piece of social science research and Stephen decided he was going to do local government. I tried to dissuade him as I thought it was too dry and difficult. But he went to the council himself and researched it and he did a really good job. At the end of the course it was no surprise when he got an A.

He was into outdoor pursuits. My husband Gareth, who teaches here too, organises trips to the Lake District, and Stephen used to come camping with us. This was where I got to know him really well. He was grown-up, and very studious, in an environment where it isn't easy to be studious. But he was so determined and he didn't mind when people would talk about him being swotty.

When I was featured in The TES six years ago, I had a letter from him.

He's now Dr Stephen Hardy, director of legal studies at Salford University.

I knew that he had done well but I hadn't heard from him so it was lovely to have that letter. He said that over the years the course had been very valuable to him. I'd forgotten all about it but he remembered that there was a teachers' strike in the 1980s and I had given them lots of extra work to do while it was going on so they didn't lose out. At the end he wrote: " 'Keep up the excellent work' was what you used to write on my report and I'm pleased to return the compliment."

I keep it on my wall and sometimes read it out in class. They are gobsmacked. They say, "What do you mean, a doctor?" - they think he's a medical doctor. But I say, "Look how well you can do". They can all do what Stephen did.

Lynn Jones has taught at Blurton high school in Stoke-on-Trent for 25 years. Last year, 50 per cent of the school's GCSE students got five or more A-C passes. Sixty-eight per cent of Lynn's social science class got a good pass. She was talking to Harvey McGavin. Do you have special memories of unforgettable pupils? Write to Sarah Bayliss at the address on page 3 or email sarah.bayliss@tes.co.uk

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