Pupils I'll never forget

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
Liz Paver has seen hundreds of children come and go, but none with the fortitude to match Tom's

Tom has haemophilia, which is quite a severe condition, but he was able to conquer it against the odds. He was born with it, and when he first came to us there were times when he couldn't walk because of the pain and inflammation in his joints.

The reason he sticks in my mind is because he was able to continue and succeed in mainstream schools when, at a very young age, he was having daily injections, lots of hospital visits and he wasn't able able to run with the pack of lads. He wanted to join in all the time, but there were occasions when he couldn't do PE and games.

What I remember is his resilience. It would have been so easy for him to allow himself to be wrapped up in cotton wool, but you never saw him in a state and he always kept his sense of humour. He took on board things that children twice his age wouldn't have coped with. With a medical problem like his came a maturity beyond his years and, as he was a big lad, people would automatically assume he was older than he was. It enabled other children to grow because they knew that he was coping with his condition so well. He had a very outgoing personality that sometimes belied his problems. He had a great deal of support from his sister older Jenny.

We have had so many kids come through our school and a lot of them have had real problem lives. Over nearly 40 years in teaching, I have had hundreds and hundreds of lovely children, but this young chap stands out. He had great courage and strength of character.

He went on to study civil engineering at university - he's just waiting for his results - and the fact he hasn't taken an easy desk job and he'll be out on building sites in his hard hat and boots just reiterates that.

Liz Paver is head of Intake primary school in Doncaster and a past president of the National Association of Head Teachers. She was talking to Harvey McGavin. Do you have special memories of unforgettable pupils? Write to Sarah Bayliss at the address or email sarah.bayliss@tes.co.uk

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