Pupils I'll never forget

21st January 2005 at 00:00
Beverley Edmonds has fond memories of a special needs boy who made it in the mainstream

In my 36 years at Cynffig comprehensive I've seen many memorable pupils pass through, including the Welsh rugby internationals Alan Phillips and Jonathan Humphreys, and the actor Owen Teale. But it's Fred, with his many challenges, who I'll never forget.

Fred's parents were professionals who were well aware of their rights. They insisted their son, who had severe learning difficulties, should be educated in the mainstream. This was around 15 years ago and, at the time, I wasn't sure they were doing the right thing. But integration worked for Fred.

It was a sharp learning curve for everyone at the school and there were several incidents; he locked me in my store cupboard more than once. But it helped that his parents were incredibly supportive, of him and us, and were determined to overcome any problems. With parents like that he had a much greater chance of succeeding in the mainstream.

In those days I was teaching cookery. One week we were making Scotch eggs and the recipe called for one uncooked and four hardboiled eggs, which had to be done at home the night before. When Fred presented his five eggs, all wrapped in foil, we had no way of knowing which was the uncooked one. His way of sorting them out was to break each one against the table to see which one splattered.

But the most memorable incident still makes me chuckle. His mother had taught him that if he ever had a problem he should phone 999 and ask for the police. So when he missed the school bus one morning, he did just that.

The first we knew was when a police car rolled up outside the school to deliver Fred to us.

I still see him. I often go to where he works, and always make a point of having a chat with him.

I'll probably always remember our famous rugby players and actors, but neither will I ever forget Fred and how he succeeded at our school.

Beverley Edmonds is deputy head at Cynffig comprehensive, Bridgend. She was talking to Su Clark. 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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