Seeing double, and double, and double ... and triple!

24th December 2010 at 00:00
An East Renfrewshire primary boasts twin teachers, 13 sets of twin pupils and triplets

Seeing double? It's a common phenomenon at Eaglesham Primary in East Renfrewshire, where there are 14 sets of twins (six identical) and a set of identical triplets.

If that seems an unusually high rate for a school of some 370 pupils, Eaglesham can make another claim to fame - two of its teachers are twin sisters and have taught side by side for 17 years.

And if that were not enough, another teacher, Louise Murphy, gave birth to twins in the summer; the school's office manager, Morag King, is a non- identical twin; and clerical assistant Louise Parker has twin boys.

Twin teachers Jennifer Weir and Pamela Nicoll, 56, are part of the fabric of the village school. Jennifer, who teaches a nursery class, is the elder by 10 minutes; younger sister Pamela teaches P2.

Pamela was the first to arrive at Eaglesham, four years after she qualified, but she then left after a while to have her family and returned 17 years ago. Jennifer, meanwhile, had joined the school 20 years ago, when Pamela was a full-time mum. So for the past 17 years they have had joint continuous service and still talk non-stop about work outside school, they say.

Both were inspired to become teachers by their P6-7 teacher at Giffnock Primary, Marjory King. Having been known throughout primary and secondary as "the twins", they chose to go to separate teacher training colleges - Jennifer to Craigie, in Ayrshire, and Pamela to Jordanhill, in Glasgow.

"We both love the same kind of things. We love seeing the children responding to stimulus, and doing artwork. We love getting nice displays up and then seeing the children come in and recognising their work, and the delight in their faces," says Jennifer.

New members of staff and parents are sometimes confused by apparently meeting the same person in the corridor a few minutes apart, says headteacher Linda Congalton.

But according to Victoria Groom, twin sister of Elizabeth (P7), "it's much easier for twins and triplets to tell other twins and triplets apart".

Victoria and Elizabeth are in different classes. "My mum said it would be good because we would get different friends, and if we were always together we would be less independent," says Victoria.

Kate and Kirsty Smith, in the same P6 class, admit to sometimes playing tricks on their teachers, one pretending to be the other, but they are absolutely certain the teacher twins have never played tricks on them.

"Mrs Nicoll has a side parting but they have the same colour of hair," says Kate.

The teachers say they can read each other's thoughts and have similar teaching styles. Being a twin does not often come up as an issue in their classroom practice but, teaching in a Unicef Rights Respecting School, they may discuss behaviour towards brothers and sisters and "doing one's best for each other".

"Being a teacher is something we would never, ever change. We still thoroughly enjoy our job and would not choose anything else or choose to be in any other school," says Pamela - or is it Jennifer?

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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