Stephen Down

14th March 2003 at 00:00
Stephen Down is a graduate trainee at Maple Tree lower school in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Stephen is 32 with a degree in computer science and a background in industry. But he's from a teaching dynasty - both his parents are teachers - and when he decided to switch careers he wouldn't take no for an answer, even though the graduate teacher programme wouldn't fund him.

Maple Tree lower school wanted him from September, but funding wasn't available until January when the Teacher Training Agency came up with a pound;6,000 training grant. The school has made up his salary and discovered a great teacher in the making. "In the short time he's been with us, he's made a big contribution," says headteacher Anne McCormick, who nominated him for our flowers, champagne and chocolates.

Stephen works alongside a mentor and started teaching reception. He's begun taking lessons across the age range and runs the computer club for key stage 2. Ms McCormick says that as the only male member of staff he's fitted in well and can make "a mean chocolate cake".

Recently, the school, which featured in Friday magazine's 2020 Vision series for its forward thinking on creativity, held a "Bring your dad to school" day and Stephen invited his own father.

Meanwhile, Ms McCormick says she is "holding on to him with both arms - he'll be a credit to the teaching profession".

On a different note, we're sorry we got in a muddle about Hamp junior school in Bridgwater, Somerset, a fortnight ago. The school has not been in special measures, but is hoping to come out of serious weaknesses as an improving school soon.

Send the name of your Friday Hero to Sarah Bayliss, Friday, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, or email Flowers kindly supplied by Marks amp; Spencer

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