Who wouldn't relish a 700-mile journey to work?

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
It's been a year of triumphs, tragedies and the bizarre for the average classroom teacher

FOR MANY teachers, just getting through the day can be classed as a triumph. After a stressful morning with Year 9, a lack of bourbon creams in the staffroom can seem like a tragedy. But over the year The TES has documented some far more momentous causes for joy and despair in the lives of teachers.

Take Gavin Rees from Swansea, who was able to return to work after a near-death skiing accident. Thanks to the surgeons who reconstructed his skull, he now has more pieces of metal in his head than anyone else in Europe. Doctors had said he would never teach again, but in January he took up a post as a teacher at Bryn Cethin primary in Bridge End.

Another who stayed in the classroom against the odds was Mary Page, who decided that moving to Prague in the Czech Republic would not stop her working one day a week at a school in Norfolk.

Mrs Page seemed unfazed by her 700-mile journey to work, even though it involved two buses, a plane, a coach, a short walk and a car ride for her to get to Redcastle Furze primary. "It's not an onerous commute," she said.

"It was much worse when I lived in Muswell Hill in London."

A new entrant to the profession was Angela Gunn, a 38 year-old mother of five, who began teaching her first reception class at St Eanswythe's primary in Folkestone. Mrs Gunn was far from a stranger at her school, as she had gradually worked her way through almost every other job in the place over the previous 15 years, including cleaner, site manager, classroom assistant and sports coach.

However, while some teachers came up trumps, others found their careers taking a downward turn. The General Teaching Council found itself dealing with a growing backlog of cases of unprofessionalism and incompetence.

Those who were punished included Adam Bromerley who admitted it was "hare-brained" to buy drugs from a prostitute in Nottingham, while employed as a drugs education teacher in the city.

Tim Dingle, the high-profile head of the Royal Grammar School in Buckinghamshire, was forced to step down after a tabloid reported that he had smoked cannabis which he had confiscated from his students and pretended to be an unmarried doctor to seduce women over the internet.

Another teacher to be embarassed was Emma Wright, a teacher at Streatham and Clapham high school for girls in south London. She agreed to strip off for the Channel 4 series How to Look Good Naked, only to discover that pictures of her naked were to be projected on to the side of Waterloo station.

Meanwhile. the internet brought mixed blessings. Jay Wright, a Year 6 teacher in Bristol, coped with great dignity after thousands of pupils voted online that he was "the worst dressed teacher in Britain".

Pete Davison and Jane Middlebrook got married after meeting on The TES online staffroom. The pair, known online as Angry Jedi and Janemk, invited other contributors to the chatroom to their wedding.

For a handful of teachers, the most important event of 2006 was the day they cleared their names after suffering years of false allegations. Among those exonerated was John Davies, allowed to teach again by the General Teaching Council eight years after being suspended as head of a residential special school. Among other things, he was accused of "child abuse" for sending pupils on cross-country runs.

Proof of innocence came too late for Darryl Gee. The former music teacher was this year cleared of raping a pupil five years after being jailed for the crime - and four years after he died in prison.

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