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Thanks for a wonderful start

So that was the probation year of 2005-06 then; a year that saw London win the Olympic bid, Camilla and Charles tie the knot, Hurricane Katrina devastate Louisiana and Tolkien-style orcs win the Eurovision song contest, not that much of this has managed to penetrate the confines of my microcosmic mind this year.

For me this year has meant the start to a new career and the pursuit of the glittery prize of full registration by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

The school has accepted me into its permanent cohort pending completion of the probation period and I've felt a definite generational shift from the student mentality of last year when I was finishing my PGCE and wondering where in the country I was going to end up.

The days of student placements, slaving away in the pre-ban smoky pubs and parental nagging endured to climb housingcareer ladders have blissfully slipped away and the fuzzy feeling of self-sufficiency is really rather cosy.

The whole year has neatly come to a close and things that seemed problematic at the start are no longer so. All nine of the classroom observations happily inhabit history now and S4 and S5 are lodged into exam mode.

This delightful time of development tasks and finally catching up with marking will soon end, however, as the new session and the full timetable lurks menacingly around the corner. The jump from 0.7 to full-time contact is going to be hard, I think.

It does feel strange to think the new session is fast approaching. For a start, it won't look much like the start of the term last August, as the trendiest neon-coloured stationery that had to be had at the start of the year is now either lost or festering at the bottom of rucksacks among pencil sharpenings, sandwich crumbs and consent forms, but it is a new beginning nevertheless.

One of the questions I was asked at the interview for the post was to discuss a particular highlight and lowlight of the year. This year has been full of those. It's been a turbulent year that has challenged the stiffness of my upper lip. It's not every job that can knot your stomach, inspire musing, evaluative moments and then a euphoric sense of achievement within one day (perhaps with the possible exception of a bungee rope tester).

The lowlights have been intermittent and although they may have seemed apocalyptic at the start of the year, they have been seasoned with perspective and hindsight now. There have been sticky moments, such as a pupil storming out of class in a tantrum or class hysteria because Wilma the Wasp is also curious to know what a simile is.

Some of the highlights have been the responses from the kids themselves.

Receiving genuine smiles outside the classroom and the occasional thank you card is brilliant. Similarly, having worked hard with pupils who were initially resistant to a new teacher and seeing them, eventually, apply themselves more and progress is a definite highlight.

Another has been having the opportunity to observe other teachers in various departments. There are so many pushes to get literacy, numeracy, enterprise, citizenship and so on across the curriculum, it helps having an awareness of whole school teaching and seeing some of the good practice that happens daily.

So I would like to say thank you to all the staff at the school on behalf of both us "newbies". Considering there was little choice in where we were going to end up doing our probationary year, we couldn't have landed more securely on our feet if we were feline.

It has been a demanding year but a thoroughly rewarding one and the staff and children at the school have made it just that.

Here's to a rosy 2006-07 academic year. Cheers.

Nicola Clark is a probationer English teacher at Lockerbie AcademyIf you have any comments, email

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