'They were good kids - but it was bloody hard'

"You can't ever quite let go because you have so many kids with difficulties. It is non-stop." Linda Jordan (left) has just finished a 33-year career at St Ann's Well infants', in one of Nottingham's most deprived areas, where more than half the pupils qualify for free meals.

She is not surprised to hear the researchers' findings that teachers in schools like hers are more likely to suffer from ill health. Yet she says she has not witnessed this herself. Her own experience backs up the other finding of the research, that teachers in schools where more than 35 per cent of pupils get free meals are the most resilient of all.

"I think we were very strong people with good support networks," she says.

"We were experienced with pupils' emotional and behavioural difficulties and so we became adept at dealing with them.

"There were occasions when my colleagues got stressed, but there was a mutually supportive atmosphere and a great deal of camaraderie.

"You also know that your colleague in the next room has got the same kind of problems. You don't sit there thinking you have drawn the short straw and have been lumbered with the worst class. You are all in the same boat."

It has meant having to work extra hard to engage pupils, many of whom have problems at home, are often over-tired because they have been up half the night, and may have come in without breakfast. But Linda never felt like leaving.

"They were good kids. I loved working with them, but it was bloody hard."

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