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When the spinning stops, the teaching begins

The spin doctor who coined the phrase "education, education, education" has now adopted it as a mantra for his own life, taking a job as a classroom assistant at an inner-city London comprehensive.

Peter Hyman left Downing Street on New Year's Eve, after serving as aide and speechwriter to Tony Blair for nine years. More recently, he had taken over from Alistair Campbell, as head of the Prime Minister's strategic communications unit.

Mr Hyman has now exchanged red boxes and policy briefs for whiteboards and detention slips. He recently started work as a classroom assistant at Islington Green, in north London, a 1,000-pupil comprehensive notorious for its challenging intake.

After leaving Number 10, Mr Hyman, aged 35, visited a number of schools near his home in Haringey, north London. Liking the atmosphere at Islington Green, he suggested to the headteacher that he might join as a classroom assistant until the end of the school year. "Having worked on strategy at the centre for nine years, it's really good to see the front line in action, and to see the challenges faced," he said.

Only a few weeks into his new job, he is already considering a long-term career: "The more I have been here, the more I have got excited about the possibility of going into teaching. I studied history at university, but now I think my subject might be politics as well.

"There is often talk about how low morale is among the teaching profession.

But it has struck me how positive the teachers are. I have seen really upbeat teachers here. And there have been no political arguments in the staffroom yet."

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