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Winter and wine will be my ruin

"I can't believe how time has flown since September," says Helen Ongley, right. "Every week passes so quickly. Teaching is not a profession where you feel you're marking time. It's a 24-hour job.

"It's amazing what effect the weather has on the students and their behaviour. My form group asked whether they could be allowed home early when it was windy and rainy. It makes you wonder how they'll cope in winter.

"When the weather's bad, I dread teaching them after lunch. When they've been trapped inside they find it hard to concentrate. It's difficult to get any teaching done; I find myself climbing the walls with the kids waiting for the bell to ring.

"I find it difficult to switch off, especially concerning parents' evenings and marking. As a consequence, my social life has disappeared and I find myself seeking sanctuary in large bars of chocolate and bottles of wine, not to mention the close relationship I've struck up with the local fish and chip shop, because the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. I hope the second term is easier."

Helen Ongley, a business studies and leisure and tourism teacher at New Brompton college, in the Medway Towns, Kent

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