Mrs Hicks was my favourite primary school teacher. To a seven-year-old she seemed to be the oldest, wisest and funniest lady in school. She was also very, very scary. My goodness you would never want to make her cross! She could make you cry with a single click of her false teeth, drawing a deep breath she would say your name slowly and deliberately:
‘Lesley Ann,’ she would shout, ‘stand beneath the school clock for the whole of playtime!’
Oh the shame of it! Every teacher would tut at you as they entered the acrid, smoke-filled staffroom. You were ‘well done’ as they say. But not in a shiny gold star way. In my case doubly ‘done’ because my twin sister would delight in making sure mum found out too!
Despite this crime, Mrs Hicks was my favourite teacher. Why? Well, I will never forget the first time she placed a tiny golden star on the bottom of a page of joined up writing. Well done! She wrote and I knew she was delighted with my efforts. Golden stars were very rarely shared around. Mrs Hicks had standards and she had chosen to reward me. I was on cloud nine.
Only the very best work was ever rewarded at my primary school. To be fair, only the best work was ever marked – she would think nothing of ripping out whole pages and throwing them in the bin. You had to be clever and work hard to enjoy being in Mrs Hicks’ class. She didn’t waste time on children who couldn’t or wouldn’t get it. School was for academic children and that was that.
I wonder how many of you can remember your primary school years? My memories are generally fond ones but for many of my friends school was not a happy experience and they never really got over it.
As a parent I wanted my children to enjoy school as much as I did. It was important for me to trust the staff to get to know my boys so they could effectively meet their learning needs. Perhaps we were lucky because they thrived, went on to university and have become life-long, confident learners.
Going to a great school shouldn’t be an accident of chance. Doesn’t every child deserve the best? I think so. It was the reason I went into teaching in the first place.
Now I am a headteacher I am determined to ensure that our new academy is a place where every child feels included, safe and happy. A healthy relationship of trust and mutual respect between teachers and pupils is, in my view, the foundation stone of inclusion. I expect nothing less.
At High Hazels we are determined to secure the best from everyone.
Oh and I also have lots of gold stars for the children too!