PAT Annual Conference 2007
Strictly embargoed until 09.30 hours, Wednesday 1 August 2007
Speech to 2007 PAT Annual Conference
Wednesday 1 August 2007
Philip Parkin, General Secretary
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Doesn‟t time fly? It hardly seems a year since I last spoke to you in this form.
I just want to spend a couple of minutes talking about time passing. You can tell I‟m
getting old when I start to reminisce about the past. So just indulge the elderly for a
The reality of time passing was brought home to me just two weeks ago today. I went
into the office that morning and logged my computer on. An e-mail had come in
overnight from a former pupil of mine, Angela. I actually recognised the name and
could picture her – which is a miracle for me because I couldn‟t remember the names
of some of the pupils who were in school when I finished teaching.
I had taught her as an Infant (that‟s KS1 to the younger members present) in the mid
1980s. She said that she had seen me on the television and recognised me. The good
news was that she said it brought back happy memories for her. The bad news was
that her happy memories were of lots of singing to the guitar in the classroom (you
could do that in those days – you didn‟t have to plan to meet attainment target 3.9 of
the geography curriculum by lunchtime of the 23rd of February – you could do things
spontaneously for the fun of it) and of me hitting her on the head with her maths book
when she got something wrong – not a method of teaching and learning that‟s
encouraged nowadays. Her point in writing was to say that I obviously did a good job
because she has now been a primary teacher herself for the past seven years.
It was very gratifying to receive her message and it cheered me enormously. I thank
her for taking the trouble to contact me.
Now I‟m not advocating that we hit pupils over the head in order to make them learn
Before moving on to speak about some items of particular concern to PAT over the
past year, I want to give a little time to the last 25 years and continue on the theme of
For 25 years PANN, first as an independent organisation and subsequently as a
section of PAT, has been serving the specific interests of nursery nurses and other
childcare professionals. It was formed with the help of PAT at a time when there was
no other organisation catering solely for the needs of that section of the workforce. It
continues to raise issues on behalf of the childcare workforce and is the established
voice of nannies. The childcare and early years sector has expanded considerably over
the last 25 years and the work will continue. Structures may change and PANN will
move forward along with the whole of PAT into whatever developments the future
may bring. We congratulate those who had the vision to found PANN and those who
have supported it over the past 25 years.
I spoke last year about the unrelenting pace of change in the education world. In
writing an article for July‟s Professionalism in Practice: the PAT journal in 2006, I
noted that there had been 15 Secretaries of State for Education in England in my time
since becoming a teacher in 1973. Well, now we‟re on the 17th and 18th – two at once!
With an average lifespan of less than 2 years each, Secretaries of State come and go,
but change goes on for ever. The Departments of which they were head have also
changed in name and emphasis.
When I was a child the department was called: The Ministry of Education.
When I started teaching it was: The Department for Education and Science.
In 1992 it became: The Department for Education.
In 1995 it became: The Department for Education and Employment.
In2001 it became: The Department for Education and Skills.
And in 2007 it became: The Department for Children, Schools and Families and The
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
Incidentally, I wonder how many Secretaries of State you can remember. My
apologies to the younger members of Conference who may not relate to all but the
latter stages of this list – or those from Scotland who may not relate to it at all. These
are ones from my years as a teacher:
Thatcher M. 1970 –1974
Prentice R. 1974 – 1975
Mulley F. 1975 – 1976
Williams S. 1976 – 1979
Carlisle M. 1979 – 1981
Joseph Sir K. 1981 – 1986
Baker K. 1986 – 1989
MacGregor J. 1989 – 1990
Clarke K. 1990 – 1992
Patten J. 1992 – 1994
Shepherd G. 1994 – 1997
Blunkett D. 1997 – 2001
Morris E. 2001 – 2002
Clarke C. 2002 – 2004
Kelly R. 2004 – 2006
Johnson A. 2006 – 2007
Balls E. 2007 –
Denham J. 2007 –
And, as a result of the recent elections, there are new education ministers in Northern
Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
There is no wonder that policies and initiatives continue to flow with unremitting
speed and that schools are weighed down by the burden of implementing them.
I checked the Websites of the education departments of the four countries of the UK
to see how many press releases they had put out in the year since our last conference:
Northern Ireland: 106
That‟s a total of 586 from central administrations.
Many of the proposed initiatives come out to consultation. In the last year, assisted by
responses from Council, committees and focus groups of members, we have produced
over 30 official responses to consultation documents on the issues which we felt were
the most important to PAT members. There are many other issues on which we have
been consulted and have given responses verbally or by e-mail.
When I met Ed Balls a week after he came into office, his first question to me was
about what I wanted him to do as Secretary of State. I said a couple of things and, on
reflection, I still think I was right to give them priority. One was about initiatives and
the other about the Social Partnership.
We recognise that the world is a rapidly changing place and that education has to
move with it in order to equip children to live in a significantly different society to
that in which my generation grew up. We also recognise that governments have
priorities for change and development – things they want to do.
But we also know that policies developed at government level have to be delivered at
school, college or nursery level; and that sometimes the initiatives just pile in one
after the other with too little time for implementation before the next one comes
along. The work in preparing and agreeing new initiatives is great but I sometimes
think there isn‟t enough consideration of how much effort is required to implement
them at school level by people who already have full days working with pupils.
I urged Mr Balls to prioritise initiatives and give schools time to implement them
properly. I often think back to the words of a senior education officer in Humberside
who, when we were drawing up the first teacher appraisal scheme for the county, said:
“Do you want to do it, or do you want to do it well?” I think that‟s my challenge to
Mr Balls – give schools time to prepare for the implementation of new initiatives,
give them time to embed them in their practice and be aware of how much is being
asked of them at any one time. Do you want to do it, Mr Balls, or do you want to do it
We‟ve already had an indication of the Secretary of State‟s thinking in this direction
with his announcement of an additional closure day for secondary schools in 2008 in
order to assist with implementation of curriculum changes.
I think this a message equally applicable to all 4 countries of the UK.
The second thing that I asked of him is that he should give full support to the Social
Partnership. Although the partnership has been in place over 3 years now and has had
a significant impact on the lives and work of staff in schools in England and Wales,
there is a great deal of ignorance about it.
In May I listened to a group of ten young teachers (not our members) being
questioned about their knowledge of the unions of which they were members and
about the national negotiating structures that were in place. I was astounded by how
little they knew. They were unable to identify the differences in policies and
emphases between the teacher unions. They did not know which were TUC unions –
or even what their own union stood for. None of them knew about the Social
So why do I believe the Social Partnership is important and why do I believe that it is
right for PAT to be committed to it?
The Social Partnership is unique in that such a body does not exist within any other
department of government. Membership consists of representatives of both support
staff and teachers‟ trade unions, local government employers and the education
departments in England and Wales. The only teachers‟ union which has chosen not to
be part of the Social Partnership is the NUT.
The partnership was born as a monitoring group overseeing the implementation of the
National Agreement on Workforce Reform. It was conceived as a new way of
working in which consultation and consensus were seen as guiding principles. It sits
very comfortably with the way in which PAT believes business should be conducted.
It has subsequently developed into a wide-ranging body which considers the impact
upon the school workforce of many new initiatives. The new scheme of Performance
Management being introduced in September this year, the new Professional Standards
for teachers and the report of the Support Staff Working Group are just three
examples of the work of the partnership in the last year. There are many others.
Like any partnership it requires time and effort in order to make it work. There has to
be a willingness and a commitment on the part of the representatives from a dozen
different organisations sat round the table. And, as with any partnership, there are
disagreements at times that have to be talked through. Any partnership requires
flexibility and give and take. All partners cannot have everything that they want and it
may be necessary to concede to the preferences of others in order to make gains in
Before I became your General Secretary I had doubts about the value of the
partnership and whether it was the right place for PAT to be – probably because I
didn‟t know enough about it. I felt that it restricted our freedom to publicly express
views on aspects of partnership work affecting our members.
But I came to understand that the restrictions and responsibilities placed upon partners
far outweighed by the benefits of membership. Real progress is being made in
improving the working lives of our members in England and Wales in a way that
removes the likelihood of industrial action – surely a key PAT principle – and that
that degree of progress could not be made in any other way.
I am very pleased to say that I have subsequently heard Mr Balls give his full and
unequivocal commitment to the future of the partnership.
I now want to turn to issues to do with support staff, specifically in Scotland and
The Equal Opportunities Commission in Scotland published a report – Valuable
Assets – a couple of months ago into the status and salary of classroom assistants in
Scotland. The report notes the growth in the number of classroom assistants in
Scotland from 1,000 to around 15,000. It also notes that, along with considerable
developments in educational policy, so the role of the assistant has developed.
Across different authorities the job carries different titles: Classroom Assistant,
Learning Support Assistant and Pupil Support Assistant being the most common.
The report notes that teachers, head teachers and parents all acknowledge the
significant contribution that assistants are making to pupil learning. There is also
acknowledgement that assistants are becoming involved in work that is considered to
be more complex and requires significant involvement in the learning, welfare and
care processes – sometimes with little or no training.
The report identified that there was universal dissatisfaction among assistants with
their level of pay. They believed there was a lack of recognition of some of the more
complex and wide-ranging work in which they are involved. Pay rates varied between
local authorities though they are typically between £5.68 and £7.58 per hour – a
difference of about £2 an hour for similar work.
Complexities and differences over the methods of calculating annual leave
entitlements also disadvantage some assistants over others.
Qualifications or continuing professional development are not essential requirements
for entry to or development in the job. There is no occupational or professional body
regulating the work of classroom assistants, working to raise standards of practice or
promoting education and training. This means that there are few career development
opportunities and little opportunity to up-skill an important part of the workforce.
The report then goes on to outline a vision for change. The proposals include:
1. The creation of a national action group to address the issues.
2. The development of a national framework of job roles providing recognition
and clarity about the work of classroom assistants.
3. A Higher National Certificate in „Support for Learning‟.
4. Registration of Classroom Assistants by GTCS.
5. Equal pay audits and agreement on a standard method of calculating annual
leave entitlement in days.
There is some doubt in Scotland about who or what will take these recommendations
forward. The EOC will cease to exist and in October 2007 will become the
Commission for Equality and Human Rights in Scotland. The way to deliver on this
report is unclear. I would urge the new Scottish executive to act and to act quickly on
this. An authoritative piece of work has been done and must not be left to gather dust.
The actions that need to be taken have been identified but it needs effective and
authoritative leadership to take the work forward.
Many of the issues raised will ring true with teaching assistants in England and
Wales. In my speech to conference last year I highlighted some of the issues and
difficulties being experienced by our members. I don‟t intend to rehearse them again.
When members wanted to know if the situation was going to change we told them
that work was being done by the Support Staff Working Group – a sub-group of the
Social Partnership – and that the report from this group would be vital in driving the
Since then the group has reported to the Secretary of State on its findings. He in turn
has asked the group to continue its work and to bring forward detailed proposals for a
separate national negotiating body for school support staff.
This is no simple job and many factors will have to be considered before such
proposals are published; but we remain confident that things are moving along the
right lines. I realise that support staff in schools would want to see results rather more
quickly than might be possible and a concern has been expressed about the speed at
which the work is progressing and that the benefits of partnership are only being seen
Mr Balls has made it clear that all constituencies represented by the Social
Partnership should see real benefits and that he wants to see the work of the Support
Staff Working Group accelerated. I hope that matters will have moved forward by
this time next year and that I will be reporting moves towards significant changes to
pay and conditions for support staff.
Health and Safety
I would now like to move on and talk about two matters which have been of particular
concern to PAT over the last year. Both are health and safety issues and are of
concern to staff and pupils alike.
The first concerns asbestos in schools. Along with other organisations, we have
shared the concerns of Mr Michel Lees who has been campaigning on this matter. Mr
Lees‟s wife, Gina, was a primary school teacher for 30 years and died of
mesothelioma at the age of 51. She did not know that her school contained asbestos
when she regularly stuck drawing pins into the ceiling tiles in order to display the
children‟s work. After her death, Mr Lees discovered that asbestos was in the school
building and was contained in all of the ceiling tiles. His campaigning led to the HSE
issuing guidance telling teachers not to stick drawing pins in walls and ceilings. Mr
Lees has subsequently found out that 13,000 schools were built when the use of
asbestos was at its height and many other schools were refurbished at the same time,
so that the majority of the 24,000 schools in the UK have asbestos-containing
materials in them.
He also found that the numbers of teachers dying from asbestos-related diseases is on
Teacher deaths from asbestos-related mesothelioma:
Between 1980 and 1985: 21
Between 1986 and 1990: 36
Between 1991 and 1995: 53
Between 1996 and 2000: 69
It is believed that most staff working in schools do not know the locations of asbestos
in their schools and there is no HSE guidance compelling schools to tell staff and
parents. Apparently this is because it believes in protecting the public from things that
may cause alarm. The HSE believes people should be informed on a need-to-know
basis rather than a right-to-know.
PAT has experience of asbestos concerns from within our own membership. In May,
Derby City Council was fined £50,000 following the disturbance of asbestos at a
primary school in 2004.
We have worked with the DfES and the HSE on a number of health and safety issues
for schools. Schools are safe places and it is to the credit of the school workforce and
governors that the general picture throughout the country is of effective health and
safety procedures operating in schools. These procedures are underpinned by
informed risk assessment and proportionate control measures.
Our serious concern about the asbestos issue is the lack of information and basic level
knowledge available to schools and governing bodies.
There has been no national assessment of the extent of the asbestos problem in
schools and so, at a national level, it is impossible for government to allocate
resources in proportion to the risk.
The same problem applies at school level. We have not carried out any scientific
research, but our experience is that in local authority maintained schools head
teachers, staff and governing bodies have neither been adequately informed nor
There are now increasing numbers of schools outside local authority control with
direct responsibility for health and safety resting with the governors.
PAT has supported Graham Cox MP in seeking a parliamentary debate on the issue of
asbestos in schools.
Jim Knight, the Minister for Schools, writing to John Denham MP in June 2007 said:
“We do not intend to hold a debate as we consider that asbestos in schools is being
adequately handled by the DfES and the HSE.”
The DfES, HSE and others are doing good work on the sensible management of
significant risk. But in relation to asbestos, we simply do not know what the risk is
and this is entirely unsatisfactory.
I now want to turn to our second health and safety matter and I do so with some
trepidation. This is the issue of Wi-Fi in schools.
The reason for my trepidation is that I have never before been involved in a debate
which provokes such polarisation of opinion and such venom in some participants.
There are no shades of grey in this one. You either believe that there are health and
safety concerns resulting from the great increase in the installation of Wi-Fi networks
in schools and other locations, or you are quite dismissive of anyone who holds such
There is a view out there that you have no right to express concerns on such issues;
and that if you do, you are scaremongering or promoting so-called bad science.
In dealing with this issue the Association has deliberately kept to what middle ground
we have been able to carve out.
I have no intention of rehearsing the scientific arguments in this speech. I‟m not
qualified to do so and wouldn‟t have time anyway. I would just like to make clear to
you, members of PAT, the position we took, the reasons we took it and the responses
that we have had.
In writing to the Secretary of State, I said that I had become increasingly concerned
about the possible health and safety implications of the installation of wireless
networks in schools.
I continue to assert that I am not a scientist and only have a layman‟s grasp of the
issues here. I understand that there are arguments from scientists on both sides of the
question. If the scientists can‟t agree – what chance have we got? And I think it very
much depends on what type of scientist you are as to how you see the question.
Physicists seem to see it very differently to biologists and neurologists and perhaps
that‟s why we need an enquiry – to examine opposing views.
But I have heard and read enough to make me concerned and I had been made aware
of an accumulation of evidence which suggests that the non-thermal, pulsing effects
of electromagnetic radiation could have a damaging effect upon the developing
nervous systems of children. The frequently-quoted current safety limits in operation
refer to the thermal effects of such radiation and not the non-thermal effects.
I pointed out to the Secretary of State that the issue was being taken more seriously in
some other European countries than here. I expressed the view that the BECTA
advice which states that “Given our current knowledge it is reasonable to assume that
WLAN technology offers no appreciable risk to children or others in schools” should
be revisited and that a full scientific enquiry be commissioned in order to better
understand the issues. I also proposed that schools should be discouraged from
installing further networks until the results of such an inquiry are known.
The great number of responses that I have received has been overwhelmingly positive
towards the position we have taken. As you would expect, I have been contacted by
lobby groups who are campaigning against such technology. But I have also been
contacted by PAT members, individual parents and grandparents, and by independent
research scientists, who all have concerns about the possible effects of the technology.
I have also been contacted by those who consider that there is no issue here; at least
one of whom, quite properly, declared his involvement in the communications
We have tried to reflect all shades of opinion by adding links to the page on our
Website dealing with this issue.
I have not said that there are health and safety implications from this technology – just
that there may be. I make no apologies for having said this.
Unfortunately, the Secretary of State, Alan Johnson, did not agree with me. In his
reply to me he directs my attention to the latest advice from the Health Protection
Agency, which is that the agency does not consider that there is a problem with the
safety of Wi-Fi.
This, of course, is in contrast to the publicly expressed view of the Chairman of the
HPA, Sir William Stewart, a former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, who
believes that such a review should take place. I‟m confused and I guess you are. The
Agency says there‟s no problem but the Chairman of the Agency thinks there should
be an inquiry!
Mr Johnson did not agree that BECTA should change its advice or that a
precautionary approach should be taken to the further roll-out of the technology until
more was known. He said that BECTA would make sure that schools and local
authorities had access to the results of ongoing research.
My real concern is that until there is a full inquiry based on both existing evidence
and on newly-commissioned research work, the nation‟s children are being treated as
guinea pigs in a large-scale experiment.
Subsequently I am interested to note that 3 weeks ago, councillors in Haringey,
ignoring advice given in the Council‟s own Wi-Fi in Schools document – which was
based on the Health Protection Agency advice – have decided to make schools aware
of their health and safety concerns and recommend suspension of the installation of
Wi-Fi networks until full consultation with parents, schools and health specialists has
For those of you who may have a further interest in this issue, we will make available
at the back of the hall a paper giving advice to schools prepared by a PAT member,
Michael Bevington of Stowe School. This paper is not a PAT document, it is
Michael‟s own, and it summarises the concerns on this issue and the reasons for those
Vetting and Barring
I‟d now like to move on to another area of concern for PAT.
Sir Michael Bichard looked at the whole question of vetting, barring and registration
in the wake of the Soham murder enquiry.
His report made a number of recommendations which were accepted by the
Government. Recommendation 19 was that “new arrangements should be introduced
requiring those who work with children or vulnerable adults to be registered. The
register would confirm that there is no known reason why an individual should not
work with these clients”.
We were pleased about this recommendation because PANN has campaigned for a
number of years for a nanny registration scheme and this appeared to signal the
achievement of that aim.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which will be implemented from autumn
2008, provides the legislative framework to introduce a single list of those barred
from working with children.
In order to enter the Vetting and Barring scheme, an enhanced disclosure CRB check
will be required.
A teacher is subject to an enhanced disclosure CRB check and is registered by the
General Teaching Council. If they were to commit any offence which would
disqualify them from working with children or vulnerable adults, they would be
placed on a list of barred persons.
Similarly, all other nursery nurses, teaching assistants and support staff require
enhanced disclosure CRB checks and will be required to register on the OFSTED
Childcare Register. All those who provide OFSTED-registered childcare will be
required to enter the Vetting and Barring Scheme.
A nanny, working unsupervised in a child‟s home, will not be required to have an
enhanced disclosure CRB check, or be registered in any way. They may choose to
acquire a CRB check at their own expense and they may choose to pay £100 register
on the Voluntary OFSTED Childcare Register. Parents will not be required to check
the status of their nanny before using them.
In respect of nanny registration, the Government believes that: “it would not be
appropriate or proportionate to regulate family life in this way”.
But here I find some confusion in government. In a written answer on this matter to
the conservative MP Anne McIntosh, published in Hansard on the 5th June 2007, the
previous Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and
Families, Parmjit Dhanda MP, wrote that it is an offence for an individual disqualified
from working with children (ie. their name appears on a barred list) to work in a
regulated childcare position. He goes on to say that “a regulated childcare position
would include an individual working as a nanny”. This is the opposite of our
understanding of the position.
So here‟s the confusion. A nanny apparently does work in a regulated childcare
position and can be listed and disqualified from working. But in order for that to
happen they need to have entered the Vetting and Barring Scheme. In order to enter
the Vetting and Barring Scheme they require an enhanced disclosure CRB check and
to be registered. But to obtain work as a nanny they are not required to have an
enhanced disclosure CRB check and registration will only be on a voluntary basis.
Those who employ an individual in a childcare setting such as a nursery will commit
an offence if they fail to check that their employee, or a volunteer they use, is a
member of the Vetting and Barring scheme. There is no such requirement for those
employing people to work with children in domestic situations to carry out a check.
So everyone who works in a managed, structured, regulated and inspected school or
childcare setting alongside other people must be registered and be part of the Vetting
and Barring Scheme. But someone working alone, unsupervised with young children,
subject to no inspection or monitoring regime, other than the parents who employ
them, does not need to be registered or part of the Vetting and Barring Scheme.
Or do they?
PAT doesn‟t understand why there is any confusion in this matter. We believe all
nannies should be registered. Sir Michael Bichard believes all those who work with
children should be registered. But the Government seems to be in total confusion. It
doesn‟t believe nannies should be registered but it does believe that working as a
nanny is a regulated childcare position.
Now I don‟t know about you, but the phrase „dog‟s breakfast‟ comes to my mind.
And finally I want to return to last year‟s Conference. At last year‟s Conference, a
motion was debated and carried which said: “Conference calls on the Governments of
England and Wales to follow the good example of Scotland and guarantee an
induction year for all students who complete Initial Teacher Training”.
In taking the motion forward, Education Committee agreed that a working group
should be set up to research the issue more fully. The group decided that they had a
number of aims in carrying out this research:
to compare accessibility by NQTs in England, Wales and Scotland to
appropriate employment for completion of a compulsory induction period;
to assess the potential benefits of a guaranteed induction period; and
to publicise our research to interested organisations.
The hypothesis upon which the research was founded was that there is a loss to the
teaching profession because there are a decreasing number of opportunities for NQTs
to secure teaching posts that enable them to access an induction period. We have been
made aware of increasing numbers of short-term contracts and supply work which are
not of sufficient length to qualify towards the completion of the induction year.
Teachers in England and Wales may be lost to the profession if they are unable to
complete their induction period within 5 years.
The research was carried out using postal and online questionnaires to those
undergoing or having recently completed their induction year. This included both
PAT members and non-members. A survey of PAT head teacher members was also
undertaken, including telephone surveys with a sample of heads.
Despite publicising the research as widely as possible, the return was disappointingly
low – particularly from Scotland – and completion of some questionnaires was far
from complete. This made it difficult to draw definitive conclusions, although a wide
range of views was gathered and a number of key findings can be identified:
Demand far outstripped supply and there was tough competition amongst
NQTs to secure a post of any kind following ITT. Some took posts for which
they were not specifically trained.
In order to start teaching, NQTs in Wales and England will take on supply
work, without any assurance from their school or local authority that this work
would contribute to their induction period.
Other posts secured included temporary or part-time work with no guarantee
of being able to start the required induction period.
Additional burdens are placed on NQTs in England and Wales who are unable
to settle in a secure post, develop consistent working patterns and become
anxious about completing the induction period.
For some NQTs in Scotland, a guaranteed induction year brought peace of
mind and assurance of continued work in the profession following induction.
For others in Scotland there remains the challenge of obtaining a permanent
post at the end of the induction year. Anecdotal evidence indicated that a
guaranteed induction year is not good for the profession as it provides a back
door into a permanent job for some who may not succeed through the usual
It has proved difficult to draw definitive conclusions on the basis of the evidence
received. But insofar as these can be identified they include:
NQTs trained in subjects of greatest demand – modern foreign languages,
science and maths, for example – are more likely to complete their induction
period within the required time because they were able to secure appropriate
posts at an earlier stage.
There is a strong likelihood that a long and disjointed induction period for
NQTs who were unable to take up such positions may lead to disaffection and
ultimate loss to the profession.
PAT recommends that a guaranteed induction period for NQTs be given
serious consideration, in order to provide a more standardised and equal
opportunity for NQTs.
I think it‟s important to make clear that we are not recommending a guaranteed
induction year – just that serious consideration be given to it. The evidence on the
advantages of such a guaranteed year was not as clear-cut as the proposers of last
year‟s motion may have expected.
The completed report will be available shortly and will be used to inform PAT‟s
response to the current DCSF consultation on this issue. If you would like a copy,
please give your name to Alison Johnston or Sharon Sherratt and we will ensure
you receive one when it‟s published.
I began this speech by talking about the passing of time and I‟m going to end in the
Those of you working with children are doing the most important job in the world.
Children are wonderful people to be with. They have an honesty of thought and
expression which is lost all too soon.
I heard one of the regional Teaching Awards winners tell this story in his acceptance
He said that when he was a student on teaching practice he was sat at the back of the
class, listening to the teacher trying to convince the children that they wanted to buy
copies of the class photo.
She was saying to them: “In 30 years‟ time you‟ll be able to look at this and say
„there‟s John, he‟s a doctor now; and there‟s Lucy, she joined the army; and there‟s
Wayne and he‟s a fireman‟.”
At which point, a voice piped up from the back of the class and said: “And there‟s the
teacher and she‟s dead now!”
I am sure that many of your pupils will remember you for the work that you do and
the difference you make to their lives and not just as a face in a photo.