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The Secret Teacher

Here is a book that has been written by an actual teacher who has decided to keep himself anonymous. The characters in the story are fictional but the things that happened to the secret teacher in the story are very loosely based on his own experiences as an NQT (newly qualified teacher) .

He starts the new term full of optimism that he will be one of the best teachers ever and that he can enrich his pupils education. However, when he is put in front of some of his classes, he soon realises that he needs to be more than just a brilliant teacher. Most of the pupils are well behaved and keen to learn but there were many who turned out to be difficult and challenging. He also had to get to know his new fellow teachers, and some of them could be challenging too.

For a start, he noticed that the pupils were very diverse and came from an assortment of backgrounds and nationalities. Some of them had parents who did not speak a word of English. This became a problem at a parents evening when the teacher was trying to talk to some parents about the bad way that their son had been behaving in class. The boy himself was meant to translate what the teacher was saying to his parents, but they just sat there nodding their heads and looking pleased. So the teacher knew that the boy was not telling them the truth. In fact the whole school seemed to have a language of it`s own which was a sort of `street' way of talking, and the teachers themselves seemed to communicate with initial words. Luckily for the reader there is a glossary at the back of the book where this street talk and initial words were explained in English.

It does not state anywhere in the book where the school is located but I guessed it could have been in a large town or inner city. During his time at the school, he took a group of students on a day trip to Oxford on public transport. This trip went well and he showed them the university that some of them could hope to go to if they worked hard in school . When the day was over they caught a bus home . On the way back the bus stopped to pick up a passenger who scared the life out of the children and the teacher. This man was dressed inappropriately and he appeared to be carrying a dangerous weapon. The teacher freaked out and quietly signalled for the students to get off the bus. As they were standing at a cold dark bus stop, the teacher realised that the guy on the bus was probably going somewhere in fancy dress.

The author also tells us a bit about his own home life during his early time as a teacher. As if starting a new job in teaching was not stressful enough, he also had serious issues in his own life to deal with.

Also on this page....

....in no particular order;

The Secret Teacher - Anonymous

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Miss Purdy`s Class - Annie Murray

Miss Purdy`s Class

When Miss Gwen Purdy leaves her teaching job in Worcester to go and teach in the slums of Birmingham, she does not know what she has let herself in for. Gwen is a qualified teacher in her early twenties. She had been living at home with her well off parents and she was waiting to get married to the local clergyman. So it comes as a shock to all her family and friends when she decides to take a teaching job so far away knowing that she will have to live a new sort of life and rather less comfortable than the life she has been used to. Her intended is surprised at her choice but as usual he is ready to support her in what she wants to do.

For a start, she will need somewhere to live, and she soon finds lodgings with a middle aged window who has one more lodger in her home. The room she takes is not very comfortable and the food there is not nice. But this is the best that Gwen can afford so she makes the best of it. The school where she teaches is in a very poor part of town, and to begin with, she finds the children and their parents to be very rough. She is surprised at the level of poverty and the awful conditions that the poorer people have to live in. However, this does not stop her caring for the poor children and their families and she wants to help them all as much as she can.

Gwen goes even further than being just the children`s teacher because she gets involved with some of her pupil`s home lives and their families. When Joseph`s mother is very ill, Gwen and another teacher go and sit with her and help to look after the children because there is nobody else to help them. Then Alice needed glasses but her mother could not afford them, so Gwen brought her some out of her own money. Lucy had a fit in school, so it was left to Gwen to take her home. It was Lucy`s illness that lead Gwen to Daniel, Lucy`s much older brother , who was into revolutionary politics. Gwen and Daniel started an illicit affair and then she got involved in politics too.

This story takes place in 1936 when there was social unrest in England and political unrest all over the world. It was also a time before the welfare state and the National Health Service was there to help ordinary people.

Miss Purdy`s Class

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