Teachers have the power to inspire

Barry Peters
Barry Peters

I had the very good fortune to be invited along to Newspaper Club at Sybil Andrews Academy to talk about all things newsy.

Pictures, words, front pages and Justin Bieber. We touched on them all.

The look of amazement and sheer desire to know more and more about how things just work was a real lesson for me. It blew me away. I can see what teachers gain from teaching.

I maintain that, when a new member of staff starts on any newspaper I’m working for, I learn more from the ‘newbie’ than they can ever learn from me.

Sybil Andrews is preparing itself for a move to plush new premises on Moreton Hall – a school no doubt fit for the 21st century. It will be judged on results but it won’t be lacking in high-tech gadgets to help pupils get the best start in life.

That got me to thinking about my own primary school. Victorian building, huge doors, long corridors and a draughty hall which was used for assemblies, lunchtimes and as a volleyball court. It’s long gone now, replaced by an all-singing, all-dancing new-build with shiny chairs and even shinier new white boards.

But it’s not so much the fabric I remember, but Mr Perkins. He took us in some salami one day to taste. The Fens in 1973 hadn’t seen much salami. We ate hares, pheasant and partridge which my dad had shot in the fields and carried home proudly on his tractor. We were ‘green’ and fairly self-sufficient in terms of fruit and veg. But Mr Perkins broadened my horizons. Then there was Mr Hulme. He took us in bottled water from France. France! And it was fizzy. Mind-blowing.

New schools, outside influences and times change – but the power behind all of this remains the ability for teachers to inspire, be it with a bottle of Perrier or some cold meat. Simple yet effective.

I look forward to seeing the new Sybil Andrews Academy come January when it opens its doors and I hope it inspires generations to come. I might even take along a slice or two of salami on day one...