Schools out for ever a tale of two teachers

Claire Hill rattles off a list of former pupils’ achievements: the son of a county cricketer who could throw a ball harder than his teachers by age six; the boy who became headteacher of the junior school nearby; the professor of Italian literature in Florence. At 61, she has 39 years of memories at Holmesdale infant school, where she got her first teaching job aged 22 in 1977 and still works.

The school, situated in the commuter town of Reigate, Surrey, has quadrupled in size and moved to its current building from a Victorian one 20 years ago, but Hill says some things haven’t changed. “Teachers are privileged, that’s why I’ve stayed. They get the chance to see the world through a child’s eyes and that view never grows boring.”

Schools out for ever a tale of two teachers

On the day I interviewed her, Hill had run a bicycle club in the playground before school and has just taught maths, the last lesson before lunch – her year 1 class of 30, mostly six-year-olds, practising halving and doubling numbers with the aid of plastic blocks.

Her favourite time of day is the morning: “Just seeing them and thinking: what’s going to happen? You go to the gate and I can’t help it: I have to smile because there’s always somebody hanging on the gate calling ‘Mrs Hill’ and it starts straightaway, yak, yak, yak, trying to tell me 20 things at once. They’re so confident coming in and that does me good; you think ‘yes, they’re mine’.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *