Best supporting role

Maureen McQueen and Sarah Brough explain how both supporter and probationer can benefit from a truly positive relationship.

Primary Teacher, Hecklegirth Primary School

Sarah Brough, Probationer Teacher

As I near the end of my induction year and begin to reflect upon the experience as a while, I can think of nothing but fond memories, positive experiences and good fun.

I have truly enjoyed every single day I've spent at Hecklegirth Primary School and my wonderful supporter, Maureen McQueen, has been there every step of the way. I don't want to portray a rose-tinted version of my induction year; I've experienced every emotion on the spectrum, from elation to frustration, visiting stress, excitement, illness and joy on the way!

Maureen's invaluable support and advice has been the continual force that has kept me going and allowed me to learn from every situation encountered.

From our very first meeting in June 2004 I knew she would be a wonderful person to work with and learn from. Her warm and friendly personality quelled my initial worries and apprehensions completely.
Once we got into our routine of weekly meetings, I realised just how indispensable Maureen would be. She was very approachable and, as our classrooms were directly opposite, she was always on hand when support was required. In addition, our headteacher was extremely accommodating and encouraging, and his advice was always positive, constructive and useful. I was made to feel welcome by every member of staff and always felt I could approach anyone with a query.

Throughout the year, Maureen and I both felt we had ample time to conduct our weekly meetings and deal with all the current issues. It was therefore inevitable that our surplus time would be spent discussing non-academic subjects. Plastic surgery, hair colouring and Jo Malone cosmetics to name just a few! It was through our meetings and these entertaining and amusing conversations that we built up a firm and valued friendship, as well as a strong professional relationship.

Over the year, we have shared hours of laughter, fun and more serious discussion. I have learned an incredible amount during this time, drawing mainly on Maureen's extensive knowledge and experience.

Maureen McQueen, Probationer Supporter

A year ago, I was approached by my headteacher to consider taking on the role of supporter, which was a new concept to me. I soon realised, however, that this was something I'd actually been doing many times throughout the years: supporting, offering advice and sharing ideas with all staff members.

I hoped I would be able to answer all the questions O anticipated coming my way. At that particular time, I had the following quote on a display board in my classroom:

"When two work together,
it's better than one,
much more exciting,
much more fun."

With that in mind, I dispelled any apprehensions I had and gave my final "yes" to the headteacher.

In August 2004, Sarah started her teaching career with a P4 class. As I had taught this class the year before, I was able to offer Sarah my first-hand experience of working with these children.

Our weekly meetings have always been busy, with Sarah being well organised and having an agenda prepared beforehand. This agenda did not limit our areas of discussion but was a useful starting point. We have covered many topics in these discussions, shared ideas and explored new avenues of teaching and learning.

From discussions at our meetings and observing Sarah in class, I have also gained much from this experience. We've shared so much and had lots of fun along the way. A few topics I did not record in the agenda notes were the pros and cons of Botox, facelifts and Trinny and Susannah - a definite must for light relief! I justified those discussions by noting it was important to get to know each other personally as well as professionally.

It's been a busy and very positive experience being a supporter and it is one that I've enjoyed with a very enthusiastic and dedicated probationer.

For the record, we've decided to give Botox a miss.