The year is 1977 and Jack Sheffield has just started a new job as head teacher at Ragley Primary School in North Yorkshire. Teacher, Teacher! is the story of his first year in the post, showing how the young, inexperienced teacher deals with the staff, parents and pupils along with the numerous colourful characters of the local village.
Although I mainly read crime and thriller books, occasionally I like to venture into something a little more light-hearted so when I saw Teacher, Teacher! on The Works website, it looked right up my street. As someone who grew up after the time the book is set but remembers primary school with fondness, I looked forward to the book taking me right back to simpler times. As someone who works in education, I was also intrigued to see how schools today compared to Ragley in the 1970s.
Teacher, Teacher! is filled with laugh out loud moments from a cast of larger than life characters. A vivid picture has been painted of life in the school and it was easy to imagine people such as Ruby, the caretaker, and Mrs. Brown, the parent nobody wants to speak to at parents’ evening. There were numerous amusing tales of events such as the school camping trip and sports day – all before the days of health and safety and risk assessments!
The book also has its more poignant moments, the standout ones for me being Jack’s visit to a local special school where he spent his time dancing with a severely disabled child who could only ‘dance with her eyes’. This was a truly beautiful scene. I also enjoyed reading about Ping, a Vietnamese refugee who spent a short time at Ragley school. Both of these stories showed how important a nurturing environment is to children – a stark contrast to the current trend of testing and reducing children to statistics.
Teacher, Teacher! is a heart-warming read and I have already purchased the next in the series.