Old Purbrookians who just can’t get enough of school

TOP CLASS Purbrook Park School teachers, front Steve Young with, back from left, Hannah Brown, Lucy Peters, Justine Hayward, Matthew Doe, Kirsty Facey, Claire Gissing, and Emma Porter.  Picture: Malcolm Wells (113215-6264)
TOP CLASS Purbrook Park School teachers, front Steve Young with, back from left, Hannah Brown, Lucy Peters, Justine Hayward, Matthew Doe, Kirsty Facey, Claire Gissing, and Emma Porter. Picture: Malcolm Wells (113215-6264)
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THEY SAY school days are the best of your life – and for a group of former students turned teachers at Purbrook Park School, the good times are here to stay.

Emma Porter, Claire Gissing, Lucy Peters, Kirsty Facey, Justine Hayward Hannah Brown and her brother Matt Doe, all now work in the classrooms in which they once sat as pupils.

Science teacher Matt, 34, – whose sister Hannah is head of English – said: ‘I was a bit of a geek at school so maybe it was inevitable I’d teach science.

‘When a job came up here I didn’t think twice about it.

‘I had such fond memories of the school that gave me a great education but also made me feel like I was a part of a bigger family.

‘The school’s population is significantly bigger than in 1989 when I joined, but it still has the same spirit.’

Claire, 27, who has taught English at Purbrook since 1997, said: ‘I remember at school I was quite loud and I’d get into trouble for it – but now it’s a quality that I get praised for as it helps me control the classroom better!

‘I can relate to the students and I passionately want them to succeed, especially as I was in their shoes once.

‘I love being back here. It feels like home.’

Kirsty, 28, an emotional literacy support assistant, returned to Purbrook Park nine years ago – and her 11-year-old daughter Jade is now in year seven.

She said: ‘My whole life has revolved around this school, with the father of my daughter and my husband both being former students.

‘I had a good time as a student. I remember being taught French by Mrs Rhymes who is now our head, and I count many of my teachers as great friends.’

Something else the group have in common is assistant head Steve Young, who taught them all technology.

He said welcoming his former students as colleagues made him ‘proud and satisfied we’ve done a good job.’

Acting headteacher Hazel Rhymes added: ‘We consider ourselves lucky to have so many students returning to teach.

‘The benefits are huge. They are fantastic role models, they can empathise with their students and their input into our policies is invaluable. This is a happy school.’