The lessons we've learned as teachers

Three educators from the same family have written a book reflecting on their experiences

By Simon Round, March 2, 2012
Suzy Stone

Suzy Stone

Susy Stone

Educated at Henrietta Barnet School in north London and graduated in French from London University. She taught at JFS and later became headteacher of Bell Lane Primary School in Hendon and the Akiva School in Finchley.

She says: "In a way it's a shame that Jewish children are not in mainstream primary schools so much these days. On the other hand, Jewish children gain so much from being educated at Jewish schools - it's great for maintaining Jewish cultural identity.

"When I moved to Akiva, the first thing that struck me was how articulate the children were. The parents are also fantastically supportive of the school. Our problem seems to be in the profusion of Jewish primary schools. I fear for the community because the demographics just don't add up. We might see a diminution of the very high standards we are achieving at the moment."

Michael Goldstein

Michael Goldstein

Michael Goldstein

Born in Stepney and attended Hackney Downs School and the Northern Polytechnic. He rose to become vice chancellor of Coventry University and was made a CBE in 1997.

He says: "My father was killed in the war and my mother struggled to bring up her children. In our culture education is seen as a way to improve yourself but it was not something I was conscious of until I was older.

"Hackney Downs was a great school. There was very good leadership and they set a standard of expectation that made you want to do better. My A Levels weren't good enough to get me into university so I ended up at the Northern Polytechnic in the Holloway Road.

"I am very proud of being a product of the polytechnic system. I could see how effective the system was at taking people who had not necessarily excelled at school and offering them a different way of studying.

"People still talk about Oxford and Cambridge as the top universities. They are not the best universities. They might be the best at research but they are certainly not the best at helping people from working-class backgrounds to fulfil their potential. I always argued that students at Coventry deserve just as much spent on their education as those at Oxbridge."

Jean Lawrence

Born in the East End and studied French at the University of London. She was headteacher of Norbury Manor secondary modern school, and Norwood Comprehensive School. She later took a masters degree is in the psychology of education and trained post-graduate teachers at London's Goldsmiths College.

She says: "A love of studying seemed to direct my life. Becoming the headteacher at Norwood Comprehensive School was a tough one. I walked in and discovered an appalling state of affairs. But I'm so glad I had four years in what would now be described as a "sink school".

"By the time I left it was getting to be a proper school. There were a number of Jewish children there from the Norwood Orphanage. Some of them had awful problems but Norwood cared for them in a wonderful way.

"In my view the strains on teachers have become even greater now than they were then. The teachers are limited by the National Curriculum, the increasing bureaucracy, the fear of Ofsted visits and the pressure to meet targets.

"I worry that empathy and communication - the basis for loving and caring - have been affected."

'Three Lives in Education: Reflections of an Anglo-Jewish Family' is published by Clio at £12.95

Last updated: 11:20am, March 2 2012