On Saying Goodbye to Primary PGCE Students

For the last nine years at the end of the first week in July I have been saying goodbye to Primary PGCE trainee teachers as they complete their initial teacher education.

It is a celebratory occasion, yet also poignant. We acknowledge and take delight in the resilience of these bright, energetic and creative people in achieving the status of Newly Qualified Teacher. But we are also sad to see them go. As we have endeavoured to shape them, they have shaped us.

Many of them come to us having made decisions to change career and set up home in a new part of the country, in strange accommodation. Many come to us not really knowing what to expect other than that they are passionate about passing on their love of learning and teaching because someone passed it on to them first. They all want to be brilliant.

I am in awe of them and their positivity, their iron-clad faith in themselves as agents of change. They persuade me that I have the best job in the world. Watching and talking to them in school and at the university I am further persuaded that everything is going to be all right.

Reasons for Life

after Mark Halliday

Because of the desks.  And the luck.

And because there are too many eighteen year olds

running round with guns because Miss Eve said

‘Not now, Darren, let’s get back to the Pharaohs.’

Because: ‘Not one day went by

when reading was easy.’


And because Miss Brown ignored

the sunlight, filled with dust motes,

and had you sketching shells

from her Greek holiday instead.

And in spite of Miss Janners in Geography and everyone in Physics,

there was Mr Lee in Chemistry and Mrs Crump in Spelling.  Especially

Mrs Crump.


Because once, the classroom emptying,

the blackboard groaning with homework,

someone approached your crouching form

and said how pleased they were

you had attended their lesson

and had you considered readingLawrence.


Because if they don’t get it from you,

who will they get it from?

Because of the desks of forgetting,

the sunlight filled with dust

of wanting to be outside

and the luck of finding someone who found you interesting

enough to believe in.


Because your dad was, or mum was

and the sight of a kitchen table piled high with blue books

appeals to you in the way computers and cars

sing to those you grew up with,

who now live in suburbs you avoid

because they are full of roundabouts.


Because you burn with it,



which brings you here

to this room, just one more filled with desks and sunlight and dust motes,

and because time means nothing to Isha, and Ashraf

is making plans to look nobody in the eye.

from Riddance (Worple Press, 2012)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.