YOU remember a good teacher for the rest of your life.
A great teacher can motivate and inspire you to achieve and go on to fulfil your potential.
I’ve been very lucky to have had great teachers throughout my education.
In primary school, for example, Elizabeth Lyth (does it ever stop feeling odd to call your teacher by their first name, regardless of how old you become?) was a great teacher in my final year at Fens School.
I still see Mrs Lyth fairly regularly – the last time being on Saturday where she was at the Central Library protesting against the cuts to the library service.
She obviously taught me the importance of protesting as well as helping foster in me a love of books.
In secondary school, I had many great teachers at Manor – Harry Kelly, Paddy Miller, Bill Ash, Sue Zoryk, as well as the late and very great Pat Ferguson, all of whom I am afraid had to put up with me as a bolshy teenager pontificating against a Tory Government.
Again, some things never change. At Sixth Form College, my love of history and language was encouraged by Peter Taylor, Jon Holmes and David Howells. Good teaching really can alter a young person’s horizons and show what is possible.
In contrast, poor teaching can put people off learning for life.
I like many others have also experienced inferior teaching, which can have far reaching effects.
To have young people disengage from education can be devastating and can stem from the quality of teaching that they experience during their early years.
This shows why the quality of teaching is so essential. Investment in good quality teaching can reap rewards for decades.
A good teacher can really help raise the skills of our nation. That is why it is so important that the brightest and the best of society should be encouraged to go into teaching as a profession, especially in disadvantaged areas, where recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is often a challenge.
Teach First is an initiative which started approximately ten years ago by the Labour Government.
They match bright graduates into areas which might suffer in terms of recruitment or social and economic disadvantage.
The results they help to achieve are simply astonishing – exam results rise incredibly fast; a testimony to good teaching.
Teach First was active in about half a dozen regions when I was a minister last year, and I was really keen to introduce it to the North-East, because I saw the great work that it can do.
I thought – and still think – that our great region coupled with the inspirational Teach First would be a really successful combination and would help raise educational standards in Hartlepool and elsewhere in the region.
Teach First is now coming to the North-East, and probably this is the only time I could share a platform with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, and fully agree with him.
It was great to see Hartlepool past and present at the launch of Teach First, with Bill Jordon from Dyke House and Joe Hughes, formerly of English Martyrs, attending the launch event.
It filled me with confidence that Hartlepool will take up the initiative and implement it with real gusto.