Schools Out For Strand Junior Head Sue Harrison

The popular head is retiring after 23 years at the school

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When retiring Strand Junior School head teacher Sue Harrison became a head teacher, she vowed that no child in her care would have as miserable a time in primary school as she had.

Sue, who has been a popular and inspiring head teacher at Strand for 23 years recalled the 'chalk and talk' years of her youth when punishments were doled out to children, and the emphasis was on academic achievement.

Seeing the value of each child has been a priority throughout her career, and she regards the installation of the Swan Centre (Special Needs Centre) at Strand school during her tenure as one of her proudest achievements.

As a committed educationalist, she is critical of the way in which the primary school's curriculum has narrowed - for some schools academic results and League Tables are now the main focus.

"There are such high stakes to get children through Key Stage 2. You have to hang on so tight to the value of the child and what they can do, I think it's terrible that at the age of 11 they can be marked as failures. You have to manipulate the curriculum so that talents and skills are encouraged.

"When I started teaching in the 1970s I went to work on my bike and with no real curriculum in mind. I'd say to myself 'what lessons shall I teach today?' I remember taking the kids to see Star Wars in Twickenham and when we came out it was snowing and I'll never forget their sense of joy and delight. We were able to base three weeks of learning around that film, everything from maths, to science, but you can't really do that now. It's sad because quite often teachers with creativity find themselves hidebound by what they have to teach and achieve."

Sue Harrison might never have become a teacher if she had followed her original plan of becoming an actor. She attended the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama before she for a teacher training course and her stage became the school classroom, with the pupils as her audience. It was not as drastic a career change as you might imagine as she maintains "You are never out of a job as an actor while you are a teacher."

strand on the green junior school head sue harrison and deputy ruth woods

Sue Harrison on left with deputy head Ruth Woods

Sue Harrison grew up in Heston, and was educated in Cranford and Springwell Junior School before attending Heston Secondary school.

Her first teaching post was at Worple Primary school in Isleworth, (where she eventually became deputy head). She also worked as a teacher at Hounslow Heath Junior School. Throughout her career she pursued other interests, in particularly her passion to 'champion the underdog' by taking a role on the local LA's Special Educational Needs department. She takes an active role in her union, the N.U.T.

And now, after 23 years at Strand ( she arrived to take up the position of head teacher in September 1994), she feels it's time to step into a new phase of life. There are plans to play more bridge, to help out at her friend's allotment, and spend more time with family members. A wine tasting holiday, and courses in cookery or History of Art beckon.

"I've been lucky over the years to have worked with the most fantastic colleagues, and delightful children and their families. It's been a privilege," she says.

* A party is planned to mark Sue Harrison's retirement later this year which former pupils and parents will be invited to attend. More details will be revealed at a later date.

March 31, 2017

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