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Authors: Georgia Hill

In a Class of His Own

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In a class of His own

Georgia Hill

Published by E-scape Press Ltd, England.

The moral right of Georgia Hill to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted
by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

ISBN: 978-1-90-862902-9

In a class of His own. Copyright ©2011 Georgia Hill.All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organisations, and events portrayed in this
novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior
written permission of E-scape Press.
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Georgia Hill
Prologue

Training Day –
September Term.

I
parked my trusty old Fiat in the car
park overlooking the school, killed the engine and spent some time
staring at my place of employment. Jack’s car wasn’t parked in
its usual place and wouldn’t be again – he’d moved on. Exactly
one year ago I had parked, just in this position and had
appreciatively eyed up his curvy, old-fashioned sports car. Today it
was nowhere to be seen. I was on my own this time. With a sigh I
collected my things and began the walk to the next stage of my life …

Chapter One

One Year Previously.

You
could cut the tension in the staff room with a knife. We all sat
around staring at one another aghast. The news that the head teacher
had gone on stress leave only one week before the beginning of the
academic year had obviously come as a huge shock to everyone. Angus
Fairweather, the Chair of Governors, went on to explain that the
Local
Authority was putting in one of their inspectors to tide the school
over and – more ominously – to raise standards. Whilst he
continued to talk, explaining how valued everyone was and what a good
job he was sure we would do in welcoming the new headmaster, I looked
around at my new colleagues. It was the first time I’d met most of
them, although I’d bumped into one or two of them over the last
couple of days when I’d been getting my classroom ready. They
hadn’t been particularly friendly then and my heart sank further as
I looked around now. It was a big school and the room was crowded.

I knew Mona Thompson, the
school administrator, she’d let me in over the Summer holidays and
seemed to live permanently at the school. An energetic woman in I
would guess her late fifties, she had a cast iron grey hairdo, a
permanent frown etched on her brow and a disapproving air which
emanated from her in waves of frosty disdain. Sitting next to me was
Ann Leigh, one of the Reception class teachers. She’d been in
school over the last few days with me and we’d chatted a bit but,
as we were working at opposite ends of the building and in different
year groups, I doubted if I’d see that much of her. She was a tall,
slender blonde – reserved and rather aloof. Opposite me was Tony
Sexton, my fellow Year Six teacher and the Deputy Head. He’d seemed
friendly enough today and was the only person in the room who was
visibly relaxed. A short man, the wrong side of fifty, he didn’t
look as if he had a care in the world – very strange considering
the news just announced.

Everyone else, as was
common in primary schools, was female. Judging from appearances most
were in the later stages of their careers. As Angus Fairweather left
the room there was an instant outburst of fevered whispers. No one
talked directly to me so I sat there miserably alone, hearing
snippets of what was being said.


some whiz kid from the local authority …


only in his thirties …


what does he know of the job? Not dry behind the ears …


coming in here, changing everything …

Tony Sexton grinned at me
lazily and raised his eyebrows as he sipped from his mug of coffee.
He didn’t appear to be the sort of bloke who got ruffled over
anything. He might be an ally. I smiled back and then caught an icy
stare from Mona Thompson. I looked down quickly.

I felt so alone and
thought longingly back to the school I’d left in July. I’d taught
there ever since qualifying. I knew everyone and everyone knew me.
Over the years I’d got to know lots of the families sending
children to the school and it had been lovely teaching the various
brothers and sisters. I had become a permanent fixture, I was the one
who always knew where everything was. Even though the school was in
the middle of a tough South London housing estate, it had a
closely-knit community and I’d loved teaching there. They’d all
be swapping holiday stories now, the staff room alive with chatter.
Bev, the head teacher, would be breaking out the Kit-Kats and making
them all laughs with stories of her little boy.

I felt
tears prickling and swallowed. I looked down at my academic diary
through blurred eyes. I missed them all so badly – but I’d made
my decision to move in with my parents and was lucky to pick up this
temporary contract at Longview Primary, in rural Herefordshire. I
just hoped it would get better.

Living
at home had proved more difficult than I’d imagined.
Mum and Dad’s retirement bungalow was a reasonable size and I had
an ensuite room and the use of the room next door as a sitting room
come study but it was hardly private. I smiled briefly as I
remembered how, late last night, Dad had poked his head around the
door, without knocking and had proffered a pair of my shoes.

“I’ve
cleaned them for you,” he’d said proudly. “Even the insoles.
Army training!”

I’d smiled at him. I
knew his military experience had been brief but it had left an
indelible impression. Dad was strictly old school. He’d been old
when he’d married Mum and even older when Andy and I were born. He
was looking frail now – that and concern over Mum had been the
reason I’d uprooted myself and ended up here in this little market
town near the Shropshire border …

I brought myself back to
the present with a struggle. Ann was saying something to her
neighbour.

“I’ve
heard about Jack Thorpe – he’s got a fearsome reputation. He’s
been fast-tracked by the authority into the inspectorate.” She
leaned nearer to the teacher on her left and I had to strain to hear.
“He gets sent into schools as a trouble shooter,” she hissed. She
broke off as all eyes turned to the tall man standing in the doorway
of the staff room. He was dressed formally in a charcoal grey suit
and white shirt. Dark haired, he had a neutral expression on his pale
face. He frowned and his brows contracted over his strong nose.

No one said a word.

“Good
morning everyone.” He had one of those voices which commanded
attention. An earthy voice, with just a hint of a northern accent.
Everyone sat up straighter, albeit a little resentfully. It was as if
a shot of testosterone had bolted into the female dominated room.

“As
time is precious I suggest we get started on our schedule straight
away. This is what I suggest for our training day together. Dates for
the term first, I think.” He looked around expectantly and everyone
dutifully got out their diaries.

As we staggered out, some
two hours later, brains addled by the amount of information – some
of it worrying – which had been thrown at us, Jack Thorpe turned to
me and asked to see me in his office after lunch. Not sure how I
could have got into trouble so soon, I nodded dumbly and made my way
to my new classroom. It was still in a state of complete disorder. As
I looked around, I forced myself to grin. One thing was certain, it
was going to be an interesting term, at least.

I turned down Tony’s
offer of a pub lunch and got on with organising my room. After
spending a solid two hours sorting some order from the chaos I went
to see Mona Thompson to get a class list to begin my paperwork. I’d
skipped lunch completely, although I could hear voices in the staff
room – I couldn’t spare the time. No one had bothered to invite
me to join them anyway.

Mona’s
office was in a row of rooms housing the headmaster’s office and
medical room. As I passed Mr. Thorpe’s room I could hear raised
male voices in a heated argument. I thought I recognised Tony’s
voice as one of the combatants. Trying to ignore the sound, I went
into Mona’s office and asked for a list of my pupils. While she
found it I looked around. The room was I had to admit, immaculately
organised, even the pot plants were standing to attention.

“What
a tidy office!” I said, in an attempt to break the ice. Every
teacher knows the school administrator is someone you need on your
side.

“Of
course,” Mona replied coolly, as if there was an alternative. At
that moment, the door to the head’s office was flung violently
open, so much so that it crashed against the wall with a thud.

“Mr.
Thorpe is free to see you now,” Mona said, with the faintest
glimmer of malicious pleasure. I murmured my thanks, adding silently,
“For nothing” and went into the room next door. My heart was
thumping so much I could swear its erratic beat was visible through
my thin jumper.

Jack Thorpe was standing
looking out of the window, his hand to his forehead. He’d taken off
his suit jacket and had rolled up his sleeves. I took a moment to
enjoy the view. I had to admit he was easy on the eye. Powerfully
built, he had broad shoulders narrowing to slim hips and long, long
legs. I knocked hesitantly on the open door and he turned abruptly to
face me. He’d loosened his maroon tie and had unbuttoned the top
button on his shirt. He looked a little less formal, more
approachable.

Marginally.

“You
wanted to see me?” I fingered the class list like a security
blanket. There was something about him which made me nervous.

He blinked at me, as if
to recollect why I was there. Although his hair was very dark I saw
his eyes were lightly coloured – pale blue or green – and
violently alive.

“Aah,
Miss Hathaway – Nicola?”

“Nicky,”
I supplied dully.

“Nicky.”
He said my name thoughtfully and nodded. I was beginning to feel very
self-conscious.

“Please
– sit down.” He gestured to a chair in the corner of his office.
I sat, grateful to take the weight off my shaking legs. What had I
done?

“Miss
Hathaway – Nicky.” He sat in the neighbouring chair,
uncomfortably close. “You come highly recommended.” A small smile
lightened his features momentarily. “I’ve spoken to your previous
head teacher – Beverley Downey? She spoke very warmly of you. You
were her Acting Deputy I understand?”

I nodded, still wary.

“This
school is lucky to have you, especially at this-” he paused,
searching for the right word, “difficult time.” He moved on his
chair so that he was fully facing me. His knee nudged mine and I
moved away. We were so close I could see the slight pucker lines of
worry around his eyes and the dark stubble already growing back on
his chin and around his mouth. He was a good-looking man. I forced my
attention back to what he was saying.

“I’ll
be honest, Nicky. I need an ally here. We’re both new to the school
and I need someone on my side, someone I know who will do a good job
in the classroom, someone who will be the best possible example of
excellent classroom practice to the others.”

I looked at him in
surprise. Whatever I’d been expecting, it wasn’t this. I said
nothing and he continued.

“I
meant what I said in the staff meeting. The school has come this
close,” he held up his forefinger and thumb to denote a tiny
distance, “to special measures.”

BOOK: In a Class of His Own
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