‘Inspirational’ head retires after 40 years in teaching

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Plat Douet School head Suzanne Conoops – who currently teaches 27 students whose parents she also taught – added that it was important the Island did not try to make its schools like those in the UK.

Mrs Conoops, who is only the fourth head teacher in Plat Douet’s 50-year history, said that paying attention to Jersey history would allow children of different cultures to integrate more easily into the Island’s community.

‘We need to keep the uniqueness of Jersey, as there is a risk that we may try to wholesale copy the UK,’ she said.

‘A lot of people come to Jersey from different cultures and they need to feel involved in the Island.

‘I do not want Jersey to become another county of England and I would not want to live anywhere else.’

Mrs Conoops, the daughter of well-known local bookmaker ‘Honest Nev’, said that a number of changes had taken place since she started her career in 1979, including the introduction of a set curriculum.

‘When I started teaching there was guidance given in what to teach in maths but there was no curriculum,’ she said. ‘If you fancied teaching your pupils about the Romans you could do that. I have heard about some teachers doing that two to three years in a row without covering science or geography.

‘The fact that there is now a set curriculum means that we can deliver a balanced and broad education and that is so important.’

Phil Walker, the current deputy head, is taking on the top role at the school at the beginning of the next academic year. He described Mrs Conoops as ‘inspirational’.

He also joked that he had been born during the same year that that she had started her career.

‘I started at Plat Douet in 2012 on secondment and it is a really magical place. I do not know where the last six years have gone,’ he said. ‘Suzanne is a really inspirational person and she has developed so many teachers into heads.

‘I do not think there is a lot that needs changing here as it is great already. The kids are so polite, the environment is very supportive and it is one of those places you do not want to leave. I think I will stay here until I retire.’

Mrs Conoops started teaching at Ashdown Nursery in St Mark’s Road in 1979 and is now due to take on a part-time role at the Education Department as an adviser.

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