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Sacked "racy" novel teacher speaks out

Louisa Compton | 16:47 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

Tomorrow, your chance to hear the first interview with an English teacher who was sacked for writing a book about some of her pupils' fantasies, underage drinking and hints of drug use.

Leonora Rustamova, who was known to her pupils as Miss Rusty, was dismissed from Calder High School in Mytholmroyd in May after publishing her novel "Stop! Don't Read This!" on the internet. She's just lost her appeal. The book features some of the actual names of pupils and fellow staff.

More than 1000 people have also joined a social networking group on Facebook called Save Miss Rusty's Job.

You can speak to Leonora Rustamova and one of her pupils, Travis, on the programme tomorrow.

This extract describes Travis:-

Travis is the same but different again. He has eyes the colour of something from long, long ago and he must have Minotaur blood in him or something to be so stacked at sixteen. He comes in like a stranger enters a saloon, like he's expecting loaded guns under the tables. Have you heard that line...What do get if you mix three kilos of jam with three kilos of s**t? Well the answer is of course six kilos of s**t. When Travis is feeling defensive he talks like he had all six kilos for breakfast. Even for his size he can pack a lot of scorn. (And if you don't know what 'scorn' is- just ask him what he thinks of his ex-best friend's girlfriend, then bottle his answer -and that, is scorn). When he comes in chin down, looking at you from under his eyebrows you can expect a list of swearwords like he's got them belted into an AK47. But not that day. That day he was in one of his sweetie-moods; chatty, funny, encouraging. Awwww. Gotta say though, even when he's in his best mood he is totally unstoppable and he can talk like a burning car that's been shoved off the edge and is crashing through everything on its way down the mountain.

Although Leonora says the book is a work of fiction, it features five genuine teenage pupils at Calder High School, contains swearwords, has children skipping lessons, refers to a pupil flirting with a teacher and compares two youngsters to 'gorgeous Mr Gay UK finalists'. Here's another extract.

So that's the group. Five wild childs in their last year of school and me in mine, the only girl, and from a very different place. I'd never met anyone so pi***ed off with education as they were. They were sick of teachers squaring up to them with their flat eyes and their power shields. They had wanted rid of them for a long time and it didn't look like it was going to be much longer. By the end of the first week back in September, they had enough detentions lined up between them to start their own school. Where do you go from there?

It was never boring being in a class with those guys, but it was more like an acid trip than a class. For a start you could never even be sure how big it was - which is a fairly typical problem on a trip so I'm told. Sometimes the class was as big as one person (when the exclusion room had taken its cut) and sometimes it was like Bring a Friend Day and they were followed in by sullen mates who'd been spat out of the system somewhere else.


  • 1. At 10:41pm on 06 Jul 2009, tigerdarwin wrote:

    Well if she hasn't got a career as a teaher she's got one as a writer. Nice charecterisation and I am sure she will be on the Nat Curr list in a few years.

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  • 2. At 08:43am on 07 Jul 2009, carrie wrote:

    She might be able to help you with your spelling, tigerdarwin.

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  • 3. At 10:25am on 07 Jul 2009, laughingmarmalade wrote:

    oh, it was all a mistake, none of it was her fault.

    it just "got" onto the internet somehow - dont know how cos she is just the little woman that doesnt know anything about technology or the interweb or anything complicated like that


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  • 4. At 10:25am on 07 Jul 2009, theroosterpie wrote:

    Sounds like if I had a teacher like her I would have done much better in my GCSE's. A radical teacher who has made boring lessons interesting. OK, publishing the book on the internet was a mistake, but is it as bad as politicians claiming taxpayers money for toilet seats?

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  • 5. At 10:28am on 07 Jul 2009, carrie wrote:

    Excuses, excuses, excuses. Someone else was to blame for a simple innocent mistake.

    This is so boring.

    I think the kids of Calder High School have had a lucky escape as she is so full of herself and her abilities. Good job she is good a self-publicity .............

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  • 6. At 10:41am on 07 Jul 2009, feelin_blue wrote:

    I think she sounds very genuine and developed a good relationship with these difficult lads. Why are some of you so judgemental?

    The story was written for the lads, and with the knowledge of the Head. It was the first book one of them had ever read!!

    I think she should be reinstated! I think someone with such passion for her job should be rewarded not punished!

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  • 7. At 10:47am on 07 Jul 2009, Binkie wrote:

    Nearly an hour of this ?

    I'm going back to bed ,it's sending me to sleep.

    Aren't there more important things going on in the world ?

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  • 8. At 10:48am on 07 Jul 2009, jimmy-dean-2009 wrote:

    i think this teacher is a great loss to the school and the teaching profession if she helped inspire difficult kids and given them the chance to broaden there outlook on life and education then that she desserves respect we often hear about kids on our street out of control yet we become judgemental of this teacher i wish mrs rusty all the best an hope she gets back in teaching

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  • 9. At 10:49am on 07 Jul 2009, Binkie wrote:

    Has anyone mentioned ' partner ' yet ?

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  • 10. At 10:56am on 07 Jul 2009, zelda wrote:

    I think she probably is an OK teacher but she has crossed the line between teacher and pupil. Teachers are paid to teach not to be the best friends of the students. You can be an interesting teacher without mixing with the pupils outside school.

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  • 11. At 11:08am on 07 Jul 2009, taperconnect wrote:

    Miss Rusty said her Headteacher had been supportive. Who leaned on him?

    I used to teach these very same type students and knew for fact that some teachers were bullies and abused their power over children who they knew would overreact and thereby become a self fulfilling prophesy.

    It is sad that too much of what is provided in our secondary schools is at best of only marginal relevance. It is self evident that they benefit from innovative or unconventional approaches such as Miss Rusty's.

    Sadly though, targets and league tables result in uniformity and suppression of creative, imaginative and relevant approaches.

    Sir Keith Joseph in the 1980's hit it on the head; "education has to be relevant"

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  • 12. At 11:24am on 07 Jul 2009, danithomas wrote:

    when i listen to the lines out off this story it took me back to my school years. an i just wish i had a teacher who put her job on the line to help these kids. what was out off control! an to conect with them in the way she did it is an should be the way forward for kids like this , she should be given some kind of reward not the sack ! hope some one see this be for this lovely teacher is lost, it far to easy to just put the bad kids out off school than it is to conect with them .

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  • 13. At 11:27am on 07 Jul 2009, jbassett44 wrote:

    When Frank McCourt wrote Teacher man about his method of getting unruly New York teenagers to write and do descriptive writing, he got out all their excuses for absences and used this as a platform. Anything to do to encourge them to write and read must be encouraged!!

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  • 14. At 11:28am on 07 Jul 2009, Gavin Corder wrote:

    What is this country coming to that a teacher of such ability and talent is sacked?

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  • 15. At 11:47am on 07 Jul 2009, zelda wrote:

    And of course this morning has been excellent free advertising for her tome!

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  • 16. At 12:04pm on 07 Jul 2009, Gavin Corder wrote:

    Hardly zelda, it was data protection wot she got zapped for. She'll have to write another one about her experiences.

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  • 17. At 12:23pm on 07 Jul 2009, Annie-Isobel wrote:

    All the people that complain about this teacher should spend a morning visiting their local Comp. and then tell us how they would handle some of these "I don't want no education" kids. Its extremely hard let me tell you and the kids that want to learn are being deprived of a good education. She tried her best and should be applauded for it.

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  • 18. At 10:04pm on 07 Jul 2009, tigerdarwin wrote:

    Carrrie- I made a typo- have you never done one- the urban spaceman hey.

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  • 19. At 10:45pm on 07 Jul 2009, Clairy123 wrote:

    I was listening to this today, and while I admire the effect it seemed to have on the boys (which is fantastic), something just didn't sit well with me regarding the whole thing.

    So long as the parents/children were ok, thats fine by me, but:

    1. All this effort for 5 kids?

    2. Why didn't the teachers arrange taxis home from the BBQ, rather than a sleepover? Seemed odd, and unnecessary in a small town.

    It is an unusual approach to a common problem, and I commend Leonora for it, but it was always a bit risky I think, given the nature of the flirting stuff..... It does seem unreasonable though, to sack her for the availability online, when it was all OK before. Silly mistake, hopefully her talents will be utilised in some shape or form.

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  • 20. At 01:10am on 09 Jul 2009, tigerdarwin wrote:

    The party was at the house of a colleague whose children attended the school.

    Are we to ban sleepovers for children of teachers. All this to placte the moralisers that have taken over teaching. Its getting pretty pendantic. Are these the same people that constantly complain about over regulation. They know nothing about 16 year olds it appears.

    Long gone are the liberal days now all we have is a diet of finger wagging. Yet 16 year olds don't warm to this - they warm to teachers like this lady and her colleague who gave them their time for free.

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