Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mrs Marshall and Dr Jabbar by Nadiya Hussain

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mrs Marshall and Dr Jabbar by Nadiya Hussain

Article excerpt

Bake Off's queen of cakes reveals how one amazing teacher inspired her love for baking, while another protected her from racist bullies

I had two special teachers at Challney High School for Girls in Luton and each made an impact on me for different reasons. Mrs Marshall introduced me to baking and Dr Jabbar supported me at a time when I was being subjected to racist bullying.

I was slightly introverted as a child and I was probably the darkest Asian kid at my school. As a consequence, lots of horrible things happened to me. There was pushing, shoving and name-calling, and I was physically attacked [Nadiya was once smothered in white chalk dust]. My response was not to respond - instead, I turned to Dr Jabbar.

He taught maths but he was my form tutor, so he was the teacher I saw the most of. It's not easy being a male teacher in a girls' school but he was such a gentle person and a nice guy; I found it easy to speak to him.

Fifteen years ago, schools didn't act on bullying as quickly as they do now. Dr Jabbar - who I think may have been from Saudi Arabia - always dealt with the kids so they would back off. He never made me feel as if I was moaning and complaining. He understood why I was upset and he took it seriously.

Then, when I was in Year 9, he died of a heart attack. It was my first real experience of grief and he was the first person I'd lost who was part of my everyday life. The whole of our tutor class went to his funeral, which again was my first. It was tough.

When he died, I thought, "Who do I turn to now?" When you're young, you look for strength in other people; you don't think you have the strength to deal with it yourself. So I leaned on my friends and my sisters. And there were other teachers who helped me get through it. I haven't seen any of these bullies since school, but I know two of them are in prison. …

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