Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 13:44 UK

Racy novel teacher defends book

The novel was intended to encourage reluctant readers, says teacher

A teacher suspended over a racy novel written about her pupils said it was intended to encourage a challenging class of teenage boys to read.

Leonora Rustamova, a teacher in West Yorkshire, said she was trying to motivate disaffected teenagers.

The novel - Stop! Don't Read This! - includes underage drinking, hints of drug use and "pupil fantasies".

Ms Rustamova was suspended from Calder High School in Mytholmroyd in January when the book appeared on the internet.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire show on Tuesday, Ms Rustamova, 39, said she had written the book at the request of a group of five disaffected Year 11 (15 and 16-year-old) boys.

In her first interview since her suspension, she said: "I tried to get them interested in all sorts of books and they refused to get involved, they were far too disaffected.

"I asked what they would listen to and they said if I wrote a story about them - it was terrifying to write a story about the most difficult audience in the world."


Her first attempt, Woodland Massacre, was rejected by the boys and Ms Rustamova said she realised she would have to try something very different.

The result - Stop! Don't Read This! - did get the boys engaged, she said.

"They were really interested in the story from the start, it's kind of interesting to read something that's written about them.

"I did try to get inside their heads, trying to explain how they were perceived in school.

"There is a lot of swearing in it, but no more than your average junior yard playground in school.

"In their being a difficult audience, the material had to be quite risque to give them an excuse to listen to it - to 16-year-old boys that are disaffected, story time is for small children."

One of the boys, 17-year-old Travis, told BBC Radio 5 Live the novel was the first book he had ever read on his own and that he had now read other books.

"It was a fairly accurate description I thought. All in all, it was a really good book and got us to read, it did work," he said.

Travis said his parents "loved it" and only one set of parents were unhappy about the book being published on the internet.

'Internet mistake'

Ms Rustamova's head teacher was supportive of the novel but, when a copy appeared online, she was suspended.

She insisted that the book had been "mistakenly" published online, after her husband found a website that would print copies to give to the boys when they left school.

"It was a simple internet mistake, it was never intended to go on the internet, to be a published work. It was written for an audience of five."

Ms Rustamova's case has now been referred to the General Teaching Council for England.

Paul Brennan, acting group director for children and young people at Calderdale Council said: "The safety and well being of all children and young people in schools is paramount.

"All adults working with them have a duty to adhere to professional standards of practice.

"This has been a difficult time for the whole school community. It is my hope that the pupils and staff of Calder High can now focus their full attention on their studies and continue to thrive and succeed in the future."

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Teacher sacked over 'racy' novel
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