Teacher's racy novel 'to encourage pupils to read'

An English teacher sacked after publishing a racy novel about her pupils online defended the book today, saying it was written to encourage a group of teenage boys to read.









Leonora Rustamova, a teacher at Calder High School in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, was dismissed after Stop! Don't Read This appeared on a self-publishing website.



The novel contained pupils' real names and included references to under-age drinking, truancy and drugs, and scenes of a sexual nature, as well as likening students to "gorgeous Mr Gay UK finalists".



Ms Rustamova, 39 - nicknamed Miss Rusty by pupils - insisted today that she had written the book at the request of a group of five disaffected Year 11 boys who she had been taking for English classes.



In her first interview since her dismissal, Ms Rustamova told Victoria Derbyshire's programme on BBC Radio 5 Live:



"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."



The first novel Ms Rustamova penned was called the Woodland Massacre, she said. It was about woodland animals and the boys were "offended" by it.



"It got to the stage, after trying all the usual sorts of books to engage them that I had to try something different," she said.



"I really wanted them to know they were an important group and that I was prepared to bend over backwards to get them involved."



"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.



"Because I didn't know them very well, I had to go on national problems for students, like truancy and smoking.



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



The novel charted the exploits of Ms Rustamova's pupils as they uncovered a drug den beneath the school.



She reportedly described one pupil fantasising about her, and wrote: "It's getting harder and harder to see them just as kids."



Ms Rustamova said the racy material was necessary in order to appeal to the boys.



She told the BBC: "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."



Ms Rustamova insisted that the book was "mistakenly" published online, after her husband found a website that would print copies which could be given 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."



She said she was "stunned" when she was suspended.



One of the students, 17-year-old Travis, told the BBC he thought the book was "excellent".



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



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."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones