Miss Phillips is a Greenslade School teacher and one of three teachers chosen at random for the panel discussion on the half-yearly report day. The narrator portrays her as a mousy, tiny woman who appears to be dumb as she takes her place on the panel. As the interrogation progresses, however, it becomes evident to both the narrator and the reader that Miss Phillips is the most well-informed of the three. Despite her lack of preparation, she answers the questions honestly and authoritatively, impressing both the narrator and the reader. She also comes to the aid of the other teachers when they are having difficulty with the questions, and she does so with grace and expertise, ensuring that they are not embarrassed. Denham and Fernman’s harsh critiques have little effect on her, and she maintains a cool demeanour to match.
Denham’s abrasive personality is countered by her witty arguments and pleasant tone. Her confrontation with Denham impresses the kids with her strong yet honest demeanour and enhances her authority as a teacher. This also entirely changes her image in the eyes of the narrator, who gains admiration and respect for Miss Phillips by the end of the extract.