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Friday Hero

Barbara Gilbody is a food and textiles technician in the design and technology department at Mellow Lane school, a foundation school in Hayes in the London borough of Hillingdon.

Mellow Lane was one of the first comprehensives in the country when it was founded in 1948 as part of the "Middlesex experiment". Headteacher Rod Stafford is proud of its history and the range of its intake today. With nearly 1,400 pupils and around 100 teachers, it has won recognition for its high-quality teaching from Ofsted and has been awarded the Schools Curriculum Awards four times in the past decade.

Barbara, a technician who also acts as a classroom assistant within her subjects, is a role model for staff and pupils across the school. "Nearly 200 people work here," says Mr Stafford, "and you would get the same view from them all - that Barbara is tremendous. It's not only in the classroom that you can feel her influence, but the way she contributes to the life of the whole school."

Teacher Richard Broad nominated her for being "the angel without wings".

Hardworking, reliable, friendly and cheerful, she is respected by all.

Pupils, says Mr Broad, find her support and rapport invaluable and seek her out as soon as they arrive for a lesson or when they need help.

Mr Stafford says Barbara might have followed in the footsteps of other classroom assistants at Mellow Lane and decided to train as a teacher, because she has the ability. "The road to gaining qualified teacher status may have seemed too long but we know how capable she is," he says. "She's a very modest person, naturally charming and good humoured and we're delighted to have her."

Send the name of your Friday Hero to Sarah Bayliss, Friday, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, or email sarah.bayliss@tes.co.uk. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks amp; Spencer

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