June Penman

Sarah Bayliss

When there's a gem in your staffroom he or she deserves to be a Friday Hero. Every week we send flowers, champagne and chocolates to someone who makes a big difference to the life of a school. This week's hero is June Penman (pictured left), the administration manager at Burnham grammar school in Buckinghamshire.

June's main job is one of the trickiest in a big secondary school - organising cover for absent teachers' classes every day of the week. This used to be a job done by the head of science, but headteacher Cathy Long spotted June's ability to do a non-teaching job that requires tact and sensibility. "It's a very difficult balancing act - you can be the brunt of everyone's upsets," she says.

But June is a real diplomat who deals "firmly, fairly and cheerfully" with everyone - "and she's no pussycat". Alongside the bursar, her job involves all administration to do with employing teachers - advertising vacancies and organising interviews - and data collection - pupils' details, set lists and so on.

Recently the school received an Investors in People award and was told it "overtly reflected good practice". Teachers' workloads at this school are clearly focused on pupils' learning.

June was nominated by English teacher Anna Welch, who's currently on sick leave, and is particularly thankful for her help and friendship. "June understands just how tough teaching can be, but she gets on and organises us. She is quite simply the heart of our school. I don't know what we'd do without her."

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Sarah Bayliss

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