Bouquet of the week

20th November 1998 at 00:00
Probably the first person to read this will be Pradeep Upadhyaya, a Leicester newsagent who's up at dawn. He is vice-chairman of governors at Shenton primary school, where his sister-in-law Nima is a home school liason officer. Today, as usual, Mr Upadhyaya will deliver The TES to his sister and she'll carry the copies up to school.

Nima has been nominated for Bouquet of the Week by Maggie Welton, Shenton's headteacher, for her outstanding work with the school, parents and community. Eighty per cent of the school's children come from families that speak Gujerati, which is Nima's first language too. Maggie Welton says:

"Section 11 work often goes unrecognised, but it can make a huge difference. Nima is a real star."

Nima first came to Shenton as a parent with three little girls. Her eldest daughter, Monica, started in reception 20 years ago. "The school has always been friendly, and I just got more and more involved," says Nima, who is still a leading light in the parent-teacher association.

She was educated in Uganda and came to Britain with the rest of her family when the dictator Idi Amin expelled the country's Asian population in 1972.

From being an active parent, she got a job in the school's Section 11 team. She took a diploma in languages at Leicester University and plays a key role organising school-based courses for parents - in English, parenting and in training them to become classroom helpers.

Nima runs a toy library and a weekly mother and toddler group, with 35 parents attending regularly. And she carries out home visits when children are due to start in the nursery. "I take colouring pencils, books and a photo album about school life."

Because she lives in the community she is often the first point of contact for other agencies such as social services. "I know everybody, so they regularly knock on my door," she says.

This term she has organised a course to tie in with the literacy hour called How to Help Your Child at Home. Asian attitudes towards education are changing, says Nima. "Parents used to think it should be left to teachers and schools. But now we are educating them to work with us, their expectations are more realistic and they are getting higher."

Bouquet of the Week is given in association with Marks Spencer. Names, please, on a postcard - and why - to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Sarah Bayliss Friday editor

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