Karenjit Kamal

10th June 2005 at 01:00
That well-worn Second World War slogan "Keep calm and carry on" is a useful mantra for many an adult who works in an inner-city school. Karenjit Kamal is a senior teaching assistant at Sidney Stringer school in Coventry who exudes calm - she also has a great sense of fun.

Head of humanities Claire Horobin nominated Karenjit for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, saying she is "cheerful and ultra helpful", totally committed to the pupils and "tuned in" to their needs. "She's the kind of person you'd be happy to be stuck in a lift with. She's always got a smile and a great idea."

Sidney Stringer is a typical inner-city comprehensive with 38 foreign languages spoken and a highly mobile pupil population. While its league table position isn't great, it was the best in Coventry for value-added at key stage 3 last year. And as a "leading edge" school it is developing innovative ideas with two other schools. One of Karenjit's responsibilities relates to the behaviour monitoring system, introduced last year and making an impact on day-to-day life in school. "She's good at interpreting what's going on, picking up where there's a problem," says Claire Horobin.

While many pupils have difficulties of their own, the school mounted a huge fund-raising effort last term to support a village in Sri Lanka, Mount Lavinia, which had been hit by the tsunami. Another teaching assistant has family there and Karenjit was instrumental in convincing people they could do something to help. Ideas ranged from leg waxing for the staff (the students did it - ouch!) to singing competitions, readathons, sponsored silences and a "grunge dunking" for a new and unfortunate - but very good natured - assistant head. Sidney Stringer school raised pound;2,000 and has made a permanent link with Sri Lanka. Well done.

We know there are heroes out there. Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about yours at the address on the left. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer

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