My colleagues tell me I have the worst job in the school, and my prefects would agree. I'm the school administration co-ordinator, accountable for "the smooth and efficient day-to-day running of the school" (daily information, staff cover, timetable room changes, school transport).
I also manage the work-experience programme (mega stress) and am the press officer (comparatively relaxing!). But I couldn't do my job effectively without the help of four 15-year-olds - Ali, Dani, Charlie and Leigh-Anne.
They volunteered to be my prefects, and they are wonderful: totally committed, loyal and even fiercely protective of me. Recently, I sat down and catalogued all they'd done since becoming prefects and I was amazed . .
Their everyday duty is to take the staff cover sheet (daily bulletin) to the lower school building before school starts. Dani arrives at 8.50am (her Dad drops her off early) and helps me to double-check that the daily cover ties in with exam invigilation and special needs support and that the room changes are accurate. She's now adept at spotting errors and suggests sensible changes.
As a senior member of staff, I lead assemblies. As an accomplished clarinetist (she's in the Royal British Legion Band), Charlie leads my assembly musicians; Ali does readings, and had to endure relentless teasing from her peers for accepting my last Rolo in my "sacrifice" assembly; Dani brought in her teddy bears for my "communication" assembly. (She also recorded a Boyzone song about "words" which did wonders for my reputation with Year 8.) At exam time they give out papers, and last week a Year 9 history exam spilled over into lunchtime, so Ali and Dani helped me invigilate and collect the papers in at the end. How's that for devotion to duty? And that's not all: they've totalled marks on exam papers for me, and organised Year 11 photo orders and year 7 dental checks. (Ali and Dani had the Year 7s lining up in silence - definitely more effective than me.) What would I have done without my prefects? Ali, Dani, Charlie and Leigh-Anne are gems. They've made my life so much easier, and I hope I've never taken them for granted. Now I'm moving to another post, so thank you and good luck.
Gary Terretta is administration co-ordinator at Millais School, Horsham, West Sussex