Sandra Kelly

17th February 2006 at 00:00
Thirty years ago every primary school in Glasgow had a welfare assistant, responsible simply for the health and welfare of young children. Job titles and descriptions have changed since, but after 26 years Sandra Kelly is still the welfare assistant at Elmvale primary in Springburn - one of just three in the city.

With years of experience, Sandra helps out in all sorts of ways, but it's her kind and caring nature that's prompted every member of staff to sign a letter nominating her for our flowers, champagne and chocolates this week.

"To me," says headteacher Grant MacLeod, "she's like the old-fashioned Glasgow lady, the kind of person who reminds you of your granny; calm and kind, who always takes time to listen to children. She knows all about their cuts and bruises and makes them feel better when they're sad."

Springburn is to the north of the city - a bus ride away - and has a stable population living in traditional tenement buildings and high-rise flats. At Elmvale, 63 per cent of children receive free school meals and there's a breakfast club plus after-school care four evenings a week.

"Parents here have often been pupils and they all know Sandra," says Mr MacLeod. "She is well respected in the community and often receives gifts and cards from families who are grateful for the care and attention she pays to their children."

The school itself was built more than a century ago to a traditional "open well" design - a gymhall in the centre has landings above with classrooms leading off for as many as 500 children. "It's a massive building but we're not a big school," says Mr MacLeod. Space for the 190 pupils aged three to 11 is well used so that, for instance, there's a playroom between classes P1 and P2. In the basement a soft play area and a "ball pool" is shared between the nursery and infant classes.

School visits are frequent - this term to Stirling Castle and to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Scotland Street School. Sandra often accompanies trips and takes classes to the swimming pool. She orders stock, runs the Christmas fair and supervises medicines. Thanks, Sandra.

Heroes are out there, but we need you to reveal them in all their glory.

Think of the person in your school - teacher, classroom assistant, governor, cook - who always goes the extra mile. Then tell us about them in a letter or email to Sarah Bayliss at the address above left. Go on, they deserve recognition. (Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer)

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