"She's our rock, she's like a second mum, she's wonderful." So wrote head girl Alex Read and her friends in the sixth form, who wanted to say a big thank you to Shirley Hayler with our flowers, champagne and chocolates. For those in Year 13 applying to university this term, she has been a guiding hand, helping them make their UCAS choices and to apply online.
Heart of England school has 1,270 pupils and a sixth form of 210. It's a high achieving place (more than 70 per cent get five grades A*-C), which Ofsted has described as "a very good school". At stressful times, like the exam season and when students change their minds about A-level choices or careers, Shirley is a calming and informed influence. Hers is the only non-teaching job in the sixth form - there are 19 teacher-tutors and year heads - and much of the administration falls to her.
Shirley has two children at the school and first worked in the library. The suite of computers she now runs is the hub of the centre with a bank of resources as well as internet access. This is where students study in their non-contact periods and come to her for advice. Informally, she's their agony aunt. Alex writes: "She is a shoulder to cry on who puts things in perspective and stays impartial."
Dr Colin Pierpoint, deputy head and current head of sixth form, backs his students' choice. "Shirley is proactive and very good at monitoring the climate - how the students are feeling. She has a happy, gregarious personality, and is always smiling and approachable. We are very, very lucky to have her."
Send the name of your Friday Hero to Sarah Bayliss, Friday, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks amp; Spencer