Thanks for doing a brilliant job

20th January 2006 at 00:00
Isobel Biswell works for 13 principal tutors at Park college, Eastbourne, as their "curriculum assistant". Juggling that number of bosses and the needs of more than 1,000 students could prove tricky, but Isobel gives "unwavering support" and is totally unflappable.

Park college was merged in 2004 with Sussex Downs college, making it the largest sixth-form centre in East Sussex, possibly in the south-east, with a total roll of around 4,000. But Park prides itself on attention to individuals and Isobel is the last person in a big institution to say "that's not my job".

Each principal tutor is responsible for 120 students in Years 12 and 13 studying a range of subjects for vocational qualifications and academic A-levels. Isobel is their right-hand woman, juggling all sorts of office duties such as letter writing and data collection with face-to-face contact with students and staff. She collates college news in the staff and student bulletins - patient to the last deadline - and runs a work experience programme for health and social care students. She interprets her responsibility for attendance figures as a need to know every face.

"She notices every detail; if Melanie seems to keep taking Mondays off or Mikey's not appearing on Fridays, she's on the case," says Rachel Stone, principal tutor for business studies who nominated Isobel for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "Every day we thank our lucky stars that we've got Isobel. She's totally dedicated and never gets flustered."

Isobel takes all the phone calls regarding absence, including staff who are off sick and may have work to set. She herself has a strong work ethic, says Ms Stone, and never seems to miss a day. "I often wonder what would happen if she phoned in sick because who would be there to take the call?"

Isobel has worked at Park college for 18 years and though her post is part-time she is currently doing "her most demanding job yet". She's only been known to lose her cool once and that was over the state of some female toilets. "She suggested to the man with a clipboard that if a job was worth doing he should do it himself. The next thing we knew, it was done."

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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