Thanks for doing a brilliant job

7th May 2004 at 01:00
Judith Edwards is the senior lunchtime supervisor and classroom assistant at Gaer infants school, Newport, south Wales.

She started as a parent helper 12 years ago, when her own two children were pupils, and has stayed, taking on more responsibility and making an ever bigger impact. The school, with 263 three to seven-year-olds, is on a 14-acre site shared with Gaer juniors, and outdoor play is one of its defining features. Judith's lunchtime team of six staff have become experts in creative play, so that headteacher Marilyn Biddle sees the school day as "seamless - what happens outdoors is all part of the learning".

Next month a timber trail opens at Gaer infants funded by a community grant. Balancing beams, a bridge, rubber steps and space for a class to sit and study outside are all part of the trail. A freshly dug amphitheatre sown with grass seed should be ready by then to seat the band booked for the official opening. Eventually the amphitheatre will be the setting for outdoor lessons, concerts, drama and storytelling.

The parent teacher association has always backed Judith's work and pays pound;50 each quarter for her to buy lunchtime play equipment: skipping ropes, dolls' prams and dressing-up clothes. When it rains Judith offers keep-fit games in the hall.

Lesley Parratt, a parent-governor and classroom assistant who nominated Judith for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, says she makes a big difference; she adores the children and "gets even more back than she puts in".

Each December the lunchtime team puts on an act for the Christmas show, which always bring the house down. This year, dressed as "the scrubbers" in yellow rubber gloves and floral turbans, they performed Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" to rapturous applause. Always mindful of a fundraising opportunity, they held a photocall and asked parents to pay pound;1 to guess their names. Even the children took a while to recognise every face.

Is there an unsung hero in your school? Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about him or her at the address below. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks amp; Spencer

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