Turning Points

20th September 1996 at 01:00
For 10 years Malcolm Maylin was caretaker at Glan Ely High School, Cardiff. In 1993 he became buildings manager, replacing a deputy head, and taking on a much greater range of responsibilities, including those of health and safety officer. "I was in the right place at the right time, and it was good to know that the school had confidence in my abilities," he says.

Malcolm has always looked after schools. In 1968, soon after leaving school, he started on grounds maintenance, moving on to became caretaker. Other similar jobs followed until in the early Eighties he came to Glan Ely. He liked the work, and in his own words, "I might well have seen my time out as caretaker. "

But then South Glamorgan made him an area caretaker. This meant that in addition to Glan Ely, he had wider responsibilities for competitive tendering for a group of schools - experience that was to stand him in good stead.

At almost the same time, at Glan Ely, came the retirement of a deputy head with particular responsibility for buildings. "The school asked me whether I would like to take on responsibility for the buildings and health and safety. I jumped at the chance."

His work now includes "overseeing contracts, ensuring safe practice, administering hirings, any forward planning involving the buildings." His health and safety work, for example, involves the management of the school minibus, and the code of practice he has developed on minibus maintenance and safety will shortly be featured in The TES.

Glan Ely's head, Peter Leach, came to the school earlier this year. "I was surprised, but really pleased, to find somebody with the formal position of buildings manager - not just to do with maintenance, but with development. "

"He's got the kind of overview that you don't have when a deputy does the job. If we discuss changing the use of a building he'll say things like: 'Yes, but you do realise you'll need a new water main if you do that'. I've been in schools where we've only discovered such things after months of planning. "

Malcolm Maylin provides an excellent example of the way that many schools are working on improvement, not only by re-examining traditional structures, but by discovering and using the qualities of their own people. "I knew I had more to offer, and it's good when you learn that your colleagues around you feel the same way," he told me.

Gerald Haigh

Turning Points is a regular column focusing on crucial career decisions or influences. If you would like to share the key moment in your professional life please contact Bob Doe, The TES, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY

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