Skip to main content

We'd be lost without them

RECENTLY, our school lost its chaplain in tragic circumstances. He had been particularly loved and admired for his care and concern for all at the school and for his ability to reach and support pupils of all persuasions. Recovering from such a loss will take time and the mark he has left on the school will never be forgotten.

However, such an event will always stand as a reference point for self-examination. Realising the gap left by his passing was a starting point for reflecting on the role of all our non-teaching staff in schools. Increasingly, particularly since the McCrone agreement, their role in supporting the work of the institution is crucial.

A probationer in our school told me she had chosen our job offer over a number of others because she had liked our ethos from the time of her very first visit. I wondered how she had picked up on this so quickly and she said it had shone through in the friendly and welcoming attitude of our office staff. They also tend to specialise in locating long lost files and have the high sign over the vagaries of the photocopier.

Anyone who witnesses the skilled work of the school first aider, dealing with a whole range of pupils and problems, from broken bones to depression, flu or overtiredness, can't help but be impressed by their concern for the students, and their ability to sniff out the malingerers - for many pupils the "sick room" is a rare point of comfort in a troubled life.

The introduction of classroom assistants into secondary schools in recent years has provided another level of support for those children who need it most, and often these assistants form a close and invaluable bond with individual pupils. It produces a level of security for these pupils which leads to a far more successful school experience than might have been the case previously.

Finally, the butt of classroom jokes from well before the days of the Bash Street Kids, the school jannie is a much changed species. In our own school, we have a highly committed head janitor whose pride in the school is reflected in its immaculate condition. Not infrequently, visitors mistake him for the headteacher, but it's not my place to record who is more flattered by this error.

Taken into consideration alongside agencies such as social work and community education, these non-teaching staff contribute to a whole team approach to education that can only benefit the students and, indeed, the whole school community. There's more to education than teaching.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you