Sandra Greene, office manager and PA to the head teacher, and Noorjahan Patel, finance
Sandra and Noorjahan work alongside each other in the school office.
Sandra works mainly with HR and admissions. Her tasks include keeping records of vacant school places, interviewing parents who want their children to attend the school and arranging for the police screening of prospective staff, and paperwork ranging from pupil records to staff contracts, and letters to parents on a range of issues involving their children.
The school has a £4m budget. Noorjahan's responsibilities include ordering services, for example building and grounds maintenance, and major works that have recently seen new washrooms, and refurbishment to the head teacher’s office and the front office itself. Any costs over £10,000 must have government approval, which she seeks.
She also conducts the school census three times a year, applies for the school meals premium, and covers Sandra's HR duties.
Noorjahan typifies the multiingual nature of the staff here: she speaks Hindi, Gujarati and Urdu, as well as English.
"A lot of things overlap in the office," laughs Sandra.
"We multitask all day. This is the hub of the school. It would be chaos if we weren't here. People are always coming in, wanting something. That includes parents asking for help filling out forms.
"Teachers wouldn't be able to teach without someone doing all this admin.
"We do feel appreciated, but at the same time maybe a little taken for granted – you do so much, and yet people always want more.
"I don’t think support staff generally are recognised as much as they should be, certainly not as much as teachers. Sometimes when I tell a stranger that I work in a school they say 'Oh, you’re a teacher.' And I have to tell them 'No, I work in the office'."
Says Noorjahan: "Everyone here is a council employee, which has had a big, positive impact on the budget.
"The school used to employ so much agency cover – any little reason, we'd get someone in. It just wasn't managed. But Sarah has stopped using agency staff, and slightly increased the permanent staff, which works out better for us in the long run.
"At the same time, TAs are underpaid for what they do, throughout the borough.
"Our after school clubs do offer some financial incentive for staff. We have netball, cooking, dance, art, fun sports, football club, homework club, reading, board games – all kinds.
"At 3.30 staff take kids from the class room to the club, then parents pick them up at 4.30. There's so much interest in the clubs that they are over-subscribed."