Stars in our schools - the cleaner

As well as fantastic teaching staff, every Ark school has first-rate support and non-teaching staff – from catering teams to bursars – without whom our schools simply wouldn’t be able to operate. This week, we are celebrating some of our schools’ ‘unsung heroes’ for ‘Stars in our schools’, a national event from UNISON to celebrate the role support and non-teaching staff play.

Sometimes the smallest gesture can have the biggest impact on the community – for Karen Beaney, a couple of packets of biscuits was all it took to bring Ark William Parker Academy staff together.

Karen, who has been a cleaner at William Parker for nine years, started bringing biscuits to the staff room for staff to share during their breaks – but it took a while for teachers to realise that Karen had been buying them with her own money, without being asked or prompted.

Karen says: “I just thought, ‘They don’t cost all that much and they’re always a nice thing to have in the staff room’. The teachers all work hard, and it seemed like a nice treat for them.

“Since I started bring them in, there has been so much more conversation in the staff room – there’s a great atmosphere and people are taking the time to talk, personally and about work, over biscuits.”

Since finding that Karen had been supplying the biscuits, staff  have begun to carry on the practice themselves, choosing to bring in biscuits to share with their teams.

Having worked at William Parker for nearly a decade, Karen says that she never tires of it: “I find myself getting bored during the summer holidays and I normally can’t wait to get back to work.

“I love the school, the students and the staff, but the best part of it is how the cleaning team feels like a family.”

William Parker HR Officer Amanda Ransom says: “Karen is always so cheerful and goes that extra mile in keeping us clean and lifting spirits – she’s really helped to pull people together in a positive way.”