Support Staff Journeys - Corinne Holmes
Corinne recently joined Haberdashers' Crayford Academy as a Pastoral Support Administrator. Corinne shares the many aspects of her role and how she adapted to a change of industry and career in order to work in education.
How did you come to join the Trust?
Prior to this role which is my first ever job in schools, I worked in the private sector for the insurance group, Direct Line (DLG). I worked for DLG for 20 years plus, increasing hours and responsibilities as my children grew up. For the last 12 years, I managed a complaints department with 10 to 15 staff dealing with Ombudsman/ the CEO / press office complaints – anything high profile.
I was looking for a career change and better work life balance with no people management – so when I was offered voluntary redundancy in November 2021 I did not hesitate to accept.
I intended to take a year’s break but following an unexpected introduction to the Exam Manager at Crayford Academy, I was invited to join the exam invigilating team in March 2022. Whilst this was a good opportunity for me to meet the staff and students at Habs, the irregular hours along with the journey were not sustainable long term.
The role I do now (Administrator – Pastoral Support) within the student services office was in the process of being created (a new role to fit the new structure) and I was asked to trial the position in the first instance. I settled in well, loved getting to grips with the development of the role and when role specification was agreed and advertised, I applied.
I settled in well, loved getting to grips with the development of the role and when role specification was agreed and advertised, I applied.
What does your role involve now?
I like to help, be organised and making someone’s day better – sounds corny but the rapport you can build with students is great!
I have been the front of house for HCA Student Services since May 2022. I support the students, Pastoral Team, Hub Leaders and all staff I come into contact with whilst managing a vast number and variety of administrative activities.
These include: sending parent communications, pulling reports and sharing data, updating and maintaining EHCPs for students and liaising with staff, nurses and parents. I manage Crayford's immunisation programmes, as well as fixed term student suspensions.
I collate and distribute the weekly HCA newsletter, manage the calendar and room bookings for staff and external visitors – such as social workers, administrate team meetings - taking notes, sending invites etc.
I enjoy the variety of work, the responsibility of managing my workload, re-prioritising work when required, supporting colleagues, building relationships, flagging reminders, outstanding actions. Every day is different with challenges at times – but when needed I will flag these and work with others to resolve them. I like to help, be organised and making someone’s day better – sounds corny but the rapport you can build with students is great!
What advice would you give someone considering a support role at the Trust?
For me, coming to Crayford Academy with so many skills that I have been able to adapt to suit this role has been great. You basically need to be organised, keen to learn, adaptable, flexible, approachable, have good listening skills, take action when required quickly, be supportive of others, be kind and caring and overall want to make a difference.
I have been in post since May and have learned so much on the job, but am now looking for development opportunities to improve my skills, knowledge and confidence in behaviour and safeguarding. My colleagues and line manager are very supportive of this.
How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
There are days when this is difficult due to the volume of work, especially when certain activities must be completed by a deadline, such as the newsletter, daily detentions and fixed term suspensions. I am fortunate that I do not need to ‘get away’ at the end of the day so if necessary I will stay and complete essential work and claim TOIL on days when the work volumes are less. My line manager recognises this commitment.
I am fortunate to have a strong family network and good friends, so when I am away from the office I can easily switch off which is essential. I particularly like the termly breaks as it works well for me to spend quality time with the family and enjoy time to myself.