Support Staff Journeys - Pascale Mitchell
Pascale recently joined the Trust as school librarian at Haberdashers' Borough Academy. She shares her perspective of the Trust as both a staff member and a parent. Pascale also shares the workings of the new librarian network at the Trust and joining the EDI Strategic group.
How did you come to join the Trust?
I have been a school librarian for 9 years. I worked in a primary school setting for 5 years and have been in secondary school education for the past four years. Prior to joining Haberdashers I worked at Wallington High School for Girls. Before I became a school librarian, I raised my four children. Other sectors that I have worked in include retail, having worked at Harrods International Wholesale in export administration. I have also worked in the charity sector, been a parent governor of my local nursery, led parents forums and other community groups including disability groups.
Haberdashers is a very reputable school and I decided to send my son to Borough Academy when it opened, so I am one of the founder parents. I had been patiently waiting for the school to open a library so I could apply for the role. I am passionate about empowering and serving my local community and I wanted to work in the borough that I live in.
I had been patiently waiting for the school to open a library so I could apply for the role. I am passionate about empowering and serving my local community and I wanted to work in the borough that I live in.
What does your role involve now?
I have a passion for EDI as I identify with protected characteristics and SEND children. It is really good to be able to bring the experience of both my parental role and my professional role to this committee.
I manage the school library, which is brand new, and this involves lots of different tasks. I have been setting the library up - ordering books and processing them onto the Library Management System and labelling them ready to go on the shelves. I create reading lists and displays. I promote the library across the school community, creating communications in different formats. I organise events and competitions. I work with careers, the PHSE lead, Trust and Heads of Department to ensure our library represents the curriculum. I am a curator of knowledge and information giving students the tools to be successful in their education.
I lead the Librarian Network across the Trust, which involves facilitating meetings for all the Trust Librarians. We are developing a strong network that works collaboratively to make great school libraries. We currently meet on a weekly basis through Teams. There is a rolling agenda of items we discuss and items can be added to the agenda. So far we have met with the Trust lead for English Hannah.... to discuss the role of libraries in the Trust. Following the recent Support Staff meeting with Jan Shadick we organised for the Director of Digital Experience, Gemma Lavin, to come and meet with us to discuss our Library Management System and how it could be changed to be more appropriate for our roles, the Trust as a whole and our student users. We are currently looking at alternatives and have had demonstrations from a supplier. These weekly meetings are great as we generally are a stand alone team of one but this gives us time to work as a team/ department. I have also been able to give my colleagues support over Teams with issues that have arisen with the Library system and we have resolved the issues. All of us communicate and support each other we can share book recommendations, links to CPD and much more.
I have also joined the Executive Committee for Equality Inclusion and Diversity. I have a passion for EDI as I identify with protected characteristics and SEND children. It is really good to be able to bring the experience of both my parental role and my professional role to this committee.
What advice would you give someone considering a support role at the Trust?
Use your experience from outside of your professional role to enhance your opportunities. I have a passion for enabling and leading my community and I have shared this talent and been given the opportunity to use it. I enjoy creativity, technology, strategy and I am a data geek - all of which I have used to develop my role. Respond to the emails that offer opportunity. The Trust listens and has been very supportive in development opportunities.
How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
Working close to my home means that I can walk to and from work. This gives me good exercise. It also means I don’t have to schedule exercise into my plans outside of work.
I try to plan ahead so that I am working ahead of schedule.
I always look for ways to make my role more interesting and challenging combining some of my outside interests with my job has really helped to keep that balance.