A WOMAN described as ‘the beating heart’ of a school has been nominated for a Worcestershire Education Award.

Rachel Thornton has been put forward for the Support Staff of the Year award for her work at Westlands First School in Droitwich.

The nomination for Mrs Thornton described her in glowing terms, saying: “She is the friendly face that greets every child and visitor, she embodies the ethos of the school.

“Without her, we simply could not function.

"She gives so much to the school and goes well above and beyond what she is paid to do.

"And, more importantly, she always does this with a smile”

Mrs Thornton, 49, has been at Westlands for 14 years, and her role as business manager extends beyond the basic job description.

She said: “We often joke in the office that the only thing I don’t do here is teach!

"My job goes from doing the school’s finances to helping parents with queries and even gritting the driveway and clearing snow in winter.

“It is not just me though, it is a real team effort from everyone at the school.

"We always try to help as much as possible to become a community hub rather than just a school.

"For example, I recently helped out a parent with filling out a form because she couldn’t read and understand it. It is those little things which go a long way.”

According to Mrs Thornton, teamwork is vital to the work of the staff at Westlands.

She added: “The teamwork and all the little things we do as a team make the school a success.

“When you see the smile on a child’s face and you see them and the school do well and achieve, that really makes it all worthwhile.”

The deadline for nominations is April 18.

This is the third year we have run the awards, in partnership with the University of Worcester.

There are a series of categories including school of the year, headteacher of the year and unsung hero.

Finalists are chosen by a panel of judges and winners are announced during an awards ceremony at the University Arena on June 20.

To nominate someone, go to worcesternews.co.uk/awards/worcestershire_education_awards