Head\'s PA & School Secretary
Fairstead House School


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Carolyn Joiner is the Head's PA and School Secretary at Fairstead House School in Newmarket. She's been at the school since it started in 1980. At the time she was at home looking after her young children. The headteacher, who she used to work for at another school, contacted her and asked her if she was interested in a job. It turned out to be a good opportunity.

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More information about school secretaries

Check out 1 video about this career

average salary
The UK average salary is £27,011
average weekly hours
There are 39 hours in the average working week
92%  female  8%  male
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment


School secretaries provide administrative support in schools by keeping and maintaining school records and performing a range of routine clerical tasks within the school.


There are no minimum academic requirements, although entrants to professional secretarial courses typically require GCSEs/S grades. NVQs/SVQs in Administration are available at Levels 2, 3 and 4.


  • Sorts, files and otherwise deals with incoming and outgoing correspondence
  • Types directly or transcribes letters, reports and other documents, and prints or photocopies documents as required
  • Maintains administrative records relating to pupils and staff, and generates statistical and other reports
  • Handles enquiries from parents and arranges meetings with members of staff
  • Undertakes reception duties for visitors, handles face-to-face and telephone enquiries and passes on messages
  • Orders equipment and stationery
  • Arranges payment of invoices, handles cash.
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Employment status

Where to go next

Fairstead House SchoolSector Skills Council for Learning ProfessionalsInformation and Statistics relating to Education

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Juan G

Carolyn J 0.00.00 My name is Carolyn J. My job title is Head's PA and School Secretary and I work at Fairstead House School in Newmarket. I just love the variety, the dynamics, there’s always something to do. There’s always something different going on. It’s never quiet. It’s always hectic so you needs loads of energy really. You need to be unflappable because there are always crises in a school. 0.00.30 Sometimes our office looks like a war zone with children coming in after falls in the playground and so forth, so you have to know a bit of everything. My father was manager of Peter Dominics which is a wine merchant in Cambridge. He unfortunately died when he was 57 before he even had a chance to enjoy his retirement, which is the big regret for me. My mother didn’t really work after she got married. 0.01.00 In those days it wasn’t the thing to do really. She was just a housewife. I wasn’t the type of child who could be pressured I’m afraid. I just was going to do my own thing, so I think I might have upset them a few times. When I left school the main thing I wanted to do was travel and meet different people, see different elements of life, which is what I did. I left school at 16 with very few O Levels because basically I’d had a great time at school but wasted my time, which I later regretted. 0.01.30 On leaving school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do and I had a variety of jobs. I went to Norway for example as a nanny to an RAF family, a nanny to twins in Norway. I wanted to see more of the world. I didn’t feel I was ready to settle down to a full-time job in England. I didn’t have much money so it seemed a sensible idea to… and I didn’t have the qualifications, so it seemed a sensible idea to get a job as a nanny or something like that. 0.02.00 That turned out to be quite disastrous. Not from the point of view of me and the children, but the family didn’t really like, like it in Norway and it only lasted six months when the job should have lasted a year really. But I didn’t regret it as an experience and I certainly saw a little bit of Norway which I wouldn’t have done otherwise. And this gave me a taste for wanting to travel as well and it’s now still one of my major hobbies. 0.02.30 The first real job I had, once I’d met my husband and we’d settled in Soham, was at Soham Village College. This was my first taste of going back to school so to speak and I actually found rather than not liking it, I actually rather liked it and I was there for a year or two before I left to have my children. 0.03.00 When my second child was just over one, the deputy head at Soham Village College got in touch with me and said that they were starting up a little school in Newmarket, an independent school and would I be interested in a part-time job. And at that time I thought I could manage it and I decided I would give it a go, and that was in 1980 and here I am still. 0.03.30 I’d like to retire maybe in the next couple of years. I feel now that probably I’m getting a bit too old to be full-time, maybe wind down a bit which would be ideal, work part-time two / three days a week and gradually give up and retire with my husband, who has just taken early retirement, so we can spend more time travelling to all the places we haven’t been to yet. 0.04.02

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