A teaching assistant who has worked an incredible 50 years at Foreland Fields School is retiring today (July 21).
Janet Rankin, 69, has done everything from working with infants through to 6th form and often stepped up as the minibus driver.
The nan-of-two started full-time at the school – which was then known as Lanthorne Hospital School- when she was 19 but her links actually go back to her own school days.
She said: “I had knowledge of the school from when I was about 14 and at Lausanne school (in Margate) and we had links with Lanthorne Hospital School, as it was originally known. When it was anyone’s birthday Lausanne would make a cake and take it over to the children.
“I never really started out to work in child care but when I was 16 I was very ill and off school for six months and missed my exams. So, I spent the Easter to July at Holy Trinity doing some work in Reception. The headteacher there said I was a natural with the kids and that changed my life, I never looked back.”
Janet returned to school to take her exams a year later and then while at college had visits to Lanthorne (now Foreland Fields).
She said: “Me and my friend just loved it and asked the headmaster if he had any vacancies!”
At 19 Janet was taken on in a full-time role at the school and has been there ever since. She said: “It has just been a part of my life, my daughter Sarah works there too. She started when she was 18 and is now 36.
“I’ve never looked back and have never wanted to leave. I love the kids, love the staff and the atmosphere.
“I worked full-time when it was residential and used to drive the minibus morning and night.
“There have been some massive changes. When I first started the school had 20 children and four classes. This September there will be 270 children. I have had five headmasters and there have been thousands of children. It fitted in with school hours when I had my daughter so it was the ideal job.”
Janet, from Margate, also provides respite with day trips or overnight stays for three adults who were once pupils at the school and runs a tenpin bowing club for children at weekends with her daughter.
She said: “I’m retiring so I can look after my grandchildren. Although I’m not exactly retiring as I am going to go on a zero hours contract!”
‘Kind and caring’
Foreland Fields headteacher Adrian Mount said: “Janet has worked at the school for an amazing 50 years. When she first started, the school was based in Lanthorne Road in Broadstairs.
“Janet is known for being a kind and caring person. As well as her role as a teaching assistant at the school, Janet has continued to support pupils outside of school hours, organising clubs and events for young people.
“Janet, along with other colleagues, led the PTFA association at the school, known as The Friends of Foreland School (FOFS), where she organised and ran whole school events such as the summer and Christmas fairs as well as pupil events. All of the money raised went straight to the pupils, giving them presents or paying for events.
“It has been a pleasure working with Janet and she will be much missed by the whole school community”
Foreland Fields School, which moved to its site in Newlands Lane, Ramsgate, in 2017, caters for pupils with Profound, Severe and Complex Needs including ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).
Currently a project at the school is under way to create the first national bespoke training, recreation and learning centre for young people and adults with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
The Hive scheme headed by Foreland Fields Charity, working with Kent County Council and assisted by GPM2 Design Architects & Surveyors, will create an accessible sport and leisure hub behind Foreland Fields School, including a football pitch and sport field, inclusive pavilion, horticulture area, forest school, and arts area.
The hub will be used by the children and young people of Foreland Fields SEN School as well as partners from the wider local disability community, including Thanet Galaxy PAN Disability Football, Inclusive Sport, and East Kent Mencap.
If you’d like to make a donation, have an idea for funding or can volunteer in anyway get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or find the fundraising page via https://www.foreland.kent.sch.uk/about-us/fundraising/donate-via-justgiving/