|24 Mar 2021|
The 19th April 2021 is a big day for me and not just because it is the first day of the summer term. It is the day I turn 60.
Many people seem to have assumed that I am already a lot older than 60 (probably the white beard doesn’t enhance my youthful appearance!). I was recently asked if I had been called for a vaccination and when I said no I received the surprised response that ‘I thought everyone your age was sent appointments ages ago’. For the sake of my morale, I thought it best not to ask what age group I was assumed to be in.
Knowing the significance of 19 April 2021, I began conversations with the Chair of Governors some time ago about when I would retire. A logical time seemed to be in the summer following my 60th birthday and in ordinary times I probably would have handed on the baton at that point.
As you don’t need me to tell you, we do not find ourselves in ordinary times. Other than the two World Wars, I think that the Pandemic has brought with it the most stressful and traumatic events to face our nation in the past 100 years. In the face of this, choosing to retire whilst the school and the nation was still emerging from the impact of Covid did not feel the right thing to do. Hence in discussions with senior governors last year, I suggested that I stay on as headteacher until Christmas 2021. The timing would allow the school to emerge from the worst effects of the Pandemic and would enable a transfer of leadership in what will hopefully be a period of calm and stability, rather than in the midst of a national and international crisis.
I must admit that the timing has other attractions as well. We will be well into the next phase of our expansion by then, with the next cohort of five form entry admitted, our new science block completed and the refurbishment well under way. I would feel that before handing over I had taken the school through to the next stage of its development. It would also mean that I stood down at Christmas, the point at which I started as headteacher. At this point I would become the school’s longest serving headteacher (Cordy Wheeler also served for 23 years but I slip ahead of him courtesy of my additional term as Acting Head during Dr Pogson’s secondment to Warwickshire LA in 1998). T.S. Eliot’s line that ‘In my end is my beginning’ has great truth in it, though when I made my first nervous steps into headship on 1 January 1999 it never crossed my mind that I would still be in the role 23 years later.
Why tell you all this now when there is still some time to go before Christmas 2021? Well, I have always tried to be as open as possible with pupils, parents and the wider school community and whenever possible to take them into my confidence.
The advert for my job appears in the education press today, beginning a period of recruitment. Rather than keeping quiet and hoping nobody notices, I would much rather put you in the picture so that you know the school will soon enter the next exciting phase in its development. The recruitment process is in excellent hands and I have total confidence in the governing body to make a wise and well-judged appointment. When the time does come to retire, I will miss everyone in the Lawrence Sheriff community more than I have words to express. It has been a privilege to have been part of the life of this school and it remains a privilege to work with all of you.
Monday 22 March 2021 - Volume 24 Number 24b
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