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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Head Peter leaves with tear in his eye

Retiring: Teachers John Allen, left, and Shay McDonnell have clocked up 62 years between them at Caldew School, Dalston

By Julie Armstrong and Kelly Eve

PUPILS and staff at schools in Wigton and Carlisle said goodbye to their long-serving headmasters for the final time yesterday.

Nelson Thomlinson School head Peter Ireland and English teacher Trevor Reynolds left in style. They were whisked off to Carlisle Airport for a surprise plane ride over the school which Mr Ireland has led for 18 years.

In the field below they received a special good luck message from pupils, who used their bodies to spell out the school motto Fidei et operis, which means faith and works.

“It was fabulous, they did it so cleverly,” said Mr Ireland, 60. “They told us we were going to Carlisle to choose our own presents because they couldn’t decide what to get us.

“The plane was piloted by Kath Howe, who trained after retiring from teaching geography here.”

Children were also waiting outside to wave as the head arrived at school for the last time yesterday, in a 1921 Bentley.

Mr Ireland, of Torpenhow, started at Nelson Thomlinson in 1989 when it was running at a deficit and exam results were below the county average. Last November Ofsted’s inspection report described his leadership as “exemplary” and Nelson Thomlinson as “outstanding”.

Assistant head John Herbert said: “He has transformed the school in terms of facilities, aspirations and academic achievements, through the pursuit of a truly comprehensive ideal.

“In 1992 the chief education psychologist said Peter’s epitaph should read: ‘Here lies the head who wanted to make a difference’. With what we know 15 years later it should say ‘the head who made a real difference’.”

Trevor Reynolds, who has taught English at the school for 34 years, celebrated his retirement by giving a barbecue for all staff last weekend.

Mr Ireland said of Mr Reynolds: “He inspires affection in kids.

“He’s the only person to have become a sixth form tutor because his Year 11 form didn’t want to go into sixth form without him.

“He’s seen off three heads. It’s a massive strength in a school to have people like him who will put down roots and know not just the youngsters but also their parents.

“He will be really missed, not just as a teacher, but also as a human.”

The school will advertise externally in the autumn for a new headteacher.

The two deputy heads, David Ferriby and Janet Downes, will meanwhile jointly act as heads.

Mr Ferriby said: “You don’t want to change the ingredients of a successful school. The governors are confident they will see the school carried further forward in the same direction.”

In Carlisle, St Aidan’s School’s longest-serving member of staff Norman Laycock leaves after 37 years.

Examinations officer Mr Laycock joined in 1970 when the school became a comprehensive and was renamed St Aidan’s, from the Carlisle and County High School for Girls.

He is also assistant head of the modern foreign languages department.

Mr Laycock was also honorary secretary of Carlisle Rugby Club until recently.

Others retiring from St Aidan’s include Ken Bonsor who joined in 1974. He has been Educational Visits Co-ordinator, Head of Year and a science teacher.

John Harrison also leaves the languages unit after starting at the school in 1979 while Tony Yarrow bids farewell to the design and technology department after 24 years. He has led the school’s entries into the annual F1 competition.

Val Hacker leaves after almost a decade. She joined in 1998 as Head of Science.

Daphne Yarrow is also leaving the school after working in administration services for many years.

She has also been involved in the school’s Little Langdale residential trips and the PTA.

St Margaret Mary’s RC School in Upperby is also saying goodbye to its longest serving member of staff.

Elsewhere, Ruth Griffiths retires from Castle Carrock School after 19 years. The school had 47 pupils when she first started. There are now 121 in the primary school.

Latterly she has been a teacher for years one and two – children aged five to seven – but throughout her career has taught every primary age group.

Head Chris Marsh said: “The children had a surprise party for her and the parents and governors made a presentation to her when they gave her a mountain bike and fruit tree.

“Mrs Griffiths is a wonderful teacher and she is held in such high esteem by everyone. She has kept producing wonderful results with the children and has continued to change with the times.

“She is a French graduate and has introduced the children to foreign languages at an early age.”

Nicky Butler will replace Mrs Griffiths in September.

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