Teachers say a fond farewell to their ‘family’

Head teacher Rob Giles and his deputy Wendy Mitson are retiring from Boxford Primary School. ANL-150714-153633009
Head teacher Rob Giles and his deputy Wendy Mitson are retiring from Boxford Primary School. ANL-150714-153633009

A retiring head teacher and his deputy say it will be a wrench to leave their school which they describe as “like one big family”.

Rob Giles and Wendy Mitson from Boxford have seen the village’s primary school - judged outstanding by Ofsted - double in size and number of classes since they joined 20 years ago.

“It’s a fantastic and special place - it’s like one big family,” said Miss Mitson who plans to travel, take up a hobby now she has the time, and do some voluntary work.

“I am sad to be leaving and will miss all the people, the children, the staff and the parents. It’s always been a very special place; the people are what make it exceptional.

”We’ve always been informal and encouraged an open door policy. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked here,” she added.

Mr Giles, 56, joined the school 23 years ago and appointed Miss Mitson, also 56, as deputy head three years into his headship.

“We’ve worked well as a team together but we both decided it was time to leave because of the system as it currently is. To my mind, education seems to be going backwards in its thinking, rather than embracing the future,” he said.

“Numbers don’t tell the whole story about a pupil - there needs to be another way of assessing pupils’ abilities.

“The system needs to fit the child, not the child fitting the system,” he added.

Mr Giles said increasing financial pressure on schools as a result of government and local authority austerity measures had changed the educational landscape. “We are like a political football,” he said.

Last week he and Miss Mitson were treated to a “fabulous” farewell evening in the village hall by school governors and staff, and he was presented with a telescope and Miss Mitson received a painting.

He plans to play golf and cycle and is embarking on a 400-mile cycle ride from Lowestoft to Wales with his brother, Dave and son, Michael, in September.

New headteacher, Toby Barkworth-Knight, takes over from Mr Giles in September. Two other teachers - Arabelle Oxley and Alison Bates - are also leaving Boxford to take up new posts.

MP James Cartlidge, MC at the school’s fete on Saturday, said: “The school has flourished under their leadership.”