THE two longest-serving members of staff at Gateway Primary School in Carterton both said farewell last week.

Headteacher Elaine Roberts and teacher Janice Wilson both joined the school 20 years ago.

Mrs Roberts, 58, is taking early retirement.

She said: “I was here as a supply teacher then I took on a temporary term’s post, and I have been here ever since.”

Starting as a class teacher, she worked her way up the ranks, first to assistant head then three years ago as headteacher.

The pair were assistant headteachers at the school at the same time.

Mrs Roberts said: “I think there are constant changes.

“Things don’t seem to be allowed to bed in before they change again in education and that is one of the pressures.

“The children are why I came into this job and they are still the most important thing.”

Some of the biggest challenges were associated with the school’s location close to RAF Brize Norton.

Mrs Roberts said: “We are a largely airforce school, so it is dealing with the mobility issues.”

Both Mrs Roberts’ own children, now 29 and 27, attended the school, while her husband Owen, a retired Wing Commander, has also been a regular presence on site, helping out in the grounds.

Mrs Roberts said: “I feel sad but excited at the same time – and I hope to go on holiday in a September for the first time ever.”

There are about 290 pupils at the school.

Senior teaching assistant Diane Chesher said: “She had a very big impact on the children and I don’t think some of them are looking forward to her leaving.”

Governor and higher level teaching assistant Sue Trask added: “I think it’s a real shame, but they have reached retirement age so they feel it’s time to retire and enjoy life.”

Moving on after two years

THE headteacher who brought a struggling city school out of special measures is leaving after two years.
Lisa Biggin joined John Henry Newman Academy, Littlemore, in September 2011 while it was still deemed inadequate by Ofsted.
Less than a year later, the school, which has 375 pupils, was judged satisfactory by Ofsted and children’s results are now broadly in line with national averages.
Ms Biggin said: “It has been my privilege to work at John Henry Newman Academy over the past two years. I will take many happy memories away with me.
“The school is well placed for greater success now, the support and community ethos is fantastic and we have made a significant difference to the life chances of our children.”
Ms Biggin takes on an interim headship at East Oxford Primary School in September as head-teacher, Sue Widgery, is retiring.
Student teacher Emma Goodes said: “We will really miss her.
“John Henry Newman Academy has given me the opportunity as a parent to fulfil my ambitions initially as a teaching assistant and presently to train to be a teacher while working at the school.”
Ms Biggin introduced improvement strategies and oversaw the school's conversion to the Diocese of Oxford’s first academy.
She is succeeded by Jackie Ranger.

School ‘most improved’

A HEADTEACHER who led Oxford’s Rose Hill Primary School out of special measures has left after seven years at the helm.
On Friday staff, pupils and parents bid goodbye to Sue Mortimer who took charge in September 2006.
Mrs Mortimer told the Oxford Mail: “It is the right time for me and it is the right thing for the school. I am going on to a new challenge working three days a week as a school improvement leader.
“This is something I have done this year one day a week as a secondment. It is a new challenge.”
Rose Hill Primary was placed in special measures in 2007, but the school turned this around to be named the most improved primary in England in 2010.
The school was rated as good – the second highest rating – in its last full Ofsted inspection in 2010.
Mrs Mortimer, a grandmother-of-three from Kennington, said: “I am really proud of what we have achieved at Rose Hill. I am really proud of the fact that standards and attainment is so much better than it was.
“I am proud of what is on offer for the children, the creativity.”
She added: “Rose Hill will always have a huge place in my heart and I always say to the children and staff who leave Rose Hill that Rose Hill is like a family – and as families travel, and no matter where we are, we are always part of that family.”
Berinsfield Primary School headteacher Martin Lester is joining Rose Hill Primary School as interim headteacher in September for a year.

Making a difference

“THE reason I do it is because you can make a difference”.
Those are the words of Glory Farm School’s headteacher Paul Ducker, who retires tomorrow after 35 years in education – 18 years as a headteacher.
Originally from Enstone, Mr Ducker started his teaching career at Oxford’s Wood Farm School. He moved on to a school in Milton-Under-Wychwood, before taking on a deputy head role at Brookside School, in Bucknell Road, Bicester, in 1984.
In 1990 he moved to Lincoln to train new teachers at Bishop Grosseteste University for five years before returning to Oxfordshire to be head at St Mary’s School, in Banbury, and then from 2003 head teacher at Glory Farm School.
He is only the second head teacher to lead the school, which opened in 1977 under Michael Waine, who is now a Bicester county councillor.
Mr Ducker, 57, said he had enjoyed working with colleagues and parents, but mostly with the children who have been through his school in the past decade.
He said: “I have enjoyed working with children and it’s about seeing children who come to you when they are four, seeing that journey they make until they are 11. That’s always been the particular aspect of what I do that has given me the most enjoyment.”
He has been keen to “immerse” children in music and even teaches the guitar in school.
Mr Ducker said he has also promoted competitive sport within Glory Farm and with other schools. He said: “I think it’s important for children to learn to win, lose or draw.”
During his career he has seen huge education reforms, including the introduction of the national curriculum in 1988, the introduction of SATS in the early 1990s and the massive chcnages brought in by new technology.
The father-of-two plans to work a few days a week in teacher training at Oxford Brookes University and holiday with wife Carol.

A true holistic approach

A HEADTEACHER who has been at one school so long she has taught the children of former pupils is retiring after 23 years.
Sue Baker joined St Andrew’s Primary School as headteacher from a post at St Nicholas’ in Marston, then an infant school, where she had taught for the previous six years.
Mrs Baker, 60, from Stanton St John, said: “When I was thinking about when to retire I thought it was important to retire when I was still really enjoying my job and what I was doing.
“I still really enjoy it and love being with the children and watching them move forward in their learning.”
She said one of the biggest changes and challenges during her time at the school was the reorganisation of city schools from infant, middle and secondary schools to primaries and secondaries.
Mrs Baker, a keen musician, said she felt it was important children took part in sports, music and arts as well as being strong academically.
She said: “My idea is that when they go to secondary school, as well as doing well academically, they have all those other interests which carry on through secondary.”
About 18 per cent of pupils at the 239 pupil school speak English as an additional language, and Mrs Baker has developed the school’s international links, working with the British Council’s Comenius project linking to a South African school.
She said she would miss children, staff and parents, but planned to continue teaching foundation stage classes for half a morning a week for maternity cover.
Mrs Baker plans to spend her retirement travelling, playing music, carrying out voluntary work and playing bridge. Jude Bennett, acting head at St John Fisher, Littlemore, will be the new head in September.