A TEACHER hailed as a ‘legend’ of the classroom has bowed out after almost half a century at the same school.

Nigel ‘Nibs’ Webber has taught generations of families in Abingdon over a period of 48 years, but has decided to step down after becoming a septuagenarian.

Though he retired from his full-time position at John Mason School 10 years ago, he continued working part-time as a support teacher.

Grandfather-of-eight Mr Webber, who lives in North Abingdon, said: “It was a difficult decision but it was rational.

“I’ve reached the age of 70, and felt I’m way behind on energy levels and technology.

“I’ll miss the camaraderie and the kids coming up to me saying ‘you taught my grandma’.”

The father-of-four started at the secondary school as a PE teacher in 1970, when it was a grammar school, and has since juggled an array of positions including head of year and staff governor.

His daughter Nicky Tapley, who is a teacher in Staffordshire, said: “He is a legend.

“He loves the pupils, and is passionate about helping pupils to learn and progress.

“He has seen so much change over the years, and has always adapted to it all.”

Mr Webber has worked under every head the school has had since it opened in 1960.

He recalled taking lessons using typewriters and said technology has been the biggest change during his career, as well as the shift to become academies.

He said: “The concentration of kids has changed - you are not a television set with channels they can change.

“You are in front of them and for those 40 minutes or an hour you have got to be on top of your game to entertain.

“There is so much pressure put on children to achieve.

“My philosophy has always been to make [lessons] fun.”

Offering advice to newer teachers, who might struggle to envision another few decades in the profession, he said: “It’s about pacing yourself.

“Talk to some of the people [at your school] who have been teaching a long time.

“There is so much pressure to achieve targets now that, by the time you’ve done three or four years, you are almost burnt out and there is no time to recharge.

“There has got to be greater value for the classroom teacher.”

Last year education secretary Damian Hinds pledged to tackle teachers’ workload, admitting that recruitment and retention of teachers is one of the ‘biggest threats’ to schools today.

Mr Webber said he would still recommend teaching, adding: “No day is ever the same.”

Sarah Brinkley, headteacher at 970-pupil John Mason School, said of Mr Webber: “He is a real character, larger than life, with a very kind soul. Many adults who were taught by him years ago remember him fondly.”