A HEADTEACHER whose entire family has been involved in the Oxfordshire school he has led for the past 29 years is finally calling it a day.

John Laverty, 60, is taking early retirement from St Amand’s Roman Catholic Primary School, in East Hendred, at the end of this term after being diagnosed as deaf a year ago.

All of Mr Laverty’s six sons have been pupils at the school, with his youngest, 10-year-old Alexander, a current pupil, and his wife Vivienne works as a nursery nurse there.

He said: “I shall miss things like the children singing, although I haven’t been able to hear them properly for a while.

“It’s hard to say what I’m most proud of but one of the things that stands out is the way we have been able to help quite a lot of special needs children.”

When Mr Laverty took charge of the school, in 1980, it was small and had cramped 1960s buildings.

During his time at the helm, the ageing structures were replaced with new, attractive buildings.

There are now 133 pupils on the school roll.

Mr Laverty’s oldest son, Ben, was six when the family moved to East Hendred, and was followed by his five brothers, Peter, now 33, Tom, 30, Nick, 26, Jack, 21, and Alexander through the school – but the headteacher said teaching his sons was never a problem.

He said: “I have had a great time with my boys here and they really just fitted in.

“When they got into trouble, they just took it like anybody else.”

A former chairman of the Oxfordshire Primary Headteachers’ Association, Mr Laverty said he had several interviews for jobs running other schools over the years – but none was enticing enough to persuade him to make the move from the Vale of White Horse.

He said: “Each time I went, I looked at what I had here, and I realised I couldn’t improve on it much.

“You need to see what this school has got to appreciate it.”

Mr Laverty said he would have liked to have carried on working until he was 65 but as his hearing got worse he realised it was too difficult to remain in the classroom.

He said: “The majority of the children have been fine about it – but those who are going to cause mischief enjoyed themselves.”

He plans to move to Devon with his family.

Deputy headteacher Christine Duggan, who started at the school as an assistant teacher the same year as Mr Laverty took the reins, said: “He will be sadly missed by all pupils past and present.

“Pupils, parents, governors and staff have always appreciated the care and support he has given them in his time here.

“We have really grown up together in a way.”

The chairman of the school’s governors, Sarah McCarthy, said Mr Laverty would be a difficult act to follow but the school was now seeking a suitable candidate to take his place.