A NUN who has spent nearly four decades teaching at an Oxford school is finally stepping down.

Sister Marie Ann is the last nun left at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Headley Way. She has been at the school for 39 years, 33 as deputy headteacher.

Staff, parents and governors threw a goodbye party for her last week and a farewell mass, attended by Bishop Mark Jabalé, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Menevia in South Wales and a parish priest at Chipping Norton, on Monday.

Headteacher Sue Tomkys said Sr Marie Ann had been “a true friend”.

She said: “The children love her and they always make good progress in her class. She has never lost her enthusiasm for new initiatives and she knows everything about the school.”

Sr Marie Ann, 63, teaches a mixed class of Year One and Two children at the school, which has more than 300 pupils.

Sr Marie Ann, who lives in Headington and is part of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart, said: “I shall miss being here every day and teaching.

“But I am in a very privileged position because I will be coming in and doing things with the children that sometimes we have not got time for when we are busy teaching.

“It is such a lovely school that anybody who comes here would want to stay.”

Mrs Tomkys said: “She is going to be very sorely missed by all of us, staff, children and parents, but I suspect she’s still going to be here a lot of the time.

“She has been completely pivotal in developing and maintaining the Catholic ethos of the school.

“She really helps us maintain the faith life of the school in a non-judgemental way.”

Sr Marie Ann has been asked to stay on as a governor from September.

Money raised at her leaving collection has been spent on developing an outdoor prayer grotto with a statue, and it is planned for Sr Marie Ann to visit the school and work with children in that area.

Former Lord Mayor of Oxford Mary Clarkson’s four children have all been taught by Sr Marie Ann, with her youngest, Lucy, seven, currently in her class.

Mrs Clarkson, a parent governor. said: “She has got a huge commitment to the children and a very sensitive manner with them.

“If there is a family crisis, she just knows how to deal with it in a very down-to-earth, common-sense way.

“She was brilliant with all my children."