I am contacting the community to let them know that this is going to be my last year as Head of Wallingford School. I am not quitting for another school. Nothing would be a better job than leading the school community at Wallingford. I am taking retirement; effective from next September. It is not a reaction to government spending or because the job has become unpleasant because I still love it as much as I did as a young probationary teacher in the 1980s. It is simply the right time.

Wallingford school was struggling a little when I arrived and I am conceited enough to think that my style of leadership was exactly what was needed. I hope a few would say I have been proved right. The headteacher’s job is a stressful one and hard work but an absolute privilege and a joy, especially here. I think the world of education has moved on in that time and a more intelligent, business like and diplomatic style is needed and I am too long in the tooth to change.

Throughout my teaching career, but particularly during my headship, my commitment to the role has been wholehearted. For this to work members of my family have had to be incredibly supportive. Now one or two of them need more of my attention. I also owe it to my wife to make her happiness the first thing I think of when I start each day, rather than how I can make more of a difference to the lives of others.

I am letting people know now so the trust has plenty of time to arrange and prepare my replacement/upgrade. I have said I am prepared to help in some way for a year if that benefits the students. I am also more than happy to get out of the way of a better person and watch things go from strength to strength as a supportive spectator.

I have told Year 11 students because they are preparing for important national exams next summer. I want them to know that things will not slacken of for them and I want them to do well as much as I did my first cohort in Middlesbrough over 30 years ago. I think Year 13, who are also sitting exams, understand me well enough to know I will keep their best interests at the front of my thinking until we share their results in August.

This is obviously not a goodbye note. I will write that nearer the time. For now I want my final year to be as happy as all the others I have served. I still have a school full of students to make miserable and compliant for the next 8 months.

Kind regards,

N J Willis