It’s the end of an era at my school this term. After 23 years my Head Teacher is leaving us to pursue new projects. Words can’t express the debt of gratitude I owe to this man but I shall try. Here’s a flavour of what he’s like.

Most of you reading this will know that my school is a special school. It caters for very poorly children, those with learning difficulties and those with complex additional needs. It is vital that our leader should be an outstanding person in his own right. In our HT we have certainly had that! I’ll begin with the children. He knows all the children by name as you would expect. He also knows and cares deeply about all the emotional baggage that some of them bring through the doors with them each morning. He visits every class in school and checks on each child. He is available to any parent anytime by phone, text, email or in person. My HT knows what makes each child tick, what makes them happy or sad and is therefore best placed to help guide or listen to a child whichever is necessary at the time.

My HT will move heaven and earth to ensure the care and welfare of our children is paramount. He has created a caring ethos second to none. He adores the children, it’s plain for anyone to see. He has taught me to know that care is first and great learning will naturally follow. He is a fantastic role model for all staff and regularly rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck in. Many is the time he is the highest paid lunch time supervisor as he sits and spoon feeds some of our very poorly children.

This man has taught us all how a special school should be run. He has created an almost family like atmosphere within the staff team. He has taught us to value team work and to value each other’s skills and expertise and to always keep the children at the centre of every decision made. Very few staff leave our school as we all know we are truly valued and respected in our various roles by our HT. He knows what is important to our staff and he allows time off for our own children’s Christmas plays or graduations. Little things like this are truly appreciated and keep our staff happy in their work.

Our HT has transformed the lives of some of our very poorly children. I’ll give you one example of how he has done this. Funding for speech therapy was rather scant in our LA and our HT knew that this was vital for some of our children. He prioritised funding for this area. From within our own budget he funded a private speech therapist and sent staff on training courses to become experts in the use of speech aids some years ago. We now have children using high tech devices such as dynavox, eye gaze and apple iPads. Those without a voice have been given one. To see our 5 year olds using such sophisticated technology is a sight to behold. Well done that man!

This HT is the inspiration behind the success of our school. We have won award after award in many areas. Education is full of talented teachers and TAs but not all have courage to apply for awards. Our staff are skilled practitioners and we have all been taught to believe in ourselves. We are proud recipients of Investors in People Gold Award which shows how much we value our staff.

I cannot finish this little tribute to my HT without telling you of the opportunities he has given to me. He has guided and nurtured my career from the very beginning. I was employed at my school 12 years ago as a TA with a degree. I had no previous educational experience but I knew I wanted to work with special children. This man gave me a chance. After 2 years my HT encouraged me to do my teacher training and then employed me as a teacher. I was given responsibility for Key Stage 2 after a couple of years and was promoted to SLT within 6 years. Throughout those 6 years he supported me to become a student teacher mentor, sent me on an accredited CPD course and had me trained to become assessment leader. He then encouraged and funded me to do my MA. From September I will be Assistant Head, thanks in no small part to my HT. He has supported me in every decision I’ve ever made. My HT once told me that it takes 7 years to become a good teacher and that you should always keep developing yourself. I think he’s right. To this day I’m still learning and still developing my skills.

I’m not trying to canonise our HT. He has his faults, what person doesn’t. He is direct and forthright and something of a maverick. He calls a spade a spade and if something is wrong he’ll definitely say it. There is never any malice intended, it’s all in his quest to get the best for the poorly children.

So our HT is moving on to pastures new. Blackpool is losing an outstanding and exemplary leader. He shines out as a role model for others to follow. My school has been awarded 3 successive outstanding grades by Ofsted and this is largely due to the ethos and team work and truly great school created by our HT. He is leaving us in good shape to continue to move our school forward and continue to develop for the poorly children in our area. His are big shoes to fill and we will miss him. He is leaving a strong legacy in his SLT who he has personally developed and nurtured over the years. We are in good shape to carry on the tradition of my school. Our ethos is ‘Inspire, Challenge and Believe’ and this applies to children and staff!