So, here we are.

How did I get to here, this, my final moments in school as a working teacher? I can vividly remember my first days at Redbrook sitting in the staff room, marking my first set of exercise books with an air of excitement and feeling quite grown up.

Now 43 years later I am wondering where all that time went.

It’s been a rollercoaster with good times and bad along the way. Perhaps the worst was the end of my time at my previous school which was truly terrible and almost saw me forced out of teaching. It was a period of great worry both professionally and personally and blighted my life for more than two years. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – it was unfair, unnecessary and dishonest. I was saved by Robin and I want to pay tribute to his kindness and humanity because he agreed to shelter me for a couple of terms on a secondment and I know that must have been hard for him to sell to the people around him. Luckily, it lead to a post I was able to secure through a robust recruitment process and a stay of more than eight years. It not only saved me and my career but breathed new life in to both and I will always be grateful for that. I hope I have repaid him and the school with my work and contribution since then.

And so…

Lots of people over the last few weeks have asked variations on “Are you on the countdown/” “Are you counting down the days?” And my answer was always no…because I haven’t been.

I haven’t been yearning to get away from here or education. I haven’t printed T-shirts with the number of days left or had a counter on my computer. I haven’t darkly muttered about not being able to wait to get out of here…I’m going kicking and screaming!

Because for me it has been a joy and a privilege to work for as long as I have in education in this most battered and beleaguered, but beautiful and historically important little town.

I like the thought that I have been here to make a difference because surely that is what we are here for…making a difference to the lives of the young people we teach.

 For many of them we – and the education we provide – are the only hope they have of improving their lives and those of their families.

I wish I was continuing that work but I am confident I am leaving it in safe hands.

Today I have keys, a swipe name badge – or proximity reader as it’s called! – log-ins, passwords and a zapper to get me through the gate. I have students, colleagues, things to do, people to help, mentor and guide. Tomorrow I will have none of that.

It is hard to let go but exciting to look to new horizons and challenges. I have no idea how it will all work out and I don’t know how I will cope with days I can call my own and which have no structure. But I have seen others do it so I must suppose I will manage.

I am bereft and my grief for my lost life and profession is immense.

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