Pupils bid farewell to headteachers

Pupils will bid farewell this year to inspirational heads who reversed the fortunes of two failing Norfolk schools.Nancy Heywood, of North Denes School, Great Yarmouth, and Paul George, of St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School, Gorleston, are retiring in July after they successfully steered their schools out of being placed on special measures.

Pupils will bid farewell this year to inspirational heads who reversed the fortunes of two failing Norfolk schools.

Nancy Heywood, of North Denes School, Great Yarmouth, and Paul George, of St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School, Gorleston, are retiring in July after they successfully steered their schools out of being placed on special measures.

In November 2006, North Denes, then a middle school, was put on special measures by education standards officials and given help to turn its pupils' below-average performance around.

It was removed from the special measures list in July 2008 and praised by the watchdog, Ofsted, after Mrs Heywood acted to instil real pride among pupils for their school and a sense of belonging.

Mrs Heywood, who has been at North Denes for 13 years, set up a community garden, encouraged her young charges to go green by monitoring their power use and organised more after-school and lunch clubs.

More attention was also paid to pupils' maths, English and science lessons.

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Mrs Heywood said: “One

of the biggest challenges in the school was behaviour.

“There was a problem with vandalism and fighting because there was a sense that pupils did not feel they were involved at North Denes.

“But, by encouraging pupils to get involved in the school, they now love coming here and they are very proud of their school.”

When asked if she would miss the paperwork associated with the lot of a 21st-century school head, she said: “I will miss the children - they are what has kept me sane over the years.”

St Mary's had been labelled inadequate by Ofsted, but the school was removed from special measures in December 2008 after a year-and-a-half.

Mr George had been appointed head in April that year.

Its previous head, Peter Cleary, resigned after inspectors said the school had failed to make enough progress since it has been placed on special measures in May 2007.

As the new man in charge at the school, Mr George focused on improving the quality of his teachers and the work of pupils.

He also improved assessments and feedback.

Mr George, who is also head of St Augustine's Catholic Primary School at Costessey, near Norwich, said: “It was mainly about bringing staff together to work as a team to overcome the issues we faced.

“I have been very lucky with the quality of people I am working with.”

Both heads said that they intended to enjoy their retirement by spending as much time as possible with their families and travelling.Mr George said he would also enjoy playing golf.