Gifts for head on his last day
A HEADTEACHER has left a city school for children with special needs after nearly three decades.
Douglas Thompson retired from Heltwate Special School, in Heltwate, Bretton, on Friday in what was an emotional last day of term filled with gifts and goodbyes.
The 55-year-old father and grandfather, from Stamford, joined Heltwate as a teacher in 1984 and won promotion to headteacher eight years ago.
Before the school bell rang for the very last time he paid tribute to every child he had taught.
He said: “I’ve worked with some of the nicest children in Peterborough, who despite their learning difficulties are kind and caring towards each other.
“Highlights have been seeing the school change around me in terms of the building, with a new library, a new staff room, classrooms and a room for children with autism.
“My vision for the school was to provide some of the best facilities for some of the neediest children in Peterborough and the local authority helped me with that.”
Appreciative parents joined forces with their children to cre- ate a hand-made booklet of good luck messages for the much-loved headteacher.
The special gift was presented with rounds of applause and heartfelt cheering.
Mr Thompson said; “The support of the parents has been immense over the years.
“They’ve come into the school giving support with their children and supported our actions.
“I leave the school in good hands with fantastic staff and the new head will move the school on.
“Next I’m going to relax and start to make plans, perhaps do some house building work and some sea kayaking in the Scottish Hebrides.
“The staff have given me lots of money towards a new kayak and I’m really thrilled with that.
“My wife has bought me a black Labrador puppy for Christmas to get me out of bed to walk it!”
Mr Thompson had taught science at Bretton Woods School in the late seventies before he joined nearby Heltwate.
As headteacher at the school, which caters for pupils with moderate to severe learning difficulties, he won a “good” rating in an Ofsted assessment this April.
He said: “I love this place and I’ve been really blessed in my career.
“No two days have been the same. It’s been amazing.
“I’m a big strong Geordie, so I’m determined I will not cry.”
Ofsted inspector Declan McCarthy concluded that Heltwate offered “outstanding care, guidance and support”.
In his report, he said: “Heltwate School provides a good education for its pupils.
“Parents and carers are very supportive of the school.”
One parent, reflecting typical views of parents and carers, wrote: “This school has been the making of our son and we couldn’t ask for anything more for our child.”
Another wrote: “My daughter had learned so much in two years because it is a very good school. I am glad my child goes there.”
The report praised the leadership shown by Mr Thompson, who had “worked hard and very successfully to build a strong team of people who all share the same ambition for the school”.
Mr Thompson will be succeeded in the new year by Jason Brooks, from Leicestershire.
pastures new: Douglas Thompson with school governor Gill Gilbert presented with retirement gifts by the pupils of Heltwate Special School. (METP-16-12-11RH114) Picture: ROWLAND HOBSON