Head teacher retires after 16 years at helm of school

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Belper School headteacher, Trevor Harding, has retired after 16 years at the helm with a warning that schools are being “bombarded by change”.

The 61-year-old stepped down at the end of the school year, prompting tributes from many of his colleagues at the John O’Gaunts Way institution.

However, Mr Harding - who plans to spend more time renovating his holiday home in France - said that, for those still working in the educational system, there was a danger that academic achievement was being valued above traditional links with the community.

He said: “Many schools feel they are being bomarded by a blizzard of change from the politicians, without consultation or warning.

“It’s getting harder to keep the school at the heart of the community, rather than it being just an exam factory.

“Making sure you’re not isolated really is important and keeping that going when people are saying exam results above all else is tricky.”

Originally from East Anglia, Mr Harding has worked as a teacher for 40 years, taking up the headship at Belper in 1997.

He continued: “I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world. It’s unquestionably a special role and very rewarding.

“I always planned to retire after 40 years. It’s obviously a wrench.

“The school has a really nice feel to it and the relationship between the staff and the students is very strong.The best success is when you get a student who hasn’t started off well coming good in the end.”

Fellow teachers paid tribute to Mr Harding’s work at Belper School.

“Trevor has led the school with dedication, great skill and diplomacy,” said assistant head,Fay Couchman.

Joanne Hawkyard, assistant head, said: “Trevor is an accomplished linguist and polyglot with immense sensitivity and empathy.”

And deputy head John Young said: “It has been a privilege to work with and for such a great person for all this time.”