THE headteacher of an Andover school has said he is preparing for a ‘really hard goodbye’ as he gets ready to retire at the end of the term following 15 years at the helm.

Tim Deery, headteacher at Portway Junior School, announced in December that this will be his final year at the school after a decade-and-a-half leading the staff team there.

“It was a difficult decision as I really do love the school but it is a job that takes a lot of energy and it is time to slow down a little,” he said.

“The last few years have been particularly tough and schools have had to adapt very quickly to some new challenges.

“I think it won’t really hit me until September when everyone else is going back and I’m not. At the moment it doesn’t quite seem real - all my adult life has been in schools!”

He says he is glad to be part of a chapter of evolution in the school, with other members of staff and dozens of Year 6 pupils joining him in departure.

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The school has had a busy few weeks, with sports days, leaving plays and a combined 70-year celebration of both the school and the Queen’s reign.

“In a way, it’s been good to just keep busy!” he said.

When asked how the school has changed over the past 15 years, Mr Deery said that a lot of development has gone into the outdoor space, with additions of a forestry school area and outdoor gym.

Mr Deery moved to the town at the age of 10, and very much considers himself an “Andover boy”. Before arriving at Portway, he was headteacher at Hurstbourne Tarrant Primary School for about five years. Prior to that, he taught at a number of other schools in the area, including the former Shepherds Spring School, and Knights Enham Junior School, since qualifying as a teacher in the late 1980s.

He has also been the chair of Andover Area Partnership for Learning (AAPL) for about 12 years, which involves headteachers from all local schools serving children of all ages.

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Mr Deery said: “It has been an honour working with local headteachers in this role and I can honestly say that Andover is very lucky to have such amazing schools with outstanding and very committed leaders and staff. It has been a difficult few years for schools but the local headteachers have been incredible and very supportive of each other. I hope they get the credit they deserve.

“I must particularly mention Sara Allen, headteacher at Portway Infant School, who has been a great support, both personally and professionally. It has been amazing to work alongside her at Portway and at AAPL.”

Mr Deery added that he is”delighted” that the current deputy headteacher at Portway Junior School, Vicky Windross, has been appointed to replace him.

“I know the school is in really safe hands,” he said.

While he has many fond memories of his time at Portway, he says that Year 6 residential trips to Calshot Activities Centre have been a particular highlight.

“I think the children grow so much during that time. It’s a bit of independence, a bit of challenge, and also it’s a week where I go back to working with children completely. I don;t do emails, I don’t do paperwork, I just work with the children which is what I got started in teaching to begin with.”

Mr Deery, 56, now plans to enjoy his retirement alongside his wife Sarah who herself recently retired from her role as a matron in the NHS.

He says he hopes to do some travelling to places he’s always wanted to go to , “but outside of the school holidays!”

Top of his bucket list is Canada, Japan and Australia, but he says nothing is booked yet.

He continued: “I am going to read books that have been waiting on my must-read list for far too long! I plan to go fishing more, which is a sport I have grown to love over the last few years. I am also going to be a grandfather for the first time later this year, which is also very exciting.”

The father-of-two also hasn’t completely closed the door on working life, as he hopes to pick up some work in supporting roles within a school environment in the future, or even in helping to train new teachers.

Reflecting on his career, Mr Deery added: “I think the most important thing I have learnt during my time as a headteacher is that kindness must be at the heart of all we do. I hope the pupils leave our school with lots of knowledge and skills but also aware that acts of kindness, however small, can make a big difference.

“As I finish I am going to really miss the daily contact with pupils, staff and parents. Portway has always felt like a family to me and it will be really hard to say goodbye at the end of term.”

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