• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

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Town bids a fond farewell to stalwart headteacher

WPA Primary HeadsA STALWART principal was given a swansong to remember after transforming the fortunes of a primary school over the past 20 years.

Principal of West Park Academy, Darlington, Catherine Thompson is retiring after working in the profession for 40 years.

The whole school turned out to wish Mrs Thompson a fond farewell with renditions by the various year groups of popular songs.

Her successor Samantha Hirst told the special assembly: “Mrs Thompson has been head at this school for two decades and taken it through all sorts of changes. She has built this school into the wonderful place it is today.”

Sunderland-born and bred, Mrs Thompson trained in Nottingham before teaching at schools in Gateshead, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Pittington, before becoming head at Alderman Leach Junior School in Darlington.

She oversaw the amalgamation with the infants school, the conversion to an academy and the associated name change, move to a brand new site and the securing of multi-academy trust status.

Ofsted inspectors have high praise for the 480-pupil school, which is popular with forces families and also ranked in the top ten per cent in the country.

Mrs Thompson told pupils and staff: “Twenty years have flashed by in an instant but I have some fantastic memories. I am sad to go but life moves on.

“I am sure that Mrs Hirst will carry the mantle and it will become an even better academy in the future. It has been a privilege to be principal of such a fantastic school at which staff work tirelessly to ensure the very highest standards now and in the future.”

She and her husband Jim will spend their retirement travelling and have already planned a voyage on a Baltic cities cruise.

By admin