Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
'It’s the absolute best way to retire' says Gill Williamson on retiring with hat trick of outstanding Ofsted reports
The head teacher of a special needs school in Abbots Langley says she can retire with her head held high as the school celebrate a hat trick of outstanding Ofsted reports.
After 21 years as head teacher at Breakspeare School, Gill Williamson will say goodbye to the place she says she has lived and worked in weekdays, evenings and weekends since September 1992.
Ms Williamson will also leave on a high as for the third time, the school of 64 pupils has received an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report.
She said: "When I was first started thinking about retiring 18 months ago, I didn’t want to leave and not have the hat trick.
"For me it’s the absolute best way to retire."
Leading up to the time of the Ofsted, Ms Williamson had planned to visit America to sit a Tai Chi instructor exam, but cancelled her trip last minute to ensure she was there for the visit.
She said: "I am really glad I did because the week they came was the same week I had planned to take my exam.
"When I know an Ofsted visit is looming I get very nervous. Although we’ve always came out on the good side of it, I don’t take anything for granted.
"I got a car parking fine in Milton Keynes one year and thought oh that’s a job I could do if I get sacked because of a bad Ofsted. That’s the sort of terror that an Ofsted report strikes in you."
Ms Williamson decided she wanted to become a teacher at the age of 16, after volunteering for Mencap Holiday Play Scheme during her summer holidays.
Ms Williamson said she will miss the "fantastic" children.
She was encouraged to work children who have severe learning difficulties by her RE teacher when she was a young girl at school, who she later thanked "for setting her on the road to her career" at a 30 year reunion.
During her first interview for a head teacher role, Ms Williamson was pleased to be appointed as head at the school in Gallows Hill Lane and says she hasn’t looked back since.
The 57-year-old said: "I am going to miss the children - they are fantastic.
"I love the time I have with them and at the moment I am spending time in every classroom through the school, so I have my last bit of contact with them.
"I am going to miss the camaraderie between me and my staff here which is absolutely fantastic. We have a really good laugh together. We laugh, cry and cope together - I call them the Breakspearians."
Ms Williamson also paid tribute to her "Breakspearians" who have been through each Ofsted visit with her: Carol Simpson, Lynette Johnson, Marianne Rapson and Julie Merrin.
Despite only planning to stay at the school for three years Ms William says she outstayed this because of new children who bring fresh challenges, a lovely team and a job which offered her chances to develop her ICT skills.
She says her main achievements have been major building changes to school, where she has overseen the developments of four new classrooms to make ten, refurbishments, expanded space and a new sports hall.
Ms Williamson said: "When I walk away from this school, the legacy of the major building developments I have overseen will still be here for quite a while to come.
"It’s about keeping the standard of our school going."
Ms Williamson will retire at the end of April and plans to be "independent and fancy free" while becoming physically fit, a tai chi instructor and driving along the coast in a new motor home.
She said: "I am absolutely dreading my last day and I am going to cry a lot.
"I would rather not all the fuss, but I will do it properly for the kids so they understand what is going on.
"I will keep in touch with members of my team. We have been through thick and thin together."
The school’s deputy head teachers, Caroline Day-Lewis and Jane Rogers will stand as acting head teachers while the governors find Ms Williamson’s replacement.