The headteacher and deputy headteacher of Rickmansworth School in Croxley Green are both quitting their jobs, it has been announced.

Dr Stephen Burton, who has been headteacher for the past 13 years, has stepped down following a long period of absence.

Kevin Flanagan, who has deputised for Dr Burton for much of this year, will also leave to pursue a new career as an HM inspector of schools for Ofsted in his native north-west.

Teachers and parents were informed yesterday evening that the duo would depart.

Recruitment has already begun for an interim head teacher with a new permanent head expected to be in place by January 2014.

In a letter to parents Dr Burton cites "professional and personal reasons" for stepping down but does not elaborate.

He says: "I am leaving at a time when my decade of work at improving the school’s facilities has culminated in the building of a state-of-the-art multi million pound sports hall.

"I hope this legacy will ensure that all pupils can prosper, succeed and enjoy school life in buildings and classrooms that are the best that can be provided."

The school recently opened a brand new £3.2m sports facility including an artificial pitch and sports hall with classrooms and changing facilities. Funding has also been secured from the EFA for the redevelopment of the school's swimming pool which was closed down last year.

A letter from the chairman of governors Harvey Collyer and deputy chairman Brian Dorling says: "Stephen Burton, our headteacher for the past 13 years, has decided to step down and we would like to thank him for his contribution in that time and wish him well.

"Dr Burton has been away from school for some time and Kevin Flanagan has deputised during his absence.

"Kevin has done a first class job as acting headteacher; leading the school well and introducing a number of initiatives aimed at improving the standard of education of the students.

"We are sorry to announce that Kevin has decided to move on but fully understand his reasons for wanting to return to his family home in the north west."

The secondary school on Scots Hill gained academy status in April 2011.