Retiring Paston Sixth Form principal hopes he has left a legacy of self-belief among the students attending the college and going on to greater things.

Peter Mayne steps down this summer having run the campus since 1996, during which time its roll and reputation have risen.

Chairman of governors Nicola Lucking said the number of students had risen by 6pc, many ravelling in from Norwich, and large numbers going on to university including Oxford and Cambridge.

'Under Peter's leadership Paston has become a top performing sixth form nationally as well as in Norfolk We will miss him greatly but look forward to building on the excellent foundations he has laid,' she said.

Mr Mayne is as well-known in the national education world, having worked in sixth form colleges for more than 35 years. He has lectured and written on sixth form education, and been a member of the national Sixth Form College's Council.

Outside education he has been a member of various economic regeneration groups, a trustee of the Benjamin Foundation and president of the Rotary Club of North Walsham. .

He is married with two grown up children and lives near Wroxham, and has hobbies including English folk music and dance - he is Squire of the Kemp's Men morris side -church bellringing, railways and rugby.

Mr Mayne said: 'I have really loved my time at Paston, I have been privileged to work with an able and committed staff team to embed ambition in our young people and to support them in striving to reach for the stars.'

'As an historian I have enjoyed being principal of Nelson's school and I took great pride in celebrating the bicentenary of Trafalgar in 2005 and Paston's 400th birthday in 2006.

'Ambition is now written above the gates. I believe that our young people are as able and talented as any other in the UK. At first I am not sure that they believed me. They do now – and that is the legacy I want to leave.'