Norfolk headteachers gather for leaving ceremony at County Hall in Norwich

Twenty-three Norfolk headteachers who are either retiring or moving schools were given a leaving reception at County Hall in Norwich yesterday.

It was a sad day for many of them, including Chris Hassell, 60, who has been head or principal at Reepham High School and College for 15 years, but retires in a few weeks' time.

He said: 'It has been a privilege to be involved in the school over that time and some fantastic achievements have been made. I think headship is a very fast job and I'm looking forward to meeting myself on the way around.'

He said he had already received about half-a-dozen job offers, but was going to take his time to decide what to do. 'I will have a few months relaxing to consider the offers before I do anything,' he added.

Meanwhile, John Robson, 58, is retiring after 12 years at Hobart High in Loddon and two years at Loddon Junior School. He said: 'It's a good time to hand over and I think it's the right time to leave.

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'In my time the school has seen a huge increase in numbers from about 490 to 840, and I think the reputation of the school has been enhanced.

'My wife and I enjoy travelling so we will spend a bit of quality time together. These jobs can sometimes take over your life, so it's time for us to create a bit of space.'

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Public sector workers including teachers went on strike across the country last week over pension cuts, but Mr Robson believes that good quality people will still join the profession.

'It will always attract people into the profession who have a vocation for it,' he said.

Sue Cooke, 58, from Burston and Tivetshall schools, has been headteacher for 20 years, and has worked in Norfolk overall for 37 years.

She said: 'It's a combination of reasons why I'm retiring.

'I'm acutely aware of the resources at the school, so I'm partly leaving so that can someone younger and cheaper can come in.

'Teaching has also changed. The emphasis now is on data and what levels of achievement children are at. When I look back, I'm quite proud of a kid from the school who got a First at Cambridge University, and I ask myself what I was doing wrong then, before all these changes? His name was Duncan MacLean.'

Joining the headteachers at the reception was Mags Morrison, 64, from Norwich, who has been a teacher with the County School Improvement Team for 11 years, despite failing eyesight and needing a walking stick to get around.

As a CSIT teacher, she has been used as a troubleshooter, going into failing schools, which she said had been a very 'challenging but enjoyable time'.

Lisa Christensen, director of children's services in Norfolk, praised the headteachers at the reception.

She said: 'Being a headteacher is one of the most important jobs that anyone can do. They make a difference to young people's lives, who always remember them.'

Others at the reception included Glyn Hambling, who is moving from Cromer High School to take up the headship at Northgate High School in Dereham, and Binks Neate-Evans, from Hevingham/Marsham school, who is leaving to become head at West Earlham Infants in Norwich.

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