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Headteacher steps down after 21 years to save staff from job cuts

PUBLISHED: 13:13 16 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:37 16 October 2020

Headteacher Tim Lawes (front centre) and the pupils and staff of Catton Grove Primary celebrate their

Headteacher Tim Lawes (front centre) and the pupils and staff of Catton Grove Primary celebrate their "good" Ofsted report in 2016. Picture: Simon Finlay

An inspirational primary school headteacher is set to retire after 21 years partly to help save fellow staff from potential job cuts.

Tim Lawes, headteacher of Catton Grove Primary School, who is retiring after 21 years. Picture: SubmittedTim Lawes, headteacher of Catton Grove Primary School, who is retiring after 21 years. Picture: Submitted

Tim Lawes, 65, will step down next week after more than two decades in charge of Catton Grove Primary School.

Catherine Lorne, who is currently deputy head, will take up the post of headteacher from November.

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The school, which has 706 pupils, is the largest primary in Norfolk. Despite facing challenges, Mr Lawes has helped it to consistently achieve good Ofsted ratings.

Headteacher Tim Lawes
 with pupils at Catton Grove Primary School in 2009. Picture: Antony KellyHeadteacher Tim Lawes with pupils at Catton Grove Primary School in 2009. Picture: Antony Kelly

He said: “I said I was going to be here for five years and 21 years later I’m still here. I will be sad to leave after such a long time but the time is right for me and for the school.

“You get to a point where you think what I can contribute is probably done and it needs someone else to take the journey forward.

“Plus, if I’m honest, financially the school needed to reduce its expenditure and given that I’m the most expensive person it was right for me to take a step back otherwise it would have led to quite significant staffing cuts.”

Catton Grove Primary headteacher Tim Lawes ready to take wet sponges in the stocks as part of a school fun day to celebrate Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Picture: David FreezerCatton Grove Primary headteacher Tim Lawes ready to take wet sponges in the stocks as part of a school fun day to celebrate Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Picture: David Freezer

Prior to arriving at Catton Grove, he taught in mainstream schools, special schools and in higher education in Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire and eventually Norfolk.

“I’ve had a fairly eclectic teaching career,” he said. “In Norfolk I was originally an advisor for special educational needs and was also doing Ofsted inspection work. I then decided that I had accumulated all this knowledge, so I applied for two headship positions, Catton Grove and one in Watton.”

He was immediately taken with the challenges at Catton Grove. “If you can make a difference in these kinds of environments it gives you the greatest rewards,” he said.

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Assistant headteacher Adam Greenall said Mr Lawes would be sadly missed and had been a “truly inspirational leader”.

“In this community there are a lot of challenges. To have been a successful headteacher in these circumstances over such a long period of time - we have consistently been rated as a ‘good’ school by Ofsted - is a monumental feat,” he said.

“Tim has created and fostered an ethos that is quite unique and inspiring during his time as headteacher.

“So many of the people around here have come though the school, some are now parents with children now pupils, and he has touched and transformed a lot of lives from quite desperate situations to giving them opportunities.”

Mr Lawes’ retirement will be marked by a special goodbye send-off with staff and pupils on the last day before October half-term.

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