Village says fond farewell to retiring head of Saxlingham Nethergate Primary School

Pupils hold a special tea party for head teacher, Mrs Chris Gibson, who is retiring after 18 years a

Pupils hold a special tea party for head teacher, Mrs Chris Gibson, who is retiring after 18 years at Saxlingham Nethergate C of E VC Primary School.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Pupils and parents have paid a heartfelt farewell to the head of a small village school at a tea party to mark her retirement.

Generations of villagers filled the hall at Saxlingham Nethergate Primary, south of Norwich, for Friday's tribute to Chris Gibson, who has been at the school for 18 years, and headteacher since 2001.

Mrs Gibson, who teaches the infant class in the 49-pupil primary, had previous worked at schools across the country.

She said: 'Compared to everywhere I have worked, with the small number of pupils you can do everything as a whole school, so it's very much a family atmosphere. The older children always play with the younger ones. They are happy children here.'

The school has achieved top exam results, which Mrs Gibson attributed to the individual attention each child receives, her knowing them all well, and the knowledge of what works she had built up over her career.

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She told parents: 'I have enjoyed every minute I have had at this school. I shall miss it.'

Ella Slater, chairman of the Friends of Saxlingham School, lives in Tacolneston, but chose to send her twin boys to the school.

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She said: 'She has put so much work into producing such an amazing school over the last 18 years. I think everyone is devastated that she is leaving, but we have to let her retire.'

Mrs Gibson plans to travel widely over the next year, sending postcards to the school, and may do voluntary work related to Alzheimer's.

Pupils in the junior class performed a song they wrote for her, complete with memories of her 'milky brew', planting hyacinths, school trips, and her joining them in wearing onesies.

After her infant class sang So Long, Farewell, Mrs Gibson, who will leave the school at Easter, told then she would see them again on Monday.

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