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How head teacher quit, came out as gay, turned Green and moved to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 08:57 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:57 25 July 2019

Nigel Utton left the teaching profession after 23 years. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Nigel Utton left the teaching profession after 23 years. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Archant

A Norwich father has described how he "felt free" after quitting his job of 23 years and overhauling his entire life.

Nigel Utton quit his former life and now works as an osteopath, Picture: Ruth LawesNigel Utton quit his former life and now works as an osteopath, Picture: Ruth Lawes

Nigel Utton was 50 when he quit as a head teacher, realised he was gay and left his wife, retrained as an osteopath, then moved to Norwich and became a Green councillor.

Mr Utton, now 55, first arrived in Norwich as a languages student at the University of East Anglia, where he harboured ambitions to work in medicine.

But with a young family to support, he was unable to afford medical training, and turned his hand to teaching.

He spent 23 years in various posts across the country before becoming a head teacher in Hampshire.

But, over time, Mr Utton became disillusioned with the education system and found the constant pressure on teachers "increasingly galling".

A lack of creativity within the curriculum, too, he said "didn't allow children to blossom into whatever they want to be".

Mr Utton, who lives on Upper King Street in Norwich, said: "It became less to do with children and more about statistics and the more vulnerable lose out. It does not prepare children for life in the 21st century."

The final straw was the government's decision to introduce tests for four-year-olds.

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Mr Utton, who was on holiday, turned to his then wife and said: "I'm not going to do this. I refuse. It's not about education anymore."

So at the age of 50, he quit and started again - and then some.

He sold his family home and used the proceeds to go back to university in Swansea. He studied a four-year masters degree in osteopathy. He realised he was gay and left his wife. He moved back to Norwich, a place "that just feels like home" where he " will spend the rest of my life now".

Finally, he became a Green Party councillor for Thorpe Hamlet in May this year.

And for Mr Utton those five years "felt like breaking free".

Mr Utton, still on a roll, has now turned his attention to Norwich which he wants to make more green.

He has launched a campaign to plant 10,000 trees in the city centre to make it a designated woodland. To do so, Mr Utton is encouraging people to plant trees in their gardens.

Mr Utton said: "Trees are so important and provide oxygen. They give life."

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