The headteacher of Fylde’s biggest school has announced his retirement.
Philip Wood will leave Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College at Christmas after 15 years.
The school, which has more than 1,400 students, gained a ‘good’ inspection from Ofsted earlier this year and in a latter to parents announcing his impending retirement, Mr Wood said: “It has been a great privilege to have had the opportunity to lead the school over the last 15 years.
“However, following our recent successful inspection, I feel it is now the time to stand aside and let someone else establish themselves before the school is next inspected.
“The Governors intend to start the process of recruiting the new headteacher soon in order to give themselves as much time as possible to make the right appointment. I very much intend it to be ‘business as usual’ between now and December.”
His departure will come nine months before the Ansdell-based school - still popularly known under its former name of Lytham St Annes High – reverts to accommodating students aged from 11 to 16 only, with its sixth form discontinued for budget reasons.
Mr Wood says his decision to stand down at the age of 59 - a year early - is not connected to that key change in the school’s structure, although he admits that that impending switch saddens him, as do proposed alterations to the national education system.
He said: “My decision to retire at Christmas was taken to ensure that the new headteacher, whoever that is, has the time needed to make his or her own mark and is able to work with governors to shape the future of the school before the next inspection.
“That the future of the school will be as an 11-16 and not an 11-18 school saddens me though I know that decision was necessary to put the school on a firm financial footing in the future.
“Post-16 education could not be maintained without an enormous subsidy from the 11-16 part of the school and that was untenable given the funding the school currently receives.”
On the general picture, he added: “In all the years I have been a headteacher, I have seen so many changes in exams, assessment, the curriculum and in the ways schools are held accountable for their work.
“These changes have normally been introduced by politicians who are in a hurry to make their mark.
“I am most proud of maintaining my core principles and beliefs throughout these changes - that young people should be valued and respected for their hard work and achievements no matter how academically able they are and no matter what their background is.
“I know that comprehensive education is the best way to educate young people and I am saddened that schools are being forced into adopting a curriculum that is not accessible nor engaging for many.
“The thought of a return to selective education, which the Government seems to favour, fills me with dread.
“Do we really want a return to a ‘secondary modern in every town’? That is inevitable if selection is reintroduced.”
Before taking over the helm at LSA in 2002, Mr Wood was head of Hodgson High School in Poulton-le-Fylde for five years and he reckons his 20-year total makes him a leading con tender for the longest-serving head teachers in Lancashire.