'To share in the journey of these young people has been an honour'
As Steve Jackson prepares to retire at the end of the summer term after 28 years at the Blue School, the past 18 as headteacher, he reflects on his time at the school and looks ahead to what he will do in the future
How are you feeling as your last day at The Blue approaches?
Since submitting my resignation in December it's been a proverbial emotional rollercoaster. Please don't tell anyone but I've already started breaking down in tears. Can't imagine what it will actually feel like at the end of term but I know I'm not looking forward to it.
How would you say that the school has changed over the past 28 years?
The most significant changes have undoubtedly been higher standards, increased professionalism and greater accountability. Those working in schools have responded brilliantly to these challenges and I'm so privileged to witness what they do day in and day out for the benefit of young people. Teaching has genuinely been transformed and I really hope that the current climate of devastating financial cuts will not undo the great improvements that have been made over recent years.
What have been the highlights during your time at the school?
This is an easy one. For 28 years the highlights have been the new Y7 students who join us each September together with the Y11 and Y13 young women and men who leave having completed their time at The Blue. To share in the journey of these young people as they grow and flourish, moving through the school, has been an honour. There have been so many occasions when I have been deeply moved by their contributions and achievements. So many lovely young people - the future is indeed in good hands.
Have there been any embarrassing moments that you can share?
Hundreds - but sadly none I can share! Well, if you insist, perhaps the time I walked into a packed St Cuthbert's Church at 7.30pm to give the introductory reading at our Carol Service to discover it had started punctually at 7pm.
If you could give your successor, Mark Woodlock, one piece of advice, what would it be?
Mark's already an experienced headteacher so I wouldn't presume to offer him any advice. I think he's going to be much better than the guy who had the job before him.
Have you got any plans for life after The Blue?
I've spent the last 32 years in senior leadership diligently advising colleagues who are approaching retirement to attend seminars and plan carefully for this major step in their lives. So the answer to this question is no, I've ignored all my own advice, not been on any retirement courses, not made any plans and therefore have no idea what happens after The Blue! More seriously, I'm looking forward to spending more time with Christine, my much better half, who is also retiring. I'm also going to devote time and energy to beating Type 2 Diabetes.
Are you looking forward to spending more time out and about in Wells?
Yes, very much so. We were so fortunate that work led us here to Wells and we couldn't have wished for a better place to bring up our family.
What are the best aspects of living in the city?
There's so much! We can walk to great restaurants and love the market and the coffee shops. Wells netball and football clubs have given our children years of fun and friendship. The independent shops on the High Street are a real privilege and our view of the cathedral lit up by the sun in the evening is uplifting. By far the best thing about Wells, however, is the lovely (and very patient and tolerant) people we have come to know and are so fortunate to be able to call our friends.
What has a career as a teacher taught you?
I have learned the central importance of an immutable faith in the improvability of the human condition. Nothing but the best, for all students, at all times.