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Head goes on the road

Dorothy Lepkowska finds a headteacher who wants to replace the challenge of the classroom with an 18-wheeler

Teachers who retire early often dream of spending six months a year relaxing in a Spanish villa, or at the very least more time pottering about in the garden.

But David Gray has rather different plans: the head of Babbacombe primary in Torquay, Devon, is planning a new career - as a long-distance lorry driver.

The 58-year-old said he wanted a new challenge and to get away from education. But he also has other, more personal, reasons for a change of direction.

He said: "I lost both my parents within three months of each other, when they were 59 years old. That's how old I will be by the time I retire, so it is definitely something to think about."

Mr Gray will use his summer holiday getting his HGV licence, and intends to leave his school at Christmas, after 22 years as head.

He said: "I have been told there is quite a lot of work out there for drivers. When thinking about a new career I really wanted something that would keep my mind occupied for the next two to three years, and that I think I would enjoy. It will be a new challenge.

"I don't want to carry on in education. I have done my time."

Mr Gray, who is a National Association of Head Teachers council member, said there were reforms taking place in schools that he found hard to implement.

"I hope that I run a good school, where teaching and learning is paramount but I think getting rid of management points will cause mayhem," he said.

"Half of my staff will probably end up with extra work and I can just see the queue of disgruntled teachers building up outside my office, which is something I have never experienced before."

Mr Gray said his departure would also free up more money to help the school to implement the workforce agreement.

"We have about pound;14,000 towards employing a new teacher but if I go and a new, cheaper headteacher is taken on, there will be money left over," he said.

Kevin Wills, the manager of Ryders, a truck-hire company in Torquay, said Mr Gray would make a good lorry driver.

"One thing you need in this job is patience, and I know teachers have lots of that, because there is a new speed restriction on lorries of 56 mph so you aren't going to get anywhere fast.

"Really, anyone can do it as long as they have passed the test and have the right licence," he said.

* dorothy.lepkowska@tes.co.uk

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