Hug for head who retires to save jobs

Headteacher Mike Simpson is quitting on Easter Monday to save his north Lincolnshire primary from having to sack two teachers.

The 51-year-old head of the 340-pupil school for three to 11-year-olds in Barton is taking early retirement as his school faces a Pounds 31,000 budget cut.

He has been head of the school for more than 11 years, and the news of his departure reduced parents and children to tears.

Mr Simpson is contemplating a holiday with his wife Rosemary, a former primary teacher. Then he wants to build a new career in supply teaching, inspection and mentoring.

"I had always joked about leaving but in all honesty I didn't want to, " he said. "I have had kids and adults in tears saying they don't want me to go. A parent stopped me in the corridor and gave me a cuddle. I feel a heel, but I know that because I have agreed to go the school won't have to cut even more staffing. "

Barton county primary, in the shadow of the Humber Bridge, lost two teachers last year and appointed one on a temporary contract which is due to expire this August. Four years ago it had 14 teachers and a head, now it is down to head plus 10 teachers. Class sizes have risen from the low 20s to the upper 20s and low 40s.

From April it faced losing three teachers. Mr Simpson decided his job and that of the temporary member of staff was the easiest loss for the school to bear.

North Lincolnshire, which became a unitary authority a year ago, has to cut Pounds 7.5 million from April. It lost a similar amount in 199697. The four unitary authorities that cover the former Humberside LEA area get less money in total than the former county council was given.

Nicholas Dakin, education chair, said Mr Simpson's decision to go was not one the authority could comment on but added: "There is an issue of a lot of experienced teachers leaving the profession, but that is not a North Lincolnshire issue, it is a national one."

Mr Simpson said: "The one thing that schools need is teachers. How is it as an OFSTED inspector you can earn Pounds 200 a day? It is a ludicrous waste of money. On a contract to inspect a single school you are looking at Pounds 15,000, Pounds 20,000 with expenses - give me that amount of money and I could keep my staff."

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