Head bows out on a high note
In just 18 months, Anne Rees has led an award-winning recovery of a Cardiff primary once infamous for its badly behaved pupils and low staff morale.
And her remarkable turnaround of Grangetown following re-inspection - including a drop in once high rates of parentally condoned absence - has not gone unrecognised.
Mrs Rees was named Primary Headteacher of the Year at the New Directions Inspirational Teacher Awards earlier this month at Cardiff's Holland House Hotel.
She retires today after 20 years' headship in a blaze of adulation from pupils and parents.
"I couldn't have enjoyed myself more in the twilight of my career," she told TES Cymru this week.
In 2006, inspectors said in a gloomy inspection report there was too much family sanctioned lateness and absence for "cultural" holidays among the children, 90 per cent of whom did not have English as their first language. Attendance rates were just under 90 per cent, but last year it was above 92.
Mrs Rees, who joined Grangetown in 2007 after leading Moorland Primary School in Cardiff for nearly 14 years, said staff had worked closely with families to change attitudes.
"The deputy head and a teaching assistant run a project targeting children with low attendance. We telephone them on the first morning they are away," she said.
Pupils with good attendance are rewarded with certificates and treats. Mrs Rees said staff morale had also been low because of poor pupil behaviour.
She said simple changes, such as drawing large circles on the playground for children to meet up in before school, had greatly improved the atmosphere.
"It was important to have someone draw a line in the sand and say these are the consequences of bad behaviour," said Mrs Rees.
"Parents and teachers would go to the circles and it started the day in an organised, systematic way."
Although retiring from headship, Mrs Rees is taking up a part-time job with the Cardiff school advisory service.