Winston Churchill headteacher bows out after 12 years in charge

IT MAY be that school’s out for summer for the students, but it’s out for ever for one headteacher who will hang up his whistle on the last day of term.

Whoever steps into his shoes will find that David Smith’s was a class act and a difficult one to follow.

FOND FAREWELL - but David Smith is not retiring just yet

FOND FAREWELL – but David Smith is not retiring just yet

Unusual, perhaps, for someone in his position of authority to be rated so highly by staff and pupils alike, but the man who’s been in charge of The Winston Churchill school for the last 12 years has truly given it his all.

Seemingly born for the role, Mr Smith was never afraid to introduce change if he thought it was needed.

He said: “I really love the job and will miss it – even the naughty pupils, who simply reveal that they’ve got spirit.”

His progressive ‘can do’ app-roach has taken the Hermitage Road secondary school from strength to strength. It has achieved sports-college recognition by producing both national and international champions, and its exam results have improved every year.

It has all helped the school to develop excellent community relations. Students go out to help at primary schools and festivals to develop their leadership qualities, and they take on any number of extra-curricular activities such as astrology, music and the performing arts, which has led to professional-standard productions being mounted at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre and even the Edinburgh Fringe.

The school also has its own radio station run by pupils, and is having a recording studio added.

A natural communicator, Mr Smith (right) was the first in his family to go to university, and he has shown that he genuinely cares about each one of the 1,500 students.Previously a linguistics teacher, he opted to take Year 7 classes in personal, social and health education.

He explained: “I chose PSHE so that I could get to know many more of the children in their first year.”

David, 62, makes no secret of the fact that he will miss the joie de vivre of his staff and students when he says farewell in the next fortnight.

He said: “We grew our own team here, and they don’t want me to leave. I am going to miss the people the most, but it will be nice to keep in touch without being the boss.”

Having been a headteacher for 18 years and a teacher for 38, he admits: “It is a strange feeling as I have always worked.”

He insists that: “I am not retiring, but doing something different.”

Would he return to Winston in any work capacity?

“Not to work, but I hope to be invited back for the prizegiving for the high achievers from last year – that would be right. I still have a few years of shelf life in me, but I don’t want to be tied. I need something to keep the brain ticking over,” he said.

It seems that Mr Smith, who has a daughter, Katy, and lives in Guildford with his wife Jenny, will be as busy as ever in his ‘different’ role.

“I’m an Ofsted inspector and will be continuing that and working with other schools.”

He also wants to spend more time reading and enjoying the great outdoors – mountain-biking, skiing, running, ‘serious’ walking, and he loves sailing. “Oh, and I’d like to travel,” he added.

When asked how he thinks the incoming headteacher, Zoe Johnson-Walker, will get on, he said: “Everything moves on and is soon forgotten, which is right, and I will be forgotten.”

With Mr Smith’s legacy there is little chance of that.

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