End of term, end of an era: Retirement of five long serving headteachers

As the gates lock for the summer holiday this year, five of Cardiff's long serving headteachers will leave their schools for the very last time. 

Huw Jones-Williams from Whitchurch High School, Julie Morris MBE from Severn Primary School, Colin Skinner, Roath Park Primary School, Paul Catris, St Patrick's Roman Catholic Primary School and Janet Comrie, Grangetown Nursery, are retiring this year. Together they have served schools in Cardiff for more 100 years over the course of their teaching careers. 

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry, said: "I want to thank the five headteachers for the service they have given to education in the city. I have had the pleasure of meeting many headteachers over the years, including them, and although the role comes with its challenges, you can see that it is also enormously rewarding, so the decision to step down couldn't have been as easy one to make. I wish them all the very best, and a long and very enjoyable retirement." 

Mr Huw Jones-Williams, Headteacher of Whitchurch High School

"The last couple of weeks have felt quite surreal, looking around at the faces and places of Whitchurch High School which has been so dear to my heart. My association with, and love of such a unique and special school has been short perhaps in comparison to others. Along with them, I feel enormous richness of belief and pride in all that it stands for. 

"I wish my successor, Mark Powell all the very best, and know that Whitchurch High School under his experienced leadership will continue to develop and flourish for the benefit of each student and for all." 

As well as headteacher of Whitchurch High School from 2008 to 2018, Huw was headteacher of Fitzalan High School from 2005 to 2008 , and deputy head of Whitchurch from 2001 to 2005. He is a former chair of the Cardiff Conference of Secondary Headteachers. 

Chair of Governors, Joyce Slack, said: "Mr Huw Jones-Williams is retiring as Headteacher of Whitchurch High School after ten years of outstanding service in the post. Huw has always been firmly focused on the individual student, ensuring that they have all the necessary opportunities to learn and achieve during their time at the school. 

"On behalf of all the Governors, I want to express my great gratitude for all that Huw has done. He leaves the school well placed on its journey to becoming an ‘excellent' school."  

Mrs Julie Morris MBE, Headteacher of Severn Primary School

"I am retiring after 32 happy years at this wonderful school. Initially I worked at Severn Infant School and 10 years ago was proud to become Headteacher of the amalgamated Severn Primary School. It has been a huge privilege to work with such a dedicated team of staff and governors and wonderful children and families. Together we have made Severn the excellent school that it is today. Recently receiving my MBE for Services to Education was an amazing culmination to my teaching career. Severn Primary is a truly special school that will always have a place in my heart." 

Deputy Headteacher of Severn Primary School, Mrs Judith Allen, is also retiring this year. 

Chair of Governors, Sarah Paxton, said: "After long and distinguished careers in teaching,

Headteacher Julie Morris MBE, and Judith Allen Deputy Head, are both retiring. The governors and staff at Severn primary would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their immense contribution to education over many years, including leading the amalgamation of the infant and junior school in 2008, and an ‘excellent' Estyn inspection, and to wish them both a happy and healthy retirement. We look forward to welcoming Nick Wilson who will take over as Headteacher in September 2018." 

Mrs Janet Comrie, Headteacher of Grangetown Primary School

"Since 2005 my life has been touched by two thousand and fifty children and their families, so many faces and names and so many tears, scraped knees, bumps, laughter and joy. Our families put so much trust in us and I am overwhelmed by the support I've had from the community over the years. 

"I have such happy memories to take with me and will always regard my time at Grangetown as the happiest of my 30 year career. As I embark on the next chapter, which is a little scary to say the least, I will hold Grangetown very close to my heart. It's a very special place to work and I sincerely wish everyone associated with ‘GNS' very best wishes for the future and thanks for having me!" 

Janet led Grangetown Nursery School to become a recognised Centre of Excellence. Prior that, Janet held the position of Advisory Teacher for Foundation Phase in Cardiff. Previous teaching posts were in Lakeside Primary School and Gladstone Infant School. Most recently, Jan developed the Reach Centre, a valuable community resource offering a wide range of services to children and their families. 

Chair of Governors, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said: "Jan is passionate about the early years and providing the best possible start to a child's education journey. Throughout her career, she has shared her expertise widely, most recently leading training for schools within the Central South Consortium. 

"Jan has continuously acted as a voice for the youngest learners in Cardiff, never losing sight of her belief that children learn best through exploration and play. Her contribution to the world of education will be genuinely missed, both personally and professionally, by the many who have worked alongside her." 

Mr Colin Skinner, Headteacher of Roath Park Primary School

"It has been my privilege to be Headteacher at Roath Park for the last fourteen years. One of the great strengths of the school is that families come together from all over the world to live here in Roath and they all get on so well and are so supportive of each other. 

"I will certainly miss all of the children who are so amazing and all of the staff who work so hard for every child in the school. After 38 and- a-half years it is time for me to go. I wish Jonathan Keohane, my successor, every success for the future - he will have a fantastic time." 

Born in Brecon, Colin started his teaching career as a PE and English teacher in London.

He moved to Cardiff as a senior teacher at Kitchener Primary in 1990. I 1994 he took up the deputy head post at Bryn Celyn Primary School, later becoming headteacher. Colin has been the head at Roath Park Primary since 2004. 

Chair of Governors, Cllr Sue Lent, said: "During the 5 years I have been Chair of Governors at Roath Park I have found Colin very easy to work with. He is an enthusiastic, committed head who supports staff well. He really cares about the children and is popular with parents as he is very approachable. Roath Park is a very happy school and we will really miss Colin." 

Roath Park Primary held a retirement Summer Ball at Sophia Gardens, as not only is Colin retiring, but school admin officer Mary Willicombe is also stepping down after 28 years of service. The event raised £8,500 for Ty Hafan Children's Hospice. 

Mr Paul Catris, Headteacher of St Patrick's Roman Catholic Primary School

"The last 38 years have been so memorable, both as a class teacher and headteacher of St. Patrick's School. The children taught, the colleagues worked with and friendships developed will always be cherished and hold a special place in my heart. I am grateful for all the love and support of the school and parish communities, and my wife, Kathryn for her patience and understanding over the years."  

Paul started at St Patrick's shortly after qualifying as a teacher in 1980. He became headteacher at the school 18 years ago. 

Chair of Governors, Peter Collett, said: "Nothing is more important to Paul than the education and wellbeing of the children in St.Patrick's and this can be seen anytime you enter the school and see the genuine love and respect from the staff and pupils alike. Paul's retirement is a time I've been dreading. He is such a part of the fabric of the school and the community of Grangetown and will be missed. However, he is so deserving of his retirement after 38 years of fantastic service."