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'I've had the best of both worlds', says retiring head

Retiring head Pat Carter with pupils
Retiring head Pat Carter with pupils

A Wigan headteacher is calling an end to a career spanning more than three decades when she retires at the end of the year.

Patricia Carter, better known as Pat, will step down from her role at St Oswald’s Catholic Primary School after 14 years at the helm.

The 69-year-old has been at the Ashton school for 34 years after joining in 1983, moving from a school in Toxteth in Liverpool.

She spent 10 years as deputy headteacher before getting the top job. She spoke highly of the school she is preparing to depart from, saying: "It’s a wonderful school. The kids, staff and parents are all great. It’s a great team effort."

"It’s always been the way that teaching was a passion for me, whether it was in the classroom or in leadership," Pat said.

"It’s been challenging, but I’ve been very lucky that I have been able to enjoy a job that I have done for so many years."

She added: "People try to be kind when you retire, and say that you’ll enjoy your life more. But in fairness, I always have enjoyed my life in teaching, so I regard myself as very lucky."

Pat, who lives in Ashton, and whose three grandchildren attend the school, first announced her plans to retire two years ago, initiating a transitional period for the school’s leadership to take over her duties, and also reduced her working hours to three days a week.

She said: "This was part of a succession plan for the school, to help upskill the leadership team. I feel we’ve had the best of both worlds, because I have been able to carry on the job that I have loved, and also have an introduction into what retirement can offer.

"It’s been of benefit to me and hopefully to the school as well, for the people who carry on after I’ve gone."

And Pat believed Christmas was the perfect time of year to bow out as headteacher.

She said: "I wanted to see the school through our Ofsted inspection, and the building of a new classroom and things like audits. I wanted to leave at Christmas knowing I had ticked these things off.

"In spring and summer, the new head will be planning for the next year, so they need to be involved rather than me.

"I feel as though the school is in a good place. It can move from strength to strength."

Reflecting on what she would be leaving behind, Pat said: "I will miss everyone. The pupils, the staff and the whole community. St Oswald’s has been the centre of everything for me."

The school will be marking the end of her long career with a farewell mass which will be celebrated in the school hall on Wednesday, December 20.

The celebrant of the mass will be the parish priest Father Brian Newns, and assisted by Reverend Deacon Paul Blinston.