Wigan head teacher bids farewell after 40 years

A retiring head teacher has spoken of his “wonderful” time at the borough high school where he has spent almost three decades.

Mike Southworth has brought to an end his 28-year association with Cansfield High School in Ashton, 23 of them spent in the top job.

Mike Southworth, who has retired as head of Cansfield

Mike Southworth, who has retired as head of Cansfield

He poured praise on the school and its teachers, pupils and community, saying he has had “the best working life”.

Mr Southworth first arrived in the borough in the mid-1970s to teach at St Peter’s RC High School in Orrell and has remained ever since, also enjoying a stint at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley.

A presentation was held on his final afternoon on Thursday with both present and former staff turning up to wish him well.

Mr Southworth, 64, said: “Cansfield is just a lovely place, everything about it is very special to me. There has not been one day or one moment when I haven’t enjoyed it.

“It was a big wrench to leave but in a sense my last week was also lovely because people have been so kind and generous.

“There are so many highlights it would be odd to pick any one out really. It has just been wonderful. I think I have had the best working life anyone could have. If you do 40 years in a job and love every minute you’ve not done too badly.”

Mr Southworth, who is originally from Preston, says he was drawn to the borough initially due to its prominence in education at the time and has never felt a pull away from Wigan.

He spoke of his delight at seeing generations of Wigan families pass through Cansfield, with his former pupils going on to return as parents.

He initially taught English and economics but then combined English with drama and gradually took on more lessons passing on an enthusiasm for theatre.

He spoke of the changes he has seen since arriving at Cansfield in 1990 but said much about the area has also remained the same.

He said: “Ashton is a very vibrant place and a great community to be part of. Cansfield has grown and changed, not only in terms of new buildings but in the way we are seen in the community. That has been lovely.

“I never failed to get a lump in the throat when doing presentation evenings, seeing new year sevens coming in and year 11s getting their results, and when handing out the Pride of Cansfield badges and giving the year 11 prefects and the year 10 pupils who will go on to be prefects their special black and blue ties.

“That is what it is all about, young people developing and being successful.

“The students are a wonderful bunch, the staff are brilliant and the parents and governors are great. Cansfield is special because of them all.

“You see generations come through and you meet parents who you have taught. That is just lovely.

“There have been some fantastic people working in education in Wigan during my time here. When I went to conferences and said I was from Wigan people would sit up and take notice, that’s how highly the place was thought of.

“My background is in the arts and there was so much of that in Wigan, from Drumcroon to the jazz festival.

“There was no real need for me to go anywhere else. It was all here and I loved it.”

Mr Southworth admits he has no real retirement plans but will not be heading too far from the borough as he is happily settled in Standish.

He is planning to spend more time with his family, made up of wife Bett, their daughters Laura, Katie and Kate and their grandchildren.