Principal at Fenland school surprises colleagues by announcing early retirement

MORE than five years after reluctantly stepping up to the mark and accepting the post of principal of Neale-Wade Community College, Tim Hitch surprised colleagues last night by announcing his early retirement.

The college’s head, widely credited with pushing Neale-Wade back up to the league table of improving exam results, has decided to go mid-way through a massive re- building programme at the school.

Governors have accepted his request for early retirement as of August 31 which he admitted he submitted only after “a great deal of consideration and not a little hesitation” but he felt it was the right time to step down.

“The new college buildings will offer March and Neale-Wade exciting opportunities in the near future, but there is still a considerable amount of planning and careful preparation to be done,” he said last night.

“I therefore feel that it is appropriate for a new principal to be appointed who can see this process through into creating, and leading what will, I am certain, be one of the finest schools in Cambridgeshire.”

The school has now broken up for half term but a job advert has already been prepared to appear next week in the Times Educational Supplement to ensure his successor is in post by September.

And in a gentle reminder to students preparing for exams, he added that it was “absolutely business as usual until my departure.”

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Mr Hitch took over as principal at a time of considerable upheaval following the surprise resignation of Jo Pallett. A first trawl of applicants was unsuccessful and it was whilst he was acting principal he was persuaded by the Governors to apply for the position himself - and beat of 45 other candidates to win through.

On March 1, 2007, he took over, heading a staff of 220 and a school roll of some 1,700.

Mr Hitch will retire on a relative ‘high’ having seen consistent year on year improvements in both GCSE and A level results.

Last year a total of 75 per cent of Year 11 students who studied GCSE courses at the college gained at least five A* - C passes – an increase of five per cent on the previous year.

There was also a four per cent increase from 46 to 50 per cent in the number of students gaining five A* - C passes which include maths and English.

Neale-Wade is part way through a massive �25 million re-building programme, one of the few schools in the country which succeeded in keeping a substantial part of its funding following the change of Government last year.

The incoming principal will find his or herself juggling the demands of disruption on a daily basis caused by the building work but with eyes focused on the conclusion and the opportunities it will bring for improved teaching and for wider community use of school buildings.

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