Alnwick head teacher retiring after 'incredible' 17 years at the helm
The long-serving head teacher of Duchess’s Community High School is retiring at the end of this week.
Maurice Hall, who stayed on for an extra five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is calling it a day after what he describes as an ‘incredible’ 17 years at the helm.
In that time he has overseen the change from a three-tier to a two-tier education system and the move to a new school at Greensfield in 2016.
Born and bred in Alnwick, his close connection to the town and surrounding area has helped him become a much-respected community figure.
“In many ways the last 17 years have gone like a blink of an eye," he writes in an open letter. “There has been real joy and sadness, success and failure.... and plenty of hard graft.
"I have said before that I can’t think of any jobs that have so many daily interactions with so many people than those jobs that are connected to schools. These interactions are so important because they are with our community’s children, our next generation of adults.”
He stresses the value of open and honest relationships in his efforts to run a successful school, while recognising the uniqueness of north Northumberland and its residents.
“An example of how this uniqueness works is that currently we have approximately 80 staff in school who either were students at DCHS themselves or their children have been through our school or are currently at our school,” he explains.
"This continuity is a strength that very few schools could compare with. It provides a backbone that reaches out to our wider community.”
He describes the move to a new school building from the Howling Lane and Bailiffgate sites as ‘a real watershed’ in terms of what it allows staff and students to do.
"But of most significance to me is the individual achievements and progress of all of our young people; how they develop, their successes and their mistakes,” he writes. “These are what makes this job so rewarding (and a little tiring). No two days are the same!”
He also writes of the ‘incredible challenge’ of the Covid crisis which led to the postponement of his planned retirement last summer.
“None of us could have been prepared for this,” he states. “There is no manual for leadership during a Covid crisis.
"Hopefully, as we move into the New Year, we will see the back of this very difficult time.
"What I believe, and I hope this is not naive, is that it has brought our school community closer together; we recognise the worth of school more and it has made us realise that there may be better ways to teach, learn and educate in the 21st century than we thought previously.”
He concludes by thanking all those who have supported the school over his period in charge and the students and staff he has worked with since 2004.
A new co-head team of Alan Rogers and James Wilson, current deputy heads, take over the reins in January.
“I wish them every success and look forward to learning about the amazing successes that DCHS will have in the years to come,” says Maurice.