A head teacher will be saying farewell to staff and pupils at two village primary schools but says the ‘memories will be everlasting’.
Michelle Clifford of Amberley First School and St James C of E Primary, Coldwaltham, will be stepping down after running the schools simultaneously since 2005.
Starting at St James’ in 1990, Mrs Clifford took on Amberley after the school was placed under threat of closure.
The Local Education Authority recommended Mrs Clifford oversee both institutions as a means of keeping two small rural schools viable.
She said: “There was no blueprint. It’s been a matter of looking for ways to make things work – to ‘box clever’, if you like.”
Since, it has thrived and once again become a permanent fixture in the village that is greatly supported by the community. Aspects of the schools were rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofted in its last review.
Mrs Clifford said: “I believe that Amberley and St James schools are wonderful examples of small rural schools serving their communities and providing a very personal education for our children.
“I have been privileged to work with wonderful colleagues in both schools and I value the support of the parents and my Governors in ensuring that our schools continue to grow and develop.”
Teaching for 39 years, Mrs Clifford will be retiring at the end of the school year this summer.
The head teacher also runs the Forest Schools activities which include building fires and cooking, constructing shelters, carving utensils and studying the environment.
“My plans for the future include an ongoing connection with my passion which is Forest Schools and I will be maintaining my connection with Forest Schools in the Rother Valley.”
Jon Gilbert will be taking over as head teacher in September.