Two long serving Deputy Headteachers at Middleton Primary School retire today (22 July 2022) after 30 and 35 years at the school.
Penni Bullock arrived at Middleton after a number of short-term posts in neighbouring authorities. She came for one term and stayed for thirty years.
Sarah Latham has spent her entire career at the school arriving as a NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) thirty-five years ago.
I spoke to them, and Headteacher Sam Williams, about their time at the school. They both said that it was the school community that made it such a rewarding place to work.
“It’s a very, very special school, with special people, special children … and the parents are absolutely amazing,” said Penni.
“When the going gets tough, and it does get tough at times, but you’ve got support of other people. But the minute those children arrive with, their enthusiasm, you just forget about whatever’s going on in the background. Every year you get a new cohort of children and new challenges, different personalities.”
They both talked about the satisfaction of making a difference to children’s lives. Whether that’s turning round a child’s reading, or behaviour so that they are ready to learn, or seeing a child new to the country blossom after a year or two in school.
Penni said she really appreciated hearing about how pupils had progressed after leaving the school, whether that was getting their GCSE results from the high school, or children coming back into school to visit.
“There are quite a few mums that I took on residentials as children” she added.
“Working somewhere for that length of time, you have a really big impact. Staying in one school, knowing the families and the community, the longer you stay the bigger the impact you have. Sarah and Penni have obviously committed to that.”
They also reflected on how the Middleton community has changed over the last three decades
“It’s more multicultural now and that’s been a good thing for us. The black children in our school got a hard time and it was a big challenge for quite a while, but now we’ve moved on so much. I’m so proud of these children,” said Sarah.
And what does the future hold in store? After a first ever holiday in school term time in September she’s planning to learn to play the piano as well as conversational Spanish. Sarah is keen to walk and swim – the East Coast, Lake District and Anglesey are favourites. And they both look forward to being able to spend more time with their families.
Photo: L-R Sarah Latham, Headteacher Sam Williams, Penni Bullock