Do you remember? Yes, I remember it well!

Today was the last day of the school year at Naunton Park Primary School, (seen here back in the early days!)

Back in December I left after nearly eleven years there as headteacher. When I had moved on from my previous schools, six in total with two as headteacher, I had always followed my own golden rule. It was simple, always look forward and never go back!  Forget the difficulties and the dark days and take the good times and the sunshine with you, in your memories and in your heart.

Leaving Naunton Park was a little different. I wasn’t moving to another school but retiring from the trials and tribulations of the English education system and about to embark upon voluntary work overseas, in Africa.

This had captured the imagination of the children, indeed the whole school community, and they were extremely generous in supporting my first project, four weeks on the Book Bus in Zambia. I owed it to the kids to visit them on my return and promised I would do so.

It did feel rather strange when, six months later, I returned as a visitor to the school where once I’d been head. I was given a wonderful reception and they showed a genuine interest in my presentation, engrossed by the images of the schools and children I had worked with in Zambia.

Many of them were keen to know what I was doing next and I outlined my forthcoming plans for working in Rwanda as an educational adviser with VSO.

As I pulled out of the school car park, and headed out of Cheltenham that day, I thought to myself that this really was the last time and I would never be going back. But never say never!  A week or so later I received a kind email from my successor inviting me to return today, the last day of term, for the Y6 leavers’ play.

He went on to explain that Y6 would really like me to be there and that since I had visited last some of the girls had organised a cake stall, after school one day, to raise money for VSO. They had taken over £70.00. I was amazed and I am extremely grateful to them. Thank you!

I had known most of these children from when they had first started school as 4 or 5 year olds. They were now eleven and about to leave Naunton Park for the exciting new challenges that lay ahead at secondary school. This was their big day and the time had come for moving on up and moving on out. The leavers’ play was to be their swan song, performed in front of their parents and the rest of the school and yet they wanted me there as well. I was very touched.  

These same children had put on a memorable final assembly for me on my last day as headteacher and here they were again, having some how  found the time from within the hectic summer schedule of SATs, a  residential visit, school sports, cycling proficiency, visits to their new secondary schools  etc. about to mount another spectacular performance.      

It was called, ‘Do You Remember?’ a humorous musical play, affectionately recalling some of those things  from primary school that live in the memory forever: the first day, learning to tell the time, the egg and spoon race, and of course being sent to see the head!      

As I watched and listened from the back of the hall, every word as clear as a bell by the way, I thought how proud I was of everything that had been achieved at Naunton Park School over the last ten years, epitomised by these enthusiastic and talented children on the stage in front of me, and how privileged I was to have been invited back one more time.

After the performance it was really nice to catch up, over coffee, with so many parents and staff before stepping out on to the playground for one last time and being inundated by Y6 leavers wanting me to sign their autograph books and school shirts! I felt quite a celebrity.

I wish them all the very best at secondary school and in their future lives, and hope that like me they will always carry a little bit of Naunton Park in their hearts.

And to everyone left at Naunton Park, School’s out for Summer – enjoy it!

This really was the last time and I won’t be back again, but I’ve got those good times and sunshiny days firmly in my head. Yes, I remember it well! 

Take care and all the very best to you all.

4 Responses

  1. Oh, God, Dad. I have a tear in my eye!
    Makes me smile, though, because I think more than any, the most important life lesson you’ve taught me is to look back fondly, but always move forward. Because even if it’s the easier option, it’s never quite the same going back! The best advice anyone can have. x

    • I’m glad there was some good advice along the way!

      Slip inside the eye of your mind Don’t you know you might find A better place to play……….

      ……but don’t look back in anger

      I heard you say!


  2. Like Gem, my eyes are quite damp Phil! But your reception at your last school speaks volumes and the plaudits are well deserved. Take care, Gerry.

  3. OMG hiya mr oldridge!its issie! from naunton park!we really miss you and i hope you are having a great time on the book bus!!!

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