Tributes paid to retiring Gospel Oak headteacher

The headteacher of a Gospel Oak School is retiring from teaching after transforming the troubled school’s academic fortunes in what was “the most enjoyable” period of his long career.

Alan Seymour, 59, has been head of the primary school in Mansfield Road since 2001, and has made the school one of the most successful in Camden.

When he joined it was second from the bottom of the league tables in the borough and in “serious trouble”.

With his help, last year the school had its highest ever results and it is now heavily oversubscribed and has one of the highest staff retention rates in London.

The period was also one of the most fulfilling in his career, he explained.

“I have worked in six schools and this was easily the one I’ve enjoyed the most,” said Mr Seymour.

“There’s something very special about the mix of the school and the values you get here. We pride ourselves on social justice and giving people opportunities.”

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Mr Seymour began teaching in 1975 and since then has worked in several schools in east London, as head of Rhyl School, in Chalk Farm and as an inspector of schools for the borough of Camden before joining Gospel Oak.

Its success may be due to the “very creative” and diverse curriculum Mr Seymour has inspired.

Sport, arts and music is very important and a third of the 470 pupils play in the school’s four brass bands. It is also the only school in Camden to have received a gold award from the Geographical Association.

Sarah Dann, the chairman of governors said: “Alan’s inspirational leadership has transformed Gospel Oak and ensured that all pupils enjoy a varied curriculum and many rich experiences. He will be very much missed.”

The retiring headteacher admitted he is looking forward to a holiday, but said: “I’m going to miss my colleagues but the children most of all.”

After decades of working 55 to 60 hour weeks, going to bed at 9pm and rising at 4am, he is also looking forward to a bit of relaxation and watching some post-watershed television for the first time.

Mr Seymour made a flying exit from his last assembly with the help of circus ropes provided by a parent who is also a stuntman.