North Suffolk high school set for new era as headteacher gets ready to retire

Colin Hirst.
Colin Hirst.

A north Suffolk high school headteacher who has presided over several “outstanding” Ofsted ratings and the transition to academy status is retiring from the profession.

Colin Hirst’s tenure at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham - pop star Ed Sheeran’s alma mater - concludes at the end of the current term.

Taking over as headteacher from next term will be Philip Hurst, who moves from his position as deputy heateacher at Colchester-based Philip Morant School and College - which, like Thomas Mills High School, has also recently acquired academy status.

Mr Hirst, who has been in the teaching profession for 37 years, said: “I have mixed feelings about leaving. I shall miss the young people - over the years, they have been terrific, and many of them have gone on to great things, shall we say.

“I have also been extremely lucky to work with some fantastic, professional colleagues, andthere is a superb atmosphere at the school.

“But, having spent a considerable part of my life in the profession, I am looking forward to a less stressful existence.”

The most noteworthy accomplishment of Mr Hirst’s time as headteacher would be the school becoming an academy in June 2011.

Academies are directly funded by central Government, and free from local authority control. This means Thomas Mills High School is able to have more control over how it spends money, and who delivers its services.

Mr Hirst said that he believes the Framlingham school is “ahead of the game” compared to others when it comes to academy governance: “We have an academy business manager, who has been here less than a year, but has been able to bring in half a million for premises works.”

Mr Hirst joined Thomas Mills High School as headteacher in September 2005, taking over fromDavid Floyd.

Prior to that, the 57-year-old worked as a headteacher at a school in Hampshire, and as a deputy headteacher at East Bergholt High School.

Originally from Newcastle, Mr Hirst - who wants to do a bit of travelling in his retirement - and his wife have come to fall in love with Suffolk, and plan to remain in the area.

They live near Eye, and Mr Hirst has cycled the 11 or so miles to his job every day.