A LONG-serving head teacher said a fond ‘farewell’ to the school he has led for 12 years.

Mick Fitzgerald guided Parrenthorn High School in Heywood Road, Prestwich, to ‘outstanding’ status with Ofsted and oversaw the school as it gained new facilities, such as a modern sports hall and new classrooms.

Retiring this week, the 59-year-old said he is looking forward to learning French, playing tennis and spending more time skiing, but he will miss the pupils and his colleagues.

“In my time here, whenever I have felt down, I have taken a walk into the school corridor just to speak with some of the pupils and it has always cheered me up. I shall really miss that,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

Originally from South Yorkshire, Mr Fitzgerald moved to the area in 1975 to study maths and education at Manchester Polytechnic.

The student developed a love for the North West and stayed on, becoming a maths teacher at Bramhall High School in 1980.

“It was a great school to start off in because it was a large school, for 11 to 18-year-olds, and threw challenges at me. I enjoyed my time there,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

In 1985, he moved to Queen Elizabeth High School in Alkrington, where he taught for three years before becoming head of maths at Philips High School in Whitefield.

Mr Fitzgerald said: “It was an interesting time to be a teacher as the National Curriculum and GCSEs were coming in.

“Before then, maths was much harder for children to learn and the National Curriculum opened it up.

“It made maths, in particular, a lot more practical and useful in students’ everyday lives.”

Mr Fitzgerald left that role in 1993 and became deputy head teacher at Parrenthorn, when Arthur Francis was head teacher.

He said it was a big challenge and it took him time to settle into the new role.

“The atmosphere at the school has always been positive and it has always inspired me to do my best for the pupils,” said Mr Fitzgerald, who became headteacher in 2004 after a brief spell at Helsby High School in Cheshire.

One of the highlights of Mr Fitzgerald’s time at the school was the 2008 ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating which was so good that inspectors have not needed to return since.

He said: “That was particularly pleasing and a great accolade.

“I have also placed a high emphasis on exam results, facilities and having a welcoming environment. I think we, as a team of staff, with the support of governors, parents and pupils, have succeeded.”

Staff and pupils presented Mr Fitzgerald with gifts during his final week at the school and he also enjoyed a special meal with staff at Fairways Lodge in Prestwich, along with fellow retirees Sue Sharples and Julie Wantling.

The school’s new head teacher will be Christopher Bell, who arrives from Walton-le-Dale High School near Preston.