Woodroffe head to retire amid ‘lack of support’ from parents

THE headteacher of The Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis, Dr Richard Steward, has announced he will retire at the end of the academic year. 

Dr Steward’s early retirement was confirmed by the school governors, and all pupils and their parents/carers have received a letter announcing the news.

In his letter to parents, Dr Steward said that one of the reasons he had chosen to retire early was due to a “lack of support” they had shown during his time at the school, and he urged them to support the new leadership.

Dr Steward took over as headteacher from Kerrigan Redman, who died last year, in the early 2000s.

In his letter to parents he wrote: “I hope I have made a contribution to the success of the school over the 16 years I have been in post, although I have to say that the school’s success is really down to its highly-skilled and incredibly committed staff.

“I have no doubt that the school will continue to go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

Dr Steward said his post would be advertised nationally at the end of the month and he was confident that the school would receive a strong field of applicants, as Woodroffe was “quite a remarkable place”.

“Not only is it an Ofsted outstanding school, it is a Teaching School and a Maths Hub with a national reputation,” he added.

“It consistently achieves some of the best examination results in the West County and it offers an unrivalled extra-curricular programme.

“It is based in a beautiful part of the country and it has few of the problems that bedevil so many schools in our larger towns and cities. Above all, it has students who are a pleasure to teach. Who wouldn’t want to work here?”

Despite his praise for the school as a whole, Dr Steward said parents had shown a lack of support during his time at Woodroffe.

Last year in particular, he received considerable criticism from parents when the school made the decision to disband its Combined Cadet Force and close its gym facilities to the public.

Dr Steward commented: “I have to confess that one of the reasons I have chosen to retire early is due to the lack of support I feel parents have shown the school during my time here. I am sorry to say that the positive letters I have received from parents over the years would fit neatly into a small ring-binder whereas the letters of complaint would easily fill several large filing cabinets.

“I understand that this is a feature of our national culture nowadays, but I would urge you to be as supportive as possible of the new leadership team when it takes over from September.

“Woodroffe is a fantastic school; it is a shame so many parents are unaware of just how good a school it really is.”

Dr Steward said that he would endeavour to ensure a smooth transition once the new headteacher was appointed and there would be minimal disruption to the running of the school.

“I am confident that Woodroffe will continue to be one of the best schools in the country and one of the best places to be a student,” he concluded.

In her own statement to parents, chairman of the school governors, Mary Kahn, said: “Dr Steward is leaving our school in a very strong position. During his time as head teacher, Dr Steward has helped the school gain status us a Maths Hub and started The Teaching Schools Alliance.

“As a result of his leadership and influence, Woodroffe attracts national attention and regularly has visitors from a variety of key decision and policy makers to learn about ‘Woodroffe way’.

“The governors will be very sorry to see Dr Steward leave but want to reassure parents, teachers and students that the recruitment process for his successor will begin shortly and we are confident it will attract a strong field of candidates.

“We have  incredible staff at The Woodroffe School and have an experienced Senior Leadership Team (SLT). We will be working hard with Dr Steward and the SLT to ensure that the recruitment process is robust, and thorough.”

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 928 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

6 Comments

  1. Retaining the school song may have gone some way to reducing the required number of filing cabinets and significantly increased the ability to foster a spirit of community.

    • Cryptic comments from cowards like you are exactly the reason he feels unsupported. So what are your complaints? My son left in 2018 and is now at uni thanks to Dr Steward and his capable team. I have nothing but praise for him and the fantastic school that my son absolutely flourished at.

  2. I think it’s very sad. The many comments on social media support his assertion that people in Lyme Regis are unduly negative. There are many institutions and people in the town we should show more pride and positivism about. Relatively speaking, we live in a great part of the world with very few social problems, but whenever I look on social media the attitudes are very disappointing.

  3. As someone who went to the school for a good number of years with dr steward as the head i think it’s sad that parents aren’t supportive of him and some of the decisions he and the governors have had to make some of which would have been difficult ones. People are always quick to be judgemental and blame the staff when things go wrong.

  4. This is incredibly sad news. Dr Steward has turned Woodroffe around over the past 16 years, after a long period of decline under his two predecessors. If parents don’t understand this, it says something about them. Schools do not recruit brilliant staff by accident, it is generally due to consistent and inspirational management from the top.

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