Head teacher’s notes - Paying tribute to St David’s school family

Head teacher Wendy Sutherland with pupils at St David's High School, Dalkeith
Head teacher Wendy Sutherland with pupils at St David's High School, Dalkeith

After 37 years as a teacher it is now time to to hand back the chalk (iPad actually) and make my farewells to the St David’s High School community that I have had the privilege to serve as headteacher since 2009, writes Wendy Sutherland (St David’s High School).

I have been touched by the many tributes and well wishes that I’ve received since announcing my decision to retire at the summer – thank you all.

Over my time in education I’ve witnessed much change – changes to curriculum, assessment, teaching methods, more curriculum change, school restructuring and curriculum for excellence! When I started teaching it was in the days of ‘O’ Grades and Highers; then we had Standard Grades and Higher Still, then Intermediates and Highers and now we have Nationals and new Highers.

There hasn’t been a period of real stability in the curriculum at any time during my career and that has been extremely challenging for schools to ensure that our students were never disadvantaged as new courses, units, pilots and projects were trialled, implemented, reviewed and revised – like painting the Forth Bridge it never ends.

What hasn’t changed are the pupils, who, contrary to popular belief, are the same delightful, challenging at times, resourceful, imaginative, kind and funny young people.

And teachers too – I don’t know any teacher who comes into school to do a bad job.

They are committed, caring and conscientious and every day in so many ways, they do their very best to support the learners in their class and are the true heroes of every school.

And so I must thank the people that have made it all work. The marvellous colleagues – including fantastic admin and support staff that I’ve worked with over the years; they have inspired, supported and challenged me and I hope I have done the same to them.

At times we haven’t always agreed with the direction of travel but the journey together has helped deliver the best possible outcomes for so many young people – and that essentially is what my job has been all about.

I am proud to have led St David’s through our improvement journey where attainment has more than doubled and where we have narrowed the gap between the most and least disadvantaged in our school. There is still much more work to do before we ‘get it right for every child’ and I wish every member of the school community every success in the future.

To paraphrase another person who served eight years “thank you everyone - yes we did, yes we can – I can’t wait to see what you can do next!”