Robsack Wood head retires after more than 22 years

Pupils from Robsack Wood School with retiring headteacher John Benwell

Pupils from Robsack Wood School with retiring headteacher John Benwell

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A HEADTEACHER retired this week after being at the helm of a St Leonards school for more than 22 years.

John Benwell, head of Robsack Wood School in Whatlington Way, took the reins in April 1991 when the school had just been built.

He said: “It was just an empty shell with books, walls and furniture. Pupils didn’t come until September that year.

“There were only 75 who started then. Now we have nearly 500 children, as Robsack Wood has developed and expanded.”

Mr Benwell said his biggest achievement in his tenure as headteacher was the school gaining an ‘outstanding’ grade by Ofsted inspectors in 2010.

He added: “It’s not the first time we have achieved that grade and it’s thanks to all the hard work of staff and pupils.

“It’s them who make the school so special.”

Mr Benwell has been in teaching for 39 years.

Previous jobs include headteacher at Pevensey and Westham School, near Eastbourne before he joined Robsack Wood, head at West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne and deputy headteacher at Willingdon Primary School, also in Eastbourne.

A celebration picnic was held on Tuesday (July 23) for parents, staff, children and ex-pupils.

Mr Benwell will remain a consultant head until Robsack Wood appoints a permanent one. Caroline Thayre will be acting head in the interim.