A HEADTEACHER is preparing to quit after 13 years leading his school.

Andy Hodgkinson who has been at Sweyne Park School, in Rayleigh, since 1997, is preparing to hand over the role.

He has taken the decision due to a serious family illness and the impact it has had.

The role will be taken up by current deputy headteacher, Katharine Dines, after Easter.

Mr Hodgkinson said he has enjoyed his time at the school.

The 48-year-old said: “There have been many challenges, but we are part of a lovely community.

“Although we are not perfect, Sweyne Park is genuinely a good school, and it has been an honour and a privilege working in the town all these years with so many fantastic pupils.

“Of the many highlights, being the first secondary school in the east of England to achieve the Unicef Rights Respecting Gold Award for our school’s culture and ethos last year, and opening our sixth form in 2014, as well as teaching, would feature right up there.

“I shall very much miss teaching languages and all the pupils in class.

“I am feeling incredibly sad to go, but my family needs me, and the school is in very good hands.

“I have worked in education previously and had roles in Basildon and Cambridge prior to this.

I also taught in France for a year.

“I feel that I need to focus on my family for the time being.

“I will maybe do some voluntary work until I am able to get back into full time employment in education again.”

His replacement, Mrs Dines said she feels excited about the opportunity but very sad about the circumstances.

She said she has enjoyed working with Mr Hodgkinson for 19 years and she feels he will be a genuine loss to the school and the community at large.

The deputy headteacher said: “I joined Sweyne Park in 2010 and have been working in education for 25 years.

“I will do everything I can to build upon Andy’s legacy, and to ensure the school continues to move forward, whilst also providing a period of stability as everyone adjusts to this change.”