Staff, trustees, parents and children have bid a fond farewell to Nicola Collett, who has stood down as head teacher at Hambledon Nursery School after ten highly-successful years.
Nicola’s final day was the last day of the summer term (July 20th). At the end of the leavers service for children moving on to primary school, tributes were paid and gifts were presented.
Nicola was unsure if she could deliver a departing speech without becoming tearful so her two children, Lydia and Lawrence, stepped up to speak on her behalf. Kate Walford, the new head, teachers and parents all warmly thanked Nicola and spoke of their high regard for her. Our pictures shows Kate Walford (left) and Tracey Jimmison, deputy head (centre), at the presentation to Nicola,
Nicola joined the teaching staff in 2001 and was appointed head teacher and manager in 2008.
The school was once the village state primary. It was reopened as a nursery school in 1984 after a village-led initiative secured the lovely Victorian schoolhouse and playground in its beautiful rural setting as a place of learning.
It has thrived and since Nicola took over it has twice been judged “outstanding” in Ofsted inspections.
David Evans, chair of trustees, said: “Nicola has made a quite exceptional contribution, and the school today bears her stamp in so many ways.
“We are fortunate to have such an attractive Victorian building, but Victorian buildings need love and care, and with Nicola over the years it has been very well maintained. The extensive outdoor areas and outbuildings and play areas have also been carefully looked after and developed, with children’s gardens, and outdoor toys, and climbing frames and pathways and camps.
“Important as the physical environment is, much more important is our teaching staff. Nicola has taken tremendous care over the staff team and has supported and imbued it with her passion and values. It is a great team, who look after their small charges with endless care and dedication and give them the best start to their schooldays that they and their parents could hope for.
“Nicola has been the embodiment of “hands-on”. She has maintained a teaching role throughout her time at the school, and has always been on-hand to advise and support those around her. And as well as supporting her colleagues, and caring for the children, before a new term started she would invariably be found organising a tidy-up of the classrooms, or checking the grounds, or planning a new innovation in the children’s education.
“She can and should look back on her time at Hambledon Nursery School with great pride. The gifts from staff and parents and trustees will be a small reminder of the very high regard in which she is held by all. She is passing on the Headship to Kate Walford, presently a teacher at the school, and as ever has done an excellent job of supporting and handing over the reins to Kate.
“Nicola has a creativity that has been a hugely important part of what she has brought to the school, and now she plans to develop these talents further and in different directions. We all wish her, with her husband Iain and her children Lydia and Lawrence, the very best.
“Nicola’s leaving gift to the school was the trunk of an oak tree. This is now in the school grounds inscribed with a message from Nicola to the school. In its first day it was a boat, a bus, a crocodile and a horse …”
Our pictures below show Nicola in the playground after she was presented with a flowers by children; with her daughter Lydia (centre) and teacher/afternoon supervisor Kelly Shaw; and the inscribed oak log which was her departing gift to the school.