Tony’s sad farewell

Abbeydale Grange teacher Tony Tigwell who is retiring against his desires to carry on teaching
Abbeydale Grange teacher Tony Tigwell who is retiring against his desires to carry on teaching
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THOUSANDS of teachers are currently angry over plans to extend their classroom careers - possibly until they are the ripe old age of 68.

But Tony Tigwell has a different point of view.

At 67, he’s believed to be the second oldest teacher working in Sheffield - and although he’s retiring this week more than 40 years after joining the profession, he’d love to carry on.

Tony is only quitting because his school, Abbeydale Grange, is shutting down for good.

“There are two reasons I would have loved to stay on,” he said.

“The main reason is I love it here - I found a school I really felt at home with and it’s very sad to see it close. But also I still feel I have plenty to offer.”

Tony puts his enthusiasm for the job down to a split career - although he started teaching in 1968, he spent around 15 years pursuing other careers, including a spell as a Labour councillor, running an adventure playground and spending time in India.

“I returned to teaching in 1988 and came back really refreshed, and I still would like to carry on - plus I’ve got a pretty hopeless pension!”

For the last year Tony and the remaining Abbeydale staff have just been teaching the final Year 11 GCSE group - the rest of the pupils were dispersed to other schools last summer.

“We’ve had in the region of 85 to 90 students and they’ve been working hard on their exam courses but also the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and other projects,” Tony said.

“We’ve tried as far as possible to make it like a normal year for them, with a trip to London, a camping expedition and the end of year prom.

“And we’re expecting their academic results to be strong, up around seven per cent on last year.”

Tony has taught a wide range of subjects down the years, including maths, history and religious education.

“I’ve been a bit of an all rounder, which is unusual for a secondary school. I’ve even been teaching gardening, thanks to a thriving school allotment we have at Brincliffe Edge.

“But my main responsibilities have been personal and social education which has taken in a vocational youth award scheme which has really helped motivate the youngsters. It’s doing different things which have helped me keep my energy and verve.”

Tony said he was retiring reluctantly as he had really wanted Abbeydale to stay open.

“The atmosphere here to some extent has been one of sadness. Many of my colleagues have got new jobs, some are retiring but there are still a few who haven’t got work.

“Abbeydale has been a special place and we feel it will be missed,” he added.

n Are you one of Tony’s former pupils? Send us your recollections. Are you past retirement age but do not want to retire? Email letters@thestar.co.uk or write to The Editor, The Star, York Street, Sheffield S1 1PU.