End of an era as Brightside school teacher and Sheffield-wide music teacher John Webber retires
When youngsters returned to Brightside Nursery and Infant School this week, there was a familiar face missing.
For the first time in 37 years, there was no John Webber to greet them in the Victorian school building – as the long-serving teacher was starting his retirement.
Mr Webber, originally from Hertfordshire, started his teaching career at the school after falling in love with Sheffield at university and staying in the city.
At that time there was no Meadowhall dominating the horizon from the Jenkin Road school windows. But since then he has taught hundreds of pupils, with many of those being children whose parents he had previously taught.
Mr Webber, aged 62, said: “I’ve taught at Brightside for 37 years – I started and finished there.
"I’ve enjoyed my time there, but it’s been a wrench saying goodbye to families who I have known for a long, long, time. Over that 37 years I’ve been teaching the children of my former pupils who are now adults.
View of Meadowhall
“I started in 1984, and one of the biggest changes is that there was no Meadowhall then – the school is really close to Meadowhall and you can see its dome from the school. But it’s still the same Victorian school building, and it’s always been the same close-knit, friendly school.
"There was no national curriculum then, so schools could teach pretty much what they wanted – it’s much more prescribed now.”
There have been three headteachers during his time there. and some of the current teachers are his former pupils.
"They have to make an effort to call me John rather than Mr Webber when they first arrived,” he said.
Dad of four Mr Webber has also taught at other schools during his time at Brightside, as part of a wider, specialist music teaching role he has had in the city.
He said: “I’m going to miss it. It’s been a privilege to teach at Brightside, and to teach children who are keen and eager to learn.
"There was a lot of fun teaching music and I will miss that.”
He plans to spend more time with his family, and with musical groups he works with, including the Endcliffe Orchestra, the Sinsontes choir, and the Free Radicals soul and funk band.