Top headteacher bows out of education in Sheffield after 42 years

Ballifield Primary headteacher Sheila Haigh with pupils
Ballifield Primary headteacher Sheila Haigh with pupils
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A top class headteacher is calling time on her career after overseeing the education of thousands of the city's children.

Ballifield Primary headteacher Sheila Haigh is retiring after 42 years in the profession, including more than 20 years in charge of schools in Sheffield and Rotherham.

The 63-year-old has spent the last nine years at Ballifield, in Handsworth, where she has overseen two visits from Ofsted - both giving the school 'good' ratings.

"I've definitely saved the best until last," she said.

"It's just a school where we care about other stuff - performing arts, music and sports. All the things that make the children want to come to school.

"I've just had a blast. I know Ballifield is in a good place and it will be in good hands."

Sheila worked at schools in Firshill, Foxhill and Woodhouse before taking time out to have her two sons. She returned to teaching on a supply basis and has fond memories working in schools around Birley and Mosborough.

She returned to full-time work as deputy headteacher at Norfolk Community Primary, in Norfolk Park before becoming headteacher at Sitwell Infants, in Rotherham, in 1996.

Sheila said: "I then went to Arbourthorne Primary, which was a joyous job.

"The school had been in special measures for two years and it was just amazing watching that school improve.

"We got a new building and my nine years there was a lovely time. Then I came to Ballifield in 2008."

The grandmother said she has mixed emotions about retiring, but is looking forward to spending time with her family and two dogs as well as spending more time in her garden.

She is also considering doing a doctorate in the impact performing arts, music and sports has on improving children's confidence and learning.

"It's the best job in the world and deep down I don't want to go. It has been a difficult choice but long overdue," said Sheila.

"I've skipped to work since 1975 and I've loved every day. You just think you can keep going on and one, but I need that balance in my life. My husband has been retired a while."

Sheila, of Misterton, in Nottinghamshire said seeing teachers develop has been a highlight of her career, with five of her deputies going on to become headteachers.

As she prepares to say her goodbyes with a special afternoon full of strawberries and scones, it will be her colleagues and children that she will miss the most.

She added: "I have a phrase 'other peoples children' - when I think about it, it takes my breath away.

" My children and my family have been amazing with the hours I have put in. It's a compelling, compulsive and enchanting job.

"You are equipping other peoples children for the future and developing family approach to learning. There is no other job like it."