Retiring headteacher who 'changed so many children's lives' honoured

The special ceremony to mark Mrs Mills' retirement.

The special ceremony to mark Mrs Mills' retirement. - Credit: The Active Learning Trust

A long-serving headteacher who played an instrumental role in Beccles education has been hailed on her retirement.

Staff, pupils, governors and school leaders said a fond farewell to the popular Melanie Mills as she retired after a 34-year career in education.

It was a significant end to the school year last Thursday as a ceremony - featuring singing, dancing, tributes and special guests - was held to mark Mrs Mills' retirement.

The special ceremony to mark Mrs Mills' retirement

The special ceremony to mark Mrs Mills' retirement. - Credit: The Active Learning Trust

Having been "an influential" executive headteacher at The Albert Pye Community Primary School and Ravensmere Infant School – both part of The Active Learning Trust - since 2016, having started at Ravensmere as headteacher in 1999.

Throughout her many years of service leading both The Albert Pye and Ravensmere Schools Federation and the two schools, she has helped deliver "a superb standard of education to pupils" and has been a highly valued member of the community.

Having successfully led the schools to be consistently rated ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, Mrs Mills said: “When I was appointed all those years ago, I had no idea of the pleasure that headship would bring.

"Over the years I have worked with some inspirational colleagues and the quality of our teamwork has gone from strength to strength.

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"Both schools benefit from fantastic children and families and there is so much love and support for our schools.

"It has been an absolute honour and privilege to lead the federation of The Albert Pye and Ravensmere.

Mrs Mills retirement

Children performing at the special ceremony to mark Mrs Mills' retirement. - Credit: The Active Learning Trust

"I shall miss the schools and the children hugely”.

Once retired, she plans to spend more quality time with her own family and young granddaughter Lola. She hopes to instil with her what she’s learned throughout her years teaching and play a big part in her developmental journey, just like she has for many generations of pupils at her schools.

Jo Viner has been appointed as the new executive headteacher of Ravensmere Infant School and Albert Pye Community Primary School from September 2022.

Ms Viner is currently Headteacher at Reydon Primary School, also part of The Active Learning Trust, and has previously worked closely alongside Mrs Mills.

Speaking about her appointment, Ms Viner said: “I am very privileged to call Mel a colleague and a friend; one who was so encouraging to me when I started my first headship seven years ago.

“Mel leaves very big shoes to fill at Ravensmere and the Albert Pye, but I am determined to continue her legacy of putting children at the heart of every decision I make.

"I wish her a long, happy and healthy retirement.”

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Bob Dool, chairman of The Board of Directors at The Active Learning Trust, said: “Melanie has been part of these school communities for 23 years and has been an outstanding leader in both schools.

"You only need to visit the schools to feel the real spirit and impact of Melanie’s leadership.”

Andy Adcock, deputy headteacher at Albert Pye, said: “Both Albert Pye and Ravensmere would like to say a big thank you to Melanie for all she has done for every family over the years and the difference she has made.”

Craig D’Cunha, acting CEO of the Active Learning Trust, said: “As Mel leaves this community, she should be proud of the thousands of children who have passed through her care.

"We will miss Mel and wish her the happiest of retirements."

Rae Aldous, headteacher at Westwood Primary School, added: “Melanie has been an inspirational head and role model to me.

"She has changed so many children's lives including my own.

"I wish her every happiness in her retirement.”