"I do not know how I will get through the last hour of my final assembly"

Published: 19 Mar 2012 06:00

After two decades at the helm of top-ranking Kendrick School, pupils will wave goodbye to the woman who led it, headteacher Marsha Elms. Chronicle reporter Tessa Watkins spoke to Mrs Elms in her final weeks at the school.

Share this image

THE headteacher of one of the best grammar schools in the country has revealed she will "desperately miss the best job in the world."

Marsha Elms has been the principal of Reading's Kendrick School for 19 years, during which time it has regularly topped the league tables and was ranked first nationally for GCSEs in a state school for the past two years.

But she announced last June that she had made the "difficult" decision to retire and now has just two weeks left in the post she has held for nearly two decades. She said: "I am dreading the last day. I do not know how I will emotionally manage to get through the last hour of my final assembly.

"I want to revisit the things that I have always taught the girls and read out poems and political speeches that have inspired me.

"I have always told them to break through that glass ceiling and that they can achieve anything they want to."

Mrs Elms, who joined the school in 1993, became a 'super head' five years ago when she took charge of Reading Girls' School, which was in special measures, under the title of executive headteacher.

She will remain a governor of Reading Girls and said: "I am so thrilled that the school recently achieved good in all categories and it is wonderful to leave knowing that I was a part of that journey."

Kendrick, which became an academy in February, has 700 pupils and will be led by current associate headteacher Christine Kattirtzi after Easter. Mrs Elms said: "One moment I am thrilled by the prospect of leaving because it means I no longer have to get up early, and the next I am worried about what I will do with all the time on my hands.

"It is a very scary time and I am so up and down, thinking have I made the right decision to retire? Am I crazy to turn my back on it, because this is absolutely the best job in the world - it's the best school, the best staff, the best girls, governors, parents - it is absolutely wonderful and I will miss it desperately."

Mrs Elms, who grew up in Tottenham, taught at Featherstone High School in Southall before moving to The Magna Carta School in Surrey, where she worked her way up the ranks to deputy headteacher, and has seen all sorts of changes in the profession since then. She said: "I still want to see the wow factor in lessons, with children engaged and engrossed and loving learning, and a formula for every lesson doesn't always leave room for this.

"For anyone going into teaching, I would say it can be the best, most satisfying job in the world. The opportunity to touch childen's lives is wonderful, but you must be prepared to work jolly hard, and always be optimistic - focus on the positives and banish the negatives, believe in yourself, have confidence and be prepared to make mistakes."

Mrs Elms - who was the first grammar school headteacher to be appointed a national leader of education - will not be turning her back on education completely, and plans to work for the Department for Education assessing bids for free schools. She said: "I am so relieved that I will still have the opportunity to wear my Armani suits!"

"To everyone at Kendrick, I would say it has been a privilege to work among them and I know how lucky I am to have had the opportunity.

"I hope the girls realise how lucky they are to get the education they do here. It has been an absolute joy and almost every day has been a win, so thank you - but I will warn the girls that I will still be watching!"

Jump to first paragraph.

Get more stories from our Roundup section

17 Apr 2014 14:00 • Andrew Belt

Shop worker hit round the head by masked robbers in daylight attack in Whitley

A SHOP worker was hit round the head and forced to open a till by masked robbers in a terrifying daylight attack in Whitley.

Social: Comments0 comments

16 Apr 2014 18:00

TRAFFIC UPDATE: Delays of around one hour on M4

ONE lane of the M4 has been closed due to an collision involving two cars.

Social: Comments1 comment

14 Apr 2014 09:30 • Nick Gutteridge

Thames Valley Police in top five forces for stress related absences

THAMES Valley Police is in the top five constabularies for stress related absences in England and Wales, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Social: Comments1 comment

14 Apr 2014 08:00 • Andrew Belt

Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading releases film to reassure young patients

AN INNOVATIVE film has been launched to reassure parents about their child’s operation.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Apr 2014 17:00 • Andrew Belt

Flood victims across Berkshire and Reading back on track thanks to Berkshire Community Foundation

NEIGHBOURS, communities and businesses devastated by some of the worst-ever flooding to hit Berkshire can get their lives back on track with a £150,000 recovery pot.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Apr 2014 12:00

Street renamed in honour of Reading's only Victoria Cross winner, Trooper Fred Potts

THE courage of Reading’s own war hero was commemorated on Saturday when a road was named after him. Members of Trooper Fred Potts’ family joined relatives of Arthur Andrews – the man he saved – to unveil the new Trooper Potts Way sign, by the Northern Interchange at Reading Station.


13 Apr 2014 08:00 • James Ash

Reading College students grill Reading East MP Rob Wilson on the big issues

ASPIRING broadcasters gave the Newsnight team a run for their money when they fired questions at Reading East MP Rob Wilson.


12 Apr 2014 17:30

Two-car smash on M4

FIREFIGHTERS were called out to a smash on the M4 this morning which injured three people.

Social: Comments0 comments

12 Apr 2014 17:00 • James Ash

Thames Valley Police figures show crime drops in Reading but sex cases spiral

THE number of sexual offences in Reading has rocketed by nearly 50% –despite crime rates being at their lowest since 1999.

Social: Comments0 comments

12 Apr 2014 12:00 • Nick Gutteridge

Pensioner in high speed car chase across Caversham

A PENSIONER who could not afford car insurance sparked a terrifying high-speed chase through Caversham after being spooked by a police patrol car.


12 Apr 2014 09:45

Firefighters tackle burning Nissan Micra on M4

FIREFIGHTERS tackled a burning car on the M4 last night.

Social: Comments0 comments

12 Apr 2014 08:00

Brave Gurkha Victoria Cross winner, Rambahadur Limbu, given a bus tour around Reading

THE last surviving Gurkha to be awarded the Victoria Cross was honoured by Reading Buses last week with a top-deck tour of the town.


11 Apr 2014 17:30 • Nick Gutteridge

Car wash plans for Hills Meadow Car Park in Caversham

A RUBBISH-STREWN patch of car park which has become a target for vandals could be set for a cleaner future after an entrepreneur revealed his desire to turn it into a business venture.


11 Apr 2014 12:30

Countdown is on to this year's Reading Contemporary Art Fair

READING-based artists are putting the finishing touches to their masterpieces as a major art fair inches closer.


11 Apr 2014 08:00 • James Ash

Business rates hope for Pangbourne businesses affected by Whitchurch Bridge closure

PANGBOURNE businesses left struggling to stay afloat after the closure of Whitchurch Bridge finally received a helping hand last week.

Social: Comments0 comments

10 Apr 2014 16:30 • Nick Gutteridge

Up to 300 jobs at risk in Reading after hibu announces wave of job cuts

UP TO 300 jobs could be at risk after a Reading-based company announced a wave of job cuts today.

Social: Comments0 comments

10 Apr 2014 16:15

Hunt for river towpath flasher

POLICE are hunting for witnesses after a man exposed himself to two women along a river towpath.


10 Apr 2014 13:30

Opera company bring Handel's Messiah to Reading

A PROFESSIONAL opera company will perform for the first time in Reading next week.

Social: Comments0 comments

10 Apr 2014 12:00 • James Ash

Streatley primary school ranked 'good' by Ofsted

A PRIMARY school is on the road to success after scoring high marks with an education watchdog.


10 Apr 2014 08:00 • James Ash

Ironman champ Fay Dellimore inspires young cyclists in Sonning Common

A WORLD famous endurance athlete returned to inspire pupils when a primary school geared up for its annual bike ride.