Accrington headteacher to retire after 21 years in charge

Headteacher Alasdair Coates

Headteacher Alasdair Coates

First published in News This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant picture editor

A WELL-KNOWN and respected headteacher will be stepping down after 21 years in charge.

Alasdair Coates, who battled a rare form of cancer two years ago, will be handing over the reins at St Christopher’s CE High School, Accrington, in September.

Mr Coates, 61, joined the Queens Road West school in 1992 and has seen significant changes, and experienced both personal, and professional, highs and lows.

He said: “In November 2011 we were being inspected by Ofsted.

“On the first day of the visit, I became a granddad.

“On the second day, I was told that the school had been rated outstanding, and just hours later I was told I had a virulent and serious form of rare cancer called Birkett Lymphoma – a form of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.”

Mr Coates underwent surgery to remove a grapefruit-sized tumour in his small intestine, followed by an aggressive form of chemotherapy, and four months in hospital. He has now been given the all clear.

He said: “I’m not retiring because of the cancer, I’m perfectly well now. I just feel it’s time.

“I am not just going to be spending time with my family.

“I will be using my expertise to offer support to local church schools.

“All headteachers have a shelf life because their expertise fades over time.”

Mr Coates has taken the school to academy status, increased the GCSE results from 40per cent of students gaining A* to C grades to above 80per cent, and added a new £7.5million sixth form centre. He said: “When Ofsted come in, they don’t measure happiness, but happy people work better.

“This is a happy school. People that have high self- esteem and think positively tend to give more of themselves.”

When he started at the school, it was a dilapidated 1950s building with low GCSE grades.

He said for the first 15 of the 21 years, St Christopher’s was the lowest-funded secondary school in the whole country.

He said: “We had money worries for a long time.

“It’s marvellous now we have solved that with academy status.”

He said he has seen generations of children come and go.

“We have teachers who used to be students during my time here, and the children of former pupils at the school.

“I am leaving before a grandchild comes to the school. It makes me feel old.

“Running a big secondary school of nearly 1,400 pupils requires such a broad list of different expertise.

“From pastoral care, awareness of the curriculum, awareness of employment, and finances, and an element of spiritual leadership.

“It has been a privileged position to have, and I will definitely stay in touch with the school.”

The closing date for applications for his post is on Friday.

The new appointment will be announced at the end of February.

Comments (9)

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7:04pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Joeycraig says...

Congratulations my daughters and grand daughter attended your school my granddaughter is still a pupil what a difference you have made,This school is a credit to you and your staff you will be missed ,good luck for the future.
Congratulations my daughters and grand daughter attended your school my granddaughter is still a pupil what a difference you have made,This school is a credit to you and your staff you will be missed ,good luck for the future. Joeycraig
  • Score: 0

7:39pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Two Hats says...

Good Luck Mr Coates!
Good Luck Mr Coates! Two Hats
  • Score: 0

7:59pm Wed 6 Feb 13

karltop says...

In other news, some paint dries. Seriously, is this news? The guy's a teacher who's leaving his job. People retire every day! Little wonder no-one buys this paper anymore. What a load of tripe.
In other news, some paint dries. Seriously, is this news? The guy's a teacher who's leaving his job. People retire every day! Little wonder no-one buys this paper anymore. What a load of tripe. karltop
  • Score: -8

9:20pm Wed 6 Feb 13

liddle 'un says...

karltop wrote:
In other news, some paint dries. Seriously, is this news? The guy's a teacher who's leaving his job. People retire every day! Little wonder no-one buys this paper anymore. What a load of tripe.
Just curious but what's your big contribution to society?
[quote][p][bold]karltop[/bold] wrote: In other news, some paint dries. Seriously, is this news? The guy's a teacher who's leaving his job. People retire every day! Little wonder no-one buys this paper anymore. What a load of tripe.[/p][/quote]Just curious but what's your big contribution to society? liddle 'un
  • Score: -2

10:35pm Wed 6 Feb 13

kate11 says...

My children attended the school in the late 1990's. What a fab school. We all knew instantly on Open evening what a warm , caring environment it was. They have very fond memories of the school and made lifelong friends there.. I always found it funny when you led the teachers into the hall at Prizegiving and you said "school stand" !! Many of the parents bobbed up and down in their seats not knowing if they should stand... You must have realised and after a couple of years you changed it to "pupils stand"!! Thank you for educating and nurturing my children in a warm and friendly school.. Many good wishes for the future...
My children attended the school in the late 1990's. What a fab school. We all knew instantly on Open evening what a warm , caring environment it was. They have very fond memories of the school and made lifelong friends there.. I always found it funny when you led the teachers into the hall at Prizegiving and you said "school stand" !! Many of the parents bobbed up and down in their seats not knowing if they should stand... You must have realised and after a couple of years you changed it to "pupils stand"!! Thank you for educating and nurturing my children in a warm and friendly school.. Many good wishes for the future... kate11
  • Score: 0

10:47pm Wed 6 Feb 13

oddmanjack says...

I think I probably would have achieved a lot more under your stewardship. I left in 1990 and under achieved, badly. Both St. Christopher's and Moorhead/Accy Academy look like very different places.
I think I probably would have achieved a lot more under your stewardship. I left in 1990 and under achieved, badly. Both St. Christopher's and Moorhead/Accy Academy look like very different places. oddmanjack
  • Score: 0

11:38am Thu 7 Feb 13

CLARETMINTY says...

absolute legend Mr Coates I went to Chrissy's mid 90's and learnt a lot not just education but life skills.
absolute legend Mr Coates I went to Chrissy's mid 90's and learnt a lot not just education but life skills. CLARETMINTY
  • Score: 0

5:56pm Thu 7 Feb 13

Tim Whitcombe says...

Good luck Mr Coates and enjoy your retirement, I was at chrisses when Mr Jolleys was the head, all my 3 children have gone through, we'll actually my youngest daughter is in year 9, my other 2 are both doing really well, my eldest girl Lucy as also just made me a grandad, and Jacob is an apprentice engineer, I really hope who picks your replacement are on top form, you will definitely be a hard act to follow. Well done and good luck to you.
Tim Whitcombe
Good luck Mr Coates and enjoy your retirement, I was at chrisses when Mr Jolleys was the head, all my 3 children have gone through, we'll actually my youngest daughter is in year 9, my other 2 are both doing really well, my eldest girl Lucy as also just made me a grandad, and Jacob is an apprentice engineer, I really hope who picks your replacement are on top form, you will definitely be a hard act to follow. Well done and good luck to you. Tim Whitcombe Tim Whitcombe
  • Score: 0

4:39pm Fri 8 Feb 13

Elegant1 says...

karltop wrote:
In other news, some paint dries. Seriously, is this news? The guy's a teacher who's leaving his job. People retire every day! Little wonder no-one buys this paper anymore. What a load of tripe.
A bit strange that you chose to reply this story in the manner that you did. Your reply does you little credit and is churlish regardless of who iyour comments are aimed at.
I do not know anything, other than what has been written, about Mr Coates and he seems to have directed his talent very well to his chosen vocation.
I wish him well in his retirement.
[quote][p][bold]karltop[/bold] wrote: In other news, some paint dries. Seriously, is this news? The guy's a teacher who's leaving his job. People retire every day! Little wonder no-one buys this paper anymore. What a load of tripe.[/p][/quote]A bit strange that you chose to reply this story in the manner that you did. Your reply does you little credit and is churlish regardless of who iyour comments are aimed at. I do not know anything, other than what has been written, about Mr Coates and he seems to have directed his talent very well to his chosen vocation. I wish him well in his retirement. Elegant1
  • Score: 0

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