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Posted on: 01/08/2016

Longest Serving Teacher Retires

Morpeth School’s longest serving teacher Mr Michael Burns will officially retire this summer, after 36 years service at the school.

Currently an Assistant Headteacher, Mr Burns joined Morpeth in 1980; he taught both Art & Photography.

When he joined Morpeth, the school was a mixture of several Victorian buildings and a 1970’s large ugly building with a strange undulating fibreglass roof, a far cry from the splendid facilities it has today.

There was a pupil population of just over 1050 compared to today, with its successful sixth form, of 1,522.

Mr Burns was instrumental to the redevelopment of the school, turning it in to a spacious building with pleasant outdoor spaces and a modern campus feel. 

The vision for how the school looks today was the result of many meetings between former Headteacher Sir Alasdair Macdonald, Mr Burns, architects from Avanti and consultation with staff, as the project developed.

The school is undergoing further development during the Summer holiday, with an extensive upgrade to the Portman Place entrance, foyer and main office - a pleasant surprise awaits staff and pupils when they return to school in September.

The creation of an additional classroom at the top of the Portman atrium will give the school further flexibility. Mr Burns will oversee the completion of these works during July and August before he finally leaves.

Mr Burns was the guest speaker at the recent Year 11 graduation ceremony. Taking inspiration from American mountaineer Jim Whittaker, he urged pupils to ‘live on the edge’ with a quote from Whittaker’s book, A Life On The Edge: “If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

Mr Burns said:  “It has nothing to do with thrill-seeking. It’s about making the most of every moment, about stretching your own boundaries, about being willing to learn constantly, and putting yourself in situations where learning is possible – sometimes even critical to your survival. Being out on the edge, with everything at risk, is where you learn – and grow – the most.

The school marked Mr Burns’ time at the school with two weeks of celebrations including a variety performance by pupils.

Students from his year group who left Morpeth in 1994 and are now in their late 30’s, returned to take him out for dinner on the 7th July. They had a  fabulous reunion which took place at a local restaurant owned by one of the former year group.

Commenting on his years spent at Morpeth, Mr Burns said, “It’s been a privilege to be part of this very special school and the incredible achievements made over the years.

“I’ve worked with fantastic children and their families along with highly creative and talented colleagues. There is a feeling of sadness as my time comes to an end, but the future for Morpeth looks very secure and I’m sure I will hear of even greater successes over the coming years.

“We have many young staff that I feel confident will be future leaders and go on to make their mark in this outstanding school.

“If anybody is considering a career in teaching I would highly recommend it as a most worthwhile way to spend your working life.”

Far from living the quiet life when he retires, Mr Burns will spend the next year visiting Cambodia, Laos, Iceland, and skiing in Italy. Hobbies such as photography, learning to sail and regular cycling trips in the Surrey Hills will ensure an active and busy routine.