Alan Baldwin is putting away his chalk after more than 15 years at the school. He’s heading off to Ireland to begin a new life with his family. Here he tells us about his life at Tufnell Park Primary and what he’s doing next.
“When I first started here, it was a different place,” he says. In the 25 years before Alan started at Tufnell Park Primary, 17 head teachers had passed through. “There had been a revolving door,” Alan says. “That’s not how to run a school, is it?” But when he came to look at the school in 1998, Alan fell in love immediately: “It reminded me so much physically of the primary school that I went to.”
“I’ll miss the children the most. My mum took me to school when I was four-and-a-half and I haven’t left since. As soon as you come into a primary school, all of life is here. There’s no opportunity when you work with children to get airs and graces or to get above yourself. As soon as you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. As soon as you think you’re being wise, you’re being foolish. I’ve never been bored. You can’t be bored working with children all day long. And that’s the bit I’ll miss more than anything else.”
Mr Baldwin began his teaching career in Rotherhithe, he was dispatched there by the London County Council after he secured one of just 26 available new qualified teaching jobs in Greater London. “I was rubbish when I first started,” he says. “But it was a small school in a deprived area and you could grow. It was the best chance I could have to learn the trade.” He then moved to Ashmole Primary School, with a classroom overlooking the Oval cricket ground. “I’m a sticker,” he says to explain the 14 years spent there. “I like to stay in a community.” Alan left there as acting head teacher to move to north London.
So what’s he most proud of achieving since he arrived at Tufnell Park? “Helping to give the school stability, to give it the chance to become the thriving local primary school it is now where wonderful things can happen and people trust each other and give each other oxygen and space to do wonderful things… And nothing breeds success like success.
“It’s community. It’s about the children and their parents. I’m now beginning to see the children of children I first taught here and a couple of members of staff were pupils when I started here. That’s what a school is about – it’s for and of its local community.”
“I’m leaving to join my wife and our two younger children in the west of Ireland. To start with I’m going to spend a lot of time walking a dog on the wild empty beaches of County Galway. I’ll be a househusband at first (I’m a mean hand with an iron and I can cook). But eventually I may look to teaching the teachers.
“I’m making great plans for the summer term, but I’m not going to be here. It’s a really strong place with great children, parents and governors. I’m going to miss it terribly.”