AFTER 13 years as headteacher of the Coteland's School in Ruskington, David Veal is to retire at the end of term.
At the age of 57 he has decided to take an early retirement but his efforts to secure the future of Coteland's will remain one of his most significant achievements.
It was in 1994 that David returned to his home village to take up the headship at a time when the school faced a very serious threat of closure. He had always had a fondness for the school, even from his childhood days when it was Ruskington Secondary Modern.
He recalled: "When I was eight I used to watch the school's football team."
He always wanted to go to the school but actually went on to attend Carre's Grammar School in Sleaford instead.
However his association with Coteland's was renewed when he began his teaching career there, taking on the post of PE teacher. He spent the first four of his 34 years in teaching at Ruskington before moving on to South Park (now The Priory) in Lincoln and then the Earl of Scarborough School at Skegness, where he was deputy headteacher.
When David was appointed headteacher of Coteland's School procedures for possible closure of the school were being considered. He observed: "It was a very difficult time."
But with staff, pupils, governors and parents making a concerted effort to keep the school open, it survived the axe. However, that was not the end of the difficult times, as in 1997 the school had the ignominy of being ranked the second worst in the country in national performance league tables.
David said: "It was certainly a hard time for everyone but you cannot change things instantly – it took a few years to turn the school round."
But turn it round he and his staff did and three years later, in 2000, Coteland's was proudly sitting at the other end of the school league tables as first equal most improved school in the country.
He said: "That was a very rewarding moment to have people acknowledging what we had achieved."
The steady improvement was also acknowledged when Coteland's received a School Achievement Award based on achievement for the years 2000-2002.
From September, Coteland's will become part of a federation of schools under the umbrella of St George's College in Sleaford – the other schools in the federation are Aveland High School, Billingborough and Lafford High School, Billinghay.
David said: "Coteland's is going to go through an interesting time with a new leadership group. I feel it is important that each of the schools keeps its autonomy and ethos.
"I will be very sad to leave. My association with the school goes back nearly 50 years. I am grateful for the support I have had from all the staff and the governors, without that the school would not have achieved the success it has."
In is retirement David is hoping, among other things, to reduce his golf handicap.
He added: "I am looking forward to having time to relax but I also want to do some work within education."