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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Head goes back to school 16 years after retirement

changing times: John Hefford, the  first headteacher of Morton School, with current head Heather Sargeson on a return visit this week. They discussed changes in pupil numbers – there are fewer pupils now – and the increases in class sizes

By Fiona MacLeod

Education reporter

THE first headteacher at a Carlisle secondary school has made a return visit to see what changes have taken place over the years.

John Hefford was given a fascinating insight into modern teaching methods, as well as finding out what has remained the same, at Morton School this week.

Mr Hefford, 75, of Ivegill, arrived at Morton School on Tuesday, the day after addressing pupils who were at Carlisle Cathedral for their second annual celebration of achievement evening. There, he spoke fondly of his 21 years as head of the school and its hopes for the future.

The following day Mr Hefford, who retired as head in 1989, saw how advances in technology have become a major influence in current teaching methods.

In 1968, when the school opened, state-of-the-art technology was having language booths where pupils could chat in French while teacher listened. Computers now allows recordings to be downloaded onto the internet.

For Mr Hefford, who was a history teacher, blackboards were still the main teaching tool and computers were non-existent.

But at the time “it was marvellous – cutting edge”.

He said: “I came before the school was here and you could just see a field.”

Unlike current head Heather Sargeson, he had a say in how the school would look before it was even constructed.

The meeting of the old and new headteachers was engrossing for both. They discussed changes in pupil numbers – there are fewer pupils now – and the increases in class sizes.

But one thing that has not changed, according to Mr Hefford, are the pupils.

“Human nature doesn’t change greatly and young people are young people, whether it is 3BC or today.”

At Carlisle Cathedral Mr Hefford said Mrs Sargeson’s enthusiasm, along with dedicated staff and supportive parents and governors would, if backed by pupils, “guarantee success”.

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