David Griffiths, 72, became a parent governor of Plantsbrook in 1994, when his children Mark and Nicola enrolled in the school.
On Wednesday (July 11) he chaired his final meeting as chairman of the school’s Trustees, after 24 years overseeing the education of tens of thousands of local youngsters.
“The atmosphere here has always been child focussed, and I’m proud to say that – while so much else has changed over the years – that has remained the same,” said David, who lives in Highbridge Road with wife Darma.
“I originally became a parent governor because I wanted to make sure the education my child got was the best you can get.
“But after my own children grew up and left, I stuck at it because I wanted to put something back into the community and into this school – almost as a ‘thank you’ for what they did for my children.”
David, who retired as an independent financial advisor nine years ago, originally trained as a teacher and taught science at schools including Perry Common Comprehensive.
“The atmosphere here has always been child focussed, and I’m proud to say that – while so much else has changed over the years – that has remained the same” – David Griffiths
Over the years he has seen many changes at Plantsbrook. In 2011 the school became a single status academy after a narrow vote by trustees, and later linked up with the neighbouring Town Junior School to become a multi-academy trust.
In 2016 the school faced disappointment after Ofsted inspectors downgraded its status to ‘requires improvement’ – a result which David believed brought the best out of the staff and the pupils.
“We felt that we were treated harshly by Ofsted, however those sort of things pull you up by the chin straps and define the nature of your leadership.
“I give credit to our headteacher, Tracy Campbell, and the whole team for the way they responded to that. The response was to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get on with it.
“I have also been encouraged by reports that Ofsted, from 2019 on, will be putting less emphasis on data alone in future, because schools are about so much more than the data.
“It’s about the education of the whole child. You’ve got to give them a whole range of experiences and prepare them for the world outside.”
Plantsbrook’s staff are now confident that with good results last year and predicted for this year, the school will be judged at least ‘good’ in Ofsted’s inspection in the next academic year.
By far the biggest change during David’s time has been the multi-million pound rebuild of Plantsbrook, which saw the entire school demolished and a new state-of-the-art facility spring up in its place.
“It was fantastic to pursue that and get it agreed, and the new building is remarkable,” he said.
Developers Carillion collapsed before the project was completed, leaving much of the site fenced off and unfinished, but David is optimistic that it will soon be completed.
“At the moment it does look like a bit of a bombsite, but it will be done – it will be landscaped, there will be car parking, there will be a new sports hall.
“The collapse of Carillion was a knockback but the Government has done something about it, in terms of appointing another contractor. We are hoping something is going to start again in the summer holidays.
“But I have to say it’s been an important lesson in life for the children in resilience, they’ve responded remarkably well.”
After standing down, David aims to spend time holidaying with his family in Greece, but will retain links with the school and remains a member of the Trust.
“Even if they weren’t here I would always follow the school’s progress, almost like a loyal football supporter,” he said.
Headteacher Tracy Campbell said: “David has been a true friend to Plantsbrook over many years, and lately as Chair of our Trust. He has worked tirelessly for our community throughout that time. We know that he will still be involved as we move forward and we thank him for everything that he has done. He has definitely earnt a rest!”
Caption: David Griffiths with Plantsbrook headteacher Tracy Campbell.