TODAY marks the end of an era as the headteacher of Canvey Island Infant School packs up her pencils and says goodbye after more than 30 years teaching generations of children.

Ann Matthews, 65, originally from Lanarkshire, joined the team in 1989 before being appointed as headteacher in 2009.

Sandra Dorrington, a former pupil and current deputy headteacher, is set to replace Mrs Matthews in the top job.

Mrs Matthews said: “It has been my pride and pleasure to have held the role of headteacher at Canvey Island Infant School.

“This school, its wonderful children and its staff will be forever in my heart.


Having fun - Mrs Dorrington told how this photo of the children and Mrs Matthews (centre) at World Book Day sums her up perfectly: "She would rather do paper work in her own time and be with the children"

“I will miss everyone, but I know that the school is in Mrs Dorrington’s safe hands.

“It is a very strange feeling to be packing up my pencils and moving on. I have been extremely touched by the number of lovely gifts that the parents and children have given me to mark my retirement.

“I have always placed great value on the partnership that exists between our parents and the school.

“I truly wish the parents and children the very best for the future.”


Starting out - Mrs Matthews in a staff photo in 1994

Mrs Dorrington, 53, was “delighted” when she was offered the job in March.

She said: “I couldn’t believe that having been at the school since I started here in 1971 at the age of five that I would be headteacher. I was delighted.”

“It is all my dreams come true and this is ultimately the school I wanted to work in.”

The children’s last day was yesterday but the staff will be saying farewell to much-loved Mrs Matthews today at the school in Long Road.

Speaking about her colleague and friend, Mrs Dorrington, added: “Ann is the most supportive person you could ever meet – the children come first above everything.

“She has supported the children, and supported their families through personal problems.

“As a headteacher to the staff you could not have had a more supportive teacher.

“She is fair, firm but fair, and absolutely 100 per cent for the children.”


Handover - Ann Matthews (left) gives the school keys to the new head, Sandra Dorrington (right)

All the children are aware of the new changes and Mrs Matthews will be speaking with them all over a number of Zoom meetings so she can see everybody.

She is also being surprised with a huge pile of gifts today from the parents and mementos from the school with everything she has achieved.

The school has consistently had a Good Ofsted rating since Mrs Matthews was appointed as headteacher more than a decade ago.

Mrs Dorrington said: “Ann has achieved so much during her time here.

“She has kept the good Ofsted rating and Ann’s leadership has led us to that, and it is my hope to maintain that.

“The staff are thrilled that I have the job as they know how I work – Ann has trained me really well and given me a great foundation to build from.”


As a pupil - Mrs Dorrington when she attended Canvey Infants

The last full inspection the school received in 2016 stated: “The headteacher and deputy headteacher work well with governors to lead the school effectively.

“They work in strong partnership with all staff to continually develop and improve teaching.”

Mrs Dorrington will officially take over from September 1 when the new school term starts and all pupils return full-time to the classroom.