A Coventry school has held a very special send-off for a much-loved member of staff who has retired after almost 25 years.
Children and staff at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School have bid a fond farewell to higher level teaching assistant and learning mentor Barbara Ward, who worked at the school for 24 years.
Barbara enjoyed her final day in style, being driven to the school in a Jaguar Mark 1 car and arriving to see the whole school lining the playground waving posters, banners and flags to celebrate her career.
She then visited each class to say her goodbyes and enjoyed a special lunch before an assembly was held in her honour.
Barbara began her career at Sacred Heart as a lunchtime supervisor in September 1998 when her daughter, Charlotte, joined the school.
She then progressed to work on the school’s literacy support programme, supporting children with additional needs, before going on to become a teaching assistant and then a higher-level teaching assistant.
Barbara also took on a role as a learning mentor. She launched a rainbows group to support children going through difficult situations, and a boomerang group to help pupils with their emotions.
Barbara also played an integral role in setting-up the school’s before and after school provision, which is rated Outstanding by Ofsted.
She said: “When I came through the gates as a parent, little did I know I would spend my whole career at the school.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sacred Heart. It’s a lovely place to work with a real family atmosphere and everyone is so supportive – I’ve made friends for life.
“The children have all been fantastic and some former pupils are now parents themselves, so I’ve taught generations of the same family which is lovely.
“I’ve also had connections with Sacred Heart Church since my childhood, so to be able to continue this into my adult life has been very special.
“I’ve made some fantastic memories over the years. One of my fondest was a Year 6 trip to Dol-y-Moch in 2004.
“I was walking at the back with two girls who had fallen behind during a walk to visit the mines, and even though it was snowing I picked them both up and carried them to catch-up.
“I was that tired when I got to the mines that I struggled to walk around there myself! It was an exhausting but fantastic trip.
“I am also incredibly proud to have supported the launch of Sacred Heart’s before and after school provision to support our parents. The children love attending and it was a real achievement to get the Outstanding Ofsted rating.
“I had a fantastic final day celebrating my retirement and the car was a lovely surprise. I’m now looking forward to my retirement and will be spending more time with my 12-month-old granddaughter Alice.”
Paul Madia, Executive Principal at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, said: “Barbara has made an incredible impact on the school throughout the years and she will be thoroughly missed by children and colleagues alike.
“We’re pleased to have given her a fantastic, and much deserved, send-off and we wish her the very best for her retirement.”
Picture: Barbara Ward is joined by Director of Operations at Romero Catholic Academy Patrick Taggart, who dressed for the occasion to drive the Jaguar Mark 1 car, as well as children from Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School.