Headteacher at Whitby primary school set to say farewell after nearly 12 years at helm

Roy Gunning, who began his teaching career in January 1989, will say goodbye to Whitby’s Stakesby Primary Academy at the end of this week after nearly 12 years at the helm.

By Duncan Atkins
Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 4:54 pm
Roy Gunning, right, is leaving Stakesby Primary Academy this Friday (Dec 18). He is pictured with Emma Robson, who is taking over as principal when the new term begins after Christmas.
Roy Gunning, right, is leaving Stakesby Primary Academy this Friday (Dec 18). He is pictured with Emma Robson, who is taking over as principal when the new term begins after Christmas.

Mr Gunning’s retirement coincides with the school’s 50th anniversary – a year which will forever be remembered due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been a real privilege to be welcomed into the supportive and friendly Stakesby community.

“I’ve got many wonderful memories of the school, its pupils and families,” said Mr Gunning, who plans to teach music in the new year after a much-deserved period of rest.

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It was a sunny day in April 2009 when he first joined Stakesby where he has instilled a love of music and performance in the pupils there.

“One of my passions is enabling and encouraging music.

“We have had two school bands, a recorder group, and even three choirs at one point,” said Mr Gunning.

“We regularly sing at the Whitby Spar, at Marton Court and Kirkham Close and of course at the Eskdale Festival which the children love.”

Fellow staff have described him as incredibly kind, calm and understanding, and relentlessly positive.

Emma Robson, who will be taking over the role of principal from January 1, said: “He leaves behind a school which now runs weekly Forest Schools sessions for all classes, has a computing curriculum to rival that of a specialist college, and is well-known in the local community for its singing.

“Roy has always put the pupils of Stakesby first and that shows in the way they demonstrate such kindness and respect towards others.”

One pupil in Year 2 said: “We’ll miss him especially in assemblies because he sings really good songs with us and reads in funny voices.”

A Year 6 pupil said:“If we ever get things wrong, Mr Gunning teaches us how to put things right which is really helpful.

"Then we learn for next time.”

It has been an unusual send-off for Stakesby’s principal, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing a whole-school get-together.

Instead, he was treated to a ‘Celebration of Mr Gunning’ – a tour of each class where he was presented with special performances of poetry, music – even his very own art gallery.

The school has seen many changes since Mr Gunning took over 11 years ago and he reiterated that these changes are only a small part of the story.

“It’s been a real journey over the past decade or so.

"Stakesby is an incredible place to be, and as part of the Enquire Learning Trust, with Miss Robson taking over, the future of the school is really exciting," he said.

"I know I’m leaving it in very capable hands.”

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