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Popular headteacher to leave 21 May 2012

BRONWEN Udy jokes that she has ‘never really left school’.

Mrs Udy is to step down from her post as headteacher of Andreas and Bride Primary Schools at Christmas. Bronwen Udy

However, even then she’ll still be making appearances in the classroom as she will stay on in education as a supply teacher and will continue her involvement through training the school leaders of the future.

Mrs Udy has been in teaching all her life. Born in Liverpool and brought up on Tyneside, she gained a B.Ed from London University and her first teaching post was in Beverley in Yorkshire’s scenic East Riding. It was during her five years there that she married Robert, a quantity surveyor. The couple have two daughters: Megan, who has followed her mum into teaching and works at Marown Primary, and Rachel, a chartered accountant with Barclays.

After a spell as a supply teacher in Harrogate, Mrs Udy was asked to set up and run an educational nursery at a preparatory school in the town. There followed a happy period of 14 years, during which she rose to head of a pre-preparatory school. She formed a lasting friendship with the school’s head, Dr Rosemary Taylor, and Dr Taylor, now a UN adviser on education, was guest at Andreas and Bride Schools prize-giving two years ago.

During this time, Mrs Udy also worked with North Yorkshire County Council to introduce the Early Years Curriculum for three to five-year-olds and a nursery vouchers scheme.

Mr Udy’s work and the couple’s desire to relocate from Harrogate brought them to the Island in 2000. It was already very familiar to Mrs Udy. Her mother is a Cormode from Ramsey and she spent a lot of time here as a child.

Two years teaching at Braddan Primary was followed by five as deputy headteacher at Auldyn Infants, where she worked under former headteacher Joy Brew and current head Chrissie Callaghan and helped oversee the move from the old school to the new premises. She gained her National Professional Qualification in Headship during this period.

She took over as head of the split site Andreas and Bride Schools in 2007. She recalls how she quickly got to know everyone – and encountered one forthright viewpoint.

‘I made my way to the pedestrian crossing and the lollipop lady introduced me to children, parents and local residents. One resident was surprised to find that I was a woman. They weren’t at all sure I would be able to achieve all that a man could. I think I have proved that at a female head is more than capable of doing just that.’

Mrs Udy looks back on many highlights during her ‘amazing time’ at Andreas and Bride, including winning the Dolphin Trophy Swimming Galas twice, raising money for a new library, taking delivery of a new minibus, gathering support for new climbing equipment and the visit of TT star Guy Martin last year, which has ensured the whole school are now firm fans.

She will miss the hardy annuals of the school calendar such as the carol concerts and nativity plays. She recalls how the children were abuzz when one class piloted new learning styles last year.

‘I have always wanted to make things better for children. They are our future. They deserve the best we can do. I think I have made a contribution to providing a better primary school life for the children in Andreas and Bride,’ she said.
Education is just so exciting on the Isle of Man. There have always been initiatives, but I have enjoyed rising to those challenges they have kept me on my toes. Moving on at this stage in my career will enable me to continue enjoying rising to these challenges and adapting them to the various roles I hope to fulfil.’

With Bride school earmarked for closure this summer, Mrs Udy said:

‘It is rather strange to realise that I may be the only headteacher that there will ever be of Andreas and Bride Primary Schools. ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the job, though the logistics of running such a tiny school and giving children a full educational experience has had its difficulties.’

Although she’ll remain available to fill in for absent teachers and will continue to play an important role in the Department of Education and Children’s programme for teachers stepping up the managerial ladder, Mrs Udy hopes to have more time to spend with her family and to pursue her hobbies of walking, reading, cooking, crafts and watching rugby at Twickenham.

And not long after the bell goes for the final time at the end of the autumn term, she and Robert, unconstrained by the school calendar, will set off for a five-week holiday to Australia and an Udy family reunion.

Martin Barrow, Director of Education, said:

‘Mrs Udy has been a popular headteacher who has skilfully led Andreas and Bride Schools through a period of significant change while also contributing to wider educational development on the Island through work on projects such as the Department’s Leadership and Management Programme.
‘I know that she will be greatly missed by everyone connected with the school and its community and I am sure they would join with the Department in wishing her health and happiness in her change of direction.’

The DEC is advertising for Mrs Udy’s successor.

Photo: Mrs Udy at Bride Infants with pupils (left) Adam Wheeler, six, and (right) Brian Moore, five

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