PUPILS and staff have given a special send-off to their head teacher who is stepping down after 14 years in the role.

Hempland Primary staged a giant picnic involving the whole school as part of the end of year festivities for Stuart Outram.

Mr Outram who hands over the leadership reigns to Zoe Lightfoot told The Press the picnic was "great fun and a lovely occasion".

On Friday, each year group and staff also put on surprise dance performances during the final assembly in his honour.

Mr Outram will continue to work with the Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust, of which Hempland is a member, as the Head of Primary Education, working with all the trust's primary schools.

"In my free time I have a very energetic dog who is ready for some long walks and of course a few jobs around the house also await," he added.

In a letter to parents, Mr Outram said: "It has been a very special time and I really do feel extremely fortunate to have worked at such an exceptional school.

"Throughout my time at Hempland I have had the privilege of working with brilliant children, incredibly supportive parents and governors and an amazing and inspirational staff team.

"I have seen many changes and together we have achieved a great deal. Over the years we have developed a great curriculum that has been enjoyed by hundreds of children.

"Our aspirations are high for every child, not just academically, but for their overall growth as well-rounded children.

"We’ve opened a cook school and our teaching and learning centre, planted orchards, and more recently opened a specialist centre for deaf children.

"We’ve worked hard, played games and had lots of fun. The school has grown in numbers from 320 pupils to a very healthy 427 to date.

"Like all journeys occasionally there have been some tricky paths to navigate and some hills to climb but I would like to feel that the strong values of our school have always seen us take the best route forwards."

He thanked parents for their "valued and ongoing support" and said he would "take away many happy memories".

"I offer my sincere congratulations to Zoe Lightfoot on her appointment as the new head teacher at Hempland. I am sure that Ms Lightfoot will continue to move the school forward into another exciting stage of its development."

Ms Lightfoot has been head teacher at Haxby Road Primary since 2013, having previously been deputy head at St George’s RC Primary School in Fishergate.