THE head teacher at a top York secondary school is retiring next summer after more than a decade at the helm.

Steve Smith, 59, took over as head of Fulford School in September 2001 from Keith Hayton, who had been at the school for nearly 23 years.

Mr Smith, who lives in Selby with his wife, Joan, came to York after working as deputy head of William Farr School, near Lincoln.

Mr Smith is looking to retire with effect from August 31 next year and has written to parents of the school’s 1,354 pupils to explain his decision.

He said: “I have always felt very proud and privileged to be the head teacher of Fulford School ever since my first day at the school in September 2001 and despite the pressures and stresses that are often associated with such a post, I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed my time here.”

He thanked the governors and especially Ian Dolben and Connie Cullen, who have chaired the governing body during his tenure, and staff, parents and pupils.

He said: “We got an ‘outstanding’ in our last Ofsted and I’d like to think I inherited a good school and it is now a great school.

“I’d also like to thank the staff at Fulford School both teaching and support staff who always have looked to do their best in the interests of our students. I have often said that the quality of teaching and levels of support, care and guidance here are second to none.”

Mr Smith said he took the decision to tell the governors well ahead of time so that they now have ample time to make all the necessary arrangements to appoint a successor and the wheels have already been set in motion.

Mr Smith said he planned to spend his retirement improving his golf handicap and indulging his passion for watching horse racing.