"It's really important that the community believes in the school - it's a beacon of positivity."

Those are the words of Rod Sims, head at York High in Acomb, who is set to step down in a matter of weeks.

"I have made my small part of the world a better place, I think, and in that way I have had an impact on peoples lives" said Mr Sims.

"It's a living legacy and that's what we as teachers do."

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Mr Sims, who is 56, had a cancer diagnosis last year, underwent chemotherapy and surgery and has now had the all-clear, but says "it's time to do something else".

He has been head at the school, which has which has about 750 pupils, for five years and before that spent ten years as deputy head at York High. Prior to that he worked at Archbishop Holgate's CE School across the city in Badger Hill.

Back in November 2022 York High was rated 'good' in all areas by Ofsted following a concerted campaign by the Acomb secondary school to get the inspectors in.

Previously it was judged 'inadequate' at an inspection in January 2017 and staff had been fighting hard to get a long-awaited fresh inspection. 

"Why I have given my heart and soul to it is that I'm not the sort of person who wanted to be a head, but when the school got an 'inadequate' rating from Ofsted there was a sense of frustration and possibly anger that the community, kids, and the staff were 'inadequate'  - it makes me really really cross.

"I thought that we could make some changes and thought we could improve the school with a real burning desire to take it back to 'good'."

Mr Sims, who himself went to school at Westfield and then Nunthorpe as a boy, said he couldn't have done it without his then deputy, Claire Kitchen, school business manager, Ian Parnaby and current deputy, Victoria Burns.

Rod is proud of York High's 'good' OfstedRod is proud of York High's 'good' Ofsted

"I am delighted with what we have done at York High. It was really important as the community didn't need that badge of 'inadequate'.

"It's with a lot of regret that I am leaving, but I just can't do the 65 hours a week any more, the working on a Sunday and the huge amounts of patience you need to do the job."

Back in 2022 Mr Sims was instrumental in setting up a foodbank called the community cupboard as one of a number of steps the school is took to try and help local families to try and mitigate the impact of rising bills.

"We are really proud of the fact that we do a free school breakfast for any child in school. We have been doing it for the last 18 months," said Mr Sims.

"We have a private anonymous donor - a local benefactor - who has been incredibly generous and is providing it for the next three years."

He said that the school's work with Pride is something else that has happened on his watch.

"We were the first school in York to attack homophobia when Clause 28 was still in class and we are now in a position where young peopledon't need to feel afraid," he said.

"And some of my most strange moments in my life have been on the top of a Pride bus talking to Christopher Biggins!"

Christopher Biggins during the 2016 Pride paradeChristopher Biggins during the 2016 Pride parade

Looking ahead to the future Mr Sims said he plans to "live a life a little more ordinary", and is currently making plans for the future which could include working part-time and with the University of York doing teacher training.

South Bank Academy Trust, which runs the school have said Gavin Kumar will be the York secondary's new principal and will take up the post in September.