Lyn Ashworth issues a cliché alert when discussing why she decided to teach.
‘It sounds a little cheesy but wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to make a difference,’
says the head of Ballasalla Primary School.
As she prepares to retire, and as advertisements are set to appear for her successor, Lyn still describes her job as ‘the best profession of all’.
Lyn didn’t go straight into teaching, instead raising her family. She attended Chester College, now Chester University, as a mature student after her youngest child started school and she completed a four-year Bachelor of Education course in education and geography, graduating in 1993.
‘As a claim to fame, I missed only one lecture in four years and that’s because the lecturer changed the time and I arrived after it had finished,’
After graduation, Lyn worked at Highfield Primary School in Blacon, outside Chester, for nine years, completing training modules in mentoring and assessment at Chester College.
She moved to the Island in 2002 when her husband, Richard, took up his role in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, as it was known then. Lyn had first visited the Island aged just nine, on a school trip.
She taught at Cronk-y-Berry Primary before gaining the deputy headship at Albert Road Junior School (later Scoill Ree Gorree) under Mike Faragher. In 2009 she became headteacher at Ballasalla.
Lyn has been part of the Department of Education and Children’s (DEC) literacy moderation team. She enjoyed further professional success when, in 2008, she obtained the National Professional Qualification in Headship. She is also secretary to the Island branch of the National Association of Head Teachers.
Lyn will miss many aspects of school life. She says:
‘I have been privileged to have worked with dedicated staff and supportive parents. In all three schools I’ve worked in on the Island, governors have had the vision to let the teams of which I’ve been a part introduce initiatives and run with new ideas.’
However, she’s in no doubt what she’ll miss the most: ‘The children, of course.’
She recalls how residential trips inevitably end up with her ‘dunked in water’, most recently in the Mooragh Park Lake. In February, plans to sedately mark a significant birthday were scuppered when Year 6 pupils hijacked an assembly.
‘They made it a very special day with lovely gifts, cards and visitors to school. It left me speechless and that doesn’t happen often,’
Being part of the planning and establishment of Scoill Ree Gorree as the replacement for the ageing Albert Road and developing Ballasalla to become an integral part of the community are among achievements Lyn is most proud of – as well as supporting student and newly qualified teachers as they progress in their careers.
Lyn won’t be far from children even when she does retire at Christmas as she’ll be helping out her own three grown-up children with childcare, so spending time with her ‘adorable’ grandchildren, Poppy, Iwan, Jamie and Noah.
Lyn and Richard’s plans include taking holidays at quieter and cooler times of year, visiting the Greek islands in more manageable temperatures that will allow walking and using their motorhome to visit parts of the UK that have been too far to reach in a weekend.
Geoff Moorcroft, Director of Education with the DEC, said:
‘In the three schools on the Isle of Man in which she’s worked, Lyn has consistently shown commitment, energy and a determination to put children and young people at the heart of her work. At Ballasalla, she has led a safe and secure community based on mutual support and respect. She has forged strong relationships with pupils, colleagues and the wider community and I know she’ll be missed by all.
‘I know everyone who has worked with Lyn will want to join with me in wishing her a happy and healthy retirement and good luck in all her future endeavours.’
The headship of the 91-pupil school will be advertised this month.