Wednesday 1st September 2010 by C. Freeman
Senior Assistant Principal, Mrs Sue Kerley has retired. She has been here since Brooke Weston first opened and recalls the 'leap of faith' that staff took when signing up for the untested and pioneering City Technology Colleges.
Since the first year, when there were a mere 280 students and fairly scarce resources due to funding issues, Mrs Kerley has seen immense changes: She was one of only two teachers in the Humanities department and the school was unfurnished with lesson plans being drawn up in empty classrooms and furniture only arriving the weekend before students were due to start!
The first intake consisted only of Year 7s, Year 9s and Year 12s. From that staggered start Brooke Weston has expanded to around 1200 students and 100 staff members.
'The high point was the excitement of getting our very first set of examination results from our very first year of students and seeing how well my first tutor group had progressed. They did really well.'
Mrs Kerley, went into geography as she was 'interested in places and people and in how the world works.' She started her teaching career in Biggin Hill and Basildon and, since moving to Brooke Weston, she has progressed from classroom teacher through to Head of Humanities. Now she is in the senior management team with responsibility for special needs and quality assurance.
'Nobody knew what CTCs were like or how they would work. It was a big gamble, a big leap of faith for people, including myself and my late husband, who came to work here. Brooke Weston has been a huge chunk of my life. Both my sons studied here. Robert has just graduated with a Masters in Geology while Douglas is training as an osteopath.'
Sue, who went on over 100 field trips and residentials during her teaching career, is still planning to travel during retirement and plans to paint watercolours and continue her hobby of choral singing.
'After 19 years of coming here every day it is going to be very strange to retire. I'm going to miss the students as I like being with young people. When I first started teaching only the cleverest quarter of students would get any really useful exam results and now it is expected that everybody can and will succeed. Another huge difference is that students are all taller. When I first started teaching only the tallest Sixth Formers were taller than me, now even some Year 8 students are taller than me!'
Miss Stringer said: 'Brooke Weston owes Sue Kerley a massive debt of gratitude for her professional and devoted service in many roles throughout her long career here. She was part of the pioneering team that first set the school up and, since then, she has applied her talents in so many areas, from classroom teaching through to steering the direction of the school as a valued colleague within the senior management team. We all wish her a very happy and fulfilling retirement.'