David Barrs, Headteacher of the Anglo European School in Ingatestone, is standing down at the age of 66 after 17 years as headteacher. David’s career stretches back 44 years , 27 of which have been at the Anglo which amounts to over half the life of the school, which was established in 1973.
“It has been an interesting and very enjoyable journey through Essex in that time from my first role as assistant warden at Wicken House, a county residential field study centre now closed. I then moved to be a Geography teacher at Saffron Walden County High School before becoming Head of Humanities at Barstable School in Basildon, now part of the Basildon Academy”.
He has seen many changes in education; the rise of social media, the challenges of increasing mental health, the increasing reliance on examinations to measure children, the dominance of data over values as a means of deciding on priorities, the increased accountability of schools which had once inhabited their own secret garden plus, of course, the advent of emails and the mobile phone!
But some things never change – education as a political football, the lack of adequate funding, the vagaries of teacher supply and yet, still, the joy of working in a school community and seeing children mature and progress. The other thing that hasn’t changed is the children themselves- their charm, unpredictability, energy and their humanity with all their talents and weaknesses.
“It is the Anglo that has shaped me, and, in turn, I hope it has helped me create an environment where we can shape children and encourage them to make a difference in the world. The Anglo is different and has inspired me throughout my time – my colleagues and the children have been deeply influential, and the school’s values will stay with me whatever happens next.”
In his retirement, David intends to do some work with the International Baccalaureate Organisation, as well as write a book on the school as a contribution to the debate about “building back better” as we recover from the COVID pandemic. “My one regret is that I will not be in quite such an influential position, as a Headteacher is, to influence the debate about what needs to be done to make our education system truly world class. I hope to still be vocal in that continued debate.”
Mrs Hannah Latimer, Head of Languages at Anglo European School, said: “Mr Barrs has played a key role in my education and teaching career to date. I remember fondly our Geography lessons, especially our French field trip and UN summit on deforestation. His ambition to make the world a better place has always shone through and his love of all things international has helped make the Anglo what it is today. On behalf of all the alumni in the Anglo family, I would like to thank Mr Barrs and wish him a very happy retirement.
Mrs Gee, Headteacher said: “David has played a key role in the development of the vision, ethos and values of the Anglo European School, which he has tirelessly promoted and helped to enhance and refine. His absence from the leadership team will be greatly missed, as will his teaching contribution to the Geography and Citizenship Departments. We will all miss his gentle, thought-provoking and deeply values-driven style of leadership and the sensitivity, kindness and generosity of spirit he has shown to us all over the years. He has tempered many conflicts, stood firm in many educational and political storms and staunchly supported the internationalist principles of the IB philosophy which underpins so much of what we do at Anglo.”