Long-serving Littlehampton teacher retires

ONE of Littlehampton’s longest-serving teachers has retired after 36 years at the same school.

Sunday, 1st January 2012, 6:00 am

Norman Burles joined the staff of Littlehampton Community School (LCS) straight from teacher-training college in the summer of 1975 as a PE teacher, and said his farewells at the end of term at its successor, The Littlehampton Academy.

Looking back, Norman admitted he never imagined spending his entire career in the same place, but recalled with pleasure the characters among the students and staff he worked with, and outstanding youngsters whose sporting talents took them to the top of the tree.

His arrival at the school seemed almost accidental. While spending a week as a supply teacher at LCS in the summer of 1975, he heard of a vacancy caused by a teacher leaving to become head of PE at the newly-opened Angmering School.

“They offered me the job and I was just happy to get something. I don’t think I had any plans at the time. It was just about getting a job and having a go and seeing what it was like as a teacher.”

Over the years, “small progressions” up the career ladder led to him becoming head of boys’ PE 20 years ago.

“I suppose I was comfortable here. I got to know the kids and liked them. I liked what we were doing in the PE department, what we were offering to them. And seeing the successes some of them achieved as county champions and even going on to represent the country was the icing on the cake.”

“I also enjoyed looking at the Gazette and seeing the names of kids who used to be here still participating in sport. If we, as a school, have achieved that, it’s a pretty good achievement, that we have not put them off completely!”

He added: “You also stay because of the people you work with, day in, day out, who have been fantastic.”

Norman joined Littlehampton Town FC the same summer he started at LCS, spending four seasons at the Sportsfield, before leading Pagham to the Sussex County League Division 1 title in 1980-81, as captain.

He grew up in Middlesex, playing for the county schools’ team, and later representing south-east colleges, while he was at the teacher-training college in Bognor.

Equally adept as a cricketer, he captained Middlesex schools and Middlesex young cricketers, playing at prestigious venues including Lord’s, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge.

For many years he played county league cricket for Middleton, where he lives.

Most of all, he says, he will miss the staff and the characters among the students.

Among the high-achieving students representing their country at full or age levels have been Rene Draude (rugby), Jason Collins (hockey), Sarah Steadman (table tennis) and Stephen Harris (cross-country running).

Heather, his wife, still teaches at the school, after more than 20 years on the staff. They have a son, Christopher, and daughter Louise, who is also a teacher and she, too, taught there for a year, and there are two grandchildren to occupy him in retirement.

Norman also taught citizenship, history and maths, and was in charge of the leisure and tourism department as he retired.