A HEADTEACHER has retired following a career spanning 38 years.

Sandra Battensby joined Gurney Pease Academy in Darlington as its head in January 2000, having begun her teaching career at St Aidan's Primary School, Hartlepool.

Pupils and staff at Gurney Pease marked her retirement with a special assembly , during which pupils presented her with gifts and cards.

She said: "Each year group had prepared their own written tribute, writing their own verses, song and presentation. They also produced many pictures and drawings. It was special."

Mrs Battensby’s career has also seen her work at schools in Newton Aycliffe, Stockton and in Queensland, Australia, as part of a work exchange placement.

Under her leadership, Gurney Pease has seen several changes in recent years, with the renovation of the main building, creating a bright and stimulating environment.

The school accepted academy status in July 2012 as part of the Education Village Academy Trust.

Success too has followed with an increase in student performance and exam results.

However, Mrs Battensby intends to remain active in her retirement, adding: "I am travelling to China for nine weeks, before volunteering in the local community on my return and then more travelling."