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Middlewich High School

Excellence in Learning – Achievement for All

An interview with Mr Simpson and Mr Underwood

We have two members of staff leaving us this week. One is our Head Teacher, Mr Simpson, who is leaving for pastures new. The other is Mr Underwood, Head of IT and our longest serving member of staff, who is retiring after 28 years at Middlewich High School. Our Student Leadership Team interviewed them about their time at the school, and their future plans.

We have two members of staff leaving us this week. One is our Head Teacher, Mr Simpson, who is leaving for pastures new. The other is Mr Underwood, Head of IT and our longest serving member of staff, who is retiring after 28 years at Middlewich High School. Our Student Leadership Team interviewed them about their time at the school, and their future plans.


 What is your fondest memory of MHS?

Mr Simpson: I think it’s the first day to be honest, it’s the first impressions of arriving here, the friendliness of staff, the family feel. That has been the same for 6 years. We’ve been through some really difficult things, but we’ve all managed to keep young people at the heart of what we do and that’s down to the staff, so I think that will be the memory that I take with me- what a great team I have had with me.

Mr Underwood: The people-  the staff the students, the humour and all the fun times we’ve had. Of those, the most fun has always been when we have been on residentials to places like The Manor, and having an amazing time, seeing people do things in a different light, doing things they wouldn’t normally do and achieving so much.

What are you looking forward to most once you leave?

Mr Underwood: Being able to get up in the morning when the sun is shining and not having the constraints of working 5 days a week; being able to take advantage of lovely weather. I am going to be going on holiday to Disney, Spain, London, Scotland, Yorkshire for fish and chips. I am even going to a Pink concert and Crufts Dog Show! That’s just the first year! In my spare time I am going to be an extra on TV – hopefully Coronation Street and going on The Chase.

Mr Simpson: Mine’s slightly different isn’t it? I will continue working, my excitement is new pastures, a change of school – one that is very different to here with more students and more staff. What I am interested in, is doing what I have done here and putting children first.

Which Teacher has influenced you most in your time working here?

Mr Simpson: It wouldn’t be right for me to name a teacher. The joy of leading a school means I get the opportunity to work with all staff, and there are many staff who have done incredible things for young people, who I hold in massive regard. They have not only done things in classroom around exam success, but also personal support. I know some of our students have a future ahead of them because of our staff. They have a future that they may not otherwise have had without those staff. We really are a team here and when things are tough, we pull together and support that young person, family or colleague and I think that’s what makes us quite special.

Mr Underwood: For me, I’d have to go back to when I first started teaching and I used to team teach. I learnt so much from teaching in a room with someone with so much experience. We used to go to the Menai centre and he actually saved my life! We went for a walk along the cliffs and I slipped and was sliding towards the edge, I would have slid right off if he hadn’t reached out to grab me! That was a life-changing experience. We used to have a competition to see who could out-talk the other one. To start with, I lost but as you can probably gather, I won in the end!

What are you most proud of?

Mr Underwood: A lady came in last year to tell me that I was the only one, years ago that said ‘you can do it’. She came back to tell me, that because of what I said, she had gone on to do exactly what I said she could do. She got a career, got married and she just wanted to come back and say thank you. I thought that said it all really.

Mr Simpson: I don’t do pride really. I think the thing for me, is that you plant seeds and let dreams and aspirations grow. That’s what the last 6 years have been about. Actually it’s the stories when people come back and tell you how they’ve done and that they’ve been successful, on the advice you’ve given them or more importantly happy (no matter what they’re doing). There’s a lot around watching the students grow, that makes the difference with this job. I will be saying similar things in my new school. I stand in the corridor and I don’t see people, I see your dreams, your aspirations – what you’re going to do and that’s my role. Results day is important because it’s that academic success, but actually a lot of weeks are about individual success and groups of children going through a crisis, or going through tough stuff, making that difference gives me a sense of pride, but I don’t walk out thinking how proud I am, I just think ‘great, they’ve got a chance’.

What are you going to miss most about the school?

Mr Simpson: Mr Underwood actually!

Mr Underwood: The people, and definitely my form.

Head Boy: I’m going to miss those ties, Sir.

Mr Underwood:  I have never bought a single tie, people have always bought them for me so if I’m wearing a bad tie, don’t blame me! Once I leave here, except for my daughter’s wedding I will never wear a tie again. I never wear a shirt outside school. My Dad wore a shirt all the time, even when he wasn’t at work and I always thought I wasn’t going to do that.

Mr Simpson: I’m going to miss the young people, I know that’s an obvious answer, but I think it’s the whole sense of community here that I’m going to miss, it’s not just about the school. What you don’t realise is, as the head you become part of that whole community and you are expected to get involved in a whole raft of things, and that’s fabulous. I’m really going to miss those of you, who have stepped up, done something different, risen to a challenge. Not just those individuals, but those who have battled with real problems and come through it. Those people I won’t see through now to the end of year 11, but don’t think I’m not going to keep my eye on what you’re up to and how you’re doing.

Will you miss us?

Mr Simpson: Yes, because I’ve worked with you. In 28 years in schools, I have always had a connection with the students. Through teaching, pastoral, leadership roles I have always managed to keep my eye on the student voice, the pastoral side of things. So clearly, I am going to miss you. I think you are inspirational young people and you will do very well. It’s when we hear of things that you are doing in the future that it brings that feeling that it’s worth it.

What’s a key moment, that you’ll never forget?

Mr Simpson: There have been so many individual highlights for young people, for staff and for the community. It would be hard to name an event, what’s great is when we have had something to celebrate. What you don’t see is the staff fun, the comradery the staff have – the banter. When things are going well, and there’s a positive feeling in the school, those are the moments you think ‘yes, it’s going in the right direction’. I will go back to the fact of how important the people are here – the way they manage times when things aren’t great and I think those are points for me, the fact of people doing the right thing at the right time is key for me.

Mr Underwood: 8 Hours on the motorway with the Sky Trip!


Will you come back and see us?

Mr Underwood: I will be at your Year 11 Prom – I am earning my prom points now!

Mr Simpson: I will be there if I’m invited! I have genuinely said that at any point if people need me to come back, or want me to come back, if I can make it I will be there. I have done that for every school I have left. Eventually you realise that people move on and you’re not needed anymore! There is a tie, but there is a point where you have to take a break. The Heads still meet, and all that work around Emotional Health isn’t going away – all that programme is under my remit. So, you never know, you might be coming up to my new school.