A HEADTEACHER is calling time on her 34-year career at the end of the school term.

Christine Needham, who has been head of Ellesmere Port Specialist School of Performing Arts (EPSSPA) since 2000, will be retire next month.

She arrived at what was formerly known as Sutton High from North Wales in 1998, taking up the post of deputy headteacher.

During her time at the school it has won numerous awards.

She describes her personal highlight as last year’s Champion of Champions accolade in a competition run by the Pioneer and our sister-papers in Trinity Mirror Cheshire, in which EPSSPA beat off competi- tion from across the county.

Mrs Needham said: “I have been very fortunate to have brilliant pupils and staff. I shall miss them all and their achievements.

“Last year we had our own best GCSE results and everyone’s collective hard work is testament to the many Kite awards we have received in recent years.”

These include a Best Value Added award for the sixth form out-performing its projected grades four times in the past seven years.

The school was also the first in Cheshire to win the School Inclusion Kitemark and to receive Investor in Careers and People awards, The Basic Skills Kitemark and Artsmark Gold award on three occasions.

“We certainly live up to the school motto of ‘Only the best will do’ for all our pupils – which include the most disadvantaged and vulnerable to the most able – and only the best will do for each and every one of them,” added Mrs Needham.

“And of course we always come top when it comes to dancing and the performing arts – we take our specialism very seriously.”

EPSSPA landed the Champion of Champions title after being named the Pioneer’s 2007 Champion School of the Year for its outstanding anti-bullying programme.

Cheshire County Council and governors are expected to confirm the appointment of an acting headteacher soon.