Wednesday, 15 July 2015


JIM Thomas is retiring from teaching at The Woodroffe School. A popular local figure that worked with the Lifeboat team for 21 years and with the Coastguards for the last 15 years, he was awarded The Ted Wragg Teaching Award for Lifetime Achievement in the South West in 2012.  Jim has been a teacher at Woodroffe for 40 years.

How are you feeling about your upcoming retirement?
Excited about the freedom I hope it will bring and a longing for a life not dictated by bells! I’m going to have a gap year as well! Most people have their gap year between school and university or university and work; well I’m going to have mine between work and retirement.

Which part of teaching will you miss the most?
Fieldwork teaching in the outdoors to help students interpret our wonderful landscape and the daily interaction with students. I’ve said to the school that I’ll help out if they need a supply teacher from time to time, because I really have enjoyed being in the classroom.

Why did you want to become a teacher?
I still don’t know... I just seemed to fall into it, I did a degree in Geography at Aberystwyth University in the early 70s and wasn’t ready to leave university so I thought I would do teacher training, and when I finished that I thought well I better get a job. That was when I came to Lyme Regis.

Could you have picked a better spot to teach geography than along the Jurassic coast?
I don’t think there is a better place in the world to do Geography than overlooking the Jurassic Coast, I started my teaching career here and my room which used to be called Room 34, had the best view of any Geography class room in the country, you over looked Lyme Bay and over towards Golden Cap, the geography was there for you!

You went from Geography teacher to Head of Sixth form, via Head of Humanities, was that a challenge you relished?
No, I was frightened about it. I wasn’t keen really. I didn’t think I would be much good at the pastoral care, I loved the subject of Geography and I wanted to really teach the subject and motivate students and plan progression with teaching and learning and I wanted to take that further and I wasn’t sure about the pastoral side and I discussed it with my wife and my children and all three of them said “Go on dad, you can do it”.

Have you enjoyed your time as Head of Sixth Form?
Yes. It’s a very different job from being head of a department, as you’ve got so much more of the pastoral care and so much more interaction with the students also your day is being hijacked, because you come into school with a plan and there is always something that needs dealing with, a problem or an issue.

Can you tell us what you try and instil in your sixth form students?
A zest for life and learning. Effective communication. Work hard and Play hard – do your best so you have no regrets. Grab any opportunities offered with both hands. Remember we all have choices – make sure yours is an informed choice. Be honest with yourself and with others. Enjoy life and look after each other and always remember to thank those who have helped you.

Do you live by any mantras?
Give it a go – don’t be frightened by getting things wrong, but learn from the mistakes you make. Quotes from figures such as the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, BB King and Aldous Huxley also provide me with inspiration daily.

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