PARENTS, staff and students have praised the headmaster at Bournemouth Collegiate School (BCS) who has announced he is stepping down after seven years at the helm.

Russell Slatford said the decision to leave the independent school at the end of August had not been “taken lightly” and that he would look back on his time in charge with great pride.

“I believe it is the right time for me both professionally and personally,” said the father of two, whose first industry job was as a geography teacher in Oxfordshire.

He said: “I have led BCS through a period of change, including the recent pandemic, the sale of the school and integration with international education group CATS Global Schools.

“In my time here, I have been part of a dynamic and happy community that has seen over 2,000 students pass through the school’s gates and celebrated numerous school awards for sport, performing arts and sustainability.

“I’d like to thank all BCS students and colleagues for making my time here memorable. It’s really a special place to live, learn and work.

Bournemouth Echo: BCS headmaster Russell Slatford with studentsBCS headmaster Russell Slatford with students

“I am excited about the future and know the school will continue to thrive under new leadership.”

Russell, 52, announced his departure earlier this month in a video communication addressed to parents, where he said he had loved “every single minute” of his time at the school.

When asked by the Echo for a standout moment as headmaster, Russell said: “We had Prize Giving on Monday (May 9), the first time in years that the school community has come together like this. It was heart-warming to share the successes and achievements of many pupils, and acknowledge the incredible commitment of the staff and support of parents and governors through the pandemic.

“I was deeply proud of everyone in our community and so honoured to have been the headmaster for the last seven years. I found it quite emotional.”

As for the future, Russell said his plan is to take a short break in September before deciding what he will do next.

Recruitment for the headmaster role is underway, being led by the CGS team, and an announcement will be shared in due course.