Ref. 25828-09A HEADTEACHER said an emotional farewell to pupils on her last day at school following her resignation over mounting bureaucracy in education.

Nikki Lawrence resigned as head of St Sampson's Infant School, Cricklade, earlier this year but stayed on until the end of the summer term.

She said increasing paperwork had taken a lot of the joy out of a job she loved.

Parents, pupils and staff gathered in the school's playground to sing her a farewell song called One More Step and gave her garden furniture as her leaving present.

She said: "I was shocked. It was a complete surprise and I didn't know anything about it."

Mrs Lawrence gained the headship at St Sampson's nine years ago and has been a teacher for 23 years.

She will not be leaving the profession entirely as she is taking up a part-time teaching post at Ashton Keynes Primary School.

The 44-year-old says she has mixed feelings about moving on.

"One minute I feel excited I am doing something different because it is my choice to go but the next I feel terribly sad.

"I consider them to be my children rather than anyone else's. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye for the last time.

"But I will be taking the experience and shared memories with me so it won't be goodbye more like an au revoir.

"It will be strange being a classroom teacher again. But I would be lost if I was not around small children they have been a big part of my life for 23 years.

"They are the sunshine in the school and make it sparkle."

Mrs Lawrence decided to step down as headteacher in March because she said she was frustrated by continually changing government policies, which she claimed were affecting her health.

She said: "As a head you spend a lot of time doing paper work. It's the bureaucracy around education that I think has got totally out of hand. It takes the joy out of being with children."

She says she is proud with the changes in the school during her period at St Sampson's.

In that time, the school has had a favourable LEA inspection and good Ofsted reports in 1997 and 2000 as well as a new library, a new play area for the reception class and improvements to the rest of the playground.

"The staff now work very much as a team and that was not so apparent when I first came here. It is more like a family," she added.