IAN Clarkson, who joined in 1972 as head of maths, John Cobb, head of English, who arrived in 1975, and former pupil Geoff Walters, who came back to teach in 1980, have 70 years experience at Commonweal between them and are now off to other challenges.

Deputy headteacher Ian Clarkson is looking forward to joining Marlborough College where he will be going back to concentrating on teaching maths without the diversion of administration.

He said: I shall be working part-time taking GCSE and A-level students and the college has said to me that if all I do is teach maths and go home that is fine.

There is no way anyone here could do that. Nowadays you are expected to do so much more in terms of all the form filling, bureaucracy and filing.

And it's getting to the state where teachers are almost required to be surrogate parents I think the break up of the family is causing more problems for schools. I think that is the biggest challenge I have seen in 33 years teaching.

In his youth John Cobb, now 60, remembers studying for university by candlelight. He was the son of a Cirencester farm worker and there was no electricity in the family home, just Calor gas.

My father used to turn it off at 10pm when he went to bed, so I carried on studying by candlelight, he recalled.

He went to Oxford, reading English, and taught in the Midlands before coming to Commonweal as head of English.

It doesn't seem that I have been here for 25 years. It's a very pleasant school and I have enjoyed it.

Geoff Walters, 57, is Swindon born and bred, and will be known by many for his involvement in schools football.

Currently he is chairman of the Swindon Schools Football Association.

He will also be a familiar figure to many music lovers in the town for his involvement with the Kentwood choir, and the Tanwood School of Dance and Drama and Judith Hockaday School of Dance for whom he accompanies at the piano.

A former pupil of Commonweal, he studied at Westminster College and taught at Ferndale Second-ary and Churchfields, where he was head of music.

He came to Commonweal as head of Sarum House and took over as director of music in 1997 when the late Ian Mills retired.

His reason for teaching was simple: I love kids.

I was involved in the Cubs and Scouts and kids' football teams and I love working with youngsters."