A TEACHER who has taught more than 10,000 pupils in the same school has finally put down his chalk.

Mike Wood started teaching at Oakmeeds School fresh out of teacher training college.

Forty four years later, having moved up the ranks from a trainee music teacher Mr Wood has taught thousands of pupils, including the children and grandchildren of some of his first pupils, and received an honour from the Queen.

He said: “Every year I would look at the list of the new pupils in year seven and say ‘you’re not related to so-and-so are you’? And they would say ‘that’s my dad, or my brother or my aunt’.

“The best thing about my career was helping children who had no idea they were interested in music to discover a talent.

“There was one kid who wasn’t very interested .

“You quite often start kids on drums and this boy wasn’t the most well behaved, but I started him on drums in Year 9.

“Then ten years later I bumped into him in a local pub and he had just come down from London with his band having secured a recording contract.

“It is great to teach children who are really talented, I had one girl in 1990 who achieved the highest-ever GCSE grade in music.

“Yet when it’s someone who thinks they are not interested and you can lend them a guitar and inspire them it is really special.”

As well as his day-to-day teaching duties Mr Wood helped organise numerous large-scale productions, became the organist at his local church and formed the Oakmeeds Early Music Consort, which performed for the Queen in 1999.

At the start of his career Mr Wood was relegated to a prefab at the far end of the school site but ended up in a multi-million pound dedicated arts facility he helped to bring to realisation.

In 2002 plans were launched to create a new music and drama block and the multi-million pound centre was finally built based on his drawings.

In 2013 he received the British Empire Medal for services to music in Burgess Hill.

He added: “I have taught about 10,000 Burgess Hill students spanning three generations and I am delighted to be leaving the academy as it is very much in the ascendant.

“I am proud that my legacy will be the beautiful building and facilities which will benefit many generations of Burgess Hill students to come as I complete my journey from the wooden prefab to a multi-million pound block. After 44 years of continuous service walking out of Oakmeeds for the last time was a strange feeling. I have been striding many of these corridors all of my working life. “