ART teacher Simon Rushton is switching the classroom for his church as he takes up a new role as executive pastor.

He has been working at Whitworth Community High School for 25 years and at one stage was Progress Leader in Key Stage 4.

He said: “At first some students don’t have much confidence when they first start school, but I have enjoyed seeing how the students that I teach go on to leave with great results.

“I was asked to come to the school’s Summer Show performance and I thought that maybe they wanted to present me with some flowers, but then I realised the show was all about me.

“There were songs and dances and anything related to me including a video with messages from former students and they even conspired with my wife to get a message from my new employers.

“I will miss the students and the staff, because it is a small school the staff all know each other and my faculty is awesome.”

Simon, who has four children and three grandchildren, will take up the Executive Pastor role at Brave Church in Oswaldtwistle.

It is based in a converted former aluminium factory and now employs workers including Simon’s wife Valda, who is the finance manager for the church and helps with the pre-school, which is Ofsted registered, and on its first official inspection this year it was found to be ‘good with outstanding features’.

Simon said: “I have done 25 years teaching and I have enjoyed it, but I always thought I would do something different and didn’t think I would end my working days as a teacher.”

He said he had visited Rwanda and seen the work the charity Compassion had done; a charity his church supports.

Through his new role, he will get the chance to learn more about leadership and said he was looking forward to the new challenge.