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Manchester High School for Girls

A Fond Farewell to Mrs Fordham

The end of the 2018/2019 academic sees our beloved Teacher of Food and Textiles, Mrs Jan Fordham (née Sidebottom), retire after an incredible 41 years of service to Manchester High School for Girls.

After being appointed in 1978, at the age of 24, Jan has spent almost her entire career here at Grangethorpe Road: “I wasn’t successful when I applied for the role initially, but the person who was appointed left after a year, so I applied again. I came for another interview, got the job and the rest is history! I think I must have looked quite young in my early days, because I vividly remember being told off in the Library by Mrs Camm, who was Head of Maths at the time. She thought I was a Sixth Former!”

Many things have changed since 1978, but Jan’s dedication to our girls has been constant. She developed strong relationships with all the pupils who have passed through her classroom and is always the most popular guest at our annual reunion. One former pupil had a closer relationship with Jan than most, her daughter Nina. 

“Being taught by your mother is probably not on every child’s wish list, but I was lucky enough to be the daughter of the teacher who fellow pupils regarded as ‘cool and trendy’. I shrugged it off at the time, but I loved my mum being around school – especially when I knew that her fresh smelling bakes would be coming home for dinner! I’m very proud of everything she has achieved over the last 41 years.”

Renowned for her exceptional sense of style, Jan is a popular figure amongst staff and current pupils. Paula Bell, who has taught Food Technology and Textiles for 16 years, said: “Jan looks exactly the same as she did when I started here, and that feels like a long time ago! She’s adored by girls past and present, and it will feel very strange when she’s not here in September. Thank you Jan, for so many years of good memories. I’ll miss you.”

In addition to her teaching commitments, she has been the A-level Exams Officer for many years. Her colleague on the examinations team, Tina Poucher, said: “I have worked with Jan for about 25 years, she has looked after the A-levels for much longer. She has taught me the true nature of teamwork; appreciation of the other person, ability to offer constructive advice and knowing that laughing is the best way to counter a stressful situation. She is brilliant and I will really miss her!”

Jan plans to put her free time to good use by travelling as much as possible with her husband, Phil: “I’ve loved every minute of my time teaching here and I will miss the place. I couldn’t choose a favourite moment, but I feel very fortunate to have taught some amazing students. I’ve also made some great friends here, which is just the icing on the cake… if you’ll pardon the pun!”

The whole Manchester High community is incredibly grateful to Jan for her many years of service and we would like to wish her a happy and glamorous retirement!