The headteacher of Mullion School is preparing to retire at the end of the summer term, after 12 years at the helm.

Mike Sandford took over the headship from Vicki Morley in 2002 and since then has led the school to the highest ranking with Ofsted and become a specialist school in performing arts.

Mr Sanford, 57, said: “I have been very lucky to work with a superb set of colleagues and governors who work so hard for the good of the school.

“It is a lovely school with very supportive parents, but after 12 years I feel that it is time that someone else had the opportunity to move the school further forward.”

He cites the performing arts specialism, granted in 2005, as one of his biggest achievements during his tenure.

The school had to raise £50,000, plus attract further funding of £250,000, to expand the music department, build a suite of practice rooms and create a recording studio.

It has gone on to stage acclaimed productions such as Les Miserables - which prompted a standing ovation all four nights - Jesus Christ Superstar and Bugsy Malone.

Students have also worked with artists such as Jon Welch to produce a play specially written for them and set up a funk band, rock band and wind band, together with various choirs and ensembles.

Its musicians from The Zappa Project performed at the national final of the Music for Youth competition and took home the national award.

All this helped Mullion School receive an Artsmark accreditation, achieve the silver Investors in People award - given to only 2.8 per cent of companies in the UK - and rank the school as “outstanding” in 22 of the 27 criteria in its last Ofsted inspection.

Officers commented at the time: “The school is one where, quite genuinely, every child matters.”

Mr Sandford worked with other schools in the area to establish the Helston and Lizard Cooperative Trust.

He is proud of the fact that he remains a history and humanities teacher at the school, adding: “The experience we give our youngsters in the classroom is the most important thing that we can do.”

Mr Sandford now plans to spend more time with his family, including wife Henrietta, a fellow teacher, and their four grown up children.

“Our second grandchild is going to be born in May and I am looking forward to having more time to spend with our family,” he added.

Mr Sanford was born in northern Nigeria, where his parents were missionaries.

They left in 1960 when Nigeria became independent and came to England, where Mr Sandford graduated from Durham University.

He began his career in education in Teignmouth, Devon, teaching history, rising quickly to leadership roles.

His first headship came in 1997, at a school in Essex, where he remained until he joined Mullion in 2002.

Mr Sanford will bid farewell to the school at the end of the summer term.