After 12 years in charge Mike Sandford is stepping down as headteacher of Mullion School this week.

During his tenure he has seen the school awarded specialist status for the performing arts – something he described as one of his proudest achievements.

Mr Sandford, who has continue to teach history and RE one day a week as head, said: “I will miss the pupils a great deal. I do like being in the classroom.

“Obviously I will miss my colleagues, governors and parents, and just the buzz of being somewhere where you’re all working in the same direction good results.”

He admitted, however, he would not miss the administrative tasks and what he described as education being made a “political football”.

On his decision to retire a few years early, aged 58, Mr Sandford said this was partly affected by his second grandchild being born in May and his desire to see more family.

He added: “I think my 17 years of being a head and dealing with a culture of constant change, I just feel it’s the right time.”

Although retiring from teaching, he may continue to do bits of work, outside of education.

Mr Sandford took over the headship in 2002, having spent the previous five years as a headteacher in Colchester.

It was in 2005 that he led the bid for specialist status, helping the school raise £50,000. Awarded the status for performing arts brought with it a further £250,000 grant, which allowed the complete revamp of the music department, with practice rooms, recording studios and a larger teaching area.

Already holding a good reputation for its school shows, following the specialist status students have gone on to even further success, including productions such as Les Miserables that prompted standing ovations on all four nights, while musicians from the school’s Zappa Project won the national final of Music for Youth in Birmingham.

The school’s next big show will be a production based on World War One, written by the students themselves and featuring plenty of Cornish connections.

Mr Sandford said he was also proud of the school’s last Ofsted inspection, when it was judged to be outstanding overall and also ‘outstanding’ in 22 of the 27 criteria monitored.

“I’m very pleased as there was a massive amount of effort to get that accolade,” he said.

He will be replaced by Wayne Randle, currently deputy headteacher of Redruth School, who has been able to visit the school a number of times this term to ease the handover.

Mr Sandford said he was “very pleased” with the appointment.

A party to mark his retirement, together with two subject heads – head of science Boyd King and his wife Bridget King, head of design technology – will take place this Saturday, with a special assembly for pupils before they break up for the holidays.