“IT is like being a football manager,” says Rita Tingle as she talks about the unrelenting pressures on headteachers.

Later this month, Mrs Tingle, 63, will retire from her job as executive headteacher of Prettygate Infant and Junior schools in Colchester - her workplace for the past 30 years.

She took on the headship at the infant school ten years ago and for the past two has been in charge of both.

Now she is retiring and explains her reasons: “I had been saddened by where things are going in education.

“My job now takes me away from teaching and advising teachers and mentoring and a lot more of my time is spent on budgets.

“That was partly it and the accountability for a headteacher is huge. You’re only as good as your last set of data.”

Mrs Tingle graduated with a degree in English from Cambridge University’s Homerton College and went into teaching.

But teaching has changed dramatically over the years including the number-crunching over pupil grades and the challenge of managing shrinking budgets.

The school shaved away at resources as much as possible before it came to the hard decision it had to lose staff to balance the books.

Since 2015, the infant school has lost about £86,000 in Government funding, £81 per pupil, while at the junior school the reduction has been £60,000 or £45 per child.

To avoid the schools going into a deficit budget, the only option was to make redundancies.

In total nine staff roles comprising six learning support assistant jobs at the junior school and two at the infant school, as well as that school’s deputy head teacher role have gone.

All have taken voluntary redundancy.

Mrs Tingle said “all sorts of things” had been cut back at the schools in recent years before the staff had to go.

Examples included the school no longer paying for theatre companies to visit so asking for parents to contribute, putting desperately needed redecorating on hold and not replacing windows and carpets.

The junior school building still has the original Sixties toilets.

Mrs Tingle is clear about the root cause of the “dire” situation. It is simply the Government not giving schools enough cash. And that’s despite her conceding that money for schools is at its highest level.

She said: “We have never had so much money going out of our budget.

When the Government gave pay rises to teachers it was only partly funded by the Department for Education, we had to fund the rest ourselves

“When National Insurance increased, we had to find that ourselves.

“There are other cost increases, our electricity, our gas goes up, we have to pay an apprenticeship levy we have never had to pay before.”

Computer equipment, a key part of modern day schooling, is another expenditure. Mrs Tingle said on top of that, budget pressures on Essex County Council mean things it previously paid for in schools aren’t covered any more, such as human resources services.

She said: “It is not what it was. I have stopped doing what is in our main area of expertise which is that you are headteacher. Budget is a huge part of that.”

Despite the funding situation - which is echoed across many schools across the country - what is clear is Mrs Tingle’s love for learning and children.

These are the reasons she entered the profession and has devoted her life to it.

She said: “For me, it opened up a new world into a wider world and I wanted to offer that opportunity to children as well.”

Mrs Tingle’s teaching career began at Dulwich College in London where she taught all subjects in its lower school. At that time, teaching jobs were scarce.

She had her first two children who attended Prettygate School as they lived close by.

The headteacher at the time asked if she wanted to take on supply work and additional classroom support.

A job as a reception class teacher came up and after working her way up to the school’s senior leadership team and a co-head role, Mrs Tingle became headteacher of the infant school ten years ago.

She said: “For the last two years I have been head of the infant and junior schools and that in itself is a cost saving exercise. I shall miss the children, first and foremost.

The younger children will meet you in the corridor and throw their arms around you and notice when you have had a hair cut or something

“The older children are quite humorous. Whatever your feelings, they will lift your spirit.”

After leaving, it will be a chance for Mrs Tingle to relax and reflect on her career, with more time to spend with her family.

But she is as passionate as ever about the importance of teaching and backs the Gazette’s campaign for more funding for schools.

She said: “All the areas in the public sector need money but the children are our future.

“If we don’t make sure they have the best education they possibly can then what’s going to happen to society?

“And we are also teaching them values. We just need some money so the children can learn in a pleasant environment.”