After 24 years of working at Aylesbury High School, Alan Rosen is retiring this summer.
He was born in North London and commented that he grew up more interested in what he was doing outside of lessons rather than within them, including driving across North Africa with his family, climbing, mountaineering and orienteering.
He went on to study Maths at Aberystwyth, and later ended up doing Computer Science, and a Masters degree in Education.
His first teaching job was in Hatfield, Hertfordshire where he taught Maths, IT/Computer Science and coached the girls’ basketball team (just because he could drive the minibus). During this time he wrote a text book on computing and started writing school timetables.
Mr Rosen described school timetabling as: “One of those mysterious tasks that goes on behind the scenes, and which you only notice when it goes wrong. I’ve probably done 25 timetables now, sometimes alone and sometimes in a team, and each is like a Sudoku, or crossword, except that they are impossible to solve. They always have compromises and little tricks to get 1300 people and 80 teachers in the right place at the right time every lesson of the week.”
He spent six years in Hatfield, six years in Hemel Hempstead and then moved to a school of 350 students in Watford which at the time was threatened with closure. He was in charge of Maths, Science and Technology, and taught Maths, PE and Science.
When he came to interview at Aylesbury High School, Mr Rosen said he came: “Just to get some interview practice, and knowing nothing about Buckinghamshire, or its rather esoteric education system. Within a few hours of being here I felt that this was a school that I could work in, and which had an energy and sense of purpose that fitted in with my ways of working.”
He stayed at Aylesbury High School for 24 years, spent the first ten years as Deputy Head and the rest as Head, but: “At no point did I ever run out of new challenges.”
Since 1995, the school has increased in student size with the change in 1999 from 12+ to 11+, and increased its facilities with the building of the Sports Hall, Sixth Form Centre and History rooms, the new Library, the Science Block refurbishment and the current Tower Block building work; all of which Alan Rosen has overseen.
He introduced the annual Year 8 trip to the Outward Bound Centre at Aberdyfi in 1998, which over three thousand students have now experienced, and within a few weeks of arriving was asked to take a team to Zimbabwe on a World Challenge expedition.
On Sunday, he will head off to Belize in Central America on his 14th trip with Y10 and 11 students.
Alan Rosen said: “I’ve loved the international outlook of AHS, both in and out of the curriculum, and hope it continues to be a big part of the school. The link with India which has lasted over 16 years is something that has been hard work but really interesting. I think trips of any kind help you grow up, they should be fun and they open your eyes to the diversity of the world around us.”
Outside of AHS, he is still running in orienteering competitions around the UK and abroad, and ‘controlling’ (refereeing) competitions including the British Championships and, one memorable summer, the World Championships.
He said: “I am slightly proud of my attendance record - I had to have a week off a few years ago because doctors said I wasn’t allowed in school, but apart from that my last day off was in 1963.”
“I know that I won’t miss wearing a tie every day, but I will really miss the committed staff and the many times during the year when the students amaze me, whether in sport, in all their fantastic performances, productions and exhibitions, in the many House events, on trips and, funnily enough, in lessons – just walking round our classrooms reminds me how much hard work the students put into their education every day, and that’s what we are here for.
No school is an island and I would like to think we have successfully built on the strong foundations created in our feeder primary schools and equipped our students for a fast-moving and exciting future. I am sure the school will continue to move forward and flourish.”