When Pat Henchie retires this month she won’t just be leaving her job behind.

Because after 18 years at the helm of Lowther School, Mrs Henchie sees the organisation, its pupils and the community as a whole, as family.

The headteacher said: “It has been a privilege and a joy to be part of a community over 18 years because I have seen the Lowther family grow.

“Now after 18 years it’s like launching a wonderful young adult into [the] next stage of its journey.”

Mrs Henchie, who has lived in Kew for the past 32 years, will be trading in lessons and assemblies to spend time with her grandchildren when she and her husband move to Devon later this year.

Despite starting the next chapter in her life the 59-year-old grandmother insists she will never forget her time at the Barnes school that she has loved for so long.

She said: “I’m downsizing from my big Lowther family to my home family.

“For me the whole essence of the school has been the children - they call themselves the Lowther school family and working with them has been a privilege.”

Mrs Henchie, who will be handing over the school reigns to her “rock” - deputy headteacher Mark Tuffney, has seen the school through many changes. Among them has been the building of a new children’s centre at Lowther but now she says it is part of the school’s evolution that she should hand over the baton to someone new with a fresh vision.

However, before she leaves the headteacher was keen to stress how much everyone she had worked with over the years had meant to her.

She said: “As a family you go through the ups and downs but stick together.

“We’ve been really fortunate with great staff and a community that has grown and believed in us as a school and made us really feel at the heart of the community.

“The school is just fantastic and the children and the families over time have made it a privilege - it’s been the best 18 years of my professional life without a doubt.”