School's out for Ilford teacher after 40 years

By Jessica Elgot, July 22, 2010

An Ilford assistant head retired this week after 40 years at the same school.

Ray Elias, 61, has taught at Caterham High in Redbridge since qualifying in 1970.

He first taught metal work, but now takes product design, having dabbled in business studies and food technology. He has been assistant headmaster for 20 years. "Whenever I thought about moving on, I got promoted," he explained.

The South West Essex Reform Synagogue member said he had always wanted to teach.

"When I started at the school it was 30 per cent Jewish, because there were so many Jews in the area. But now there are very few - they mostly go to King Solomon. Back when I started, they were also piloting a revolutionary idea - teaching girls metal work. Now you wouldn't think anything of it."

He had taught generations of families. "And the school has several members of staff who I used to teach when they were pupils."

Paying tribute, Caterham head Dr Alan Atkins said: "As well as being an outstanding teacher of his subject, Ray has played a significant role in the management of the school. He has been tremendously loyal and has always been totally committed to the education of the students."

Married to Judith for 39 years, Mr Elias intends to spend his retirement visiting more museums, taking evening classes and caring for his 90-year-old father.

With one of his two sons working for Jewish Care, there was also the possibility of some voluntary work.

Last updated: 4:15pm, July 22 2010