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Witty, well loved, warm-hearted Deputy Headmaster to retire

I arrived at Prior Park Prep School by accident for a temporary role. Within the first few minutes of the interview I knew I wanted to stay. There was something I couldn’t put my finger on; a warmth and positivity. 

Now, putting together this piece on the departure of one of the schools stalwarts, I’m starting to understand that it is the people that make this school as it is – adventurous in mind and good in heart. Case in point is Mr Vaughan Jelley, Deputy Head, who retires at the end of term.

Mr Jelley leaves for retirement to Devon after decades of dedication to the school. His commitment has held no bounds. He’s captained the cricket team, spent most of the 80’s taking our rugby sevens on tour, produced the school plays for ten years in a row, taken numerous groups of children on hikes and has organised all the school elections. His role in shaping young lives is greatly valued and there are many that cannot imagine the school without him.

I sought input from fellow teachers and colleagues. It was soon clear that much of the current culture of the school has been created by Vaughan Jelley.

When I arrived, he felt like the soul of this place and for me he still is. When he goes it will be hard to fill his place. He stood out for me. He wanted to get to know me. I had a real sense of 'I want to work for you'.

Mrs Heywood, Head of Science

He’s given so much to the school it’s been his life’s work, through thick and thin. Vaughan is very warm and empathetic. He’s very patient with those that need extra support but also knows how to extend and challenge those who need to be stretched. He’s an inspirational educator in every sense of the word.

Mrs Trim, Head of Learning, Head of English

Vaughan Jelley has provided me with so much help and support.

Mrs MacKenzie, Head of Pre-Prep

For many years Vaughan has been the absolute rock of the school. He’s always been here. As a parent and colleague, I’ve felt hugely privileged to have had him as our Deputy Head.

Mrs Kelly, Headmaster's PA and Registrar

When we remember teachers it is always the ones who touched our emotions that make the most impact. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. Vaughan is one of those wonderful teachers that very naturally provides the warmth.

Mrs Paddock, Deputy Head

Each time I chatted to a colleague about Vaughan, they had to have a a pause, an emotional re-group so to speak, before starting to talk; a reflection of great warmth and feeling for a man who had made the school his vocation and who in turn, helped to make the school. That wasn’t all. His sense of humour and sense of adventure also featured strongly in their recounts. When I asked colleagues for memories, very often they grinned with mischief before recounting their tales.

I’ll tell you a story about when he fell off a pontoon into a lake. One leg on the canoe and one on the pontoon with the gap growing until he fell in, in real comedy style into the lake!

Miss Chadwick, Outdoor Learning

I’ve never seen him laugh so much. We were canoeing and a boy fell into the water. Mr Jelley jumped in to assist but the boy lost his trunks. All the children were there, so he couldn’t get out and clearly couldn’t stay in! Eventually, the boy was rescued and provided with a towel to maintain his dignity.

Miss Clover, Nurse
Vj End Image Canoeing

Former and current pupils have some happy memories of this warm, witty well-loved teacher.

What we always remember about Mr Jelley is the amazing amount of white sun cream he puts on his nose the minute there is no rain - it makes us laugh! Also, the way he told lots of 'jokes' at any school event, some of which were not funny, but we always laughed as he got upset if we didn’t! We remember him dancing in Barbados and at many school discos - we have never seen moves like those! And we are only just recovering from the Spanish song incident!

Former pupils Annie Carruthers and Eve Prior

On a personal note, I don't believe that I ever saw Vaughan without a tie on! Maybe he will let it all go at his party and cast his tie aside. The joys of retirement eh?

Nicola and Kevin Eyre
Vj Preview Picture

Very early on Mr Jelley, at our first parents' evening, promised us that Charlie would pass Geography CE even though she arrived back in the UK not even knowing where Scotland is! She did pass and even thought about doing it for GCSE, but only for a second!

Carrie and Chris Parker
Vj Mr Jelley With The Kids

Now Mr Jelley is looking to the next adventure in his life, with a tour of Australia before a move to East Devon with his wife Ann. At Prior Park Prep, we will all go forwards in the same way we expect our pupils to, noting the blessings we have had, what we have been taught and putting into practice the values we hold dear, whilst wishing Mr Jelley the very best for the retirement of both himself and that tie!