Teaching is in the blood

Janis Burdin received a Lifetime Achievement Award  after making history as the first and longest serving head at Moss Side Primary School in Leyland
Janis Burdin received a Lifetime Achievement Award after making history as the first and longest serving head at Moss Side Primary School in Leyland
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You could say Janis Burdin was destined to spend her life at school.

It is in her blood – and she went to so many different schools as a child.

Janis Burdin as a five year old

Janis Burdin as a five year old

She may have officially retired as headteacher at Leyland’s Moss Side Primary School but is still going back to help out in class twice a week.

And that she blames on her blood-line.

Her dad was a teacher, a headteacher and a schools’ adviser, so, she says it was inevitable that she would end up spending her days in the classroom.

Janis recalls: “I started school at Thorn Primary in Bacup and I used to walk on my own.

“My very first memories of being at Thorn was that the classroom was stepped into tiers and at the end of the day we had to stand behind our chair, put our hands together and say a prayer.

“Once someone behind me fell and hit my head and I was told it was my own fault.”

The rest of her time there, apart from having to wear big navy blue knickers for PE, was uneventful.

She adds: “When I was eight years old, my dad, who was at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar then, got promoted and moved to Chadderton and I went to Chadderton Park Road School.

“Then, he got another promotion to Redcar, this was his first headship.

“ loved it there because it was by the seaside.

“I went to Marske County Primary.

“This was a village but it was expanding rapidly and the school wasn’t big enough.

“So, for the first six months I was in the church hall and I can remember coming home in tears for dinner one day.

“The wood on the desks was really worn and I was upset because I couldn’t do nice work on the paper.

“So my mum sent me back with a piece of cardboard to put under it.

“We eventually got a lovely new school and I really enjoyed it.”

She moved to Cleveland Grammar School only for her dad to get a job as an adviser and she moved back to Lancashire taking up a place at Penwortham Girls’ High, near Preston.

Janis recalls: “It took me a little while to settle but I got very interested in the science side and I fondly remember Mrs Clegg who taught biology.

“I decided I wanted to do chemistry and maths A-level and wanted to be a doctor but I spoke to the careers officers and was told that no girl would get to medical school.”

After doing a biology degree at Lancaster she realised she wanted to teach and went to on to do her teacher training qualification.

Her first job was in Farnborough, and a few years later she returned to Lancashire and after a several years a teacher she became a head just like her dad, who ended his career as head at Ansdell High.

Janis made history when she became the youngest, then longest serving head at the town’s then newest school, Moss Side Primary, and spent 36 years at the helm – until “retiring” last summer.