Aylesbury College principal retires after 26 years service

Pauline Odulinski
Pauline Odulinski

Aylesbury College celebrated its golden anniversary this academic year but for its long serving principal it will also be her last in charge.

Pauline Odulinski, 61, joined the college 26 years ago as maternity cover but has now opted to retire in August.

She said: “From a personal point of view I want to enjoy a bit of time enjoying other things in my life like spending time with my grandchildren.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week job, you never really leave it. Even at weekends I find myself thinking about it.”

Mrs Odulinski’s most prominent achievement in her 26 years was overseeing the opening of the new college building in 2006.

She added: “My proudest moment was building this college and replacing what was a really dire 60’s building.

“And then building the other things on it, the University Technical College, the children’s centre, the nursery and the independent learning centre. I’m absolutely delighted by what we’ve done. It’s really playing it’s full part being an integral part of the community. That’s really something that was important to me.”

However, it has not all been plain sailing for the college with a failed Ofsted inspection in 2002, two years after Mrs Odulinksi became principal.

She added: “That was a very big low.

“We always knew it was going to take longer to turn the college around. Looking back at the experience, one of the biggest things about being successful is you learn from failure.”

Despite her plans to enjoy some down time Mrs Odulinski admitted it will be difficult to leave the college.

She added: “I will miss working with the people. It’s such a lovely place to work. I’ll miss seeing kids’ faces when they have achieved what they want at the end of their courses. And then meeting them five years later and seeing what they have gone on to do.”

However, she did add there was never a good time to leave and nothing would stop her from attending the opening of the new technical college, one of the first of 12 in the country, in September.

The principal said she revealed her plans to depart to shocked staff before the Christmas break.

She added: “People have been very kind and said they’re sorry I’m going. It has been a bit of a shock to some.”