THE funeral of a "tremendously respected and well loved" former headteacher at Prestwich Arts College is taking place today.

Dozens of staff members and pupils are attending the funeral of Geoff Barlow, who previously said that the happiest times of his teaching career were served as headteacher at the college between 2002 and 2013.

There is a partial school closure in place on Wednesday, April 25, so that colleagues who worked with Mr Barlow may attend his funeral.

Current headteacher Rachel Evans expressed sympathy to the family of Mr Barlow, who died on April 9 following a short illness.

Miss Evans said: "Mr Barlow was a headteacher who had a positive impact on thousands of pupils at the school.

"He was a highly respected member of the community.

"Both myself and the local authority recognised that we needed to close the school.

"The staff wanted to pay their respects because he was so valued."

The funeral was held on Wednesday, April 25, at Rochdale Crematorium.

Year 11 pupils at the college attended an assembly at school followed by a normal timetable, while work was made available for all of the other years via the school's website.

School will return as normal on Thursday, April 26.

A letter sent to parents by current headteacher Rachel Evans on April 18 read: "It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that on Monday, April 9, Geoff Barlow died, after a short illness.

"Mr Barlow was tremendously respected and well loved by those who met him.

"On behalf of the whole school community, our sympathy has been expressed to Mr Barlow’s family and I am sure that in the weeks to come, we will be finding our own way to commemorate his memory and celebrate the life that he shared with us.

"His motto was ‘Be Proud, Be Passionate and Be Prestwich’, something which we strive to do each day.

"Mr Barlow always said that the happiest times of his teaching career, had been spent whilst here at Prestwich Arts College and for this reason, we hope you will support the staff in their attendance at his funeral."