Popular and long-serving Island School principal David James yesterday shocked his staff by announcing he was to step down. Mr James, 57, said he felt now was the right time to 'slip away'. 'It is purely personal. I have had a wonderful time in Hong Kong and love Island School. But I have been here for 28 years - that is four generations of children - and I'm in my 17th year as principal,' he said. 'The real reason is that I fear retirement. I don't want to live on memories. I want to leave while I am young enough to do something else.' He plans to return 'home' to Wales at the end of the school year. He was not leaving because of the troubles in the English Schools Foundation. 'The ESF is in much better shape than it was,' he said. 'It is more open and I am confident issues about the subvention and governance will be resolved.' Deputy principal Chris Forse said: 'I am absolutely shocked. But it is a courageous and right decision. What he has brought to the school is a real care for everyone in the community.' He had innovated many ideas which had been taken up by other ESF schools, including interim weeks outside the classroom and support for students who speak English as a second language.