A headmaster at one of Britain’s leading private schools has resigned following a long-running row with parents and former students over his alleged draconian methods.Richard Pleming, who was targeted last year by an online petition to get him sacked at Charterhouse, which costs £12,000 a term, says he is stepping down halfway through the school year to return to teaching. The claims in the petition, which were largely made anonymously, were all denied. Former students and teachers claimed Mr Pleming, 54, and his wife Rachel, 51, were disliked by some parents, staff and members of the board of directors. Cricket at Charterhouse School, SurreyCredit:Chris Mole/Alamy Last year “Pleming Out” graffiti was reportedly daubed on buildings and several members of staff were said to have walked out over his claimed authoritarian methods – claims which are denied by the school.However, Mr Pleming made no mention of the criticism in his resignation letter yesterday. Instead, he said he had considered his position with his wife while they were on a tour of the Far East.“The trip also gave us an opportunity to reflect on our time at Charterhouse so far and consider our plans for the future,” he said. “The last three years have been very rewarding, but school leadership is an increasingly complex and challenging business, and having been a headmaster for five years now and given the job my all at two different schools, I have come to the conclusion that I want to spend the remainder of my career back where I started.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Mr Pleming said he will remain as head until Christmas, “after which Andrew Turner will take on the day-to-day running of the school as acting headmaster, while I will be working on a number of strategic projects for the governors until I depart at the end of CQ17.”He added: “Teaching has always been my first love, and I want to enjoy a few more years in the classroom, engaged in the core business of our profession.“This is a decision I have been weighing for some time, and it has certainly not been taken lightly.”Simon Robinson, chairman of Charterhouse’s governing body, said in a separate letter that he accepted Mr Pleming’s resignation “with deep regret”.Mr Robinson wrote: “Richard has made an enormous contribution to our school in his three years here and we shall all be very sorry to see him go.”One source said the decision was “long overdue”.“The only thing that’s surprising is the timing. He was not well liked, but in recent months the clamour for him to go had calmed down.”Allegations of poor exam results, low morale and “mass resignations from teaching staff” were first raised last summer by parents of pupils at the school in Godalming, Surrey.A former pupil, Jessica Rees, 52, whose father Brian was head between 1973 and 1981, said there had been “vociferous criticism” of Mr Pleming. Ms Rees, an expert forensic lip reader, reported claims of “over-the-top discipline during which pupils are faced by [the] head without any support or representation”. She said there had also been claims of “foul language in public”.Marina Lademacher, 19, who went to Charterhouse sixth form, began the petition – now removed – which was said to have received 200 signatures calling for him to go.