Meet the Governors
Jill Mather - Chair of the Governing Board
I have had a life-long interest in education: I taught English in state secondary schools for nearly 40 years and currently work part-time for Exeter University on its teacher training programme. I still do some tutoring in English and work with teenagers at St James’ Church in Exeter. In my leisure time I enjoy allotment gardening, long-distance walking and spending time with our grandchildren.
I have known Newtown since the 1980’s when my children attended what was then Newtown First School. We chose Newtown then because it was a small community school with an inclusive ethos and our children thrived in its friendly atmosphere. I have, therefore, enjoyed getting to know the school again as a governor, and more recently as Chair. In my work as a governor I will be doing my best to try to ensure your children enjoy a safe, successful and stimulating time here, prepared to move on to their secondary schools with confidence.
Philippa Danvers - Vice Chair of Governing Board
I am lucky enough to have been a primary school teacher for many years, as well as bringing up three children who all went to Newtown during the late 80’s and 90’s. They enjoyed their time at the school immensely and it was a very special time in their education. During my career, I have had the opportunity to fulfil a range of leadership roles as well as writing online plans for teachers and teaching art to large numbers of children!
I have lived in Newtown for nearly four years and enjoy being part of this lively community, so welcome the opportunity to support our much-loved local school. My background is that I was a Devon County Councillor with a particular interest in education until I retired in 2013.
Currently I am a governor of the Learn to Live Federation (Ellen Tinkham & Bidwell Brook Schools) and on the board of the Ted Wragg Trust which includes Isca, St. James’ and West Exe High Schools. Other interests are the Co-operative Movement and food policy.
My day job is at Exeter College where I run the Teacher Education department. It is an absolute passion of mine that education remains comprehensive, inclusive and that the experts are listened to. In my spare time I like to go camping in our lovely van. I also play the piano and absolutely love theatre and performance of all types. My most current passion is Hamilton the Musical.
I have relocated from London to Exeter and am enjoying exploring the city and surrounding area. I am a Co-opted Governor and look forward to participating in the life of Newtown School and contributing to its success.
I studied Biochemistry, was a teacher for several years and then retrained as a tax inspector. Subsequently I was employed as a management consultant by PwC and IBM. I am now self-employed and work part-time.
I enjoy the performing arts and was a volunteer usher at the Arcola Theatre, which has a strong commitment to diversity and community engagement. My hobbies are long distance walking and writing short stories. I have five children and three grandchildren.
I have lived in Exeter all my life, apart from brief stints away at school and university. My first teaching post was as a graduate assistant at Sherborne School. I then completed my PGCE (in secondary religious education) at St Luke’s, before becoming a teacher in Exeter 12 years ago. During my career, I have been a Head of Religious Studies, a Head of Humanities and a Head of Sixth Form. In 2013, I moved to Exeter Cathedral School where I am currently Head of Upper Years. I have always had a particular interest in preparing pupils for the future. I was heavily involved in Oxbridge preparation when I taught at secondary level, and spend a lot of time in my present role focusing on academic enrichment and coaching pupils to take scholarships to senior schools.
Outside education, my interests include fly fishing, walking, and spending time with my family.
I started working at the University of Exeter in March 2020. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, I have yet to relocate from London, though I am excited to finally get to the South West. I am looking forward to being able to take an active role in the community aspect of Newtown when things return to normal.
I studied History of Science, Technology, Computing, and Engineering for my PhD, working with the Science Museum and the University of Kent, and teaching at different universities across the UK and America. In my current role at Exeter, I am the Project Manager for the Education Incubator, where I work with staff and students to create communities of learning and develop innovations in educational delivery and pedagogy. I have also previously been the President and Chair of the Board of my Students’ Union, and a University Governor.
Currently in my spare time, I am studying for some finance and accounting exams. In my spare time I like long distance walks, hiking up any mountains I can find, and collecting seaglass to make into art.
Dame Suzi Leather
I have been living in Newtown for thirty five years and our children were born and grew up here - except for a year when we lived in the Netherlands. They all attended Newtown First School (as it then was). We chose Newtown not only for its proximity (it was lovely being able to visit the park on the way home) but because its ethos of being a village school in the city felt right. Today I see the school as a place where children with a wide variety of needs and talents can flourish and where they are valued as individuals. I think this gives them security and a solid foundation for their good development and future wellbeing.
I have a wide professional background having chaired a number of national bodies including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Charity Commission and the School Food Trust. In addition I have served on the boards of the General Medical Council, the Human Tissue Authority, ConsumerFocus and the National Accreditation Body for the UK. I am currently chair of the Integrated Care System for Devon and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, the ombuds service for higher education in England and Wales.
I am a parent governor at Newtown with one son who started in the Reception class in 2019 - and he absolutely loves this school!! I became a parent governor because I feel I have a vested interest in the school and find it very interesting to explore deeper the running of the school and to be a voice for the parents.
We have lived in Newtown since 2016 but I have always used the local area because of the park and other amenities. I started volunteering at the school in 2019, helping in Reception class and continued doing so up until July 2021. In September 2021, I started working in the school as a Teaching Assistant and Mealtime Assistant, giving me an even keener interest in primary education and the future of Newtown.
In my spare time I like to swim and go bike riding with my little boy. I would encourage other parents to consider standing as a parent governor as it is so rewarding being able to have a say in the school where my child is educated.
Please find below details of how our Governing Board is structured, including the names, categories, responsibilities and terms of appointment for each Governor.
The Chair of the Governing Board can be contacted via the school office or by email
|Jill Mather||Co-opted||Governing Board||Chair of Governors||Staffing Lead Governor Pay & Performance Committee||14.03.2019 - 13.03.2023|
|Philippa Danvers||Local Authority||Nominated by the Local Authority (Devon County Council)||Vice Chair of the Governing Board|
Teaching & Learning Lead Governor
HT Performance Management Committee
14.05.2020 - 13.05.2023
|Sally Herbert||Ex Officio||Right of Office||Headteacher||01.09.2017 - present|
|Hayley Back||Staff||Elected by staff||01.09.2019 - 30.08.2023|
|Jane Morris||Parent||Elected by parents||Parent & Community Links Lead Governor||16.11.2017 - 15.11.2021|
|Bex Jawneh||Parent||Elected by parents||Parent & Community Links Lead Governor||02.11.2020 - 01.11.2024|
|Suzi Leather||Co-opted||Governing Board||20.05.2021 - 19.05.2025|
|Saxon Spence||Co-opted||Governing Board||Chair of Pay & Performance Committee|
SEND & Inclusion Lead Governor
Pay & Performance Committee
|07.11.2019 - 06.11.2023|
|David Thompson||Co-opted||Governing Board||Safeguarding Lead Governor HT Performance Management Committee||19.10.2017 - 18.10.2021|
|John Rowe||Co-opted||Governing Board|
Finance Lead Governor
Pay & Performance Committee
|06.02.2020 - 05.02.2024|
|Tom Ritchie||Co-opted||Governing Board||SEND & Inclusion Lead Governor HT Performance Management Committee||23.04.2020 - 22.04.2024|
|James Meeke||Co-opted||Governing Board||Premises and Health & Safety Lead Governor||09.07.2020 - 08.07.2024|
|Jessica Benger||Clerk to governors||Recruited||Clerk to Governing body||01.09.2013 - present|
|Sandra Dalgleish||Co-opted||Governing Board||Safeguarding Lead Governor||07.11.2019 - 20.05.2021|
|Sean Callard||Co-opted||Governing Board||Parent and Community Lead Governor||17.10.2019 - 03.07.2020|
|Richard Westlake||Co-opted||Governing Board||Inclusion & SEND Lead Governor||07.11.2019 - 09.07.2020|
Premises and Health & Safety Lead Governor
Pay & Performance Committee
|19.05.2015 - 12.05.2020|
The Role of the Governing Board
- to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- to hold the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
- to oversee the financial performance of the school and make sure its money is well spent
Delgation of Authority of the Full Governing Board
Statement of Governance 2020-2021
“Embracing Excellence, Celebrating Diversity and Nurturing Individuality”
On 16th March 2020, the country went into its first lockdown and overnight we were faced with the challenge of living with the uncertainty and fear brought about by the global pandemic, readjusting to life without our familiar routines.
For parents, this meant juggling the demands of work, child-care and home-schooling; for children, it meant adjusting to learning from home without the support of their friends and teachers; and for teachers, it meant providing for the needs of children in their homes as well as for the group of children attending on-site. “Blended learning” became the day-to-day reality with virtual lessons delivered by teachers, Zoom assemblies and homework submitted electronically. 100% of our most vulnerable children and those with Educational Health Care Plans attended school in lockdown, and, overall, places were provided for 30% (41) of pupils to attend school, averaging 27% a day.
For governors, the big question was how to maintain our oversight of the school but also to support the school in the challenges it was facing. Jill Mather, the Chair of the Governing Board, was in regular, weekly contact with Sally Herbert by phone or Zoom from the start of the pandemic. Following advice from the National Governors’ Association, during lockdown we focused in our meetings on the safety of our children and the well-being of the whole school community.
Safeguarding our children
The governors met monthly from March 2020, using Microsoft Teams, receiving regular reports from Sally Herbert on the provision for children both in school and at home. A detailed Covid Risk Assessment was completed by the Headteacher, signed by the Chair of Governors, and updated each time we moved into a new phase of the pandemic. Governors continued to monitor the numbers attending school, the arrangements being made for children in receipt of free school lunches, safeguarding referral procedures and record-keeping.
Although we could not come on to the school site, we could see the regular communications between staff and families on Class Dojo and could attend Zoom assemblies. We were also delighted to see the new fence at the front of the school, which not only provides a safe boundary to the wildlife garden, but also raises the profile of the school in the local community.
Well-being of the school community
Sally Herbert has reported each month to us the arrangements made to keep the staff and children safe in school through social-distancing and the establishment of bubbles. In the first lockdown, a rota system was set up to try to ensure a fair allocation of work across the staff and to protect those shielding or isolating.
We would like to thank Sally Herbert and the whole staff team for the tremendous flexibility, cheerfulness and resilience shown throughout the pandemic. Governors have seen staff going above and beyond to keep their classes happy and secure: there are some vibrant examples of art around the school site which are just a snapshot of their approach to nurturing the children through this period.
Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
Standards in Teaching and Learning
We have been pleased to see the continued development of the new curriculum at Newtown, driven by the four C’s of Creativity, Community, Communication and Confidence. We believe its intentions are clear, securely founded in the “Newtown Way” of “Embracing Excellence, Celebrating Diversity and Nurturing Individuality” in children who can say, “We are Ready; We are Respectful; We are Safe”.
Governors are grateful for the opportunities to join staff in their planning and training meetings, their monitoring “Deep Dives” into the teaching of different subject areas and their scrutiny of pupils’ books. Our role on these occasions is a monitoring and fact-finding one and we have been frequently impressed by the rigour of scrutiny shown by the staff.
The KS1 Phonics tests (usually carried out in the summer with Year 1) were completed in December with 86% of children passing in Year 1 and 94% by the end of Year 2. Well done to all the children and families reading at home to support the targeted teaching from the teachers! SATs were suspended in 2020 and 2021, so in the absence of external data, governors are using monitoring opportunities in school and internal school data to gain a picture of the progress made by pupils. External advisors and local working partnerships with staff in nearby schools offer methods of ensuring that internal data is reliable.
Of national concern is the progress of disadvantaged students and at Newtown we share that concern, monitoring closely the allocation of resources and provision for these students. Two of our governors, Saxon Spence and Tom Richie, have special responsibility for monitoring the provision of children with additional needs and they have been in touch regularly with the school and with Alex Dolphin, the SENCO.
We would like to thank Sally Herbert for the inspiring leadership shown during the pandemic. She has been able to answer fully our (many, many!) questions throughout this period, assuring us that Covid-safe arrangements have been made and that children are secure and happy in their work. She has driven the development of the new curriculum, enabling and empowering her subject leaders in the joint initiative. In turn, she has been ably supported by her senior management team and administrative team.
We have been delighted to recruit five new governors (John Rowe, Tom Ritchie, Bex Jawneh, James Meeke and Suzi Leather) during this time and have had to find innovative ways of offering them induction in the absence of the faceto-face courses and meetings. Bex Jawneh is our new parent governor, a link for parents to the Governing Board. We look forward to a time next term when we can again attend parents’ evenings, plays and concerts and talk to parents in an informal way. We have so much missed being able to talk to children, parents and staff in school this year and are very much looking forward to “business as usual” next year.
Working partnerships are so important to us as a small, distinctive school, allowing us to promote our core values and to learn from others. We believe firmly that we are stronger together, celebrating our diversity as we work together for our children in Exeter.
We have supported Sally Herbert in her membership of the River Exe Learning Partnership (RELP) schools: the Headteachers’ forum has been an essential support in her leading the school through the pandemic and responding (often at a moment’s notice) to the next government initiative.
Despite the pandemic we have strengthened our links with our local community: we are working closely with
Newtown Pre-school; the community at Belmont Chapel bought 30 Chrome Books for the school; volunteers from St Matt’s will be working in our garden at the end of term; Su Aves, our local councillor continues to be a great advocate for the school. We have also received excellent support and advice from the Local Authority this year, not only in responding to Covid, but also in our strategic financial planning to secure the future of the school. We have set up a working party to explore innovative ways of developing partnerships and using our site and premises fully.
Looking forward to 2021 – 2022
At two meetings in July, the governors reviewed the School Improvement Plan and adjusted our strategic priorities in the light of the evidence.
GOVERNORS’ STRATEGIC PRIORITIES (2021-22)
Newtown Primary School will work in partnership with the local, national and international authorities, communities, establishments and agencies.
(including the Ted Wragg Trust, the University of Exeter, The River Exe Learning Partnership, and the community of Newtown)
All levels of leadership are effective in driving and sustaining the financial recovery and stability of the school.
We look forward to playing a full part in the life of the school from September 2021, returning to the site for our meetings and contact with children, parents and staff. We would also welcome your feedback on this report if you would like to write to us or drop us an email.