Governors Review 2021

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!


Saxon Spence

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.


Sally Herbert


Hayley Back


Jane Morris

My two children both came to Newtown and are now at Isca- Newtown prepared them brilliantly for secondary school.  I live nearby and I absolutely love this school.  I have been a parent governor here since we moved to Exeter and have found it so interesting learning how the school works and being a part of helping to make Newtown better and better.

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’d happily speak to any other Newtown parents about becoming a governor as it’s vital to have a parent’s voice on our board and I have found it so rewarding to be a part of this brilliant school.


David Thompson

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.


James Meeke

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.



Tom Ritchie

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. 


John Rowe


Suzi Leather


Bex Jaweh







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 MatherCo-optedGoverning BoardChair of GovernorsStaffing Lead Governor Pay & Performance Committee14.03.2019 - 13.03.2023
Philippa DanversLocal AuthorityNominated 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 HerbertEx OfficioRight of OfficeHeadteacher 01.09.2017 - present
Hayley BackStaffElected by staff Premises and Health & Safety Lead Governor01.09.2019 - 30.08.2023
Jane MorrisParentElected by parents Parent & Community Links Lead Governor16.11.2017 - 15.11.2021
Bex JawnehParentElected by parents Parent & Community Links Lead Governor02.11.2020 - 01.11.2024
Suzi LeatherCo-optedGoverning Board  20.05.2021 - 19.05.2025
Saxon SpenceCo-optedGoverning BoardChair of Pay & Performance Committee

SEND & Inclusion Lead Governor

Pay & Performance Committee

07.11.2019 - 06.11.2023
David ThompsonCo-optedGoverning Board Safeguarding Lead Governor HT Performance Management Committee19.10.2017 - 18.10.2021
John RoweCo-optedGoverning Board 

Finance Lead Governor

Pay & Performance Committee

06.02.2020 - 05.02.2024
Tom RitchieCo-optedGoverning Board SEND & Inclusion Lead Governor HT Performance Management Committee23.04.2020 - 22.04.2024
James MeekeCo-optedGoverning Board Premises and Health & Safety Lead Governor09.07.2020 - 08.07.2024
VACANTCo-optedGoverning Board   
VACANTCo-optedGoverning Board   
Jessica BengerClerk to governorsRecruitedClerk to Governing body 01.09.2013 - present
Sandra DalgleishCo-optedGoverning Board Safeguarding Lead Governor07.11.2019 - 20.05.2021
Sean CallardCo-optedGoverning Board Parent and Community Lead Governor17.10.2019 - 03.07.2020
Richard WestlakeCo-optedGoverning Board Inclusion & SEND Lead Governor07.11.2019 - 09.07.2020
Mike Cox


Governing Board 

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

Governance Impact Statement September 2018 – July 2019


“Embracing Excellence, Celebrating Diversity and Nurturing Individuality”


This is the annual report from the Governing Body to let you know about the work we have been doing to ensure that our “village school in the heart of the city” is led effectively to achieve the best outcomes for the children and is managing its resources well.


Governors in maintained schools have statutory duties to fulfil, requiring them:

  • 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


The governors have met on 10 occasions as a full Governing Body this year, following an agreed Annual Cycle of Business. The Minutes are published on the governors’ pages of the school website ( along with detailed reports submitted by our Lead Governors, reporting on seven key areas of Teaching and Learning, Safeguarding, Finance, Premises and Health & Safety, Staffing, Community Links and Special Educational Needs.


In September 2018 we identified our strategic direction and priorities for the year ahead to be:

  1. Standards: to ensure all pupils make substantial progress and develop a positive attitude to learning so that the school is judged at least “Good” at its next Ofsted inspection.
  2. Community: to celebrate and promote the values of “Embracing Excellence, Celebrating Diversity, Nurturing Individuality” to the Newtown Community through our website and all our communications. 3
  3. Leadership: to enhance the leadership of the school – within Newtown, by developing new leaders; by joining the Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust; by continuing to secure effective partnerships with local schools.



Pupil Progress and Learning

The children’s learning, progress and well-being are central to all our discussions, questioning and decision-making. We have received detailed reports from the Headteacher which, taken alongside our Lead Governor reports, offer us a picture of the children’s progress and give us opportunities to challenge and question the Headteacher. Individual governors have also visited the school to join pupil interviews with staff, to carry out learning walks and to take part in book scrutinies. Their reports are brought to the Governing Body meetings. In November, we held an extra training meeting on the specific targets for improvement set by Ofsted in its last inspection. Our SEND Lead Governor also met, in an extra meeting, the Headteacher and SENCO to talk about the provision for our children with special needs in these times of challenging budgets. From our Minutes you will see that we have been monitoring the progress in maths with the introduction of the Hamilton maths scheme; we have been receiving regular reports on the progress of all year groups and specific groups within year groups; and been informed on the school’s progress in its curriculum review in readiness for September 2019.


Keeping Children Safe

In September 2018 we joined the staff in its Level 2 Safeguarding training. Each time we meet as a Governing Body, or visit school as individual governors, we monitor and report on safeguarding procedures or issues. The Headteacher reports to us regularly any exclusions made, the attendance figures and the pupil roll. The Chair and the Headteacher also meet each week.


We have altered our practice on email and storage of information in the light of GDPR. Governors have also walked round the school conducting spot-checks to monitor the security of information and data.


Finances and Budget

You will no doubt be aware of the national crisis in school funding which has been a huge challenge for us at Newtown this year, with our falling roll, due partly to the changing demographic of our area. We spent many hours in our meetings in the Spring term receiving various options from our Bursar and Headteacher and detailed reports from our Finance governors in order to set our budget for the next two years. This was no easy task and some difficult decisions had to be made.


Pupil numbers and projections indicate that next year we will operate with 6, rather than 7 teachers, meaning that all classes except Year 6 will span two year groups.



Keeping in Touch

We have taken every opportunity to attend school events, such as Parents’ Evenings, school shows, concerts and the May Day celebrations. We do hope that you feel you can talk to us then as we can do our job better if we know how you feel about your children’s education. We send out a yearly questionnaire and we would encourage all parents to complete this each year so that we can respond to your feedback. You can also email us through the school website at or


Part of a Community Team

We continue to be grateful for the work of the Friends of Newtown School (FONS) for their fund-raising and social events. We have supported the Headteacher in making links with local schools and working with Newtown Community Pre-school to access the after-school club. There is a strong Newtown Community Association and our children regularly attend events, with our choir singing at the Respect Festival, Exeter Cathedral and Exeter City Football club. We are also fortunate to have the support of one of our local Devon County Councillors, Su Aves, a former Chair of Governors at Newtown Primary School.



Restructuring the teaching team

New leaders have been appointed this year to lead subject areas and curriculum development. As some of the subject leaders have been on maternity leave for part of the year, we are pleased to report that other staff have been able to step up to take on more responsibility.


The Ted Wragg Trust

Our plan to join the Ted Wragg Trust group of schools has been delayed as the Regional Schools Commissioner advised the Ted Wragg Trust to agree a budget before formalising our partnership. (Other schools joining the Trust have been asked to do the same.) Consultation with the Trust continues.


Other Working Partnerships

The governors have encouraged and supported the many working partnerships Newtown has been developing in the recent year. Newtown teachers have been working closely with the staff at other local schools to share best practice and to moderate standards of pupils’ work; St Luke’s High School supports us in our sports provision; we have continued to be supported by the Local Authority advisers. These 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.


Looking forward to 2019 – 2020

From September, we will continue to focus on school improvement, standards and developing our partnerships with the community and other schools. Alongside our statutory duties, we will monitor the impact of the new curriculum; the effect of the introduction of mixed age groups in classes; the teaching and learning in English and maths; and the effectiveness of school initiatives to promote wider reading and productive homework.


And finally…

Thank you to our Headteacher and to each and every member of staff for working so hard for the children at Newtown. Thank you to the children for working hard, for cooperating with others and for welcoming newcomers. Thank you to parents and carers for your daily support for the school and for coming along to as many of the events as you are able throughout the year.



Jill Mather On behalf of the Governing Body July 2019