I have been a governor at The Grove School since the end of 2018, and the Chair of the board since September 2020. I have lived in Totnes for 14 years, having previously lived in Newcastle (where I was born and grew up), and Leeds while at university. I am a Civil Servant, working for DWP in their Digital directorate as a senior product manager.
I really enjoy being a school governor and giving back to the school, and am very passionate about ensuring the highest possible standards of education for children in Totnes. Both of my children are at The Grove, and I find the mix of being a parent, living in the town and a governor to be very rewarding.
During my time on the board I have taken the lead on health, safety & premises management, and have taken up roles on all sub committees.
Mike Waterson (LA governor)
I started as a Governor at The Grove School in March 2016, I have been chair of the Teaching and Learning committee, and Chair and Vice Chair of the Full Governing Body.
I am currently a special educational needs (SEN) governor and safeguarding governor.
I previously worked for forty years as a Biochemist in the Health Service in London, Essex and Devon; the last 25 years as a Consultant Head. I am used to running a service in the public sector with a limited budget, planning for future develop and ensuring high standards.
I have family links with education. My wife was, and one daughter is, a teacher in primary schools. I have quite a few years’ experience of being a governor. I was a governor at a comprehensive school in Essex for eight years, latterly as Chair of Governors. After moving to Totnes I was also a governor at KEVICC for a few years. I have recently become a grandparent and particularly interested in the future of education at the moment. I am very keen on getting the best possible education for all our young people.
Rob Hill (co-opted governor)
Rob Hill is a chartered accountant and finance director based in Totnes, and is also a parent at the school. He primarily works in senior leadership roles in international charities, and is also involved in governance roles in a number of local community organisations (for example Totnes Bike Hub). Rob is the finance lead for the governors, and chairs the Resources committee.
Joel Mcilven (parent governor)
I have worked in education for almost 20 years, in a great variety of roles and settings, predominantly in the secondary and special needs sectors in London, where I was previously headteacher of an independent special school. I completed a Masters degree at New York University, focusing on Hip Hop Education.
Having grown up in Totnes, I recently moved back to the town. I have taken on a leadership position at a local special school and my eldest child now attends The Grove School. I am passionate about pedagogy and the way children learn, and am committed to making schools exciting and nurturing places have all young people to be part of.
Jenny Barker (co-opted governor)
I grew up in Totnes and my two younger siblings attended the Grove so I have been familiar with the school for a number of years. I moved back to the town in June last year and now live here with my husband, two children, a Labrador and two cats. I trained as a medical doctor and now work in Public Health, where I have a special interest in childhood obesity. I have also worked closely on the COVID response throughout the pandemic.
I am passionate about education and am very aware of the important role that schools and teachers play, particularly in reducing inequalities and providing a stable and secure base for children, something that has been highlighted over the past few years.
I have experience working in the National Health Service, Local Authorities, academia and the third sector. As such I have developed cross-organisational strategies, carried out regular quality improvement work and produced and advised on evaluations. I have also been involved in staff wellbeing work. I hope to bring some of this relevant expertise to my role as school governor.
Outside of work I am a very keen gardener and am very much enjoying watching the spring bulbs come up outside my office window!
Hilary Priest ( Headteacher and governor)
Hilary was born in Manchester but grew up in Ilford, Essex. Her first degree was in Spanish and Latin American studies at Portsmouth and she followed this with a PGCE from Lancaster University based in Ambleside. Hilary has taught all age groups within Primary and taught at schools in Lancaster, Warrington, Somerset and Cheshire. Hilary’s’ first Headship was in Rochdale where she was recognised for being the youngest Head Rochdale had ever had. Hilary moved to The Grove School in January 2008 and has loved working here ever since. The school has changed in lots of ways including the massive building project which Hilary was involved in. The Grove School still maintains its unique respect-based character and caring ethos. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Research from the Open University and a NPQH. Hilary and her husband have two children and a dog! Hilary loves anything to be active with her family who are often seen running, biking, walking, playing tennis, swimming etc!
Becky Nel (parent governor)
I’m Becky, some of you may know me already as the mum-of-twins in year 2 always ready with the snacks (mine come out like ravenous beasts!). I’m delighted to become a parent governor. I have ten years of experience working in primary education. I am knowledgeable on safeguarding children as well as how to design curriculums that are inclusive and meaningful to the community. I know the pressures on a school but I also know how beneficial a supportive governing body is. School plays a big part in bringing the community together; this is something I value a great deal.
Sam Wilkinson (Deputy Head and staff governor)
I grew up in Totnes and went to the local schools for my Primary and Secondary education. I went to Rolle College in Exmouth to train to be a teacher and hold a B’Ed Hons degree. I started as a Governor at The Grove School in September 2020. I am the staff governor. I am responsible for providing feedback to the governors about the curriculum and informing staff about the governor’s strategic intents. I have worked at the Grove for 19 years. I am currently the Deputy Head which is currently a non-teaching role but I have been a teacher since 1996. My main area of expertise is KS1 but I have also taught KS2 children. I am currently responsible for Literacy and Numeracy within the school. It has always been a real privilege to have taught so many wonderful children in Totnes even though it does make me feel old now that some of the children I have taught are now returning to The Grove as parents themselves!
- attend regular meetings (around 5 full governing board meetings plus 4 or 5 committee meetings a year)
- visit the school
- do some background reading
- take part in training and ongoing development
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
- Holding school leaders to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils and the effective and efficient performance management of staff
- Overseeing financial performance of the school and making sure money is well spent.
The work of the Teaching and Learning Committee covers the curriculum, teaching and learning, performance data, SEND, children's attendance and safeguarding. The Chair of this committee is Mike Waterson.
Governors in lead roles visit the school regularly to focus on that area and report back to the relevant committee. The current governors have taken on roles in Safeguarding, SEND, Early Years, Pupil Premium pupils, and Premises and Health and Safety.
The governors also have a role in making decisions about disciplinary issues, pupil exclusions, staffing matters and grievances. This is done in the First Committee which only meets if necessary. If there is an appeal against the decision of the First Committee, then this would be heard by the Appeals Committee. Decisions about Pay are made by the Pay Committee.
Who is the Chair of governors?
Ian Stewart is Chair of governors and the Vice-Chair is Joel Mcilven. They hold office for two years.
How can I contact the Chair of governors?
You can email the Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like to become a part of our team, please email Ian, the Chair. We would love to hear from you.