Meet the governors & meeting minutes

Governance at our school
Governance is a vital part of all schools and  a way that  people in the community  can offer  their  expertise, skill-set and enthusiasm  to support the work of the school and drive strategic direction. Our governors are committed to playing their part in  creating a community where everyone is safe, thriving and learning. 


Who can become a governor?
There are no specific qualifications or requirements for the role, though you do need to be over 18 and to be eligible under the relevant rules and procedures. Every governing board needs a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience. You don't need to be a parent or have a background in education. The most important qualities are enthusiasm, a willingness to learn  and a desire to become involved in the education of children in your community.  
To contribute, governors do have to commit time to:
  • 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
The role of governor is a responsible one, and not without challenges, but in exchange you can learn new skills, collaborate with others who have a similar interest, and engage in a valuable  and important way with your local school community. 
 What  are the three core functions of the governing board?
  • 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.
What are its working arrangements?
The full governing board  usually meets five times a year. In between these meetings, two committees, the Resources and the Teaching and Learning Committees, meet four or five times a year. There are also lead governors for specific areas, such as for  Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) or pupil premium pupils. 
What do the committees and lead governors do?
The  work of the Resources Committee covers the school budget, Health and Safety,  staffing and personnel matters and the school site. The  Chair of this committee is Rob Hill. 

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 Co-Vice Chairs are Mike Waterson and Robert Hill. They hold office for two years.


How can I contact the Chair of governors?


 You can email the Chair at chair@the-grove-primary.devon.sch.uk

If you'd like to become a part of our team,  please email Ian, the Chair. We would love to hear from you. 



Meet the Governors
There are 9 governors on the governing board (currently there is one vacancy) They have been appointed or elected for terms of 4 years. 
Ian Stewart -  Chair of Governors (co-opted governor)

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 - co Vice-Chair (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 Vice-Chair (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.



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.  



Jo Counter (Staff governor)


I am excited to be joining The Grove School Governing Body as the staff governor, from September 2023. I have previous experience of being a governor at 2 other collaborating, local primary schools and also acted as a charity trustee for 7 years.

I have always lived and studied in Devon.  I am a qualified teacher and am passionate about early years’ education and inclusion and provision for pupils with additional needs, particularly children who have experienced trauma.

I am a Mum who enjoys an active lifestyle through weekend hikes and a routine of exercise classes.

                                                                           Richard Gibbon (parent Governor)

I am a parent of one (soon to be two) children at The Grove School.  As well as playing an important role in my, and other, children’s education, the school is a huge part of the local community. I’m excited to be a part of the continued growth and development of The Grove and understand the benefits a strong and engaged board of governors can provide.

Whist not coming from an education background, I hope that my experience leading and working within large multidisciplinary teams and my interest in extra-curricular activities and a rounded education can enhance the support the governors can offer the school.

I know that I’m only one person, but as a parent governor I’m keen to represent the breadth of experience that the parent community has to offer in this role so please feel free to grab me for a chat if you’d like to discuss any part of school life.


1 vacancy (co-opted governor)

FGB Meetings 
Please click on the links below for the meeting minutes
Teaching and Learning committee meetings 
Resources committee meetings