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C of E Primary School

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Welcome to our Governors’ section. 

Please find below details of how our Governing body is structured, including the names, categories, responsibilities and terms of appointment for each Governor.

Our Governors come from a range of backgrounds, and bring different areas of expertise to the school.  Governors contribute to ensuring high standards of achievement for all children in the school by:


  • setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  •  holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils;
  • overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.


A Governor’s role is to support and challenge the senior staff to continue to improve the school.  It is largely a thinking and questioning role and Governors are not there to manage the school or do the jobs of school staff.  Governors fulfil their role by regularly attending Governing Body meetings, providing strategic guidance and by asking probing and challenging questions of leaders within the school.  They also undertake visits, serve on relevant committees and oversee the Headteacher’s performance management.


Governing Body Pen Portraits

Mrs Faith Spinlove (Chair of Governors)
Committees: Resources, Curriculum and Pupil Matters, Pay Committee & Performance Management of Head Teacher
My father was in the armed forces so I spent my formative years living and being educated abroad, mostly in International schools. This has given me a grounded outlook on life and a broad understanding of education.
Both my daughters, Kyra and Eryn, attended Heathlands School, where they gained the best grounding and experience to set them on their future successful pathways. 
My professional career in education, teaching in both Suffolk and Essex within the 11-18 age range, has given me experience at all levels of leadership and management, culminating in a Headship at a troubled school. Although my specialism are in science and physical education, I have also been involved in a variety of initiatives at local and county level both leading, mentoring and advising. I set up a programme providing an innovative curriculum for disaffected children which saw them achieve success in their GCSE’s, well above previous expectations. 
I have been a county and national player in Netball and represented Colchester in a number of other sports.  At one time I chaired the netball league at a time of great change.  I have been instrumental in the development of GCSE Physical Education as both Principal Examiner for EDEXCEL and consultant examiner for OCR.
I am happily retired and can enjoy time with my grandson.  In addition to staying fit and healthy, I am able to pursue my love of singing and now have time for extended travel where I can combine my increasing knowledge of photography with seeing the world.  
I particularly enjoy the experience of being a governor.  I was initially elected as a parent governor in 1994, and was subsequently appointed by the Local Authority.  I have been privileged to be Chair of Governors since 1996.  I am extremely proud to be working with a committed, collaborative team of governors, staff and parents in the continual quest for Heathlands to be ‘the best’


Mr James Saunders (Vice-Chair & Chair of Curriculum & Pupil Matters)
Committees: Curriculum and Pupil Matters, Pay Committee & Performance Management of Head Teacher
I am Vice Chair of the Governing body. I Chair the curriculum, & pay & personnel committees, and am a member of the resources committee.
I have two boys: Theo in year 4 and Heath in reception.  I enjoy visiting museums and Aquariums with the boys, building things with Lego and trying to keep up in Minecraft.
My professional background is education. I am currently Vice Principal of a large secondary school in north Essex and director of an Essex teaching school. Much of my work is outward facing and involves working with other schools to effect system wide improvement.  I am also part of a national school’s network and run a school improvement cluster of primary schools throughout the tending district; I also peer review schools nationally.  After a short career in music and digital design, I trained as a teacher and have experienced most age groups over my career; I love teaching Computing and Photography. I have established many projects to raise aspiration for disadvantaged children, and have supported countless students to gain access to the top universities in the country.  I have trained as a Google certified innovator & teacher, and am one of around 1000 innovators globally who have been selected & trained by Google in the last ten years to represent the education arm of the company.  I have just been appointed as the new Headteacher of Honywood Community Science School, Coggeshall and will take up the post in April 2018.‚Äč
Outside of work I am the Chair of trustees and designated safeguarding officer for The Art Ministry: a small charity in south Essex that provides art & craft activities to raise self-esteem & boost confidence for children and adults with learning disabilities, visual impairments and dementia.  I have also recently joined the board of a multi academy trust group of primary schools in Essex.  I am a keen academic & have published several papers online & through journals; most notably, I am known for my work regarding digital inequality, which has been widely disseminated globally through several networks. I am also a member of the Research Ethics Committee of University College London (UCL), a fellow of the Royal Society for Arts Manufactures and Commerce and a founding member of the Chartered College of Teaching. In between these activities I enjoy writing my blog, which combines my critical observations of education with my love for film.  I am currently trying to juggle these commitments to make time to set up a not-for-profit charitable organisation to promote the advancement of education, in particular by seeking to close the attainment gap for disadvantaged children from single parent families; and create lifelong learning opportunities through intergenerational learning for retired males. 


Rev Amanda Elmes (Foundation Ex-Officio)
Committees: FGB
I qualified as a dentist in 1976, and after working in Cheltenham, my husband and I set up the Dental Practice on Mersea Island, in 1981. During that time I worked with the children and young people in the church on Mersea Island. In 1995 I trained to be a forensic dentist, as well, and was involved in the interface between dentistry and the law, undertaking identification and legal cases.  My doctorate research was into the date of emergence of the permanent teeth of British children.  Theses dates are an aid to identification and give a guide to the health of the children at the turn of the Millennium.
After being a Reader in the Church of England for 12 years I was ordained in 2008.  In 2013 I retired from clinical dentistry and applied for my current post, as the Priest in Charge of West Bergholt, Great Horkesley and Langham with Boxted.  Because of my post, I am a Foundation Ex-Officio Governor of Heathlands, Voluntary Controlled Church of England School.  Whilst I had not had any experience of primary education before this post, I have been able to bring many of the other life-skills which I gained though treating patients and running a business, to the governing body. I thoroughly enjoy being in school, whether it is to lead an act of worship, act in a pastoral capacity or to meet with the Governing Body.  


Mrs Gemma Ross (Foundation)
Committees: Curriculum and Pupil Matters
I have lived in West Bergholt since 2005 and my professional career is based within the commercial business sector.  I have been a volunteer First Responder and am active in working with the Parish Council on tackling some of the road safety issues we have in the village. I was part of the Baby and Toddler Group committee for several years and was Chair Person for eighteen months.  I have also been active in several projects led by St Mary’s Church; “Wired” youth group, the school holiday club which was run by the Church and several other projects including leading “Kids Church”.

Visitors often say that we have a very special community spirit in this village and I tend to agree, it’s wonderful to be able to support Heathlands School and St Mary’s Church as two central parts of this.  Although I have no background in education I truly believe that every child should be given the opportunity to reach their potential and young people should feel valued within our society.  As a relatively new Christian (Baptised in 2015) and with two children at Heathlands I am keen to support the inclusive nature of the school in giving all the pupils, staff and families a stimulating and welcoming view of the Church of England and to "serve equally those of all faiths and none.”

My husband and I jointly enjoy our allotment, I am very interested in promoting ecological issues and I love history and music.  I like jogging (slowly) and leisurely bike rides which helps because food and drink are also huge interests of mine!


Mrs Pat Kinzett (Foundation)
Committees: Resources
I moved to West Bergholt at the end of 2015 to be nearer to my family, after living in the London Borough of Havering for over 40 years.  I was welcomed into the family of St Mary’s Church and became PCC Secretary.  For over 25 years I worked in Administration in 2 Havering Schools, and my role evolved into Finance Officer and PA to the Headteacher, a job I thoroughly enjoyed.  I also served on the School’s Governing Body.   When the opportunity arose to join Heathlands Governing Body I was delighted to take this up.
I enjoy spending time with my 2 sons and their families and my 6 grandchildren, ranging from 2 years to 20 years.   I also enjoy reading, going to the theatre and travelling.


Mr Ian Stokes (Parent)
Committees: Curriculum and Pupil Matters
I joined the governing body in October 2017, as a parent governor.  I take a keen interest in the effective governance of Heathlands School as I have two children who have recently joined.  Charlotte is in year 5, and Zachary is in Year 2. 
My professional background is varied and I have changed career a number of times in the last 20 years.  I started my working career working in publishing working as a graphic designer for Lonely Planet Guide books, before re-training to be a quantity surveyor.  I professionally qualified as a chartered quantity surveyor in 2007 and subsequently progressed my career working for a large construction company in London where I worked in a number of different construction sectors including education; and on a number of occasions I have worked on the refurbishment and construction of new schools.  In 2015 I completed a masters in Construction Law, and recently I began working for a consultancy that specialise in providing expert witness on major international construction disputes.   
I have taken this opportunity to become involved as a governor at Heathlands School as I hope it will enable me to add some positive value with the experience that I have.  I hope that I can assist the school to continue to be a happy, vibrant and successful place for not only my children, but for all children within the Heathlands School community, and that they van have the chance to thrive and enjoy their school experience.


Mrs Elizabeth Owers (Parent)
Committees:  Resources Committee (Vice Chair), Pay Committee & Performance Management of Head Teacher
I joined the Governing body in February 2016 as an associate governor and was subsequently elected as parent governor in September 2016.  I am a parent of Thomas in year 4 and Jessica in year 1. 

Within my role as Group HR Director for Eurobase Systems Limited, I am a member of the Group Board and have responsibility for HR with a particular focus on organisation development and talent management.  I am able to bring a range of skills and experience to the school in relation to HR, Mediation and H&S as I am a Chartered Fellow of CIPD, ACAS accredited internal workplace mediator, MHFA England Mental Health First Aider and have completed IOSH Managing Safely training.

In previous roles I have advised and supported independent schools and an authority directly with HR matters including safer recruitment and HR casework with child protection related issues.

Outside work, I enjoy running to keep fit and spending time with my family


Mr Harry Stone (Associate)
Committees: Curriculum and Pupil Matters
I have lived in West Bergholt for over forty years and both my sons attended Heathlands School in the 1970s.  All my career has been in teaching in a range of secondary schools in the East of England.  Having graduated from Hull university I trained as a mathematics teacher at Nottingham university and began teaching at Wymondham College in Norfolk in 1964.  When I moved with my family to the Colchester area in 1976 I was Deputy Head at Thomas Lord Audley school before becoming the Head of a secondary school in Ipswich for sixteen years. Before retirement I worked as an Adviser for Suffolk County Council.  Since retirement I have been privileged to become involved in a range of village activities from chairing the Care Network to establishing the Youth Group (BYG).  I have been a member of the Parish Council for eight years and Vice Chairman for the last three.  I love this village and care deeply about its young people.


Miss Emily Farrow (Associate)
Committees: Resources

I am a teacher at the primary school; Lead for Curriculum, Assessment and Standards and am currently Acting Assistant Head Teacher, currently working within the Junior department. I joined the governing body in September 2016 and have been on both committees. I have a first class honours degree in Psychology from Essex and have a great passion for Psychology. After completing my Psychology degree, I then completed a one year SCITT programme to gain my teaching qualification, with a SEND specialism. As part of the teacher training I was based at Heathlands Primary School. I love teaching art and English and my passion is to support children who have barriers to their education and allow all children to flourish and enjoy learning. To explore this further, I will be completing the National Award for SEN Coordination in 20-21. As I work within the school, I have a comprehensive understanding of the staff and pupils and the general day to day life at Heathlands. I really enjoy my role as a governor as it allows me to support the school from a different stand point and strive to make the school as successful as possible.

Mrs Val Walsom (Associate)
Committees: Resources, Curriculum and Pupil Matters Committee

I have been the School Business Manager at Heathlands for over 25 years. My daughters both attended the school as did I for my final primary school year. My main responsibility is to produce and manage the school budget, manage the school office as well as HR, safeguarding and Health and Safety I am proud to have had such a long association with this school and of its achievements over the years.

In my other life I have 4 grandsons who take up a fair amount of my free time, I enjoy walking, Pilates, cycling, eating out, weekends in my very old campervan and gardening!

Mrs Laura Benns (Associate)
Committees: Resources

I joined Heathlands Primary School in September 2020 as joint Business Manager with Mrs Walsom.  Prior to that, I worked at Bures Primary School, a role which I held for almost 10 years.  I have experience of clerking governing body meetings and of school governance procedures and hope to bring these skills to my role as governor at Heathlands.

Mrs Shelley Cumbers (Parent)
Committees: Curriculum and Pupil Matters Committee

I was appointed as a parent governor at Heathlands in November 2019.


As a West Bergholt resident and parent of two young boys, the eldest of whom attends Heathlands, I am eager to help support the work and vision of the school and the vital role it plays in the local community.


I am an experienced solicitor working in Colchester for a highly regarded and long-established law firm. My role involves providing expert and specialist advice and guidance to a wide range of clients in respect of Divorce and Family Law matters. Prior to this, I have worked as a solicitor both in Colchester and in London.  The skills I have gained in my personal and professional life will, I hope, enable me to make a positive contribution to the governance of the school and to support the hardworking and excellent teachers and staff we have at Heathlands.


Outside of work, I enjoy keeping fit including HIIT training and running, as well as spending quality time with family and friends. I am also Fixtures Secretary for the Bergholt Heath Youth Football Club managing the league fixtures and cup competitions, and can be found on the touchline most weekends, come rain or shine.

Mrs Carlene Thompson (Parent)

Mr Tom Hassard (Staff)
Committees: Resources


Mrs Melanie Cork (Acting Headteacher & Associate)
Committees: Resources and Curriculum and Pupil Matters

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