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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’


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!


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 (Co-opted)
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 have subsequently served as a parent and co-opted governor.  

I have 20 years of HR and leadership experience and I 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, volunteering regularly as a run leader for the Running Colchester community.


Mrs Catherine Streatfield (Co-opted)

Committees: Resources (Vice-chair), Pay Committee

I joined the Governing Body in September 2021. My husband, Rick, worked at Heathlands from 2014 until November 2021, both as Learning Support and laterly covering Site Management.

I am now semi-retired, but my professional life was as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Accountants, working largely in Financial Services. During my career I have covered most financial back-office processes, management accounting and budgeting, and specialised in finance project management and process improvement.

I now work on a casual basis as an exam invigilator for Colchester Academy.

My hobbies are photography, baking and sewing. I am a member of the Orpen Players, working backstage on costume and props.


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)
Committees: Curriculum


I have lived in Colchester since studying Biological Sciences at the University of Essex and have settled here with my husband Phil and our two sons, Oscar and George. My personal collaboration with the school began ahead of our eldest starting in 2018, as he (along with his younger brother) required additional support to settle in to school on account of additional needs. I have always been impressed by the dedication the Heathlands team have shown to my boys, which ultimately resulted in my application and appointment as a Parent Governor in December 2020. I am keen to ensure that inclusion and opportunities for all children continues to be high up in the schools list of priorities.


Being a parent to children with additional needs makes you acutely aware of the necessity to be the parent they need you to be. I have become adept at liaising with a myriad of medical professionals and Local Authority representatives. I have taken a number of parenting courses, including the IPSEA Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Law course so that I have all the knowledge available to me to best advocate for my children, and it is these skills in advocacy that I bring to the role of Parent Governor. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn and thrive.


I have extensive experience in Project Management within Medical Education, and Health and Social Care for adults with learning difficulties and mental health conditions. This has given me valuable skills in communication, budget and resource management.


In my spare time, I am a self-taught sewist with a keen interest in learning dressmaking skills and I enjoy Pilates and alternative music

Mr Tom Hassard (Staff)
Committees: Resources


Mr Joseph Fielder (Headteacher & Associate)
Committees: Resources and Curriculum and Pupil Matters


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

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