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Governors

Contact: governor@thewellsfreeschool.co.uk

The Wells Free School Board of Governors

Each of our governors brings some form of specific expertise to the Governing Body. Some formed part of the original school proposer team and others have joined us since the school opened in September 2013. All governors take a passionate interest in the school and work in partnership with our talented and dedicated staff team to deliver the best possible educational experience for the children at The Wells Free School.

Name

Steven George

Role

Parent Governor

Chair of Governors

Member of the Business Management Committee

 

I am one of two parents on the governing body. I was elected at the beginning of 2015, and it's a huge privilege to serve the school. I have 15 years of experience as a BBC journalist and I currently work for the National Association of Head Teachers, so I'm well connected and up to speed on education policy. I try to bring these skills to bear at governors meetings.

 

The Ofsted judgement of Good, shows that the school is doing some great things but there are also many challenges, so I'm committed to making sure that all our children get the best possible education during their time at The Wells.

I believe in supporting the leadership team to continue to do the great work they do, whilst always pushing them to go further.

 

We should all be very proud of the great partnership we have between the school, its parents and pupils. That is the foundation of everything the Wells school stands for. Please feel free to find me in the playground in the mornings.  

Name

Cari Reid

Cari Reid

Role

Member of the proposer group

Co-Chair of Teaching and Learning Committee

Parent

 

I am incredibly proud to have been involved from the very start of the creation of The Wells Free School.  I have a passion for education, and have taught in Tunbridge Wells for the past 12 years, completing my Masters Degree in education along the way.  It was this enthusiasm and experience which I brought to the pre-opening phase. 

 

It was not until I became a parent that I understood the dilemmas that can arise when trying to find the right school for your child.  I believe strongly in the advantages of a small, nurturing and creative school; it was this desire which caused me to start looking into the possibility of opening a free school, and this vision which fuelled the founders’ early plans.  I feel very fortunate that at TWFS we’ve been able to implement our goal of creating small class sizes, with all the benefits this can bring to our children.

 

I am delighted to continue my close involvement with the school in the role of Governor.  I am very proud of the school TWFS is growing to be, and I have enjoyed watching it develop.  The staff and Governors work tirelessly to provide an exciting and stimulating environment for the children, who respond with an enthusiastic and joyful approach to their learning. 

 

With the birth of my third child coming just weeks after the grand opening, I know that our family’s association with The Wells Free School will continue for at least another eleven years – it is with great anticipation I look forward to seeing how the school will develop in this time.

  

Name

Kate Burrows

Role

Staff Governor
Member of the Teaching and Learning Committee

 

Having been at the school since our opening year and taken on many   responsibilities, I would like to further develop my career and contribute to the wider running of the school.

As an experienced teacher, I am confident I can communicate the views of staff, give clear feedback from the classroom and encourage a positive staff/governor relationship. I feel communication at all levels is vital to ensuring the best provision for our children. 

  

Name

Orla Dobson

Orla Dobson

Role

Member of the Proposer Group

Vice-Chair of the Business Management Committee

 

After spending 15 years working in various roles in Corporate Banking and Asset Management in the City of London and then having had children I was lucky enough to find a more local role working for a bank that is dedicated to financing charitable organisations.  This gave me both additional time at home and also sparked an interest in getting more involved with my local community.  I have a particular interest in education and believe that a collaborative, supportive school environment can potentially have a huge impact on the aspirations, achievements and futures of young people.  

 

As a result, I applied to be a school governor back in 2012, but what I did not expect was the amazing opportunity that was offered to me to get involved in establishing and contributing to The Wells Free School.    

 

Name

Gavin Tyler


Role

Governor

Chair of the Business Management Committee

 

I joined the Governing Body having previously been a Governor at Whitehill Infants School in Crowborough some years ago.

I am a solicitor and the Managing Partner of Cripps LLP who are based in Tunbridge Wells and are one of the largest legal practices in the south East.  In 2016 my firm will be the new neighbours of the Free School as we are moving into the office building which is being constructed next door to our brand new school. 

I grew up in Tunbridge Wells and was educated at Skinners School.  I have very fond memories of my time there but more importantly it was an excellent school.  That is my aspiration for the Free School.  I hope that my business experience and involvement in the business community in Tunbridge Wells can assist in achieving this.  

 

Name

Jean-Pierre van der Spuy

Jean Pierre Van Der Spuy

Role

Parent Governor

Co-Chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee

 

I volunteered to become a Parent Governor as I am passionate about The Wells Free School fulfilling its potential to be a groundbreaking school that we can all be proud of. As The Wells Free School grows and develops, a discerning and practical parent’s perspective is vital to its success. Being open, collaborative and using the skills from my everyday work, I feel I am a useful voice on the governing body to ensure the ethos is upheld and our children receive an outstanding education.

 

I have never been a governor before, though the challenge of working as part of a team and learning about the ever changing education system has been very interesting thus far. I look forward to developing and gaining more skills as a governor and being part of a strong team as The Wells looks to its future. 

 

Name

Catherine Rankin

Role

Governor

Member of the Business Management Committee

 

 

Non-Governor Founder members

Name

Monica Pell

Role

Founder Member

Vice-Chair of Governors until January 2017

 

I joined the proposer group in January 2012, having retired from a career in education in 2010. I am able to work effectively as a member of a team and relished the opportunity to work with new people, with a common aim to improve the outcomes for children.

I enjoyed the challenge of being part of the development of The Wells Free School.  I look forward to seeing the school go from strength to strength.

Name

Marlene Lento

Role

Founder Member

Governor until January 2017

 

Helping to build strong communities with great local facilities has always been dear to my heart.  After years of lobbying KCC to provide more of the much needed primary school places in central Tunbridge Wells, I was excited to meet Cari Reed and Jude O’Connor, who had an educational vision for a neighbourhood school under the then new Free School programme. Together with a growing team of like-minded people, we met weekly around my dining room table for two years to make The Wells Free School a reality.

My role was to gather community support and to work out a property deal with Berkeley Homes and the Education Funding Agency that allowed developers’ contributions to education to be spent on site to build a brand new school, a model, which is now being followed across the country. I used my architectural and design background to help shape the building inside and out, to reflect the school’s unique ethos.  I’m very proud of our achievement and the message it sends to the children and the wider community: You really can make a difference!  

Name

Ann Hughes Wilson

Role

Founder Member in the Pre-Opening phase

 

My involvement began soon after the core founders had decided to make their dream a reality and work on submitting a pitch to open a new school. Many free schools had been stymied by finding and securing a site, and so as a chartered surveyor, my property experience complemented the formidable educational and financial talent on the team.

 

My main role during the pre-opening period was to search for suitable premises, negotiate with the parties involved in securing the site, most obviously the EFA and Berkeley Homes and to ensure that the legal documentation was something that the Founders were able to sign. I also helped on the marketing team and was able to provide a parents' perspective to some of the decisions being made in committee.

 

My ongoing role is to help out on the property side where I can.

Name

Bruce Taylor

Role

Founder Member in the Pre-Opening phase

 

I joined the proposer group very early on in the process, as I felt my background as a Chartered Accountant could be of use to the team.  I have also been a business mentor for the Princes Business Trust for the past twelve years, and I felt that I could use my experience to contribute to the creation of a lasting asset for my home town. 

 

I worked closely with the team from the start, developing the business model, forecasting the 5-year budget projections for the application process, answering challenging questions during our interview at the department for education, right up to the Grand Opening Ceremony. 

 

I handed over my role to the school’s appointed business manager on opening, and my ongoing interest now is watching the school flourish and grow in the years ahead.

Name

Jude O'Connor

Role

Founder Member

Inaugural Chair of Governors until March 2016

 

The Free School programme gives the most exciting opportunity for parents, teachers and other willing volunteers to come together to achieve the extraordinary for their community. It’s been an incredible journey and I consider myself very fortunate to have been involved from the start. I was Chair of the proposer group through the application, interview, pre-opening stages and later the Chair of Governors in the opening years.

I look forward to the seeing the school grow, flourish and achieve great things in the years to come.

Name

Robert (Bob) Atwood

Role

Founder Member and governor until October 2016

 

When Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, I heard about the proposal put forward by a small group of individuals to create a new school at the “top” of Tunbridge Wells, in order to fill a perceived urgent need. I was very impressed by the thought and care that this group had put into their idea at this very early stage, and I was delighted when they asked me to join them so that I could use my local knowledge and contacts to help in the process.

When the school opened in September 2013, I was pleased to be appointed a founder-governor and Chair of the school Business Management Committee, and in the last eight months or so before my retirement in October 2016, as Acting Chair of Governors pending the selection of a new permanent Chair.

I wish the school, with its unique family atmosphere and its encouragement of the love of learning, all possible continuing success in the future.