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School governor profiles

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Liz Barnes, Senior Lecturer in the School of Materials

Liz Barnes, Senior Lecturer in the School of Materials, was appointed as a local authority governor at Monton Green Primary, Salford, a year ago, but is now a community governor following a change to the structure of the board of governors.

As a member of the governing body, Liz shares ultimate responsibility for Monton Green’s budget. She also serves on the committee which sets the head teacher’s pay and reward, and on a special interest group which is reviewing school dinners.

Being a governor has increased her awareness and understanding of the education system and the challenges that it faces. Liz sees at first hand the impact of government policy and changes in local authority funding. She has been able to make the school aware of funding opportunities which it might otherwise have overlooked.

She said: “I derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from being a governor. I’m very encouraged by the standard that Monton Green gets it pupils to and I think primary education as a whole is excellent.”

Rachel Brealey, Head of Faculty Administration in Engineering and Physical Science

Rachel Brealey, Head of Faculty Administration in Engineering and Physical Science, has been a local authority governor at Chapel Street Primary in Levenshulme since May 2011 and has chaired the governing body since September 2012.

Rachel is passionate about education and schools, especially science and engineering, and she is committed to helping Chapel Street to improve its performance in maths and science, which was below the national average when she became a governor.

She is keen to establish links between the children’s interests and University expertise and has worked with the school’s Science Coordinator on innovative ways of engaging the children in science: a Science Week in 2012 offered pupils hands-on experience and opportunities to meet our scientists.

Rachel says that one of her most important functions as a governor is to take an interest in how the school is performing without the emotional investment of a parent or the day-to-day involvement of a teacher: “I can step back and take a view about what is right for the school.”

Faculty of Humanities

Andy Richardson, Senior Learning Technologist, Manchester Business School

Andy Richardson, Senior Learning Technologist, Manchester Business School, is Chair of the Board of Governors at Templemoor Infants’ School, Sale, where he was appointed originally as a parent governor then later as a community governor. He is also a local authority governor at St Anne’s Primary School, Sale.


Andy has been particularly keen to help introduce practical uses of learning technologies into the primary curriculum. At Templemoor, as a result of his encouragement, iPads, WiFi enhancements, eBooks and use of educational apps like 'Sock Puppet' (for creative story telling and role-play), are now part of everyday school life.

These initiatives have had the enthusiastic support of the teaching staff, senior management and governing board with a common goal of applying innovation with technology in the classroom.

Of Templemoor, Andy says “It is a very creative, forward-thinking and fun school, where the children do very well – and which has been judged to be outstanding at its last two OFSTED inspections.”

During Andy’s time at Templemoor, the school’s governance structure has been radically simplified to the Board with a strategic role and two committees. He says: “Being Chair given me valuable insights into strategic decision-making and its long-term impacts - and having ‘school governor’ on my CV certainly provided a point of discussion during the interview for my current job.”

Faculty of Life Sciences

Chris Trask, Head of Finance in the Faculty of Life Sciences

Chris Trask, Head of Finance in the Faculty of Life Sciences, has been a parent governor at Hursthead Primary School, Cheadle Hulme, for three years.

Chris regards his involvement in the construction of a new brick extension to the main school building as the high point of his governorship. The new building replaced separate ‘temporary’ classrooms put up in 1974; its construction allows pupils to move to other parts of the school without going outside and has also resulted in reduced heating bills.

Another major ongoing project to which he has contributed is an investigation into the opportunity for Hursthead to become an Academy.

Recruited to the University from industry, Chris feels that his experience as a school governor has been of value in broadening his experience of the education sector.

Although Chris has enjoyed his time at Hursthead, when his term as a governor comes to an end in a year’s time, he doesn’t plan to stay on. He explained: “The school was judged to be outstanding at its most recent OFSTED inspection and I don’t feel they need me. I’m planning to work with UMSGI to identify another school where I can make more of a difference – probably somewhere closer to the city and to the University.”

Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences

Sue Astley, Reader in the Institute of Population Health

Sue Astley, Reader in the Institute of Population Health, is a foundation governor at Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College, Altrincham. She is also a community governor at Tyntesfield Primary School in Sale.

Sue’s special interest is curriculum and she chairs the curriculum committee at Blessed Thomas Holford. As a committee chair, she sits on the headmaster’s advisory group and contributes to decisions which have a strategic impact on the school. She is also a member of the pupil welfare committee.

She is able to act as a bridge between the school and the University, conducting mock interviews with pupils who want to be scientists and medics, and drawing the school’s attention to activities which the University runs for school children.

Sue finds that her experience as a school governor gives her a greater understanding of younger students and interviewees for University places.

She said: “I feel that I’ve made my biggest contribution to Blessed Thomas Holford through policy preparation and revision. For example, the school has recently established a sixth form and I’ve been involved in developing policies for new admissions and for movement between the lower and upper sixth.”

Jo Hart, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Medical School, has been a community governor at Old Moat Primary School in Withington for one year.

As a member of Old Moat’s curriculum committee and its data governance group, Jo monitors all performance measures.

She says that one of her major strengths is her ability to penetrate tables and graphs and detect trends and patterns, for example, pinpointing particular groups of children who are under-performing.

Jo is then able to challenge the School’s leadership team about her observations and question what is going on. “I’ve brought things to their attention that had previously gone unnoticed.”

She said; “Seeing the effects of policies and decisions to which I’ve contributed is very satisfying, and I really feel part of the local community now.”

Professional Support Services

Gerry Bell, International Students Officer

Gerry Bell, International Students Officer, in the Directorate for the Student Experience, has been a foundation governor since 2000 at Barlow RC High School in Didsbury.

As a foundation governor, Gerry contributes to shaping the ethos of Barlow RC. She has been involved in selecting a new headteacher, sits on interview panels for new teachers and has served on the main working committees.

Since her own children left the school four or five years ago, she has been able to take part in disciplinary panels which interview pupils whose behaviour is causing concern and issue warnings or, in extreme cases, exclude pupils from the school.

Gerry feels that one of her main contributions has been the establishment of a pastoral, welfare and ethics committee, which has given the pupils a voice in the running of their school.

She said: “Teenagers have an awareness of politics which is not always recognised and they can become very frustrated with the very one-sided, didactic and old-fashioned approach to teaching to be found in many schools.”

Patricia Clift Martin, Teaching and Learning Manager, Teaching and Learning Support Office

Patricia Clift Martin, Teaching and Learning Manager, Teaching and Learning Support Office, has recently stepped down after four years as a partnership governor at Stretford High School.

Patricia provided guidance and expertise in shaping governance practices and processes and helped to make the governing body more effective. She also advised and supported the school’s recruitment strategies and panels.

During Patricia’s governorship, Stretford High successfully fought off an Academy bid, which required a very heavy time commitment from the governors.

She said: “We opposed the bid because it wasn’t right for the community, the students or the staff. It was a difficult but satisfying process, and we eventually received validation from the Schools Adjudicator.”

Headteacher James Haseldine said: “Patricia’s presence on our governing body has enabled our link with the University to blossom.

“Her involvement demonstrates that the University and its staff are committed to making a real difference to the lives of young people whose families have never been to university or who, statistically, have a reduced chance because of where they live or which school they attend.”