Derwent Lower School

Derwent Lower Eagle

Derwent Lower School

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Welcome to the Governors Page

I am Gavin Coombs and I am the Chair of Governors here at Derwent Lower School, I am extremely lucky to be the chair of such a friendly and caring school.

As a governing body we agreed that we should communicate more with the school community. As a result, we have decided to produce a governors’ newsletter which is given to all staff, parents and carers regularly giving information and updates on the work of your governors at the school.

Many people work hard to provide your children with the best educational environment possible to allow them enjoy learning and achieve their full potential. Whilst teachers and other staff make themselves available for a chat, you might not get a chance to meet the school governors, so we would like to tell you a bit about ourselves.

We are formed from the local community; on the governing body there are parents, staff, a councillor, members of the community and the Headteacher. All of us want to make a positive contribution to your child’s education here at Derwent Lower School.

What is the role of the Governing Body?

The Governing Body plays an essential part in raising school standards. Ofsted (the
governments monitoring body for schools) notes that the most effective schools demonstrate excellent leadership and management and that includes the governing body.

The role of our governing body is a strategic one. We operate and make decisions as a group, no one governor has the power to make decisions. We have three important roles to play: -

  • Setting the strategic direction— we are involved in setting the aims and objectives for the school and the policies and procedures needed to achieve them.
  • Ensuring accountability—we monitor and evaluate the progress the school is making against its objectives. We also monitor the budget.
  • Acting as a critical friend—we provide support and challenge to the head teacher and teaching staff.

Governors at Derwent Lower School adhere to a code of conduct that is set out in the document below:

Derwent governors code of conduct 

How do we do this?

We currently hold six full governors’ meeting per year (two per term) which every governor attends. We also have sub committees which meet during the year:

Achievement, standards and community- covering all aspects of learning, teaching, the curriculum and emotional wellbeing as well as our links with parents and the wider community.

People and Resources - covering all aspects of property management, Health and Safety and finance management as well as recruitment, performance and staff pay.


Governors’ meetings include a variety of the following:

•  Updates from the head teacher on all aspects of the school from pupil performance through to budget management

•  Briefings / updates from the subject leaders on their particular curriculum area

•  The opportunity to challenge and ask questions about the running of the school

•  The chance to thank staff and congratulate them on successes

•  Discussion of particular problems / issues arising in the school and how they can be resolved efficiently and effectively

•  Debate about how best to spend particular parts of the school budget

•  Approval of the school policies and procedures.


Minutes from the Derwent Lower School governor meetings are available upon request from the school office.

School Visits

We hold a governors’ monitoring week three times a year, in which we may talk to staff and pupils, look at pupils’ work and visit a number of classes and lessons. This allows us to check how well the school is doing towards achieving the priorities in the school improvement plan. In the past our monitoring has included the PE syllabus, Reading and Literacy and pupils’ views on the newly introduced Home-School Link Book.

We all enjoy visiting the school and finding out from the children what they are learning, what they are finding difficult and the progress they feel they are making.

Our impact

The impact of the actions of the governing body are summarised in the report below:


How many governors are there at Derwent Lower School?

There are 9 Governors and a Clerk, these are:-

2x Parent Governors

1x Staff Governor

1x Associate Governor

4x Co-opted Governors

1x Partnership Governor

1x Vice Chair

1x Chair 


The Governors, their positions of responsibility and declarations of interest are in the documents below.

Derwent Lower School Governing Body


Code of Conduct

Roles and Responsibilities

Governor Information



 Page being updated: January 2019


Gavin Coombs

Chair of Governors

Full Governing Body (Chair)

People and Resources Committee

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

Headteacher Appraisal Group

I am proud to be the Chair of Governors for Derwent Lower School.  I have two children at Derwent and they are both benefiting from a superb education.  I feel privileged to be in a position where I can help the school deliver an outstanding education for all our children.  I have substantial experience in Local Government with many years as a senior manager with responsibility for Facilities, Property Management and Health and Safety.

During my time as a governor the school has significantly changed, we have made Derwent a school of choice.  In the last 18 months we have started a Breakfast and Afterschool Club as well as creating a successful Holiday Club.

I am passionate about Derwent and have the drive to ensure our school moves from a good to outstanding OFSTED rating.


Dee Perkins

Vice Chair



Full Governing Body

People and Resources Commitee

Headteacher Appraisal Group

As a co-opted governor I am the Vice-Chair of governors and the Chair of the People & Resources committee.  I have worked within law enforcement for 21 years and am currently working within safeguarding - protecting vulnerable children.  I have a son attending Derwent School in reception class.  I became a governor to assist and contribute to Derwent Lower's continued development and future vision.


Leah McDermott

Partnership Governor


Full Governing Body

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

Safeguarding Governor

I have been a Governor at Derwent for the last 2 years which has seen me take on the role of the Safeguarding Governor.
I have worked for the emergency services for the last 23 years which has given me a wealth of experience in safeguarding and has greatly assisted me in my role at the school.
My twin girls aged 8 attend the school, so I am hugely passionate about securing the future of the school and making it a safe and comfortable environment to enrich their learning experience.
I am dedicated to the continued improvements that we make at the school to ensure it is a school parents choose to send their children to and giving parents the support they need to juggle their home and work life balance.

Sarah Tuckwell

Co-opted Governor

Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

Headteacher Appraisal Group

Having served 29 years in the RAF Regulars, I transferred to the RAF Reserves to take up the role of RAF Henlow Services Community Support Officer and was invited to join the Governing Body as a co-opted governor.  Arriving at RAF Henlow in February 2002, my children Abigail and Katie attended Derwent Lower School and received a sound foundation on which to build and learn.  Abigail is currently studying for a BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation, whilst Katie is studying for an extended diploma in Animal Management.  I was extremely grateful to the school for the positive support given to Katie during my deployment to Iraq in 2005 and am pleased to accept the opportunity to be a governor.


Caroline Coombs

Parent Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

People & Resources Committee

I have been a Parent Governor since 2013 and am delighted to have been re-elected for a second term.  I have two children at Derwent, one in Owls Class and the other in Foxes.  I am the manager of the Schools Library Service and Bookstart for both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils.  I regularly work with and visit schools and have a good knowledge of the curriculum.  I have understand how schools operate and what is needed to improve our OFSTED rating from good to outstanding.  I am a chartered librarian and specialise in working with children's books.  For the majority of my career I have promoted reading, books and libraries to children.  For 3 years up to September 2016 I was the Chair of the PTA.


I am committed to ensuring the School and Governors provide an excellent education for all the children at Derwent.  I have a special interest in the Pupil Premium children and support the school to ensure the money is spent for the best interests of the children.

James Adkins (ex officio)


Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

Councillor Rita Drinkwater

Associate Governor

Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

Rita was a Councillor for 11 years before retiring.  She represented the ward of Arlesey in Central Bedfordshire. She was the Chairman of the Social Care, Health and Housing Overview and Scrutiny committee, Vice Chairman on a Joint Health committee with Bedford Borough Council and representative on the Central Bedfordshire Council on the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority. She is a member on the Aragon Housing Association Board. Rita takes a keen interest in supporting the local community and has always found the role very rewarding.  As well as being a School Governor at Derwent Lower School, Rita is currently a School Governor at the Academy of Bedfordshire.

Suzanne Newman

Clerk to the Governors

Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

Kedric Winks

Co-opted Governor

Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

I am the proud father of three children, two of whom are pupils at Derwent.  An avid student of Intercultural Communication, I attend Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge taking a Master's degree in the subject. I am an advocate of children with special education needs and I work for Autism Bedfordshire on a voluntary basis.  In my spare time I enjoy the chaos of family life and occasionally design and publish games.

Andrew Jackson

Co-opted Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievements, Standards and Community Committee

I am a secondary science teacher at Hitchin Girls' School with nearly two decades of experience within the Education sector.  During my career so far I have worked as both a  pastoral leader, a subject leader and my current role is in writing the timetable for, and managing the Human Resources, of the whole school.  I have written many educational resources which are in use across the country and was credited a TES award for "outstanding resource of the year" in 2011.


I have two daughters and my eldest joined Derwent in 2016.  I am committed to helping the school prosper and continue to improve and look forward to playing an active part in this journey.