Derwent Primary School

Derwent Lower School

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Welcome to the Governors Page

I am Caroline Coombs and I am the Chair of Governors here at Derwent Primary School, I am extremely lucky to be the chair of such a friendly and caring 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, members of the community and the Headteacher. All of us want to make a positive contribution to your child’s education here at Derwent Primary 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.


How do we do this?

We currently hold six full governors’ meeting per year (two per term) which every governor attends. We also have a sub committee 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.


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 Primary School governor meetings are available upon request from the school office.

School Visits

Governors monitor the school across the year. 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:

Governors Annual Statement and Impact Report 2020

How many governors are there at Derwent Primary School?

There are 12 Governor positions and 1 clerk. The Governor Body is made up of the following: 

2x Parent Governors

5x Co-opted Governors

2x Associate Governors

1x Partnership Governors

x1 Staff Governor

x1 Executive Headteacher (ex officio)

x1 Clerk 


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

Code of Conduct

Governor Information including Roles and Responsibilities


Caroline Coombs

Chair of Governors

Co-opted Governors

Full Governing Body (Chair)

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

Headteachers Appraisal Group

I was a Parent Governor from 2013 to 2019 before being chosen to be a co-opted governor. I have had two children at Derwent.  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 Schools and Governors provide an excellent education for all the children at Derwent and Southill.  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

Robin Welsford                            Full Governing Body (Vice Chair)

Co-opted Governor                    H&S, Complaints, HT Performance Management, Member                                                              of ASC Committee

I quite recently retired from fulltime work as a Civil Engineer, although from time to time I still help out the firm I was employed by. For the last ten years I have been what we call a Lay Minister in the Church of England, so I help in taking services and in our Messy Church. I am also a member of the Chaplaincy team for Bedfordshire Police and Fire Services so provide support to the great officers and staff who work so hard to keep us safe and protected.


As a co-opted Governor I am keen to bring my experience from work and life to support both Derwent and Southill Schools in maintaining the brilliant work they do, but also challenge them always look for ways to provide an even better education for all children in both schools, because I believe every child deserves the very best.

Sarah Tuckwell

Partnership Governor

Full Governing Body

Headteacher Appraisal Group

Having served 34 years as an RAF Regular and latterly as a full-time RAF Reserve in the role Services Community Support Officer at RAF Henlow, I joined the governing body in September 2014 as a Co-Opted  Governor to provide a link between the school and the Service community.


Both of my children, Abigail and Katie, attended Derwent Primary School. Both have gone on to achieve 2:1 degrees in Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation and Animal Management respectively. I feel their achievements have been underpinned by the educational foundations laid whilst at Derwent.


I am keen to see Derwent and Southill Schools support parents, both Service and civilian, and meet the demands of today's society by ensuring the wraparound care and holiday provision is accessible and affordable.

Caren Topley

Co-opted Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee


As the Vicar of All Saints Church Southill, I was asked to be a Governor of Southill Lower School and later co-opted to be a governor for the Derwent and Southill Federation. Both schools are warm and welcoming and I love taking assemblies. Southill School uses the church for its big celebrations at Easter, Harvest and Christmas. As a former RE teacher I support and endorse the values that are taught in both schools. These values shape the children’s lives and give them a firm foundation to help them make sensible choices for themselves and others. It is a privilege to serve these schools.

Polly Mead

Associate Governor

Full Governing Body

(No voting rights)

I have been involved with Derwent Primary School for almost a decade, first as a Parent Governor and now as an Associate Member of the Governing Body. I am a Senior Associate Solicitor at Tees Law and practice head of Education Law.  I have extensive experience representing schools to meet the day to day challenges they face in the fast paced world of education  and representing parents of children with special educational needs.  This includes but is not limited to cases appealing provision and setting in the SEND tribunal.   I am a member of the Education Law Association and a regular contributor of articles to an education and family centre publication in Essex as well as offering legal support to a number of SEND charities. I have delivered training to schools, local authorities, and parents in relation to Special Educational Needs and law in practice. When I do get some 'down time' it largely centres around the differing needs of my toddler and my teenager.  I enjoy playing the piano and I have recently taken up tap dancing again - something which I have not done since a child!

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

(No voting rights)

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.

Tim Mills

Parent Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

I have two children at Southill Lower School and I have been involved in schools for the past 20 years, particularly in physical activity and the performing arts as well as well-being.


In my role as governor I want to help the federation thrive by utilising benefits from both schools.  I believe that all children to receive the best start in life when they experience a well-rounded curriculum.  I firmly believe in a holistic approach to learning to get the best out of the children. Primary schools should be fun, welcoming places where children can express themselves and grow.  I feel that the core values and staff of the federation provide the opportunity for this belief to be realised.

Naomi Izzard

Parent Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

First and foremost, I am a parent of three children at Southill Lower School. I also work part time as a Podiatrist privately and I have also worked for the NHS for six years.  I am also a Sunday school teacher which I really enjoy!  Prior to being a Derwent and Southill Federation governor, I was a governor from July 2018 to April 2019 for Southill's previous federation.  I have completed training to help me be a more effective governor!  I love this role and my passion is to make sure that every  child has the best opportunity provided for them to develop and achieve their goals.

Sarah Sinclair

Co-opted Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievements, Standards and Community Committee

I am currently 2nd in English, as well as leading on Teaching and Learning through the Professional Learning Hub at Hitchin Girls' School. In my 10 years of teaching I have experience in both primary and secondary school education. I am a huge supporter of the arts, teacher development and pedagogy. My son attends Derwent Primary School and is currently enjoying life in Year 3.

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 at Derwent.  I am committed to helping both Derwent Primary and Southill Lower Schools prosper and continue to improve. I look forward to playing an active part in this journey.

Karolina Piera-Harris                     Full Governing Body

Staff Governor


I have had the privilege of working for Derwent Primary School for five years and Southill Lower School for two years. During my time at both schools I have gained a vast knowledge and experience of the children, our schools and their needs.

My roles as an assistant head and as a class teacher have included working in EYFS and KS1, and working in the special educational needs and behaviour department.

I hope my knowledge, experience and passion for education will put me in a good stead to ensure that the provision and education across the federation is outstanding allowing every child to reach their full potential. 


Page Updated: February 2022