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 Governor Pen Portraits 


Governor Pen Portraits

Viv Waugh (Foundation Governor)

I have been involved in Primary Education 1975, with time out for family. I retired in 2001 and later completed a three year foundation degree course in Ministry and Theology (York St John University) to become a Licensed Reader (October 2006) in the Parish of Croft, Eryholme and Middleton Tyas within the wider Richmond Deanery. I am very active in and around the community of Croft, and am involved with the Pastoral Care Team who, among other things, hold lunches for the people of the Parish. For a number of years I helped out with Discoverers group in school, have led many school services in St Peter’s Church and Collective Worship in school itself. I have been a Foundation Governor for quite a few years and have seen the school grow and change with all new developments and am very proud of all the children and staff who work tirelessly for its success.


Derek Blenkharn (Co-opted Governor)

I am originally from Eryholme and subsequently Monk End Farm in Croft. I attended Croft Church of England Primary School up until I was 11 years old, when we moved to Eaglescliffe and attended Hurworth Secondary School. We returned to Hurworth some 30 years ago. Both my son and daughter attended Richmond Comprehensive School and following sixth form went on to University.

Until 2011 I was with a local architectural practice in Darlington, who, over a period of years, were involved with numerous extensions and alterations to the school.

I am currently Group Leader for Hurworth Scouts, President of Darlington Lads and Lasses Junior Football Club as well as being involved with Rockliffe Park Cricket Club.

My strengths lie in Health & Safety, Safeguarding and Premises in addition to Sport and Physical Activity.

Denise Wilson Bainbridge (Parent Governor)

I am a mother to 4 children, age ranging from 5-16 years.  Two of my children attend Croft Church of England Primary School.  I have worked in education for 11 years as a SEN Teaching Assistant, Deputy Manager and SENCO in a Private Nursery.  Our youngest daughter has additional needs therefore I have gained knowledge as a parent and as a professional.  I wish to support the school to ensure that they have high expectation for all children, a fun and motivating learning environment and every step of progress is celebrated however small.

Julia Clarke (Parent Governor)

I became a parent governor in 2017, when my children were in Year 2 and Reception. I have a degree in Materials Engineering from Imperial College, London and I’m a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. I have many years’ experience in business and project management, both in the chemical industry and consulting. Voluntary work has always been important to me; I have volunteered for a major national charity for over 15 years and am now Churchwarden at All Saints’ Church, Hurworth. My hobby is music and I enjoy playing the violin in several regional orchestras.

Alison Russell (Co-opted Governor)

I became a Governor and coincidentally Chair of Governors at Croft School 19 years ago when my two children were pupils there. They went on to Richmond School, University and are now working as Doctors in London and overseas.

I am a Pharmacist and have worked in hospital, the community and abroad, although not currently working. I also helped set up and manage a business in Newcastle and nationally with my husband when our children were young.

I was always very keen to be involved in my children’s education which is why I volunteered to help in school when they started and continued to do so. I thoroughly enjoy being involved in education and it is a huge privilege to work alongside such dedicated professionals in our school and see the progress and achievements of the children.

My strengths lie in my enthusiasm for science and desire to provide the best opportunities for every child in school.

Michelle Patterson (Parent Governor)

I am 37 years old and work part time as a Chartered Accountant. I also have a Maths degree from Newcastle University. I have 2 children who attend Croft Church of England Primary School and are in Year 2 and Reception. In my spare time I enjoy reading, Pilates, running and watching pretty much any sport! I also have a secret love of Sudoku! 

Paul Knapp (Parent Governor)

I felt privileged to be elected as a Parent Governor with Croft Church of England Primary School in August 2014.

My son has just left Croft and my daughter currently attends the school in year 6. As a retired Police Officer with over 12 years’ experience in Durham Constabulary I wanted to ‘put something back into the community’ and thought what better way to do this than to offer my humble services to the school.

Following a retirement the school has recently had a new head teacher and is undergoing a period of change and if my ‘life’ skills can help to enhance the continued development then I will feel extremely proud.

The position involves a lot more hard work than I originally envisaged but is extremely rewarding as you get to have a say into how the school is run and how its aims and aspirations for the future are modelled.

I am open to change, enjoy a challenge and am proud to be a small part of the school’s continued professional development.


Georgie Sale (Associate Governor)

My school leader experience started in an all boys school in Hull. I also had a secondment to a Hull college to work with a department that had been judged as inadequate. I was seconded to the college to work with the engineering, plumbing and technology department who had failed their OFSTED.I taught and led teaching and learning development. At the end of the two years the faculty were judged as ‘good’


My first headship was at a school in south Leeds, in special measures. This school served a very challenging part of South Leeds, the school was multicultural, had been in Special Measures 2 years when I joined them; it was the school that had educated one of the London bombers in the past. There were significant racial problems there which were not helped by the events of 9/11. Despite this we managed to get the school out of SM in a year. My leadership was judged as outstanding; the building of capacity and teamwork as very good.


Blakeston represented a different challenge. This area of Stockton is monocultural white, low, socio-economic conditions, (very) poor health  and considerable drug related problems. The school had unsuccessfully tried for specialist school status and failed; “the worst bid we had every read”.

The school achieved Specialist School status within a year, and won other considerable bids from NOF, and other sources. The school had a much enhanced reputation, exclusions halved, attendance and intake up and the A to C results trebled in three years. On leaving the results were above FFT ‘D’. The school was also a  part of a very successful EAZ.


I then joined OFSTED, I trained to do inspection for primary, secondary , colleges, SEN provision. I was a Lead Inspector. Also whilst there I was part of the team that developed methods of looking and analysing school data. I specialise in inspecting the most challenging of schools (empathy but rigour)  and Grammar schools ( to give challenge). I also did science survey work.


I then became self-employed and worked with schools mainly in the north and Manchester concerning raising achievement and the standard of teaching and learning. I led schools that were in challenging circumstances, for a variety of reasons. The last but one school judged my Leadership as ‘inspirational’. The curriculum broad and strengthened” and achievement rising.

I also supported Academies in Norwich and Kent with general school improvement and setting up the academy. As part of this I offered advice to the above schools in working with a community and multicultural factors. I mentored new or struggling Headteachers in Leeds and North Yorkshire and supported two secondary schools in Leeds- work deemed ‘highly effective’ by the LEA.


My last headship has been at the City of Leeds School; I was ‘put into’ the school by the LEA. This was a failing school, low achievement, £1.2 million deficit, over staffed (double staffed), ethos based on staff needs and wants, poor attendance pupils and staff. I needed to find a good sponsor for the school to turn into an academy. The school is one of the most multicultural in the UK, 80% EAL , 55 nations and more languages, majority of pupils within 4 years of coming to the UK. The governance was poor and replaced with an IEB. It took time to find the right sponsor for the school , but Leeds City College provided an ideal sponsor(although the process took much longer than any of us anticipated)/ The reports from OFSTED describe ‘fast moving improvement’, my ‘ boundless energy and endless enthusiasm’ ‘ well judged , timely actions’. The school also received national attention for the work we were doing to address language acquisition. Our brief moment of fame we were in every national newspaper on TV and radio! This was a great boost for the school and recognised the ground breaking work we were doing there.


I am now working part time for Northern Education doing school improvement work.


Kath Jones

My name is Kath Jones and I work for the Villages Seeds Project as schools worker.  I work in various local village schools delivering RE lessons, collective worship and after school clubs.  I have been working within Croft Primary for approx. 3 years and feel that I am helping to make a difference.

I am married to Graham who is pastor of the church I attend and we have three sons.  In my spare time (!) I like to read and crochet (often at the same time).


Simon Robson (Head Teacher)

After completing a BSc Sports Science Degree at the University of Teesside in 1999, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in Primary Teaching. I completed a BScEd in Primary Science at the University of Durham and was awarded QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) in 2001 after successful placements at Seaton Carew C of E Primary School (Hartlepool), St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School (Stockton-on-Tees) and St Bede’s RC Primary School (Darlington).

I started my teaching career at St Bede’s (250 pupils) as Year 5 teacher and later as Year 6 teacher with the responsibility for leading ICT across the school. At this time, I worked closely with Darlington ICT Advisory team and led seminars around ‘best practice’. During this period I received an award from BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) for ICT best practice and I also received a nomination for Teacher of the Year.

After 5 years, I became Assistant Head Teacher and led Assessment, Mathematics and PE. During my time at St Bede’s I experienced two OFSTED visits where the quality of my teaching was judged as outstanding. In a PE subject inspection, my leadership was judged as outstanding. At this point I decided that I would like to further develop as a leader.

I moved on from St Bede’s in 2009 to another Assistant Head Teacher post at Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School (240 pupils) in Hartlepool with the responsibility for leading Assessment, Mathematics and Gifted and Talented. Mathematics was a key priority and over my period of leadership standards of progress and attainment in Mathematics increased significantly. In 2010 we were rated outstanding by OFSTED and Good by SIAS. Standards continued to improve and in 2014, outcomes in the core areas were the highest in the town with 100% of pupils achieving L4+ in Reading, Writing and Mathematics and significant proportions of pupils achieving beyond level 4.

I completed the NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship) in 2011 and took up a new post as Deputy Head Teacher at Holy Trinity in 2013. As an outstanding school we became a Lead Teaching School in 2012 and worked collaboratively with St John Vianney RC Primary School to develop the Hartlepool Teaching Schools Alliance (Together to Succeed). In 2013 I was a member of the Alliance’s Appropriate Body to quality assure judgements of Newly Qualified Teachers across the town. In 2014, I played a lead role in developing the future of the school by taking a lead role in the successful completion of a new school build as part of the Priority Schools Building Programme. In December 2014, the school achieved Outstanding under the new SIAMS framework.  

I have been at Croft Church of England Primary School since January 2015 I am thoroughly enjoying the role and challenges associated with managing a small school. My vision is to continue build on the strengths of the school and work with governors and the community to provide the best possible education for our wonderful pupils. I look forward to continuing on this journey.

I am married to Sarah, who is also a teacher and I have two children, George and Rosie, who are both presently at Primary School. I enjoy cooking, playing and watching football, listening to music and playing the guitar.                      



Gemma McManus (Staff Governor)

I started my teaching career in 2007, where I worked in a primary school in Catterick Village.  I taught in Early Years, Year 1, 2 and 5.  I moved to Croft Church of England Primary School in September 2009 in order to develop my leadership skills in PE and Science.  During my time in Croft I have been given many opportunities to develop my leadership skills further and I am currently the subject leader for Maths, Science, Geography and Learning Skills.  I have also been a Key Stage 1 moderator for the local authority and a Peer Support Teacher (PST) for the Swaledale Teaching Alliance. I have led development groups for teachers continued professional development in moderation and Science for the Alliance, as well as leading the Year 1 Science Workshops for the Northallerton Small Schools group.   I have been the staff governor since 2013 and I am committed to supporting the governors and the head teacher in taking our school forward and achieving the best possible outcomes for all children.




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