Southill Primary School

"A caring, family school"



Welcome to the Governors Page

I am Gavin Coombs and I am the Chair of Governors here at Southill Lower 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 Southill 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.


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 and Southill Federation 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. 

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 July 2019

How many governors are there at Southill Lower School?

There are 13 Governor positions and a Clerk. These are:-

  • 2x Parent Governors
  • 1x Staff Governor
  • 1x Local Authority Governor
  • 6x Co-opted Governors
  • 2x Partnership Governor
  • Executive Headteacher (ex officio)

Associate governors will be invited to join the governing body as required to provide a strong skills set and ensure strong governance.

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

Code of Conduct

Governor Information including roles and responsibilities  


Gavin Coombs

Chair of Governors

LA Governor

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 and Southill Lower Schools.  I have had two children at Derwent and they both benefited from a superb education.  I feel privileged to be in a position where I can help both schools 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.  I am passionate about both Derwent and Southill Lower Schools moving from a good to an outstanding OFSTED rating.


Dee Perkins

Vice Chair

Co-opted Governor



Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

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.  I became a governor to assist and contribute to both Derwent and Southill'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 for more than 4 years and this 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 attended Derwent Lower School. I am hugely passionate about securing the future of both the schools as well as making them a safe and comfortable environment to enrich their learning experience.


I am dedicated to the continued improvements that we make at both schools. I believe in giving parents the support they need to juggle their home and work life balance.

Sarah Tuckwell

Partnership Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievements. Standards and Community

People and Resources Committee

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 Lower 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.

Caroline Coombs

Co-opted Governor

Full Governing Body

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

People & Resources Committee

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.

Polly Mead

Associate Governor

Full Governing Body

I have been involved with Derwent 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

Becky Byrne, Deputy Headteacher

Staff Governor

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 and Southill Lower Schools, Rita is currently a School Governor at a school in Cambridgeshire.

Suzanne Newman

Clerk to the Governors

Full Governing Body

People and Resources Committee

Achievement, Standards and Community Committee

Tim Mills

Parent Governor

Full Governing Body

People and Resource Committee

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

People and Resources Committee

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.

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 and Southill Lower Schools prosper and continue to improve. I look forward to playing an active part in this journey.