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Governance 

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The Chair of Governors can be contacted via Rebecca Tills, the Clerk to Governors at rebecca.tills@laidlawschoolstrust.com, Laidlaw Schools Trust, Suite 2, 3rd Floor, St Nicholas Building, St Nicholas’ Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RF or 0191 6622416.

Eileen Bolton

Eileen Bolton

Chair of Governors

Eileen has worked in a number of educational institutions including a variety of primary schools in Newcastle and two of the local universities. As a Deputy Headteacher for a primary school in a deprived area Eileen enjoyed the many challenges and successes the role brought. Eileen has also been involved in visiting local schools to audit Key Stage 1 SATs. Her involvement in universities included developing school-based training for trainee teaching students and became the link tutor with Northumbria, Newcastle and Sunderland Universities for students on the BA and PGCE teaching courses. A great believer in continuous personal development and continuing her own personal studies she has also achieved certificates for Mentoring and Assessing Students from Lancaster University; National Professional Studies for Headship and Masters in Education from Newcastle University.

Violet Rook

Violet Rook

Local Governor

Violet is a retired registered Nurse and Midwife who worked for 20 years in hospitals and then in the community. She became a part time lecturer and commenced employment in a number of local colleges teaching health topics and food hygiene.

She gained a BSc. Hons from the Open University in 2001 and also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Development at Masters Level. She was the northern representative for the Association of Open University Graduates for seven years until 2014, she was re-elected in 2019 and was a Director for two years. She was an officer of the Newcastle Governors Association, and a member of the Local
Authority Educational Appeals Panel and the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel and was a Director of the National Governors Association.

She tries to combine health and education, encouraging community participation by
all citizens, being a local Parish Councillor and is a Healthwatch Champion and a Governor of the North East Ambulance, also a Governor of Newcastle City Learning.

Violet keeps up to date via webinars from the Royal Society of Public Health of which she is a Fellow and has been an invigilator and examiner. She gained a qualification from the Parliamentary Outreach sector and is a Registered Trainer, and also stood for Parliament in 2015. She believes in Life Long Learning and endeavours to encourage aspirational ideals via being a School Governor and for each individual to reach their full potential.

James McGowan

James McGowan

Local Governor

James is currently the Vicar of Fenham and Chaplain to the Dame Allan’s Schools. Before arriving in Newcastle in February 2019 he had spent almost eight years on the Isle of Man, first as Assistant Curate at Cathedral Isle of Man and then latterly serving as Vicar of four Churches in the south east corner of the Island, In addition he held a number of other roles in the Diocese of Sodor and Man including working as their Diocesan Director Education and as Chair of Governors at one of the Diocesan Schools. James completed his first degree in York, and then trained as a secondary teacher at the University of Durham and taught Religious Studies in the North East for a number of years before training for ordination at Cranmer Hall, Durham. During his time teaching, James was also a member of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors. He was awarded an MA in Faith and Public Policy from the University of Chester in 2016 and has an interest in the area of Disability Theology and Education Policy and Practice. In March 2020, James was one of the first in the country to be awarded the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership Award for Educational Leadership with a focus on the two areas of professional development of junior clergy and effective leadership within and educational context.
Sam Girling

Sam Girling

Local Governor

Sam has worked within the education sector since qualifying as a primary school teacher in 1998. She spent the first 12 years of her career teaching in schools in County Durham, both in rural and challenging socio- economic areas.

Sam has taught across the primary age phase and was a Deputy Headteacher for 4 years before completing NPQH and taking a one- year secondment to High Force Education SCITT. She led and managed the institution through an OFSTED inspection to achieve an outstanding judgement. Upon completion of the secondment she was successfully appointed to Programme Leader at Gateshead Primary SCITT and was responsible for the recruitment and training of over 200 primary teachers in the north east. During the 7 years she led the programme, the SCITT was inspected and judged to be an outstanding provider of Initial Teacher Education.

As a teacher and Deputy Headteacher Sam has gained first- hand experience of global education systems including Ghana and Mauritius as part of connecting classrooms. She has spoken at an international conference in Spain to share class- based research on the use of interactive technologies in the early years. She has used this knowledge and experience in her own practice and with trainee teachers.

Amy Brown

Amy Brown

Parent Governor

I am a staff nurse working in elderly care in a local care home. I have lived in Newcastle since I was 18 years old when going to Northumbria University to study learning disability nursing.

For the past 13 years have lived in blakelaw. Both children attend/ed Thomas Walling both starting at Nursery with my eldest leaving Thomas Walling to go to Secondary school in 2019 while my youngest still attends Thomas Walling.

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Local Governor

I work for the Department of Education based in Darlington. I manage a team of four and we look at many aspects of school provision in Durham, Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead. My work includes converting schools to academy status and monitoring existing trusts in the academy sector. I am the finance lead for the Northern Region working for the Regional Skills Commissioner. I previously worked for Nissan in Sunderland and the Rover Group in Oxford where I was born. I moved to the North East in 1987 and currently live in Whitley Bay. My three children all went through the 3 tier system in North Tyneside. Sophie is currently in Australia, Hannah works in London and Luke in Leeds. I am a keen cyclist when the wind isn’t blowing too hard along the coast.