Primary School

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Welcome to our Governors’ section. 

Here you will find information about the role of the governing body, details of how our Governing body is structured, including the names, categories, responsibilities and terms of appointment for each Governor.


The Role and Responsibilities of the Governing Body

Governing bodies are the key strategic decision makers and vision setters in every school. They are also a key part of the overall system for school accountability. Governing bodies have a vital role to play in driving up school and pupil performance and ensuring that resources are used well to give every child the best possible education.


In all schools, governing bodies have three core strategic functions:
a. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
b. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; and
c. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.


These functions are reflected in regulations for maintained schools that came into force in September 2013 and in the criteria Ofsted inspectors use to judge the effectiveness of governance in both maintained schools and academies.

In practice, governors are a group of volunteers who include parents, staff and members of the local community who act collectively to make decisions that matter to the school and are motivated to do the best for the children of the school.


Governing bodies help set the school’s aims and values. They also make decisions on matters such as performance targets, school policies, and the school’s single plan.  They oversee the use of the school’s budget and have responsibility to obtain value for money for that budget. They are responsible for the appointment of the headteacher.  In addition, governors monitor, support and challenge the headteacher and staff on how well those policies and targets are followed through. They do this by visiting the school, getting to know its strengths and weaknesses, and asking useful questions that foster an ethos of continuous improvement.


When to contact the Governors?

Should there ever be things you’d like to raise, please feel free to contact us. We’re happy to receive your comments and feedback. Many of us are regularly in and around the school, and several of us are often in the playground at drop-off and pick-up times. Alternatively, please feel free to leave a message with the office.


If you have any concerns that you have raised with the school and you do not feel they have been dealt with accordingly then please contact Gemma Sowter at

Meet the team


Gemma Sowter
Local Authority Governor and Chair of Governors


My name is Gemma and I am your Chair of Governors. I have been on the governing body since 2015 and an active part of the school community since we moved to Newport in 2014. I have a passion for education and see it as a privilege to contribute to the development of the school in any way I can. We have two boys, Hayden going into year 5 and Parker who will join the school in 2020. I have a business degree from the University of Leeds and an employment background in procurement and executive management.



Lorna Rutter
Co-opted Governor and Vice Chair of Governors


My name is Lorna Rutter and I have a son, Charlie in Year 2.  I have been a Co-Opted Governor since March 2017 with a specific focus on SEN, policies and I sit on the Finance committee. Just like any parent, I want the very best educational setting for my son, where he can be happy, confident and become the very best he can be and I am keen this is the experience for all pupils at the school.I work as an Operations Director for a recruitment company with responsibility for company financials, team development and setting company objectives for future growth and    development, a range of skills that the school can make good use of to support the pupil’s educational environment and continue to develop on the school’s vision.


Rebecca Pine
Headteacher (ex-officio Governor)


Rebecca joined Newport Primary in September 2018 as headteacher. She is excited to get to know Newport and to become part of the community. Rebecca previously taught at Meldreth Primary School in Cambridgeshire, where she became the SENDCo and a member of the senior leadership team. She then moved to Melbourn Primary School to take on the role of assistant headteacher and then deputy headteacher. Rebecca is hugely passionate about every child receiving outstanding teaching and learning and about inclusivity. She believes in working with families to achieve the very best outcomes for their children and welcomes discussions with people within the community. Rebecca brings her dog, Fergie, with her to school to ensure that all children at Newport get enhanced learning opportunities within the school, especially with reading. Rebecca lives in Great Chishill with her husband, Tom, and their two children, Freddie and Olivia. Rebecca and her family enjoy exploring the outdoors and are keen on cycling, walking the school dog and being in the countryside. She is vice chair of Great Chishill Parish Council and likes to get involved in village life.


Mark Johnson
Co-opted Governor and Chair of the Finance and Premises Committee


Mark grew up around Saffron Walden before studying at university in York and then lived in Somerset for seven years. He recently returned to Essex and lives near Newport. He works for local government on funding and finance policy issues and is a chartered public finance accountant. Mark became a governor in 2016 and chairs the Finance, Premises & Personnel Committee. Outside of work he enjoys walking, reading and following cricket. In the past he has volunteered as a treasurer of a credit union and debt adviser, and has worked with young people in a church children’s group and as a Scout leader.


Greg Smith
Co-opted Governor and Chair of the Pay & Personnel Committee


I am a Co-opted governor with a current focus on Standards. I have a background in Industrial Design & Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University and a PGCE from Cambridge University. Having grown up locally, Wendens Ambo, I now live in Newport. For the last decade of my career, I taught as an Assistant Headteacher in West London, in a large aspiring comprehensive school, where exacting high standards through well-executed plans were the only benchmark. In my next challenge, I now work with my talented brother running an exciting professional chocolatier business in Saffron Walden. I have two sons, Oliver in Year 1 and Henry at Oliver’s Lodge. I love high-quality coffee and enjoy being a part of a local CrossFit community, keeping active.


Simon Mathias
Parent Governor 


Simon grew up in the area and attended Newport Primary himself before moving on to Newport Free Grammar School. He then moved to London where he enjoyed a successful career in the City for over 25 years, rising to be a director responsible for trading and risk management but also has experience of being a non-executive director, having held that role on both public and private companies. He moved back to the area with his wife in 2006 and moved to Newport in 2015. He is now a stay-at-home Dad to two young boys; one in Year 1 and one in Olivers Lodge Pre-School.


Vyckie Staines
Co-opted governor


Vyckie joined the governing body as a co-opted governor in February 2018. Vyckie moved to a neighbouring village about 2 years ago and got involved with the school through Inspiring the Future. By day she heads up the HR function for a software firm in London and hopes her people and management skills will support the school and governing body in achieving and exceeding their goals.  Outside of that, Vyckie is recently married and has a puppy cocker spaniel. She enjoys spending time outdoors, either cycling, running or walking in the Peak District.



Sian O'Riordan

Staff Governor


Teachers have a unique opportunity to provide children with memorable experiences from which they will develop not only Literacy and Numeracy, but also their own values and virtues that will ultimately shape their character. It really is the best job in the world.

In an increasingly challenging educational climate, close collaboration between staff and governors is essential for the continued development of Newport Primary School. I look forward to contributing to this as I begin my role as staff governor.

I am the current Year 5 teacher and have been at the school since April 2018. My previous 7 years have been spent in secondary education in roles including; head of house; head of year and head of department. My specialism at the time was Physical Education and I am the current lead for Healthy Schools and Sport here at Newport. I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge and learning involved in adapting to a primary school setting.


Victoria Sullivan

Parent governor


I have been on the Friends committee since my son started school (he is now in year 4) and have been the Secretary for the Friends since September 2015. Although I have enjoyed fundraising and being part of the Friends community, I am keen for a fresh challenge where I can still contribute to the school. I also feel my professional background in HR will be useful to the governing body.

I currently run my own HR consultancy business so have had exposure to the financial, marketing and promotion requirements that come with being self-employed, which I hope will be useful to the school. I’m really looking forward to being part of the strategic direction of Newport Primary and monitoring, supporting and challenging the school to be the best it can be. 

Géraldine Baekelandt

Co-opted governor


Géraldine Baekelandt is in her final few months of her PhD in Nanoscience at the University of Cambridge, where she is on a full scholarship from AstraZeneca, working on the interface between therapeutic drugs and surfaces at the nanoscale.  She has always been passionate about education, especially on issues such as inequality in the UK education system.  She has taught privately, for not for profits such as The Brilliant Club, and lectured undergraduates at the University.  As much as she loves teaching when she’s not in the lab, she wanted to do more work tackling problems in education from behind the scenes, specifically through governance. Through the Inspiring the Future programme, which Géraldine has been a member of for three years, she found Newport School!

Géraldine is originally from Belgium, has lived in 6 different countries and is currently living in Cambridge.  She is a large advocate of women in STEM, and is a member of The Stemettes, an organization that puts on free educational days and mentoring programs to get more girls into the Engineering and Science related sectors. When not in the lab, Géraldine can either be found at an inspiring girl’s event or running!


Keeley Chandler

Associate governor and Deputy Headteacher


I joined Newport school in September (2018) as Deputy headteacher and I am really thrilled to be joining the Newport community, getting to know all of the children and settling in my new role as deputyhead. I have previously taught in a school in Hertford, where I worked on the senior leadership team as maths co-ordinator and RWI manager for a number of years; I was lucky enough to have a year as acting deputy headteacher whilst there, which gave me the incentive and drive to want to become one permanently. Over the years, I have taught classes from Reception up to year 6 and enjoy them all! They all bring their challenges, their unique styles and their different skillsets but one thing that remains is that children are children, whatever the age, and have the right to the best education. I am thrilled to be working with Rebecca and share her vision for the school and believe in Newport being the best inclusive school, where children enjoy learning and teachers enjoy teaching. Outside of school, my passions lie in dancing, music, sewing, theatre and cinema trips and socialising with friends; I love to incorporate these skills within school, wherever possible. As well as this, last year, I was lucky enough to visit a primary school in Spain who was twinned with my previous school and, following that visit, I have started to learn Spanish – so far, I am mastering the basics!

Declaration of pecuniary and personal interests