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Governing Body Information

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Governor Bios

Ben Cooper – Executive Headteacher

I joined Swalecliffe as Headteacher in April 2014, and as such, am a member of the Governing Body. I am now the Executive Headteacher as I also work and support other schools and school leaders.

I have worked in primary education for nearly 30 years, starting as a teacher for 8 years at schools in Canterbury and Folkestone. Then as Deputy Headteacher for 5 years and Headteacher for 7 years in Herne Bay, prior to joining Swalecliffe.

I am Chair of the Coastal Alliance Co-operative Trust, a group which is made up of almost all the Herne Bay and Whitstable schools, leading it to becoming a Co-operative Trust in 2016. I also sit on the KCC Schools Funding Forum. I am a Kent Leader of Education, supporting other schools and school leaders. I coach and mentor a number of school leaders across Kent and also train future school leaders in finance as the Headteacher facilitator for KCC Finance training. 

My role on the Governing Body is to support them in having a clear understanding of the educational landscape, and of information available to compare schools and performance, so they can hold the senior leadership team to account.  I also have a strong understanding of how school budgets work and how to put the most back in to helping our children.

I have a child first; pupil second philosophy, which means I want to make the biggest positive difference I can, to as many children as possible. This guides everything I do, as can be seen in our vision statement.

Sarah Watson – Head of School and Associate Member

My name is Sarah Watson, I am Head of School at Swalecliffe Community Primary School and I joined as Deputy Headteacher in January 2016. I am working with the governing body as an associate governor.

I have worked in primary education for the past twenty eight years alongside bringing up my own three children who are now in secondary and university education. Prior to Swalecliffe I worked at two other local schools, as class teacher and then Assistant Headteacher at Herne Bay Infants School, then as Deputy Headteacher at Briary Primary School. I have a particular passion for and interest in Early Years education and enjoyed working part time for Christ Church University Canterbury to teach the Advanced Early Years module to students on their Initial Teacher Training course.

At Swalecliffe, I am one of the three Designated Safeguarding Leads, working to safeguard and protect the children in our community.

Chris Cornell – Chair of Governors Foundation Governor

I’m a parent governor and dad to Evelyn and Linden who are in KS2 and Early Years respectively. I’m a former Chair of the Whitstable Umbrella Community Centre, Scout Leader at Long Rock and have run a dad’s group in Whitstable since 2017 (Who Let the Dad’s Out).

I’m currently a lecturer in business strategy at two London Universities but have over fifteen years experience working national youth work and homelessness charities, including Porchlight, where I most recently managed their Early Intervention Projects focussed on schools.

In 2019 I was elected as a City Councillor for Gorrell ward, which covers much of Central Whitstable. I’m a member of the PFA and now the Vice Chair of Governors.

Steve Clayton – Associate Member

I have been a Governor since 2011 when I was elected as a Parent Governor with two children attending the school. I have a background in business and IT and a passion for learning and education.

During my time of office, I have held the position of Chair of Resources and Vice Chair of Governors. My enthusiasm and interest in the school developed significantly over this period, and in September 2013 I joined the school as the School Business Manager on the Senior Leadership Team and now hold an Associate Governor role. 

My previous knowledge and skills in business, finance, health and safety, procurement and IT are now utilised within the school on a daily basis, but are still critical to the Governing Body. I am committed to ensuring that in both my roles I work with leaders and Governors to ensure that the school uses money and resources effectively and thus supporting the school community in ensuring the best possible outcomes for the pupils. 

Helen Carter – Co-Opted Governor

I have two children attending Swalecliffe. As a parent invested in their wellbeing and development, I am also invested in the efficacy of the school, as my proxy, to provide the right environment for them to learn and flourish. As a parent/Governor, in addition to a parent’s perspective, I bring experience gained in employment roles that included vocational rehabilitation, mental health, safeguarding, health and safety, equality and diversity, committee roles and community development.

Helen Webb – Staff Governor

My name is Helen Webb and I am now in my seventh year of teaching at Swalecliffe; however my relationship with the school goes back much further. As a child I attended Swalecliffe and more recently both my daughters also went through primary school here too, so as a family we hold Swalecliffe very close to our hearts. Since joining Swalecliffe in 2016 I have taught in KS2, become part of the leadership team for science, started my NPQML and now am Year Group Leader for Year 6. I have a passion for reading and firmly believe that integrating reading opportunities across the wider curriculum is vital to broadening the experiences offered to our children. I am excited to have joined the governing body and look forward to working with the rest of the team to make Swalecliffe the best it can be!

Leah Garton – Associate Member

In December 2007, I joined Swalecliffe Community Primary as a part-time teacher, returning to work after having my son, and I have been very happy here ever since. Before this, I had taught in London in Key Stage One. My son came to Swalecliffe himself, and my niece and nephew are currently at our school. Swalecliffe Community Primary holds a special place in my heart and always will.

So, I have nearly been at our school for sixteen years and whilst here, my journey has included PSHE Lead, then English Lead, Phase Leader, Assistant Head, and I am now Deputy Head. I have been fortunate to have progressed in my career in a school I love. I do continue to teach my wonderful Year 6 class in the mornings. I continue to be English Lead and am passionate about our children becoming lifelong readers. In 2017, I completed my NPQSL and trained as one of our DSLs (deputy). My philosophy for teaching is focused on strong relational practice.

As an associate governor, I have been appointed by the governing body to sit on some of the committees that meet and in this role. In addition, I attend all Quality of Education, Curriculum, and Full Governor Body meetings.

Helen Taylor – Co-Opted Governor Vice Chair

My son has recently completed his time at Swalecliffe, whilst my daughter is now in Year 5. Having worked locally as a Human Resources Adviser for a Higher Education establishment, I am  confident that I bring many of the skills I have developed in this role to the role of Governor, which |I have now held for more than 6 years. I obviously have an interest in the education of my children and enjoy being involved in supporting and strengthening Swalecliffe’s vision, and the strategic direction of the school.

Ben MacPhee Parent Governor

For the past nine years I have been a Governor, Vice-Chair, and the Chair at St. Stephen's Infant School in Canterbury, and then a Vice Chair of Trustees at Inspira Academy Trust when the school founded the new Trust with Chartham Primary.

In these roles I have been able to apply my knowledge and skills to support strategic planning, financial monitoring, curriculum, headteacher appraisal, pupil premium, SEND and H&S.

I really enjoy volunteering for the benefit of the wider community, and I'm looking forward for this opportunity as a new parent governor to do that at Swalecliffe now my daughter has started at this fantastic school in Reception. 

Sarah Roberts Parent Governor

I have been fortunate to have gained a variety of different educational experiences working across five different primary schools. I'm currently Head of School at Holy Trinity & St John's Church of England Primary School, leading on Inclusion and a qualified SENDCo. I'm passionate about all children being provided with the opportunities to fulfil their potential. My son is in year two and I'm a local resident. I relish this chance, as a new parent governor, to give back to the community and work with the school to ensure success for all.