Message from the Chair of Governors, Mr. David Exham.

St Mary’s is a unique school within the community of Witney, much loved by all who are associated with it. The school community is small and intimate, which helps us to provide a genuinely caring environment for our children as they begin their journey in education and develop a love of learning. The school succeeds due to the hard work, dedication and support of all the staff, parents and children; and the governors have a key role in ensuring that St Mary’s continues to thrive.

The principle aim of the governors is to provide the Headteacher and the staff with the support that they need to give all our children a safe environment in which to learn effectively. The governors of St Mary’s work together as part of the whole school community to help ensure that all aspects of the school continue to improve.

Much of our building dates from early Victorian times and is a light and airy space. The new Reception classroom created by the demolition of an old concrete A-framed building, provides a modern space for our youngest children and also contains areas that the whole school will use.

The Role of the Governors

The governors fulfil legal duties in the running of the school and are accountable to both the  Local Authority and the Oxford Diocese.

The duties of the governors comprise three main tasks:

  1. To contribute to the strategic planning of the school
  2. To be a critical friend by supporting and challenging the school
  3. To ensure accountability for the standards and quality of education

We do our work through two committees (Finance, Premises and Personnel and Curriculum and Parents) where individual governors take the lead on various subjects. Our governors have different talents and interests, which we try and match to the duties that the governing body has to fulfil. We are responsible for reviewing and approving all of the school’s policies, which you can find elsewhere on our website.

As the school is part of the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust the Governing Body works in accordance with the Scheme of Delegation.  Please see the documents below for more details.

Governors must show an interest in all the school activities; the everyday work of the school as well as special events. To ensure that we understand the school, governors visit classes and learn from teachers, teaching assistants, and our children. This helps us understand the implications of our discussions and decisions.

Types of Governor

At St Mary’s, there are five different categories of school governor:

Parent governors – are elected by the parent body. They do not have to vote in accordance with parents’ opinions, but should listen to and convey the range of parent’s views to the other governors.

Staff governor –  a staff representative is elected by the school staff. The Headteacher is automatically a governor.

Community governors – are appointed by the governing body in discussion with the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust to represent the range of community interests they may be representatives from local business or represent local interests.

Foundation governors – are appointed by Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust.

The governors are also permitted to co-opt others onto the governing body to help them with their work. This may include experts whom we invite to advise us on special matters such as the new building.

If you would like to become a governor or feel that you have special skills that would be useful, please contact the governors ( , or approach the Headteacher.  Copies of recent meeting minutes of the Full Governing Body are available on our website, a paper copy of the minutes can also be requested from the school office.

The current Governors at St Mary’s are listed below, if you would like to know more about them, click on their name.

Community Governor  Curriculum and Parents Committee Chair
Mrs. Michelle East Staff Governor  Curriculum and Parents committee member
Mrs. Sarah Grier Headteacher  Member of all committees
Parent Governor  Finance, Personnel and Premises Committee Chair
Parent Governor  
Vacant Foundation Governor
Foundation Governor Curriculum and Parents committee member.

SEN Governor

Mrs Harriet Gierlicki Foundation Governor  Finance, Personnel and Premises Committee member
Foundation Governor Member of all committees

Chair of Governors

Community Governor  Finance, Personnel and Premises Committee member
Community Governor  Member of all committees

Safeguarding governor

Governor Details – September 2016

Unless otherwise stated Governors have no declared interests and are not Governors at any other school.

Attendance data is for the academic year 2015/16

Sarah Grier (Headteacher)

Governor by virtue of holding office since 1st September 2016

Attendance – N/A

Hannah Whittaker (Chair of Governors)

Appointed as a parent Governor – 2nd October 2013

Term of office ends – 1st October 2017

FGB attendance – 100%                      Committee attendance – N/A

David Exham (Vice-Chair of Governors)

Appointed as a Foundation Governor – 1st February 2014

Term of office ends- 31st January 2018

FGB attendance – 100%                        Committee attendance – 100%

Serves as a Governor at Wellingborough School, Northamptonshire

Michelle East (Deputy headteacher)

Appointed as a Staff Governor – 1st September 2014

Term of office ends – 31st August 2018

FGB attendance – 80%                          Committee attendance – 100%

Harriet Gierlicki

Appointed as a Foundation Governor 1st March 2016

Term of office ends 28th February 2020

FGB attendance – 75%                             Committee attendance – nil

Christine Howden

Appointed as a Foundation Governor 1st March 2016

Term of office ends 28th February 2020

FGB attendance – 75%                            Committee attendance – nil

Allan McKay

Appointed as a Parent Governor – 10th September 2014

Term of office ends – 9th September 2018

FGB attendance – 80%                             Committee attendance – 80%

Louisa Nutt

Appointed as a Foundation Governor – 1st September 2009

Term of office ends – 31st August 2017

FGB attendance – 60%                                   Committee attendance – 100%

John Summers

Appointed as a Community Governor – 1st September 2015

Term of office ends – 31st August 2019

FGB attendance – 60%                                   Committee attendance – 100%

Sarah Stafford

Appointed as a Community Governor -22nd March 2014

Term of office ends – 21st March 2018

FGB attendance – 100%                                   Committee attendance – 66%

Declared interest: Employee of Pearsons

Governors who have been in post during the last twelve months

Sam King (Acting Headteacher)

Governor by virtue of her office from 1st September 2015

Stepped down – 31st August 2016

FGB Attendance – 100%                                         Committee attendance – 100%



You can find more information about the role of a school governor on the Oxfordshire website, at

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