Welcome to our Governors’ section.
At Willowdown, we have a supportive governing body, who strive to work hand in hand with the school to assist in raising standards. They play a key role in developing and supporting the school. In order to do this effectively, they meet regularly to discuss every aspect of school development and improvement; with them they bring a wide range of skills and experience! These are the people who are currently on our board of governors.
Chair of Governors: Mr Simon Peck
Clerk to Governors: Mrs Helen Roper
Lindsay Gabriel - Executive Principal
Oliver Priestley - Head teacher of Willowdown Primary Academy
Having spent three years studying politics at Swansea University, I decided to follow my parent’s footsteps in becoming a teacher. I qualified in my home town of Cambridge in 2002 and spent the next four years in a village junior school. After this I relocated to the South West and taught in Devon for two years before becoming the Literacy co-ordinator at Wellesley Park in Wellington. In January 2013 I was appointed Deputy Headteacher where I worked successfully alongside the Executive Principle Lindsay Gabriel and Assistant Head Anita Curtis. In this period, I developed as a leader which inspired me to take on the role of Head of School at Willowdown Primary. I am thrilled to be working with such enthusiastic and talented children, staff and governors, alongside the supportive community.
Outside of school I live with my family in Taunton and enjoy every opportunity to explore the outdoors, travel and experience different physical pursuits. In recent years I have completed a number of half marathons and triathlons. My love of sport has left me following Southend United and Tiverton Town, without a great deal of success! There has been more joy on the terraces of Exeter Chiefs and following England at Twickenham, with rugby close to my heart.
Anita Curtis - Assistant Headteacher/Head of KS1 and EYFS
Anita Curtis. Assistant Head/ Early Years Lead and Associate Governor at Willowdown School since June 2016. Anita has been teaching for 18 years with the last 14 years as an active member of the senior management team at another of our Academy Family schools, which drove the school from Special Measures to a good with elements of outstanding. Early Years is both her specialism and passion where she has taught and managed across the Early Years to include Nursery, Reception and Key Stage One. Anita also has strong links as a Professional Tutor and Guest Lecturer for Somerset SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training), she is Co-founder of Ace Early Years, a support network website and social media platform for Early Years professionals. Anita is married to Richard and Mum to two teenage children.
Her hobbies include travel, dog walking and amateur photography.
Pam Rodger - Business Manager
Pam has held roles in accounting and finance for the majority of her career, taking up her first job in education as accounts manager in a large Devon secondary school in 2001. Working for the local authority Finance team on secondment, she visited many local schools providing financial and administrative support to school administrators. In 2010, whilst studying for her school business management qualification, she widened her remit taking up a post in a large primary school, responsible for the business functions of finance, premises, health and safety and HR. She later played a significant part setting up a multi academy trust and converting 2 schools to academy status. Joining Willowdown before it had opened to pupils, Pam was heavily involved with the team setting up the school both in terms of resourcing, recruitment and systems. She enjoys travel, particularly to France, walking her dog and spending time with her husband, 3 grown up children and their partners.
Andrew Venn - Assistant Headteacher/ Head of KS2- Curriculum and Learning
I am married to Clair who is a Teaching Assistant in North Somerset and we have two children, Emily 16 and Joseph 13. I enjoy photography, writing, and have recently taken up cycling after joseph volunteered me for the 4-day Bristol to Paris cycle challenge in order to raise money for a 3D heart scanner for Bristol Children’s Hospital.
I live locally with my partner Clive and his two teenage sons, having completed my secondary education in Bridgwater.
I work for the Environment Agency as a Community and Stakeholder Engagement Adviser covering England and based in the EA’s Bridgwater office.
In my spare time I love to run on the Quantock hills and I've enjoyed working as a bereavement support worker for the charity Cruse for the last 8 years.
I have always lived in Bridgwater and I am currently living on the local estate next to Willowdown Primary Academy. I have two boys, one attends Willowdown and my other son has just started his first year at Bridgwater College. I became a governor when Willowdown first opened in 2014 and has been very pleased to see the development of the school over the years. I have been working for the County Council in Taunton for the past 3 years and in my spare time I enjoy baking and making different crafts.
Ross is a family man, having two young children both born and bred in Somerset. An environmental scientist by trade, the early years of his career were spent in London working for Thames Water. Ross escaped to the country and has worked on the Hinkley Point C Project since the beginning. Outside of work, when not exploring the wonders of the Quantocks with his family, he’ll be on his bike or if the wind is blowing might be spotted on the coast kite-surfing.
I relocated to the South West 14 years ago with my wife and daughter, my son was born about a year later in Somerset. Both attended their local village primary school which is where I first volunteered as a governor and became hooked. I’ve been a school governor for 13 years and have been accredited by the National College. I have recently supported other school governing bodies and carried out reviews on effectiveness. Following a long commercial career I changed direction about 7 years ago after completing a long training to qualify as a counsellor; I currently work for a not for profit counselling charity in Taunton. I enjoy the theatre and arts in general, music is important too, having a large and varied collection. Two items from my bucket list include, a wish to visit India again and to paraglide (accompanied) off of the top of the Alps…maybe one day!
Core Partner of Smart Coaching and Training and a business consultant, trainer and apprenticeship assessor in areas such as management, team leading, sales, customer Service, business administration, warehouse operations and manufacturing. I also deliver governor training to Somerset governors on subjects that include ‘Being a New Governor’ and Ofsted. I have now been a governor for 14 years. My work history has seen me as a publican and hotelier; director of an electronics company and a manager of garages and retail outlets. Hobbies and Interests include diving; my wife and I are both Master Scuba Divers (best dive was diving with two rough tailed rays approximately 2.5 meters wide in Tenerife a couple of years ago;) skiing, most sports (I still manage to play 5-aside football,) reading and walking.
Eltjo de Vries
House husband and father of three: we relocated to Bridgwater’s
Kings Down estate from the Isle of Wight in the Summer of 2015, and have settled very quickly. I joined the Governing Body of Willowdown Primary Academy in October 2016 having our youngest daughter start Reception, and our son in the school’s first Year 6 class.I have and continue to work primarily in the theatre industry as a professional actor, director and workshop tutor for over 25 years, and have experience of working with children and adults with SEND and from other cultural backgrounds.
My other interests include: exploring our natural surrounds; different cultures and societies; politics, philosophies and current affairs; art; music (an ever eclectic, expanding collection emulating the great John Peel); watching sport; cooking and attending music festivals with the Tribe (my family).
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The Chair or Clerk may be contacted via the academy, or via The Collaborative Academies Trust,
Mill House, Kings Acre, Coggeshall, Essex CO6 1NY
Please click here for further information about our local governing body structure
Please click here for information on The Collaborative Academies Trust Board of Directors
|Governor Name||Type of Governor||Appointment made by||Appointment Date||Date stepped down||Business and pecuniary interests||2015/2016 % attendance whilst in office||2016/2017 % attendance whilst in office|
|Andrew Venn||Staff||Staff Election||01-Sep-14||Employee of Willowdown Primary||88%|
|Annabelle Lillycrop||Coopted||Governing Body||06-Sep-14||None||100%|
|John Fowler||Coopted||Governing Body||10-Sep-14||None||100%|
|Leigh Redman||Coopted||Governing Body||02-Sep-14||None||75%|
|Lindsay Gabriel||Associate||Trust||17-May-16||Executive Principal of Wellesley Park Primary, Willowdown Academy and Woolavington Primary||33%|
|Mary Hellier||Parent||Parent Election||03-Sep-14||None||75%|
|Olly Priestley||Associate||Governing Body||17-May-16||Employee of Willowdown Primary||100%|
|Pam Rodger||Staff||Staff Election||08-Sep-14||Employee of Willowdown Primary||100%|
|Ross Edwards||Coopted||Governing Body||07-Sep-14||None||88%|
|Simon Peck||Trust||Trust||09-Sep-14||Simon Peck Governance Consultancy
Chairman of Collaborative Academies Trust
Vice Chair of Governors at Countess Gytha Primary School
|Anita Curtis||Associate||Trust||01-Sep-16||Employee of Willowdown Prinary||100%|
|Eltjo Devries||Co-opted||Governing Body||18-Oct-16||None||N/A|
|Nick Riddiough||Principal||Trust||05-Sep-14||04-Feb-16||Acting Executive Principal of Woolavington Primary
Principal of Willowdown Primary
Director of Collaborative Academies Trust