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Meet the Governors

Mr R Beard: Chair & Co-Opted Governor

Ralph Beard

I have lived in Washington for thirty years. My son, Benjamin, was at St Mary’s and my two grandchildren Jacob and Oliver attended the school.

I was a consultant surgeon at Western Sussex Foundation Hospital Trust before moving to Guy's hospital. Having retired from clinical practice I remain a registered doctor. I am now on the Governing Body of Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for commissioning the healthcare for the local population.

I have been involved in education, albeit medical, all my professional life and the time has now come for me to do what I can for our local Primary School. I have a lot to learn but hope to master my ‘brief’.

Mrs P Thomas: Vice-Chair, Foundation Governor & Governor Lead for Safeguarding

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I am the Vice-Chair and the Church appointed Foundation Governor. This means I am the link between the School and the Church. 

I am a mother of 3 children, and grandmother to 2 children. We moved from Buckinghamshire in 2011, so are relatively new to the area! We love it here...

I have a passion for education, having taught since 1974!!  I am keen to help the School continue to grow and develop, as it strives to meet the challenges of today's education system. I help to run the Pre-school group ‘Little Lambs’, held in the church. I am a volunteer for the RSPB, helping mainly with their many children's activities.


Mrs R Burns: Parent Governor

Rebecca Burns

Having been in Education for 16 years I understand the importance of good governance in schools. So when my daughter started at St Mary’s last year I was keen to get involved with the community. I am delighted to have recently been made parent Governor, I have taught Maths at secondary, been Head of Maths and Head of Year at state, private and international schools and hope my experience can help. I look forward to doing whatever I can to support our wonderful school.

My husband and I both grew up locally and we settled in Washington 7 years ago. We now have 2 children, one at the school and one desperate to start! 

Mr L Spencer-Smith: Chair of Resources Committee & Parent Governor

Lee Spencer-Smith

I moved to Washington from Slindon in 2018 with my wife Angela and daughter who started at St Mary's in September 2019. It is now a great privilege to be a Governor and is a great opportunity to work with the school and community.

I have spent my career in the Fire Service which has given me a range of experiences working with a variety of people and organisations in both emergency and day to day situations. I currently lead the Fire Safety department.

I am passionate about developing young minds and allowing them grow into what they want to be.


Mrs K Houston: Headteacher Governor


I am thrilled to be Head Teacher at St Mary’s CE Primary  School, Washington. I am passionate about education and inspiring young hearts and minds to become life long learners.

I have been a teacher for almost 20 years and have worked mostly in the Primary sector.  For the past 10 years I have worked in schools, in both West Sussex and Brighton and Hove; leading middle leaders and as a Deputy Head Teacher. 

I have two daughters (identical twin girls) who keep me busy at the weekend, either in the swimming pool or on the football field!

Mrs N Woodage: Local Authority Governor

Nicki Woodage

Initially attracted to Washington by the beautiful Sussex countryside, I've enjoyed becoming part of the local community here. I am married, work part time as an airline pilot and have two young boys who are just starting their educational journeys.  I'm delighted to be involved in influencing the future of our primary school and hope that, as the children of this village grow up, they will feel part of the community here, able to take advantage of every opportunity open to them, and that the village as a whole will flourish.

Rev P Pearson-Miles: Ex Officio Governor


Philly and I moved to Sussex in 2005 with our two boys. We have been a part of Chanctonbury Church since 2006 in one capacity or another.

Unlike the other governors, I’m not particularly qualified in anything. But I do know one thing…that as human beings we are made of body, mind and spirit, if one aspect of our make-up is unhealthy, then we tend not to do so well. 

I see my role as helping the children, staff and parents discover in an even greater way, that when the ‘spirit’ is healthy, it produces health in the body and mind. Jesus, the Son of God said, ‘I came that you may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). I would love the reality of this truth to be experienced by all!

If Jesus is who he says he is, then God is real! That means every one of us has a purpose and our lives are not a cosmic accident. Therefore, it follows that if God really does love us and has a plan for our lives, it makes sense to get to know Him. It is only as we get to know Him that we discover the purpose of our lives and begin to experience that abundant life.

I believe that a Christian education is a starting place for this discovery. I am really looking forward to getting to know the children, staff and hopefully parents as well, and working alongside the existing governors in making Washington School the best place for these precious children to grow up and learn about life and living ‘life in all its fullness’.

Mr S Bond: Co-Opted Governor

Steve Bond

I am very pleased to have been chosen to be a Governor.

Originally from Oldham, Lancashire , I have lived in the South of England for 35 years and in the Washington area for the last 12 years.

Following a 30year career in Policing , I have been working as a Trade Union Official since 2019, supporting law enforcement officers. I would hope this knowledge and experience of working in and alongside various public sector organisations will assist me in the role of Co-opted Governor.

When not working , I am active in the community; I am a volunteer water polo coach at a local club. I was also previously  the Assistant Coach of the Great Britain Junior Boys Water Polo Team who completed at the European Championships in 2021. Helping children reach their potential, is something I am passionate about.

I also enjoy walking with Sussex Pathfinders and  I am season ticket holder at Brighton & Hove Albion football club.

Miss H Dean: Co-Opted Governor

Heather Dean

I have lived in the parish of Washington for seventeen years. My background is in education having taught in a number of secondary schools before becoming Senior Tutor and Director of Studies at a local College.  In retirement I became a volunteer at Washington School helping with the reading in Year One. I have done this now for twelve years and it has given me a lot of pleasure seeing these children develop a fluency and a love of reading.

I have been a  governor at Washington for ten years serving under four head teachers. I count it a great privilege to give back to the community in this way.

Mr T Keech : Co-Opted Governor


Trevor is a retired finance director with a wife and one grown up daughter.

Having spent many years working and travelling abroad, he settled in Storrington in 2016 and is now active in voluntary work in the community. He is keen to use his financial expertise to assist the smooth running of the school.

He enjoys all forms of spectator sport and walking his dogs in the beautiful Sussex countryside.

Emmalene Greene: Staff Governor

Details to follow

Karen Wood: Co-Opted Governor

K Wood

I have recently moved to Washington having lived in the suburbs of London all of my life.  I bring with me on this adventure my husband and my best friend Dexter (the dog).  I have enjoyed working in different sectors, most recently the charity sector but the most rewarding was my time spent in education.

I worked for 12 years as a teaching assistant and achieved Higher Level Teaching Assistant status and enjoyed taking classes covering for PPA and sickness.  I specialised in working within SEND and phonics.

Becoming a governor at my local school is an exciting prospect and I am looking forward to the challenge.

Graham Baldey - Associate Member

Details to follow

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