Birchfield Primary School

Birchfield Avenue, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS27 7HU



The Governing Body of any school is in place to provide both support and challenge the leadership team in the way the school is led and managed and to provide the best possible education to every pupil in the school - our Governing Body is no exception.

About the Governors

We are a team with a wide range of personal and professional skills, expertise and experience. The Governing Body provide strategic leadership for the school and have a general responsibility for the effective management of the school. We strive to be a diverse and committed team of parents, community members and staff representatives.

What are the Governors here to do?

The 3 core functions of our Governing Body are:

➢ Setting the school vision (see bottom left).

➢ Holding the Head Teacher to account for the school's educational performance.

➢ Ensuring our money is well spent.

We have 6 full governing body meetings per year which include responsibility for teaching and learning and pupil support.  

Responsible for teaching and learning matters including target setting, standards and achievement, SEN (including reporting annually on the success of the SEN policy),  monitoring teaching and learning and curriculum provision and ensuring that the governing board is represented at school improvement discussions, behaviour, safeguarding, attendance, children’s spiritual moral social and cultural development, children, parent and staff voice, extra-curricular activities, cluster and other partnerships.

Resources Committee

Responsible for staffing including the appointment and role of the SENCO, equality and diversity, finance, property management, health and safety and nutritional standards.

Committee chair-Claire Preest

Pay Review committee

Responsible for ensuring the implementation of the school Pay Policy and Teacher Appraisal Policy.

Pay Appeal committee

Responsible for hearing pay appeals and ensuring a fair and proper process has been followed.


Committee Membership and specific Governor Roles can be viewed here. 

Governor Profiles

Samantha Hirst-Headteacher (Ex-officio Governor)

I am extremely proud to be the Headteacher at this wonderful school.  I took up post here in January 2022.  Prior to that, I was a Principal at a Primary Academy that was part of a large Multi-Academy Trust in Calderdale.  Before this I was the Deputy Headteacher at a two-form entry Primary Academy, part of an Academy Trust in Leeds. Teaching has been my passion for 27 years.  During that time I have taught all age groups, have been a subject leader in Maths and Computing, have been a phase leader, an assistant headteacher and am also a qualified SENDCO.  I have a particular interest in adverse childhood experiences, trauma informed practice and attachment theory and am a trained attachment lead. 

Along with the Governing Body of Birchfield Primary School, it is my aim to ensure that children get the best possible and highest quality education here at Birchfield and leave our school as responsible, well-rounded citizens, excited and well-prepared for the next step in their educational journey.  I am committed to ensuring our teachers and wider team are invested in and take part in high quality CPD to ensure they are highly talented and dedicated professionals with excellent subject and pedagogical knowledge.



Lee Dobson-Co-opted (Chair of Governors)

 I began as a co-opted Governor in November 2015 and have had a daughter at Birchfield and have my youngest daughter at Birchfield.  I am proud to be a governor at Birchfield and delighted my daughters were and not only are educated here, but most importantly they have loved their time at Birchfield and love the family ‘feel’ of the school. 

Professionally, I have spent the last 25 years working as a Financial Adviser and have been in my present role providing advice to Doctors for the last 13 years.  I use these skills and experiences in being an active member of the Resources committee for the last 7 years as well as holding regular meetings with the Head Teacher as part of the Head Teacher Performance Management Role 

I have successfully completed the Governor Induction training, Safer Recruitment, Child Protection and Prevent Training.  I look forward to updating my skills to ensure that I can fulfil my role as a Governor to the best of my ability as well as being able to visit the school and spend time with the staff and the pupils. 

Phil Turner-Co-opted

I was appointed as a co-opted Governor in January 2021 after working at Birchfield for 24 years, 12 as Deputy Head and 12 as Head. Professionally, after brief stints as an actor in a theatre group and as a producer of corporate videos, I qualified as a teacher in 1989. I worked in schools in Horsforth and Pudsey before becoming Deputy at Birchfield in 1996 and then its Headteacher in 2008. I retired from that post at Christmas 2020 but stayed on the governing body as a co-opted governor. I still mark SATS papers, as I have since 1993, and do the occasional educational consultancy. I have two sons, 22 and 19 and a wife, who is also the Headteacher of a primary school. 

Within the governing board I assume the responsibility as the Link Governor for Y6 and not only meet with the teacher on a termly basis, but spend time in the classroom with the Y6 children too. I accompanied the class on their residential to the Lake District in 2023, also driving the luggage van, and have been on many day trips with other year groups, as a helper. I still, to this day, allow pupils past and present (and occasionally their parents) to throw wet sponges at me at the annual Summer Fair in the name of charity! 

Additionally, I am part of the Resources Committee and clerk those meetings here at Birchfield. As a teacher of some 32 years and a Head for 12, I am well versed in school finance, health and safety, premises and staff management issues and bring with me experience and knowledge of dealing with equality, social and emotional wellbeing, and safeguarding within education – I was a fully qualified Designated Safeguarding Leader (DSL) up until my retirement. Naturally, as Head I sat on every governing body committee, and have nearly 30 years’ experience as a governor in two different schools. 

I successfully completed both Safeguarding and Prevent training during this academic year. Moving forward, I look forward to updating my skills over the coming year to ensure that I can fulfil my role as a Governor to the best of my ability. 

Lucy Kavanagh-Co-opted

I am a children’s social worker and senior leader in a West Yorkshire local authority. I have almost 20 years of experience in children’s services, working within child protection, children in care and care leavers services. I have previously worked with older people and adults with learning difficulties and physical and sensory impairments. I hope that I can use the skills and knowledge that I have gained in my work experience, to help Birchfield to support students who have additional or complex needs.  

Additionally, I am also the Safeguarding governor here at Birchfield and bring with me experience and knowledge of leadership, equality, social justice and emotional wellbeing, which I have developed through my career in social work. I meet with the school DSL and SENCO on a regular basis to hear about the developments and progress the school is making to support pupils who need it.

Tom Taylor-Parent Governor

I was appointed as a parentGovernorin November 2017.We were delighted when our children were allocated a place at Birchfield. From our first visit we were very impressed with the school’s friendly and nurturing atmosphere. I am a strong believer that at primary school the whole child should be developed and a child’s happiness should be just as important as their academic progress. Our experience of our time at Birchfield is that the staff share the same values and work hard to maintain its strong culture and ethos. 

As a parentgovernorI have been part of several sub committees including pupil support and more recently teaching and learning. In collaboration with the whole governing body, and as part of the sub committees, I have supported and contributed to the governance of the school. As agovernor, ensuring robust challenge is essential so that leaders are held to account for driving up standards, developing excellent pastoral care and improving student outcomes. My background in education means that I am well placed to work with school on driving school improvement through effective governance. 

Birchfield is a special school and I am proud to support the staff and students in any way that I can. 

Kathryn Stephenson-Parent Governor

I was elected as a parent governor in March 2020 and have two sons at Birchfield. In November 2021, I was appointed as a teaching assistant across years 5 and 6. In September 2022 I was asked to be subject leader for science.  I am a qualified teacher, having taught secondary science for over 14 years. I have taken on many roles in my career such as head of science, assistant principal (tracking and progress) and specialist leader in education (SLE). As an SLE I supported a number of schools to improve outcomes for their science department. 

Within the Governing Board I assume the responsibility of governor training where I ensure statutory training has taken place and report training attended and future plans to assess development needs. 

Additionally, I am also part of the Pupil Support and Teaching and Learning Committee here at Birchfield and bring with me experience and knowledge of dealing with assessment data, intervention and support. I have also led the design and development of several curriculums following government reform. 

I am part of the school’s PTFA committee, Friends of Birchfield School (FOBS), where I hold the position of secretary. We plan many events throughout the year to raise funds and build the school community. 

I am proud to be actively involved in the growth and development of such a wonderful school.  

Claire Preest-Co-opted

I am a qualified Accountant and currently work for a local healthcare product company in the Accounts Team. I have many years of finance experience in varying sectors and hopefully bring finance and budgeting knowledge to my Governor role.  

I have been involved with Birchfield Primary School for over 6 years and the FAMILY values and feel to Birchfield are the core factors that drew me to the school and felt it was right for my children.  

Alongside my role as Governor at Birchfield I also look after the finance side of things for the locals Cubs groups and run a boot exchange for the local football club.  

Rob Weston-Co-opted

Born and raised in Doncaster, I moved to Gildersome in 2018, and am proud to call the village home. It’s really great to be part of a strong community, and that’s what drew me to Birchfield, the brilliant community spirit.

I have been interested in supporting the development of children and young people for many years, having previously served as a Governor at a secondary school in Doncaster, delivering business seminars to pupils, and employing several apprentices through my former business and as a Prince's Trust Ambassador.

Whilst I do not have children of my own, I have many friends who do, and I have spent time with their children, getting them interested in some of the things I am passionate about, especially gardening. 

My background is very varied, from the Police through to owning my own care and cleaning company. As a business owner I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in recruitment, management and leadership, and legal frameworks.

I am passionate about inclusivity, sparked on to some degree by my experiences as a disabled person, and the challenges that has brought me in my own life.

I am honoured that I can bring my skills, experiences, and passions to help develop the future of Birchfield, and ensure it continues to be a special place for all the pupils, their families, and staff members.

Lizzie Bratby-Co-opted

I love being part of the team at Birchfield Primary School and began working here in September 2018 as the Deputy Headteacher. Prior to this I taught at a rural school in Rotherham for four years and at an inner-city school in Leeds for eight years. During this time, I predominantly taught year 6 and after 12 years, moved into KS1 to teach year 2. I have been a leading teacher in mathematics for Rotherham Borough Council, a phase leader for KS1 and KS2, leader of teaching and learning, subject leader for Maths, Enterprise, Science and RE.  

I especially value the importance of safeguarding, mental health and wellbeing within the school setting and believe these areas are paramount in establishing a safe, supportive and understanding work place; I take pride in leading on such significant areas across school. In September 2023, I became a SCITT tutor for wellbeing. This allows me to support and develop trainee teachers at the start of their teaching career.  

I have high expectations of myself, colleagues and pupils and this is at the centre of my working ethos. I am passionate about making Birchfield Primary School a great place for children to learn, grow and develop emotionally, socially and academically.   

My role on the Governing Body is to be a critical friend and help the Governors to understand the policies and procedures in school.  I attend all of the committees and regularly meet with different Governors about various aspects of school life. The Governing Body is a great team to be part of. 

Sian Threlfall-Staff Governor

I have worked at Birchfield Primary School for nearly 10 years. During my time here, I have taught in Year 3, Reception and Nursery. It was in Early Years that I found my passion and have since become the Early Years lead.  

My interest in the staff governing position grew from my aspirations and motivation to help continue moving the school forwards. I have enjoyed working closely with the governing body, participating in discussions and decisions, to help make a positive impact on the whole community within Birchfield.  

I am passionate about children’s education with a particular emphasis on the Early Years and the impact that a positive start to education can have on a child’s life. I am very proud to be part of the Birchfield family.  

Michaela Walker-Associate Member

I started my teaching career at Birchfield Primary School 12 years ago and have taught across EYFS, Key Stage One and I am now teaching in Year 5. I am very proud to call myself the Assistant Head Teacher. Birchfield has allowed me to grow and develop into the leader I have become. I am literacy lead and have co-developed the school curriculum to ensure it is progressive, engaging and concise.   

I am passionate about making Birchfield a great place for children to learn and grow both emotionally and academically. The pupils, parents and staff are a real asset to our school community and this is the reason I have chosen to stay for such a long time. 

I enjoy listening and participating in the discussions and decisions being made for the benefit of Birchfield Primary School and everyone involved. 

Eileen Murray-Clerk to the Governors

What is the Governing Body responsible for?

(This information is taken from Leeds City Council Governor Support Services)

Primary School Governing Bodies have a range of responsibilities as a consequence of the Education Acts:

* to help to decide school policy for management of the school with the Headteacher and act as a link between the school and the local community
* to monitor the progress of a post Ofsted Action Plan and the School Improvement Plan
* to set appropriate targets for pupil achievement at Key Stage Two
* to ensure that all children make progress in their personal development and wellbeing (Stay Safe, Be Healthy, Enjoy & Achieve, Make a positive contribution, Achieve economic wellbeing)
* to ensure that the curriculum for the school is balanced and broadly based and that the National Curriculum and religious education are taught
* to ensure that special education needs are met
* to manage the school budget
* to determine the staffing of the school and pay policy and make decisions about pay in accordance with the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions of Employment document
* to recruit and dismiss staff employed at the school
* to participate in the appointment of the Headteacher
* to ensure provision of a performance management policy and to set performance objectives for the Headteacher
* to listen to complaints from parents
* to hear appeals from parents when pupils are excluded from school
* to decide the start and finish times of the school
* to make sure the school is safe and healthy

How to become a Governor

When there is a space on our Governing Body, a letter/ email/ message on Class Dojo will go out to parents / carers and request for those who are interested to contact school.  You will then be asked to write a short statement about what skills you could offer the school by being part of the Governing Body.  The statement is then circulated round to the relevant people to read.  If needed, a vote is then carried out and the person with the highest number of votes is elected.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the Governing Body at Birchfield or need further information about the role of a Governor, please speak to Mrs Wharton in the school office.   

The document below sets out the eligibility criteria for being a school governor. This is a vital document to consider before applying.

Please click here for the eligibility document.