Governors work with senior leaders in the strategic development of the school and in raising standards of achievement. Duties include setting the school's vision, aims & objectives approving the school budget and appointing the headteacher.
Governors must both support and challenge the headteacher, so need to gain an understanding of the school's overall performance in order to explain its decisions and actions. They do this by attending regular meetings, carrying out school visits and meeting with senior leaders. They also attend training in order to keep up to date with the requirements of their role. Governors work as a team and make collective decisions.
If you are interested in becoming a school governor, please contact the Clerk to Governors on 01273-296868 for more information.
Who are we
Vice-Chair Co-opted Governor
I have been a school governor for many years, initially as a teacher governor and then as headteacher governor in a number of schools in both Brighton and Hove and West Sussex. More recently I was a local authority adviser in West Sussex and my role there included supporting schools to improve and leading governor training across the authority. I have seen numerous changes to education during my working life, but I still believe passionately in the power of education to improve life chances and to provide opportunities for choice for children and young people. As a co-opted governor I am committed to doing my best to support the team at Downs Infant School to achieve the best possible outcomes for pupils and families in the community.
I have lived in Brighton and Hove for the whole of my lifetime and all three of my now adult children attended City schools. I have extensive experience of working in education and have previously been a member of school management teams and a School Business Manager leading on the broad range of support areas in schools - Finance, Human Resources, ICT and office and facilities management. I am currently Head of Estates for a multi-academy trust where I lead the Capital Buildings Programme, premises management strategy and Health and Safety across the Trust's primary and secondary schools.
Sarah Digon is a proud mum of two small humans and is passionate about lifelong learning, inclusion and equity in education. She also has a particular interest in SEND. Sarah has had a long career working with international students, firstly as an English language teacher and then in Further and Higher education institutions in marketing, communications, business development and pastoral roles. More recently, Sarah’s love of languages plus her interest in SEND led her towards speech and language therapy. She supports speech therapists in working with children and adults with learning disabilities and is the Inclusive Communication Officer for a local NHS Trust.
Tony has supported a son and grandson with SEND through their school journey and is one of the governors working with staff to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children. He is also passionate about sport and works with the school on PE and Sports expenditure. No business or financial interests No governance roles in other schools
I am a former infant school teacher and mother of four. My youngest child is currently in Year 2 at Downs Infants. The Downs Infants community is a really special one, and having been so fortunate to have had four children attend such a wonderful school, I was keen to give something back. School plays such a vital role in children’s early years, I really wanted to support the school to continue its excellent provision. I have been a Governor at Downs Infant School since October 2019.
I am a teacher at Downs Infant School and currently teach Kingfisher class in Year 2. I am passionate about providing a rich, well-rounded and exciting curriculum and learning experience for all our children. I have particular interests in Maths (previous subject coordinator) and P.E. (current subject coordinator). Outside of school life, I play hockey and love walking on the South Downs. I can always be found with my current book in my backpack, feel free to ask me what I’m reading. Brighton and Downs Infants is a wonderful community to be a part of and it is my absolute privilege to be on our school journey in a variety of roles.
My family and I moved to Brighton in 2016 and yet it feels like Brighton has been home for much longer! We have two daughters – one at Downs Infant School and another at Downs Junior School. We live on a street that feels very much like the close communities that I grew up in as a young girl in Uganda and later, in Kenya. It is this sense of community that we found in Brighton, in addition to wanting to know more about the school system in the UK, that made me keen to volunteer as a school governor. I have over fifteen years of experience as a researcher on international development issues. As someone who has studied and lived in three different continents, I hope that I bring to the governing body the diversity of my lived experiences.
I am the Headteacher governor at Downs Infant School. I have been Headteacher here since 2017, and have worked at a number of schools in Brighton and Hove and in West Sussex. Prior to becoming a school teacher I worked in the University sector and have an academic interest in Social Anthropology, in particular in the relationships between belief and action and embodied knowledge and habitus. I have been a Headteacher governor at Davigdor Infant School, a co-opted governor at Northlands Wood Primary, a LA governor at Saltdean Primary and a staff governor at Elm Grove Primary. I am currently also an LA governor at St Peters Community Primary in Portslade. I am passionate about teaching and learning, and particularly about the role of play and engagement in learning. I am a qualified swimming teacher and open water coach and love watching anyone I work with learn, grow and achieve.
I am the Clerk to Governors at Downs Infant School, and I have clerked for a variety of schools in East Sussex since 2012. My experience encompasses primary and secondary education, in the maintained, academy and private sector. I have a background in school governance, having been a Parent Governor and Chair of Governors at my children’s primary school in Eastbourne. Before my children were born, I worked in retail management in London.
Termly Governors Newsletters
Full Governing Body (FGB) meetings
The full governing body meets once or twice a term. At these meetings, the governing body carries out its three core functions, as identified by the Department for Education in the Governors' Handbook:
- ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
- overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure money is well spent
The current chair of Governors is Tony Fallowfield. Minutes are published here, once they have been agreed by the governing body at the following meeting.
Full Governing Body (FGB) meetings
Some functions are delegated to committees.
Resources Committee (Chairs: Alan Cronshaw & Julia Gallagher)
FGB disbanded this committee from September 2016
Teaching, Learning & Personnel (Chairs: Sarah Axtell & Claire McCann)
FGB disbanded this committee from September 2016
Certain associated papers from the meetings are also available on request, although some will be confidential. Please contact the Clerk to Governors through the school office for further information.
The Constitution of Governing Bodies in Maintained Schools (August 2015) requires governing bodies to publish individual governors' attendance at meetings in the last year. You will find this in the table on the 'who are we' page.
Who are school governors and what do they do?
There are over 300,000 school governors in England and they form the largest volunteer force in the country. Their role is to work with the headteacher and senior leadership team in raising school standards. Duties include setting policies & objectives, approving the school budget and appointing & supporting the headteacher. Governing bodies work as a team – decisions are not made by individuals. Governors come from all walks of life and fall into different categories – staff, parent, community, foundation and authority governors.
Do I need to have a child at a school?
You do if you are applying for a parent governor role, but otherwise you just need to have enthusiasm, an interest in the welfare of children and a willingness to learn. You must also be prepared to contribute to discussions and offer challenge and support to the headteacher.
What is the time commitment?
Governing bodies usually meet together once or twice a term. There are also committee meetings to attend (eg curriculum, personnel, premises or finance). If you do have a particular expertise, this is where your skills could go to good use. You may also volunteer to be a ‘link governor’, to work alongside a member of staff who has a specific responsibility – eg Special Educational Needs. The time commitment varies between governors and schools, but you can expect to spend around six to eight hours per month on your duties.
Is training provided?
Brighton & Hove’s Governor Support Team provides phone advice and guidance to clerks and governors, as well as induction and further training – all this is free of charge. There are also regular briefings to update you on national and local developments.
What’s in it for me?
You will gain some valuable experiences that will have an impact on your personal and professional life. You will meet new people, develop teamwork skills and learn more about how schools work. You could gain experience of budget setting, interviewing for staff or developing policies. If you eventually become a Chair of Governors, we provide support and training to develop your leadership skills and confidence.
Above all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a real difference to the development of children, young people, their school and the community.
What should I do next?
For an informal chat and to find out which schools have vacancies, contact:
Brighton & Hove Governor Support Team
Telephone: 01273 293511 or 293507