"Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward
from him.” Psalms 127:3

“Not all of us can do great things but we can do
small things with great love.” Blessed Mother Teresa

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Meet the Governors

Meet the Governors

What do we do?

You might think that being a school governor is all about attending lots of meetings and completing lots of paperwork but this definitely isn't the case.

The main role of the Governing Body is to help raise the standards and performance of the school by supporting the work of the Senior Leadership Team and staff. We work very closely with the SLT and the rest of the staff to provide support, but we also challenge and ask questions to ensure that the best possible decisions are made for the school and its pupils. We do not become involved in the day to day management of the school because this is the SLT’s responsibility but we do hold them to account for the performance of the school.

How do we do this?

We meet as a full Governing Body twice a term to consider a wide range of issues including school improvement, policies and finances. We have also established a number of committees which allow us to discuss issues in more depth and report back to the full Governing Body. Our committees are:

  • Buildings and Finance, Staffing and Resources

  • Health and Safety

  • Curriculum and Standards

  • Safeguarding and Pupil Welfare

    Committees also meet once a term and all governors sit on at least one committee. We also carry out monitoring visits to help us understand and appreciate the work of the school. Sometimes these are learning walks around the building to develop our own knowledge and on other occasions they are focused on a particular aspect of the school's performance and involve discussions with staff and pupils. We do not make judgements about the quality of teaching or the progress of individual pupils because that is the responsibility of the SLT. We also attend training to assist us in carrying out our duties effectively


Who are we?

Our governors come from many different backgrounds but we all have one thing in common: we are passionate about St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and dedicated to ensuring that our pupils have the best education possible. We all bring different skills and experiences but we work well together in the best interests of the school. The normal term of office for governors is four years, although sometimes governors are reappointed for further terms if they wish.

Parent Governors:

Parent governors are elected by other parents of pupils registered at the school. They should be parents of pupils currently at the school but they may serve out their term of office if their child leaves. Parents who are also members of staff are not eligible to be parent governors.

Local Authority Governors:

Local Authority governors are appointed by the local authority which maintains the school, in our case this is Cumbria. Sometimes potential authority governors approach Cumbria LA and ask to be allocated to a particular Governing Body but, in practice, such governors are usually recommended by ourselves and then approved by the LA.

Foundation Governors:

Foundation governors are appointed by the Bishop of Lancaster to represent the religious ethos of the school.

Teacher Governors:

The head teachers of a school automatically becomes a governor at the time of appointment unless they inform the Governing Body that they do not want to be a member. Our head teachers are governors and this ensures a really productive working relationship. Another staff member is elected by and from the whole teaching and non-teaching staff. Staff governors may not continue to be governors if they cease to be employed by us.


Executive Headteacher

Mrs S Slack

I began my teaching career at St Bede's Carlisle.  Following this I moved to St Mary's and after a few years was appointed Deputy Head.  After completing the National Professional Qualification for Headship I was appointed as Headteacher of St Patrick's Workington. I am also a Local Leader of Education and a Section 48 Inspector for the Diocese of Lancaster.

In 2018, it was a privilege to be appointed Executive Headteacher of St Mary's.

I am totally committed in ensuring every child achieves there potential in a caring and nurturing environment.  Being a governor enables me to work with a group of individuals who will ensure that the strengths of every child is fully developed and that high expectations are set and achieved.  My philosophy is based on Christian values of love, truth, respect, justice and honesty. In our St Mary's family everyone is welcomed, valued and special.


Head of School

Mrs C Newland

Being part of the school's Governing Body is an important part of my role as head teacher of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. I work closely with governors with the ultimate aim of providing the best possible educational experiences for our pupils. The work of our Governing Body is effective because we share this vision and all have high expectations of what our pupils can achieve. We work together identifying areas for improvement, setting targets and monitoring actions to ensure that the school continues to provide excellent value for money.


Chair of Governors

Mrs G Duncan

I have been a governor since 2017 and just recently became Chair of Governors in January 2019.  Both my children attend the school and have been given a great start to their lives . St Mary's is a warm, welcoming and friendly school and provides opportunity and experiences for every pupil.

Being a governor is important to me because I believe every child deserves the best start in life as mine have.

I am IOSH trained and just recently completed my Level 2 in Mental Health Awareness.


Vice Chairperson

Mr E Byrne

I have been a Foundation Governor since 1999. I am an Analytical Chemist and take a keen interest in the teaching of Science. I am a STEM science ambassador, a role which involves visiting schools and using various projects and lessons to encourage interest in the sciences. I currently have roles involving Health and Safety, and the Catholic Life of St Mary's. All three of my children attended St Mary’s school and I still continue to find the school a very welcoming school with a strong Christian ethos. Outside of work and school my hobbies include fell walking, DIY and photography – and occasionally cycling.


Mrs M Holmes

I have been a Foundation Governor for 27 years! When I first became a Governor both of my sons attended St Mary’s School. Over the years I have been involved in lots of activities within the school. St Mary’s is a very friendly welcoming school with a sound Christian ethos.


Foundation Governors

Mr I Denny

I became a Foundation Governor in February 2017 and I am responsible for Buildings and Finance. My wife and our three children have all attended St Mary’s School and my son completed a teaching training placement here. My son’s entry into the “Design a New School Badge Competition” won and St Mary’s still use his winning design today. All my children have gone on to good careers, having had a solid grounding and education in St Mary’s. This is the reason why I became a Governor as I wanted to give something back after all we have received as a family.


Parent Governors

Stephen Barber

I have been a Parent Governor since the start of 2019. Currently both of my sons attends the school. They both really enjoy going to school there and have been made to feel very welcome. Being a parent governor is important to me because I am interested in the schools future not only for my own sons but for the community and future pupils. It is a great school and I want to see it succeed in the future.


Natalie Straughton

As the parent of a children attending St Mary's, I became interested in becoming a parent governor for many reasons. I have a keen interest in my child's education and also understanding the school environment as a whole. I volunteer regularly in school and feel this gives me an excellent insight into the dedication and values of everyone involved. I am proud to take on this role and I hope to give a positive contribution to the future of the school and ensure that all children feel that they are supported to gain the most from their early school years.


Foundation Governor

We currently have two vacancies for Foundation Governors


Clerk to the Governors

Mrs Julie Dyer

C/O St Mary’s Catholic Primary School

Holden Road




CA14 5LN

Welcome to our Governors' section. 

We have provided a Register of Governor Interests and an Annual Statement of Issues for your information.

Further to Governing Body Additional Meeting on 25/04/2017 - Below are the links to the recommended documents from Joanne Magnay and Sue Leigh.
Useful Links