Groombridge School Governors Pen Portraits
Interim Executive Board
Debbie Bennett Chair (experienced headteacher of schools and federations, consultant headteacher and school improvement partner)
Carrie Beech SLES representative (previously East Sussex County Council Head of Primary and Early Years)
Katharine Rabson Stark National Leader of Governance and consultant governor
Jenny Barnard-Langston National Leader of Governance Cathy Slow Diocesan representative and Diocesan Effectiveness Partner for Chichester Diocese
Janet Bowen Associate Member (human resources)
Claire Cotter Associate Member (finance)
Sarah Greed Clerk
Angela Nicholls - Headteacher Ex-Officio
After graduating with a BA Honours and a PGCE in Primary Education, Angela’s first teaching role was in South East Essex Sixth Form College for three years (hard to believe primary jobs were like gold dust at that time) where RE/English O level and A levels and Foundation Studies were the focus. She then returned to Primary education teaching in a private school in London for a year. Wanting to teach abroad, Angela found a position in Cyprus where she also helped a team set up pre-schools in the Middle East – mainly Lebanon and Cairo.
On a school visit to Cairo Angela fell in love with the country and culture and spent nine wonderful years teaching in Key Stage Two at Maadi British International School. Every summer holiday, Angela enrolled and funded herself on quality professional development and leadership training in the UK and increasingly took on leadership roles in the school starting with Key Stage Two Co-ordinator and then acting Headteacher for a year. After the departure of the Headteacher, Angela was the founding headteacher for the the new Maadi British International School in partnership with a team of local businesses, Governors, the British Embassy and the Anglican Church. It is still a thriving school. There were twenty nationalities represented in the school from every continent and learning based on the British National Curriculum was dynamic, equality based, inclusive, inspiring and fun. Angela stayed as Headteacher there for three years and organised an Ofsetd inspection (which had a very good outcome) before returning to headship at Framfield School in England. After three years, Framfield received the most improved school in East Sussex award.
Angela joined Groombridge primary School as Headteacher in 2000, with 19 years teaching experience, seven years Key Stage 2 leadership experience and six years Headteacher experience. This is her third headship of a Church of England Primary School. The school has been validated in her tenure as Ofsted Outstanding 2006 and 2009, having Healthy School status, Gold Standard PE provision since 2017, ongoing Financial Management Standard, Safeguarding Compliant 2019, SEN Standard ESCC 2018 and an overall outstanding inspection for Religious Education and Collective Worship 2019. With all the changes in Ofsted goalposts and staff turnovers Angela would say that the school is a GOOD school with some elements of Ofsted outstanding practice. The journey of development never stops! Over the last 20 years the school built a library, SEN room, First Aid room, and aims to create a beautiful and dynamic learning environment. A wellbeing room and play area are planned, with an application for a grant already sent off. ‘Learning for Life’ is a motto which has always expressed Angela’s passion and aspirations for children underpinned by a broad, balanced and creative and sporting curriculum, a nurturing child-centred ethos and offering as much fun and inspiration in learning as possible. We want all children to do and be the best they can be.
Angela is a trained and experienced leadership coach and mentor, a trained and experienced local leader of education, and a Headteacher peer coach and mentor. Whist working collaboratively as an Education Improvement Partnership (EIP) Leader comprised of approximately 40 East Sussex schools from 2014 -2017, Angela co-wrote the English improvement plan which contributed to a rise in overall school performance in writing. Angela initiated and organized a county-wide leadership coaching initiative with the Institute of Human Development attended by 60+schools, and is totally committed to this essential approach for all levels of progress, development and school improvement. Angela also initiated and organized a local EIP coaching hub where Headteachers shared good practice in writing, EYFS good practice, supporting SEN pupils, improving attendance and cascading coaching through schools.
Angela is currently studying for a diploma in therapeutic practice with Therapeutic Life Story Work International (TLSWi) which she aims to roll out into all levels of school life and PSHE to embed what she calls ‘The Therapeutic School’ initiative - following the trauma of COVID-19 and its impact on children, parents and staff. Everyone is aware of the wellbeing crisis and the rise in emotional and mental health issues globally. Children need skills for life, work and positive relationships.
In her spare time Angela loves reading, researching professional best practice in education, the creative arts, dog walking, speaking at adoption trauma intervention conferences, experimental cooking (prefers a Rick Stein do it yourself box delivered) and walking and swimming along our beautiful coastline and areas of outstanding natural beauty on - travels at home and abroad when possible!
Helen Denton – Staff Governor
I was appointed in 2013. I am now Year 2 Class Teacher ( previously the Year 1 teacher) and Deputy Headteacher ( appointed 2019).